Social Media Advertising: Creating a Strategy With Influencers

GRIN also recommends this free guide: How to Get ROI from Influencer Marketing.

social media advertising with influencers grin influencer marketing

Every brand wants a strong organic reach on social media. Without a doubt, the steps you take to build that organic reach help you maintain authenticity with your audience. 

But as social media grows more popular and algorithms more unpredictable, marketers look to paid social ads to pinpoint ideal audiences and expand their reach. And brands are partnering with top-performing influencers to create that ad content.

Some social media platforms have advertising tools that are more advanced than others, which can make them a better choice for your social campaign. For example, on LinkedIn and Pinterest, you can only run one ad at a time while Facebook allows up to 20 ads at a time. Some channels, like YouTube and Facebook/Instagram, offer detailed ad and audience analytics, while others only show you less in-depth insights.

most effective channels for performance marketing campaigns at their company grin influencer marketing
Image via eMarketer

Regardless, every channel possesses its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The platforms that you use, the content you select/create, and your proficiency with those ad targeting features can make the difference between outstanding and mediocre results.

What are the different ways to advertise on social media?

Recognizing that you have several ad-optimized social channels to choose from, take a moment to think through the type of ads you want to run. The type of content, brand voice, and products you choose to promote will naturally lend themselves to certain ad styles.

Video ads

Compelling videos are a social media advertising staple. They work on any budget, and they’re perfect for social because people love watching them. 

Common video ad styles include:

  • Vertical, short-form
  • Horizontal, short-form
  • Pre, mid, or post-roll ads within a video post
  • Skippable or non-skippable before a video post or within a newsfeed/FYP (for you page)

Image ads

Many channels allow you to create ads using images. Marketers can leverage influencer-generated lifestyle images just as easily as they can studio collections, infographics/charts, and memes.

Common image ad styles include:

  • Product studio displays
  • IRL (in real life) or lifestyle photos
  • Branded charts or infographics
  • Branded memes
  • Shoppable images (multiple products tagged within a single image)

Carousel, collection, or slideshow ads

Carousel or collection ads let you combine multiple images, short videos, or a combination of the two. For those platforms that allow you to set up a shop/store, you can easily pull from your in-app inventory to build an ad collection for easy checkout.

Overlay ads

Some video channels allow you to place an ad overlay on a small portion of the screen during video playback. These videos are usually designed as a long, horizontal banner ad.

Ephemeral ads (Stories)

Facebook and Instagram have popularized Stories, vertically-formatted posts that last 24 hours before disappearing. These ephemeral features also allow ads with interactive tools, such as link clicks and swipe-ups.

Augmented reality (AR) ads

If you have an in-house creative team, you can use augmented reality to offer an ad experience that is truly impressive. Using AR filters to let users try on clothes and accessories, or you can offer virtual tours.

Popular AR ad styles include:

  • AR filters
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Virtual tours
  • Interactive 3D models/previews

Interactive/Polling ads

One social advertising trend that often goes unnoticed are brands polling public opinion on products or lifestyle issues. While these ads don’t directly support conversions, they do drive engagement, make great brand introductions, and provide your product developers with critical insights.

What are the best social media platforms for paid advertising?

The most popular social ad platforms are Facebook and YouTube. Facebook Ads Manager and YouTube Advertising offer the most in terms of audience targeting, analytics, and ad design.

That said, just because these two platforms are the most popular doesn’t mean that they are the best fit or only paid social solution for your brand. The best social media platforms for paid advertising are going to be those where your ideal customers prefer to engage.

Additionally, you should know which types of content do the best job of showing off your brand. Whatever channel you use needs to allow you to showcase your brand as effectively as possible.

Incorporating influencers in your social media advertising

Paid social media carries certain costs, such as ad costs which are cost per click or impression, or other performance based metrics.

Production cost of ad content – copy, graphics, etc. Some brands hire internal creative teams to build ads, while others contract with agencies to manage ad design for them.

But if you already run influencer campaigns, then you can easily save on production costs by repurposing influencer content.

Not only that, but you can reuse creator content that you already know will perform well. This benefit increases your return on ad spend, further lowering costs and increasing results.

