The small business guide to social advertising | SMB forum by

3 MINS Team

Want to quickly grow your social media fan base, find new clients, increase sales, boost brand awareness, and build a larger community? Social advertising can do all of the above – without a huge monetary investment.

To learn more about social advertising, I turned to my friend, collaborator, and partner-in-crime Nicole Krug of Social Light, who was more than happy to share how small businesses can use social advertising to their advantage.

Here’s what I learned:

What is social advertising?

Social advertising is about gaining a wider reach for your social media content. Anything that you can post on a social media network, you can promote using social advertising.

Why use it?

You can jack up the engagement and number of eyeballs that your content gets in order to achieve a number of goals. In your social ad, you can urge people to take a number of actions:

  • Download your app
  • Click through to your website
  • Watch a video
  • Buy a product

The good news is that social advertising works for both B2C and B2B companies – you just need to choose your network.

Facebook (probably your best bet if you’re B2C) and LinkedIn (definitely the best bet for B2B) have the most sophisticated ad platforms: They let you create ads based on specific outcomes (and you can specify for mobile, too, which is really important – 80 percent of social media use is happening on mobile devices).

Here’s how social advertising works on different networks:

Social advertising on Facebook

You can opt for a promoted post in which you can ask people to like your page, watch your video, download your app, buy a product, etc. Or, you can buy an ad that will appear in the right rail (column).

Social advertising on LinkedIn

Over at LinkedIn, you have a few options. You can buy a display ad, promote an update (officially called a “direct sponsored update”), or buy a list (yes, really) and do a little email advertising for your target market.

Social advertising on Twitter

On Twitter, you can only promote your account via a promoted tweet, promoted account, or promoted trends. Yes, that’s right! You can advertise a story for 24 hours in the Twitter Trends that appear on the left side of your stream. Just be ready to whip out the checkbook: Promoted trends supposedly cost $200k!

Social advertising on Instagram and Pinterest

Social ads are just getting started on Instagram and Pinterest, and for now, you have to be invited to advertise on their networks. If you do get an invite, you have one option: a sponsored post.

How can I successfully use social advertising for my small business?

First, figure out where your target market is, and make sure you are active on that network. Instagram only invites you to advertise if your brand has already been embraced on the platform, and frankly, this is good rule to follow no matter where you are advertising.

Second, decide what parameters you’re going to use for targeting. Each network is a little different, but you can generally target by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Demographics
  • Interests

Targeting by interests is generally your best bet. Facebook even lets you target by behaviors, which is interesting and allows you to get a little sophisticated. If you want people to buy something, you can target based on purchasing behavior or charitable donations.

Third, test and refine your ad strategy. Start with a $10 per day limit and test your posts to see what is well-received. Try a combination of videos, photos, and blog posts to see what happens.

The good news is that you will get instant feedback! When you run a successful ad, look at the all the elements in your ad and replicate it.

Got any questions about social advertising or a success story to share with us? Leave your questions and comments below!

Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

Author information


Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at

Trending Topics