Simple Guide to Social Media Advertising (+ Examples & Types)

by Charis Barg


You have plenty of options when it comes to social media advertising.

But, picking the right platform and the best type of ads can feel like a major pain.

(Especially if you’re a digital marketing newbie).

After all, you’re not looking to throw away hard-earned money on ads that don’t work, right?

Didn’t think so!

But let’s get down to brass tacks:

How do you advertise on social media effectively?

We’ll find out in a minute. But first, let’s set some context…

social media advertising

What is Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising (sometimes called social media marketing) is exactly what you think:

Advertisements served to your target audience on social media platforms.

Like other forms of advertising, social media ads use a variety of ad formats to build brand awareness and drive sales.

Armed with buyer personas, and engagement and demographic data from social media platforms, marketers can create highly targeted and cost-effective ad campaigns for businesses, big and small.

How Effective is Social Media Advertising?

Social advertising is an effective marketing strategy to reach your target audience and gain brand awareness.

Unlike traditional ads, users can engage and build relationships with your brand on social media.

Ultimately, social media’s effectiveness depends on how well you optimize your social media ads.

Social Media Advertising Advantages

Below, you’ll find the biggest reasons why social media advertising is such a powerful addition to any marketing strategy.

  • Increase brand awareness: Reach more of your target audience.
  • Cost-effective: Creating a social media account is free. Social media ads, if used correctly, are inexpensive.
  • Audience insight: Users can interact with your ads, giving you direct feedback on what works.
  • Drive traffic: Whether to a landing page or your website, ads convert clicks into sales.

Social Media Advertising Statistics

Need the numbers? Let’s noodle over a few social media advertising statistics:

  • 9 out of 10 people buy from brands they follow on social media.
  • 73.5% of internet users follow or research brands and products on social media.
  • 79% of people say user-generated content highly impacts their buying decisions.

Social Media Ads: Types & Examples

Facebook Ads

Facebook is still the most used social network with almost 2.8 billion users. 18-24 year old women and 25-34 year old men make up the largest demographic group.

Types of Facebook ads available:

Image Ads

  • Facebook Ad with a single image when users scroll through their newsfeed
  • Drives users to your website and raises brand awareness

Video Ads

  • Video ads that are shown in the news feed, in other videos, and in-between Facebook stories
  • Shows your expertise and generates conversions

Carousel Ads

facebook carousel ad

  • Ads include up to 10 images or videos that users swipe to view
  • Best for showcasing multiple products, features, or CTA options

Story Ads

  • Images or videos placed in between friend’s stories that disappear after 24 hours
  • Helps create authenticity or urgency for limited time offers

Collection Ads

facebook collection ads

  • Displays a primary image or video with 4+ smaller images below in a grid
  • Introduces multiple products in one view without users swiping

Messenger Ads

faceboom messenger ads

  • Presented as a chat conversation in Facebook Messenger
  • Effective with other Facebook advertising so users can directly contact you or you can retarget users

Slideshow Ads

  • Video ads that only use still images and text
  • Helps simplify complex processes or targets people with slow internet

Playable Ads

facebook playable ads

  • Allows users to demo your app or game directly on Facebook
  • Beneficial for trying your product without installing it first

Instagram Ads

Instagram users are highly engaged with brands. Over half of Instagrammers are between 18-34 years old.

Types of Instagram ads available:

Image or Video Feed Ads

  • Instagram ad with a single image or video that users see when scrolling through their home or exploring their feed
  • Contributes to brand awareness and recall

Carousel Ads

instagram carousel ad

  • Multiple images or videos in a feed ad where users swipe to view the other images/videos
  • Effective for storytelling ads and increasing engagement

Story Ads

  • Images or videos placed in-between friend’s stories that disappear after 24 hours
  • Maximizes brand reach and conversions

Collection Ads

  • Ads that display a primary large image or video with smaller images below it in a grid format
  • Able to be used in both feed and story ads
  • Easy for users to browse your products in a visually appealing way


  • A non-skippable, 15-second video that plays when users click an IGTV video from their feed
  • Currently only available for some content creators in the US, UK, and Australia


  • Ads that will appear in the Reels feed
  • Currently being tested in India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia

Influencer Ads

  • Content creators discuss or use your product in a post or story
  • Helps increase brand authenticity and trust

Twitter Ads

Twitter users are 38% more likely to post about their opinions on brands than other social media platform users. In addition, 80% of Twitter users are affluent millennials.