As you prepare to leverage influencer-generated content for paid ads, here is a quick list of questions to ask yourself before you move forward:

  • Do I have the rights to the influencer content that I want to use in ads?
  • Can I produce variations on the copy (headlines, CTAs, descriptions/captions, etc.) for A/B testing?
  • Which audience segments/niches responded best to selected influencer posts?
  • Can an influencer post perform across more than one social channel?

Getting answers to these questions will help you set up your social media advertising campaigns.

How much do social media ads cost?

Most social media ad platforms follow the PPC (pay per click) model, and CPC (cost per click) can range from a few cents to $50 per click. Most experienced digital marketers consider the average Facebook CPC to be around $1.72. But as the graph below shows, these costs vary greatly depending on your audience and industry.

facebook advertising average cost per click across all industries
Image via WordStream

Some platforms offer variations to the CPC model by allowing you to choose cost per engagement (CPE), cost per impression (CPM), or cost per follower (CPF). Your marketing objectives will determine which cost structure works best for your brand.

Additionally, you’ll be able to set daily or total campaign spend limits. However, each social media channel distributes your spend differently. For example, many Twitter ad specialists report that their daily limit dries out early in the day compared to Facebook and LinkedIn.

Social media advertising by channel: A comparison guide

Instagram

Advertising on Instagram is powered by Facebook for Business, which means that the tools you get on Facebook Ads Manager also apply to your IG ads.

Social Media Advertising: Creating a Strategy With Influencers 1
Instagram Ads are managed within Facebook Ads Manager

Another great benefit of IG ads is its creator-focused platform. Repurposing influencer posts on Instagram is seamless, whether you are uploading images/video from your own creator content library or whitelisting your influencer’s content.

Pros

  • Access to nearly every ad type, including:
    • Video
    • Image
    • Collections (from your Instagram Shop)
    • Ephemeral
    • AR
    • Interactive/polling
  • Intuitive audience targeting features
  • Advertise on both IG and FB simultaneously
  • Advanced ad analytics 

Cons

  • You may need a Facebook Ads Manager expert to achieve best results

Facebook

The process for setting up and managing Facebook Ads is almost identical to IG ads. That said, Facebook audiences are different from IG audiences. 

distribution of facebook users worldwide as of july 2021
Image via Statista

Pros

  • Access to nearly every ad type, including:
    • Video
    • Image
    • Collections (from your Facebook Shop)
    • Ephemeral
    • AR
    • Interactive/polling
  • Intuitive audience targeting features
  • Advertise on both IG and FB simultaneously
  • Advanced ad analytics 

Cons

  • You may need a Facebook Ads Manager expert to achieve best results

YouTube

YouTube Ads are run within Google Ads. You have access to vast buyer data and analytics fed by the leading search engine in the world. 

creating youtube ads in google ads account for video ads
Image via YouTube

Because you’re advertising on a strictly video platform, you don’t have quite as many ad design options as you do with Facebook/Instagram. But considering the volume of active YouTube users, the lack of ad design options is hardly a setback.

Pros

  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Overlay
    • Interactive/polling
  • Advantages of the Google Ads workspace
    • Advanced targeting
    • Advanced analytics
  • Audience targeting for social users and TV subscribers

Cons

  • You may need a YouTube/Google Ads expert for best results

Twitter

Though not quite as in-depth as Facebook Ads Manager or Google Ads, Twitter’s campaign creator tool is still fairly intuitive. You can target audiences and build ads using several different content styles and CTAs.

twitter ads creating target audiences and building ads using different content styles
Image via Twitter

Pros

  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Image
    • Interactive/polling
  • Intuitive audience targeting features
  • Strong ad analytics
  • Text-focused ads perform better on Twitter than on other platforms

Cons

  • Character count limits
  • Not terribly advanced or user-friendly
  • Mediocre conversation tracking

TikTok

TikTok advertising is the newest player on the list, but it is by no means lagging behind. Businesses can sign up for a TikTok Ads Manager account and enjoy features not unlike Facebook Ads Manager.

tiktok ads for social media advertising
Image via TikTok

Rumor has it that TikTok is very close to launching its own version of in-app shopping and set of social commerce upgrades. When/if this happens, ecommerce brands will definitely want to be active on the fastest-growing social channel in history.

