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What's Working In Paid Social Media Advertising

September 25, 2017

By Brooke Tomasetti

Whats working in paid social advertising.jpg

As an increasing number of organizations, from large corporations to small nonprofits, move their advertising and marketing budgets into paid social media advertising, everyone is seeking to understand what’s really working and how they can stand out as platforms become more saturated with advertisers. Don’t worry—there is still enormous opportunity on social ad platforms, and the cost of running ads remains low compared with other channels.

Ready to compare successes and apply a couple new tactics to your ads? Let’s explore some of the social media advertising platforms, ad types, and strategies that we have found to be particularly successful in recent months.


Facebook Lead Form Ads

If you don’t apply any other tactic or ad type from this blog post to your paid social media advertising, that’s okay, as long as you test Facebook lead form ads. Lead form ads are exactly what they sound like: When a user clicks on your ad, a form opens up right in Facebook.

The best thing about these ads is that Facebook takes the user’s information and automatically completes the form for the user, so all the user has to do is hit the button to get your offer or sign up for your newsletter. This removes a lot of the friction with normal Facebook ads, in which the user must click the ad, be directed away from Facebook and to your site, and then fill out a form and click the download button. With Facebook lead form ads, it’s as easy as tap, tap, tap.

Building the Lead Form Ad

Setting up lead form ads in Facebook isn’t difficult. You’ll want to use Facebook’s Power Editor to build and manage lead form ads. When setting up the new campaign, set the campaign objective to Lead Generation. Then, you’re ready to create your ad set and craft your ad creative and lead forms. The form setup will look like the image below:

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Below are a few tips and things to test when creating lead form ads:

  • Test the ad images and headlines as you would with any other Facebook ad.
  • Create a few versions of your ad image with text overlay to catch the attention of users scanning their newsfeed. You’re much likelier to read text on an image than to read the headline or description copy of a suggested post. Example below:

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  • Instead of the paragraph layout option, use bullets to highlight the unique benefits of your offer—similar to landing page best practices.
  • If you toggle over to Settings on the form setup, you can update the sharing settings so that the ad can be shared and anyone can submit the form. Otherwise, only people who receive your ad directly can submit the form.

Quick tip for HubSpot users: If you have the Facebook ads add-on, new leads will automatically be imported into your contacts database. Otherwise, you should manually export leads from Facebook and import them into HubSpot or whichever customer relationship management you use so that you can nurture these new leads.

Related Content: Social Media Marketing—Feeds, Growth and Reporting.


Run Ads Against Content That You Know Works

By this, I mean analyze the blogs, offers, and other content that’s already working well organically with your ideal buyer personas and run ads promoting that content. This applies to any type of social media ad you’re creating, whether it’s a Facebook lead form ad or a promoted pin on Pinterest. If a piece of content is converting well and brings in the majority of your new leads and customers, it’s a safe bet that it will resonate with your target audience as a paid ad.

What to Look for

  • Most-viewed blog posts that also have high click-through rates.
  • Premium content offers with high submission rates and/or view-to-contact rates.
  • For decision-stage offers, look for ones that actually convert leads to customers (view-to-customer rate).
  • Check what call-to-action copy is driving the highest click-through rates on the website for the offer and borrow that copy to test in your ads.


Video Is King

You’ve heard plenty of times about how huge video is for social media and paid social, and that’s not about to go away anytime soon. Short videos are king on Instagram and Facebook, and utilizing video in your paid social media ads will boost your results.

Below are a few tips and ideas for using video in your ads:

  • The first few seconds of the video are key to grabbing the user’s attention.
  • Repurpose top blog posts and your other popular content into short videos.
  • Content that is educational and inspirational typically performs best. For example, if you’re selling certifications, tell a story in your video about how a student changed his or her career and life after earning his or her certification—much more powerful than slapping some “buy now” copy on an image and calling it a day.
  • Use tracking URLs—this applies to all and any social ads you run so that you can track the effectiveness of the paid ads on your campaign.
  • Don’t have the resources to create great videos?
    • Try Facebook’s slideshow ads—you can create a slideshow using multiple images. Don’t forget to add caption copy to the images so that users can tell what the ad is about when scrolling. Check out this blog post for more information on slideshow ads. These slideshow ads can be served on Facebook and Instagram.
    • There are tons of tools out there that make video creation easy. Play around with tools such as Lumen5 or Biteable.

As with all your paid social ads, the most important thing is your targeting. If your ads aren’t reaching the right audience, it doesn’t matter how great the content is. Secondly, always be testing your targeting, ad copy, and images to base what you’re doing on data.

What has been working for you with paid social ads? Let me know in the comments, and best of luck tweaking your ad campaigns to test out these tactics!


Reach new levels of exposure and brand awareness with:

Social Media Marketing: Feeds, Growth and Reporting

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Topics: Social Media Marketing, Paid Social