The ABCs of Paid Social Media Ads for Events


In 2018, there were 3.2 billion social media users worldwide (which is up 13 percent from 2017). That’s nearly half of the world’s population. It’s no wonder that marketing on social media can sometimes feel like you’re shouting in an extremely crowded room.

The key to marketing is getting your message to the right people at the best time. With social media, you’re largely participating in a guessing game. Your message is getting in front of people, frequently millions of people, but whether these are the right people or if they are paying any attention is a mystery.

With a scattered approach to marketing on social media, you may be reaching a global audience when you really should be speaking to a regional crowd, or you could be addressing groups of all ages when you only need to converse with a specific age range.

What’s more, according to research conducted by Adobe, 50 percent of the respondents believe that social media ads are easy to ignore. Yet, that same study also found that 42 percent of millennials and 50 percent of Gen Z believe think social media is the most relevant channel for ads.

This means that when the correct ads get in front of the correct audience, they can be very effective. This is where paid social ads can help you get your message to the audience that will be most receptive. In addition, the platform’s analytics will help you monitor and carefully adjust and perfect the strategy as your campaign progresses.

The ABCs of Paid Social – Audience, Budget, and Content


Before you invest in any paid social media, you need to identify the audience you are trying to reach. The more you can drill down on the demographic details – age, gender, location, occupation, income, education, etc. –  the better your chances of reaching your audience on their platform of choice. Each social media platform caters to a different audience and serves separate purposes.


Once you know your target audience, you will need to determine how much you intend to spend on social. When you are starting out (and, probably, as you continue), you will want to spread your ads across several different platforms and even try out different options within the platforms themselves (for example, Facebook provides a variety of options, such as ads that are exclusive to mobile or only show up in news feeds, etc.).


Photo Credit: Vantage

Some will work while others may not. But in the early stages, it is crucial to experiment and mix in a variety of ads and platforms. Don’t give up on a platform just because you didn’t immediately get your desired results. Tweak and play with your options.

However, to do so, you will need to ensure that your budget can accommodate the ability to make these adjustments. Most of the platforms charge per engagement (clicks, impressions, etc.), which means there is likely to be fluctuation in your spend. Make sure to budget for some variability.


What you are selling, who you are selling it to, and where you are selling it will all influence the type of content you produce. For example, Facebook is becoming the site for video sharing, even more than YouTube. However, it’s not ideal for photo sharing. For that, you are better served utilizing Instagram.

Here are the most popular formats for ad content and the social media platforms where they work best:

  • Videos – Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Vimeo

  • Photos – Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest

  • Infographics – LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter

  • Social networking – Facebook, LinkedIn

  • Articles (Blogs) – Twitter, Tumblr

Creating Successful Paid Social Content

While paid ads aren’t trying to disguise the fact that they are an advertisement (there’s a “paid ad” notification, usually in an upper corner), that doesn’t mean that they have to feel like ads. In fact, typically the most successful social media ad content is designed to engage viewers as opposed to sell to them.

This makes sense when you think about the primary reasons that people use social media (according to research by Global Web Index):

  • Stay in touch with friends (42 percent)

  • Remain up-to-date with news and current events (41 percent)

  • Fill up spare time (39 percent)

  • Find funny or entertaining content (37 percent)

  • Networking (34 percent)

  • Research and find products to buy (29 percent)

Making your content align with these reasons will help to ensure that it is effective.

28863322_s (4).jpg

Social Media Platforms


By the fourth quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.32 billion monthly active users (those who logged in to Facebook at least once during the last 30 days). To put that number in perspective, there are 7.7 billion people in the world. Which means that nearly one-third of all the people in the world are on Facebook.

Facebook provides a “Power Editor” that enables users to get incredibly detailed with their targeting. This includes the typical demographics, such as age and location, but it can also go much deeper, including interests, Facebook friends, and those who “like” your Facebook page. Plus, it does not cost much to get started. The minimum daily spend is $1.00. Sure, you’ll likely need to spend more to see results, but it’s still very cost effective. 

There are six different types of Facebook ads:

  • Slideshow – a combination of text, animation, and images

  • Photo – similar to a print ad; it’s an image with text

  • Video – like an ad on TV, Facebook provides a variety of options for length

  • Carousel –basically a combination of photo and video; the carousel option enables you to cycle through a variety of images and videos within a single ad

  • Collection – this type of ad is often used by brands that are selling an assortment of products; consumers can click a featured item, learn more about the product, and even buy it without having to leave the Facebook app

  • Messenger –ads placed between conversations in Facebook’s Mobile Messenger app

Facebook does have some restrictions. There is a 90-character limit for paid ads, and ads must be less than 20 percent text. Those that exceed the limit will not be approved (there is a tool to check the text-to-image ratio).


Twitter has one benefit that places it above most social media platforms, it is still rather painless for brands to organically engage followers. So, when creating a Twitter campaign, it may make sense to include organic engagement and some influencer marketing in addition to your paid ads.

Photo Credit: Alexa Blog

A great aspect of Twitter is that its ads look like the organic posts that appear in someone’s feed. The downside is that it doesn’t take long for an ad to get pushed down, lost amongst the memes. Twitter does offer the ability for your ads to appear on the left side, but it is aware of the value of this property and prices it accordingly.


Instagram’s big selling point is the engagement of its users. The platform has more than 800 million active monthly users and around 500 million daily active users. Instagram ads can link directly to your landing page or a product page.

There are four types of Instagram ads:

  • Photo – an image with text, the photos can be either square or landscape forma

  • Video – comparable to a TV ad up to 60 seconds in length, can also be in landscape or square format

  • Carousel – cycles through a variety of images and videos within a single ad, and each can contain its own individual link

  • Stories – ads utilizing stories (a series of photos or videos along with special effects that can be viewed for 24 hours) use targeting and reach your specific audience

Pricing for Instagram ads is comparable to Facebook ads.


There are 260 million active users on LinkedIn. The demographics for LinkedIn users are primarily split between male and female, and most are professionals with a college degree.

LinkedIn is ideal for targeting a business audience. LinkedIn’s targeting is not as finely detailed as other platforms, but the ability to fine tune by a variety of business demographics (job title, industry, company size, etc.) is ideal for B2B purposes.  

LinkedIn can be costly, especially for companies with tight marketing budgets. The cost per click can vary from $2-$7 per click (and can go as high as $12) with a minimum required audience size of 1,000.

If you need additional ideas for event marketing, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.