Types of Twitter ads available:

Promoted Ads

  • Ads that show as tweets in a user’s feed
  • Ads options include: text only, image, video, carousel, and moments (a link to a collection of tweets or event)

Follower Ads

  • An ad in the user’s feed to follow your Twitter account
  • Effective for gaining followers

Twitter Amplify: Pre-Roll

  • Short video ads that will play before the actual video content in certain categories that you choose
  • Helps increase campaign awareness and ad recall

Twitter Amplify: Sponsorships

  • Short video ads that are paired with a single publisher of your choosing
  • Not currently available to self-serve advertisers
  • Optimizes revenue and growth

Twitter Takeover

twitter takeover ads

  • Timeline Takeover: your ad is the first ad users see when opening up the Twitter app
  • Trend Takeover: ads are placed above the trending hashtag list
  • These ads are placed in the best real estate to maximize brand reach

Twitter Live

  • Ads placed in the user’s news feed that promote your live stream, content, launch, or conference
  • Drives conversions with your targeted audience

YouTube Ads

YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, behind only Google.

In fact, 77% of 15-35 year olds in the US access YouTube and 1 out of 3 baby boomers use it to learn about a product or service.

In other words, YouTube is prime digital marketing real estate.

Types of YouTube ads available:

In-Stream Video Ads

  • Ads that play during another video
  • Skippable video ads: plays for 5 seconds before giving the viewer the option to skip
  • Non-skippable video ads: 15-second ads that don’t give the viewer the option to skip
  • Effective in increasing brand awareness and exposure

Bumper Ads

  • 6-second non-skippable ads that play before, during, or after another video

Video Discovery Ads

youtube video discover ad

  • Thumbnail of your ad with a headline and CTA
  • Ads can appear in 3 places: the Related Videos sidebar, YouTube search results, or on the YouTube homepage (mobile only)
  • Can boost conversion rates

Overlay Ads

youtube overlay ads

  • Image or text-only ads that are displayed as a banner over a video
  • Builds brand awareness without disrupting the viewer experience

Outstream Ads

  • Mobile-only ads that run on websites outside of YouTube
  • Helps expand ad reach, especially if placed on well-known sites

Masthead Ads

youtube masthead ads

  • Video ads at the top of the home feed that auto-plays once a user opens YouTube
  • Improves ad recall and reach
  • Currently only available on a reservation basis

Paid Promotion Ads

  • YouTube content creators discuss your product in their video as a paid product placement, endorsement, or sponsorship
  • Increases brand authenticity

Snapchat Ads

Snapchat is heavily used among its users – on average, the app is opened 30X a day.

Over 75% of all 13-34 year olds in the US use it, with 57.4% being female and 40.9% being male.

Types of Snapchat ads available:

Single Image or Video Ads

  • Ads that show either a single image or video in-between snaps
  • Best for clear CTA and messages

Collections Ad

  • Shows a primary image or video with 4 smaller tappable tiles below in a grid
  • Best if you want to show multiple products at once

Story Ad

snapchat story ad

  • Ads appear as a single clickable “tile” on the Discover page (normally in the top right)
  • Users click your ad to view related image or video snaps
  • Best for increasing reach or showcasing a new product

Filter Ads

snapchat filter ad

  • Visible images, texts, or logos added on top of snap photos
  • Options include community, local geofilters, and moments (such as shopping or watching a game)

Lens AR Experience

  • Create an interactive, augmented reality that users can play with
  • Users share their lens experience which grows your brand


  • Non-skippable 6-second ads that play in-between content
  • Engages your audience and drive brand awareness

Pinterest Ads

Pinterest is a social media platform that is growing every year, yet 97% of top searches on Pinterest are still unbranded. 77.1% of users are female, but male users increase by 40% each year.

Types of Pinterest ads available:

Standard Pin Ad

  • Vertical or square single image pins that appear on the home feed
  • Best for single products or to promote an idea

Video Pin Ad

  • Video ad pins that autoplay on the home feed
  • Helpful for sharing a story or how-to process

Shopping Pin Ad

pinerest shopping pin ad

  • Converts your product pins into ads with a link to your shop
  • Drives sales and conversions

Carousel Pin Ad

  • Include multiple images in one pin for people to swipe through
  • Useful for showing multiple products or features

Collections Pin Ad

pinterest collection ads

  • Shows a primary image or video with 3 smaller images below in a grid
  • Only displays on mobile
  • Best for showing a product being used in multiple ways

App Install Pin Ads

pinterest app instal ad

  • Standard pins with a CTA to download the app
  • Makes downloading apps simple, especially on mobile

TikTok Ads

TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2020 and is still booming. The largest demographic of users are 10-19 year olds.

