top of page

How to Create a Social Media Ad Campaign

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

In today's digital world, advertising is no longer limited to TV, radio, and print ads - people are taking to social media to promote their brands.

With organic reach stunted across the board, the shift to social advertising has been a good move for businesses. One article revealed that advertising on social media generated leads for 70% of businesses, and 58% of marketers claimed that it helped increase revenue.

It's no question then that social media has made prime real estate for advertising. With thousands of businesses vying for consumers' attention, though, it can be tough to stand out in overcrowded online spaces.

Creating a social media ad campaign - and an effective one at that - can get eyeballs to your business, potentially increasing leads and, thereby, sales.

What A Social Media Ad Campaign Is

social media ad definition

A social media ad campaign is a strategy that calls attention to a business's products or services using paid announcements that target existing and prospective customers.

It will consist of a series of activities that combine content and promotional elements and can take place on a single platform or across multiple channels that offer advertising options, including:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Twitter

  • TikTok

  • LinkedIn

  • YouTube

Why Invest In Social Advertising

With organic reach declining, due largely to the oversaturation of businesses all competing for social ad space, social advertising can offer a leg up when you want to draw attention to your efforts.

Unlike organic ads, paid ads can surpass fickle algorithms and increase your chances of getting noticed. They're helpful for small businesses that want to introduce their brand to potential consumers or remind their existing customer base about the products or services they offer.

In a survey from Marketing Charts, 77.6% of small to medium-sized businesses used social media to advertise, with Facebook being their number one platform of choice. Although the survey is from 2016, it still applies today that Facebook is one of the most popular networks to market a small business.

brand statistic with arrows and a blue circle

Social advertising also has merits for businesses that are currently leveraging social media's marketing potential. According to one statistic, 49% of internet users say they are more likely to buy brands they see as advertised - which is proof that a well-executed social ad campaign can support an ongoing social media marketing strategy and even bolster your organic reach.

Creating A Social Media Ad Campaign

If you want to create a social media ad campaign, you won't just need a budget to fund it but also a strategy to pull it successfully. The process will require careful planning combined with hard work. A successful ad campaign can ensure your expenditure is worth it and even save you precious advertising dollars in the end.

However, the task of creating a social advertising campaign can be daunting, especially if you don't know where to start. Consider this blog post as your helpful guide. We'll walk you through the steps of creating from start to end.

Set A Goal For The Ad Campaign

Using a SMART goals method is the best way to figure out what kind of goals you will be focusing on for your ad.

The first step to creating a social media ad campaign is to set a goal. A goal could serve as a roadmap for your social advertising campaign strategy and get you headed in the right direction. You might want:

  • More leads

  • More customers

  • More engagement

  • More revenue

To figure out what you should prioritize, consider a social media audit.

social media audit definition

A social media audit is a systematic process that involves gathering social data about what consumers are saying about your brand and what your competitors are doing on social media. The audit can help you determine the appropriate steps to take for your social advertising campaign.

While there are many ways to go about a social media audit, this particular template is after Neil Patel's method. (In the same blog post where he shares his method, he also walks readers through his process of analyzing "network-specific metrics.”) To start, open to a blank page in Google Sheets, then create separate columns for:

  • Account/URL

  • Follower count

  • Engagement

  • Demographic information

  • Popular content

Once you've laid out all your data, you'll have an overview of what worked and what did not, what your competitors are doing on social media, and how you can leverage their strategy to differentiate yourself from them. Knowing this will help you establish a goal that aligns with your top-priority brand or business objectives.

As you're setting your goal, get into the details - the exact dollar amounts and percentages, what you'll do to achieve that goal, and how long it will take to reach it. In other words, the more specific you make it, the higher your chances of making an effective social media ad campaign.

Identify Your Target Audience

Your target audience is the people who are most likely to avail of your products or services. Moreover, they can make or break your social advertising campaign.

target audience analysis

The wrong audience can sabotage even the most well-thought-through strategy, so it's imperative to choose wisely.

Making that choice will require a systematic process - one that begins with researching the demographic information of your target audience.

Gather data on their shopping behavior and spending patterns, and their identity by age, sex, location, and other details. You might want to dive even deeper by determining your target audience’s pain points and how your product or service can address them.

You should also know which social networks your target audience frequents. For example, a recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that most 18 to 29-year olds polled say they use Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. But among the older generation, Facebook and YouTube are the most used platforms.

You can obtain all this information through social media analytics. Additionally, you can also survey your existing customer base. Collect information to support your data or fill in any missing information. You could also ask your participants what they like and dislike and what they might want to see from your ads.

If you want to learn more about finding and reaching your target audience, you can read about it on this blog post.

Plan Your Campaign Strategy

Once you’ve identified your target audience, now it's time to plan your campaign strategy, which consists of content and promotional activities. As you strategize, you want to keep your customers top of mind and meet them where they are on their buyer's journey.

A buyer's journey consists of three stages:

  1. The awareness stage

  2. The consideration stage

  3. The decision stage

Customers in the awareness stage realize they have an issue and will research to resolve that problem or need. Social ads served to this customer might want to focus on how a product or service can improve their lives.

