Social media advertising tips for SMEs

The success of your social media marketing advertising campaign depends on many factors from correct audience targeting to aligning each step of the sales funnel to keep the audience engaged. I’ve found that a lot of businesses focus too much on the creation of attractive ad visuals – which is important, but won’t carry a campaign to success if the other key ingredients are missing.

Here’s my top 5 social media advertising tips to set you up for success.

1. Define the objectives

What do you want to achieve from your ad? Developing your objectives is a crucial first step to any social media ad campaign as it will inform the tactics you will use. The biggest mistake I see is ads that are trying to fulfil too many objectives.

Here are some examples of bad ad objectives. Note how these objectives either cover quite a few objectives or that the goals are too vague.

  • I want to get more customers and sell more stuff (too broad)
  • I want to get people to like my social media page, sign up for my email list, and leave more reviews (too many objectives for one ad)
  • I want to generate leads (too broad)

And, now here are some examples of good ad objectives. Note how each objective is targeted to just one goal.

  • I want to spread the word about my brand (single objective)
  • I want to get more laptop sales (single product/category focus)
  • I want to get more email sign-ups (single objective)

Once you’re clear on what your ad needs to achieve, you’ll find it much easier to work on the other specifics of the campaign. Take a look at the examples below and see how each ad has a single objective.

Social media advertising tips - two examples of ads with single objectives

The ad on the left for sends a clear message to the reader that it will deliver tailored dog food with a clear call-to-action button that reads ‘Sign Up’. To further entice the reader, the company is offering a 76% discount code.

The ad on the right by Mindful Chef follows a similar theme in that it wants the reader to subscribe to a cooking ingredients box. The clear call-to-action button of ‘Shop Now’ indicates the action Mindful Chef want the reader to take.

2. Define success

What do you feel would make the ad successful for your business? Do you want it to be seen by as many people as possible, or are you looking to get hard sales? This step is often missed but will be a key indicator of ad performance when you are looking back on how the ad performed.

Here are some things you might want to look at when defining what a successful ad looks like to your business.

  • ROI or conversion rate (usually shown as a % )- what do you want the profit to look like for each ad?
  • Cost per click (CPC) or cost per action (CPA) – how much are you happy to pay for each time somebody clicks on your ad, or watches your ad video?
  • Reach – how many people do you hope will see your ad?

Other metrics to look are:


  • Video views – how many times (and for how long) are people watching your ad
  • Engagement – likes, shares, and comments on the ad
  • Website traffic/social referrals – track how many website visits you’re getting from the ad
  • CTR (click through rate) – how many people are clicking on your ad compared to how many saw it
Social media advertising tips - a graphic showing graphs that lead to a gleaming trophy

3. Define your audience

Carefully choosing your target audience is critically important for social media advertising and if not done correctly could be a costly mistake. Defining your audience should happen before you even begin to think about creating the ad itself.

Some excellent questions to ask yourself when thinking about who you want to target your ad to are:

  • Who will want to buy this product/service – try to think beyond broad demographics such as ‘men over forty’ or ‘dog owners in the UK’
  • Where do those people hang out online – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat…
  • What other brands would the target audience be following on social media, or buying from in general
  • What are the particular pain points for this audience, what do they need help with or what’s in it for them

Once you’ve created your ad content and are ready to set it up on your chosen social network(s), you’ll be able to select even more options for targeting, so being armed with a good idea of who you’re selling to will help you to navigate these extra options without getting too trigger happy with the choices.

Take a look at the ads below. What types of people do you think these brands are trying to reach? Would you be happy to receive these ads on your Facebook feed, or would you think, ‘that’s not very relevant to me’?

Social media advertising tips - examples of social ads that are relevant to the audience

4. Optimise the ad landing page

Most ad campaigns will take anyone clicking on the ad to a web page. This is called the ad landing page and you’ll want to make sure it’s in ship shape before you send any traffic to it.

If you plan to spend a lot of money on your social media advertising campaign, or it’s for a single product/service, then you should look at creating a specific landing page for the ad. If your ad is more general say, for brand awareness or to generate some interest in your products then you can likely use a web page that already exists.

Areas you need to optimise:

  • Headlines and copy – is the messaging consistent with what you will use with the ad? Keeping the messaging the same will give the best experience for the visitor and let them know they came to the right place from the ad
  • Page tracking – do you have tracking set up for the page? You’ll want to know what your visitors did when they landed on the page and where they went after, right?
  • Is there a clear call to action on the page – visitors will want to know what action to take, this is usually a button or banner text that will use short, clear copy such as ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’.
  • The amount of text/images on the page – keep it uncluttered, clear, and concise
  • Trust indicators – are there any reviews or testimonials on the page? If not, get some and make them prominent so your prospective customer knows you’re genuine

An excellent example of a landing page can be found at

Top 5 social media advertising tips - a photo of an iMac computer displaying the apple website

5. Use your best content

You may think that this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised at the volume of clients I see who say, ‘let’s just use the poster we made in 2005’…

To find out what your best content is, take a look at:

  • What type of organic posts performed best for you in the past – videos, graphics, photos?
  • What content performed well in terms of the objective you’re chasing for your social ad – e.g. if you want your ad to reach as many people as possible, look at past content that achieved the most impressions
  • What type of content is doing well for your competitors on social media – remember, almost everyone is your competitor online!

Once you have a good idea of what you think will work well for the audience you want to reach, you can start building the content for your ad. This may include previous graphics or videos that you already have, or the research I’ve described above may lead you to create everything from scratch.

Social media ad tips - choose your best content

Need help with your social advertising? Drop me a line for a no-obligation chat about how I could help you to stand out on social.

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