Astronomical numbers like this mean that everybody wants a seat at the table, social platform-wise, which has resulted in advertising offerings on almost every platform. It is important to note that, just because there are advertising options on most social media platforms, this doesn't mean that they are all right for your business.
The three largest social platforms by audience size, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, each have a unique value proposition and has its own optimal audience and content type.
Facebook is still the Godfather of Social Media Advertising
Unmatched Reach: As the social platform with the largest number of users (1.6B2and growing), the potential reach of Facebook advertising is immense. In economic terms, think of Facebook users as supply – since there are so many of them, the cost of their attention is lower than more exclusive platforms, making Facebook a cost-effective advertising option.
Robust Targeting Capabilities: Want to reach people based on their age and interests? Want to reach them programmatically through their Internet activity? Facebook is your answer. Its self-service advertising platform and its advertising exchange allow for simple and precise audience targeting and retargeting.
Audience Diversity: Gone are the days when social media use is considered exclusive to the younger generations. According to Pew, 75% of parents use social media; 99% of these social media-savvy parents are on Facebook. The platform’s dominance across this age group, as well as other age and gender demographics makes Facebook a viable advertising option for a wide variety of companies and products.
Twitter Has Some Unique Targeting Capabilities, but Lacks the Robustness of its Counterparts
Second Screen Synchronization: TV targeting is something that was unique to Twitter for a while. Although Facebook has recently launched its own solution, the accessibility and effectiveness of Twitter’s TV targeting can add frequency to existing TV campaigns, supplement reach beyond TV, and use TV to further inform demographic and interests sets Twitter apart (for now).
Keyword Targeting: Since Twitter users are not obliged to disclose their age when signing up, Twitter’s self-service advertising platform doesn't allow for targeting by age. However, there are a few other aspects of Twitter’s targeting capabilities that make the platform useful, and keyword targeting is one of these. With over 6,000 tweets posted per second, targeting by keyword is an effective means of reaching those who are participating in a relevant conversation.
Instagram Has the Foundations for Exponential Growth in Paid Social Media
Audience Who Is Ready to Spend Online: Unsurprisingly, Instagram skews younger with its audience age. However, what is intriguing is that their primary target demographic of generation Y spends more money on ecommerce than any other (~$2,000/yr)3 despite earning less money than other age demographics.
To add to this, Instagram is the social platform that sees the highest conversion rates4 and the highest average spend - $65/order – $10 higher than Facebook5.
It’s important to note that conversion rates are entirely dependent on company types – luxury clothing and quick restaurants have performed the best, to date.
Undivided Attention: Given Instagram’s mobile formatting, organic content appears one image/video at a time. Native Instagram ads appear largely the same as organic content, which means that the average user will see, even if for half a second, your ad, and nothing else. This provides advertisers with 100% share of voice, at least for that moment in time – a huge opportunity to engage the audience, and guide them to the desired action.
Integration into Facebook’s Self-Service Platform: Instagram comes with all of the same targeting capabilities of Facebook, and allows one, centralized self-service platform to launch, edit, monitor and analyze advertising for the two platforms. Another benefit of this is that when something changes with Facebook’s self-service platform (which it frequently does), it is only one set of changes to which the user must adapt.
Social media advertising is still in its relative infancy, but it is evolving at a rapid rate; the possibilities, industries to which it provides value, and platforms on which advertising is available will continue to grow over the next year and beyond.
As the landscape continues to change, it is more crucial than ever to design a strategy for paid content, and align it with any existing organic social media strategy.