Customers will know what you offer in the consideration stage but still need convincing whether your product or service is adequate. This stage is a chance to run ads that closely identify their pain points and how you can provide them with a solution.

Lastly, customers in the decision stage are narrowing down their list of brand prospects to a few possibilities. At this stage, you want to showcase why your brand is unique - and why it is the best option for them.

If potential customers come to your site through social media channels, they might not buy right away - and that's okay! If they liked what they saw, they're more likely to purchase from you later on. To re-engage lost leads, you can use remarketing websites, like AdRoll, or a lead magnet.

A lead magnet essentially refers to a free product or service - in exchange for your customer's contact details. It will typically link up to your email marketing service so that you can guide them from the first to the last stage of the buyer's journey. Just keep in mind that your lead magnet has to be valuable enough to give you their information.

Make Your Ads

When you align your strategy to meet customers in their buyer's journey, you can likewise create targeted and personalized ads for your audience. There is no one way to make an ad, but successful ads have several features in common. These often include:

Another thing to keep in mind as you create ads is to use more than one format to avoid monotony and keep things exciting for your audience. Various social ad formats that you can use include:

  • Photo ads

  • Video ads

  • Story ads

  • Slideshow ads

  • Carousel ads

Regardless of the format you use, it's essential to make your ads worth your target audience's time. After all, you are paying for their attention. People tend to like ads that put the spotlight on them.

Appeal to their emotions or create educational content that you think might be valuable. It might also be helpful to revisit previous social media content, see which have had the most organic reach among your audience, and then model your paid ads after that.

In other words, let the research that you conducted on your target audience guide you!

Create A Content Calendar

Now that you've outlined your content ideas, it's time to get organized. One of the easiest ways to transform your strategy into an actionable game plan is to create a content calendar.

A calendar is essentially a schedule of when and, in this case, which social platforms you plan on posting on your content.

While a content calendar is used primarily for this purpose, it can also serve as a content backlog. You can use a backlog to document ideas as they arise and keep track of important dates, such as holidays, trending topics, and seasonal content that you might want to use in the future.

You can use Google Sheets to create your content calendar from scratch. Alternatively, you can build your calendar from a template. There are many options that you can explore online - Some even come free of charge!

Sites like Asana and AirTable also function as productivity sites to help your team better work collaboratively.

It's essential to involve everyone who's taking part in your social media ad campaign in the process of creating your content calendar. That way, you can delegate tasks as needed and ensure that everyone aligns on proposed deadlines and knows specific responsibilities they must uphold.

Conduct A/B Testing

At this step, it's nearly time to launch your ad campaign. But first, you want to ensure that your paid social ads have the most chance of succeeding. One way to do this is to perform A/B testing.

A/B testing definition

If you want to test one of your ads, you'll have to choose what you believe is the best option (the champion) against a challenger. A challenger is essentially a version of your "champion" with a single element change. This element can be your call-to-action, your visual, or your copy.

Since A/B testing can take some time, with some running over a month, you want to ensure that what you're testing is the best possible choice for the task.

You'll decide this not by gut-feel, but according to the goals you set, the data you gathered on your target audience, and best social ad strategy practices.

Once you've decided on which ads you want to test, use your existing customer base to help you determine the best option. You can use automated marketing software to divide your audience into two random groups, then promote your variables to them simultaneously.

example of A/B testing with purple and white colors

While this isn't necessary to create a social media campaign, it can help finetune your plan before your ads go live.

Testing an ad can also gather some initial data about the effectiveness of your ad and help inform your decisions about the campaign moving forward.

Track Your Progress And Adjust As Needed

So you've launched your ad campaign - congratulations! Even if your ad campaign is off the ground, you still want to track your progress to ensure you're stretching your ad dollars as much as possible. You can see the rewards you've reaped from your ad campaign - here are a few social ad metrics to keep in mind and how to track them:

social media ad metrics to track on purple and red background

It's crucial to track how well your paid ads are frequently performing. Tracking will help you determine if they're working for your business and if there's anything to focus or improve on so you can increase your campaign's performance.

Running paid ads will take some trial-and-error, but it can be rewarding if you're thoughtful in your approach.

How to Create A Social Media Ad Campaign

In summary, creating a social media ad campaign will involve a series of concerted steps to make it successful. So, to recap:

  1. Set a goal for the ad campaign

  2. Identify your target audience

  3. Plan your campaign strategy

  4. Make your ads

  5. Create a content calendar

  6. Perform A/B Testing

  7. Track your process and adjust as needed

When performed correctly, social advertising can promote awareness for your brand and potentially convert leads into loyal customers. By using this guideline to aid you in your next social media ad campaign, you'll increase your chances of reaching your business goal and making sure that your paid ads get to your target audience.

For those who are new to social advertising, there can be a learning curve involved. If you need an extra hand at executing a successful campaign, Zoek's web and SEO services are here if you need them. To know more about how we can help, feel free to reach out to one of our experts.


Danielle Calma is a contributing writer for Zoek, the SEO, Web Design, and Digital Marketing Agency that assists small and medium-sized businesses with their online footprint. She has been a writer for over five years, with most of her experience concentrated in the e-commerce industry. When she isn't typing away on her keyboard, she can be found outside, taking aimless walks around her city, or curled up with a book next to her cat.


bottom of page