Because TikTok is such a fast-growing social media channel it’s arguably the next big thing in the content marketing space.

Keep your eye on TikTok and consider weaving it into your social media strategy, especially if Gen-Z is your target market. As Gen-Z transitions into adulthood and begins earning and spending more, TikTok may be the most effective social media network to launch your campaigns.

Types of TikTok ads available:

In-Feed Ads

  • Content ads that appear as users scroll through their feed
  • Presented as a regular video that users can share and engage with

Brand Takeover Ads

  • A full-screen ad that appears once a user opens TikTok
  • Increases awareness and engagement since users can’t miss it

TopView Ads

tiktok topview ad

  • Full-screen ads that play at the top of the feed when opening the homepage
  • A mass amount of brand reach and impressions

Branded Hashtag Challenges

tiktok branded hashtag ads

Branded Effects

  • Create custom filters, stickers, and effects that creators can incorporate into their videos
  • Helps with engagement and social shares

Sponsored Influencer Ads

  • Content creators make videos showcasing or using your product
  • Builds authenticity while participating in viral challenges

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn ads are best for B2B, recruiters, and secondary education industries. The largest demographic is users 46+ years old. Also, 44% of users make $75,000 or more a year.

Here are the types of LinkedIn ads available:

Sponsored Content

  • Content within the news feed when a user scrolls
  • Can be images, videos, or carousel (image only, no video option)
  • Good for event awareness, more engagement, and leads

Sponsored Messaging

linkedin sponsors messaging

  • Conversion Ad: engages active users in conversation to allow for multiple CTA options
  • Message Ad: messages active users a specific message with a single CTA link
  • Best for promoting events or generating leads to a landing page

Text Ads

linkedin Text ads

  • Ads on the right side or top of the news feed (desktop only)
  • Good for targeting leads and increasing traffic to a specific landing page

Dynamic Ads

linkedin dynamic ad

  • Ads on the sidebar that are personalized to the user
  • Follower Ad: promotes your LinkedIn page for users to follow
  • Spotlight Ad: highlights your product to increase traffic to your website
  • Job Ad: encourages more job applications
  • Content Ad: offers downloadable content to increase leads. This is currently only available through a representative

5 Social Media Advertising Tips

1. Start With the Results You Want

If you don’t have a goal in mind, then you’re just throwing money away on ads.

Social media advertising works best when you know exactly what you want out of it.

Instead of thinking about what to post on each social platform, consider first what you want to get out of it. Then after that, consider which platform is best.

For example, an ad for your B2B product will probably convert better on LinkedIn over Snapchat.

2. Use Niche Influencers

Influencers can drive brand awareness but the relationship can quickly sour if you’re not careful.

To get the results you want:

  • Watch for fake followers. More important than followers is engagement on their posts.
  • Don’t disregard micro-influencers. Someone with 5,000 followers may have more loyal followers and better engagement than someone with 1 million.
  • Review content before it’s posted. Although you want to keep your influencer’s authenticity, review their content before it gets posted to ensure it aligns when your own brand value.

3. Create a Story

Social media users won’t care about your business if you’re just pushing product images.

Incorporate a story with your product to engage users. Doing so allows a user to trust your product and your authenticity.

And that’s what creates a powerful, loyal relationship between your brand and the customer: a compelling narrative.

4. Review Past Successful Posts

Don’t have a clue what resonates with your target audience?

Use what you already have.

You may have a post that generated better engagement than others. Use those to guide your next social media ad.

Afterward, you can test out which ads are converting better than others, then continue to make images and copy that are similar.

5. Don’t Forget the Basics

Smart marketers know the most important rule of social media advertising is to not forget what users care about:

What you can do for them.

How does your product or service help your audience? How does your social media presence provide value to their lives?

Value can be educating the reader, showing the product’s use case, or simply entertaining the user.

Always show how your product helps customers, not how they can help you.

Remember: you can have the biggest ad spend in your niche, but if you aren’t showing your audience how you add value to their lives, you’re throwing away money.

Imagine How Social Media Advertising Can Grow Your Business

Knowing the social media platforms and types of ads available is crucial.

Once you’ve picked the best option for your business, and have a handle on your target market, you can start crafting your first ad campaign.

Those millions of customers who haven’t heard about you (yet) are waiting.

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Charis Barg

Charis Barg is a freelance SEO writer in digital marketing and finance. Her work has been featured on sites like BuzzFeed.


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Written by Charis Barg

Charis Barg is a freelance SEO writer in digital marketing and finance. Her work has been featured on sites like BuzzFeed.