Pros

  • Newest & fastest-growing social platform
  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Collection
    • Interactive/polling
  • User-friendly management dashboard

Cons

  • Arguably the most expensive
  • Ideal for consumers under 30 years old

LinkedIn

For the general functionality of a Facebook Ads Manager directed solely toward B2B lead generation, LinkedIn Ads are the best way to go. 

linkedin ads for social media marketing
Image via LinkedIn

While the platform focuses on helping professionals find and engage prospects, LinkedIn Ads will also drive brand awareness for a wide range of industries, including SaaS, professional services, local businesses, and more.

Pros

  • Leading B2B PPC platform for lead generation and brand awareness
  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Image 
    • Collection (usually in the form of slideshares)
    • Interactive/polling
  • Best in customer support

Cons

  • Not ideal for B2C and retail brands
  • Users report the platform exceeding their daily or total campaign limits by as much as 20%

Pinterest

Brands with fans on Pinterest can promote posts and shops easily using Pinterest Ads Manager. While not as robust as Facebook and YouTube, the dashboard is user-friendly and has a native feel that few platforms can compete with.

pinterest ads for social media marketing
Image via HawkSEM

Pros

  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Image 
    • Carousel/collection
    • Interactive/polling
  • Perfect for targeting niche audiences in:
    • DIY
    • Food & beverage
    • Health & wellness
    • Crafts
    • Travel
    • Digital marketing professional services
    • Fashion

Cons

Twitch

You’re going to be interested in using Twitch advertising if your audience consumes hours of live streaming from gamers, musicians, hobbyists, and more.

That said, the Twitch ad environment serves primarily banner or commercial-break-style ads. Also, creators have major say in what ads display on their profile before, during, or after their live streams.

Pros

  • Twitch audiences are highly engaged, and a Twitch creator partnership that gives your brand shout-outs can significantly boost your ad results
  • Access to the following ad types:
    • Video
    • Image (including banner ads)
    • Carousel/collection
    • Overlay
  • Perfect for targeting niche audiences in:
    • Gaming
    • Cooking
    • Fitness
    • Art & music

Cons

  • Very difficult to succeed without creator partnerships
  • Limited audience

What is influencer whitelisting?

A growing number of influencer marketers are partnering with hand-picked creators to run ads using the whitelisting technique.

Influencer content whitelisting occurs when an influencer grants the brand advertising permissions to an influencer’s social media account. Typically, influencer whitelisting has a mutually beneficial relationship for both the brand and influencer. With social ad targeting, brands can reach audiences that they know are responsive to branded content. Similarly, a brand’s social ad targeting exposes the influencer to a wider audience.” – GRIN, Influencer Content Whitelisting- Everything you need to know

Whitelisting is a cutting edge strategy that won’t work for every brand-creator relationship. But if you have a strong working relationship with a creator that knows how to create high-quality, aesthetic content, influencer whitelisting might be a perfect fit for your brand.

Checklist for creating a social media and advertising strategy with influencers

1. Set your goals & KPIs.

It’s critical to decide what it is that you want your ads to accomplish. One thing that is great about social media advertising is that most platforms ask you to define your campaign objective(s) right away.

Planning your goals and KPIs ahead of time improves your chances of getting the highest return on ad spend (ROAS).

2. Pinpoint your audience segments.

Many of the ad management platforms above allow you to get as specific as possible in your targeting. In fact, the more specific you are in your audience targeting, the lower your cost per click/engagement/impression/etc.

what you need to know about your target marketing - who they are, where they are, and how connected they are
Image via PrograMetrix

If you have buyer personas, you can use them to dial in your ad targeting for best results.

3. Become familiar with your social ads manager platform of choice.

Many social media ad management tools are complex. 

Get to know the ads manager before launching a full campaign. A good strategy to start with is to launch a couple ads on a low budget to understand how the platform performs for you.

The more proficient you and your team are with the ads manager system, the easier it will be to reach your goals.

4. Identify the right keywords.

Most ad platforms ask you to provide keywords specific to your industry, product, and audience. If you have an SEO expert on your team, they can be an excellent resource at this stage.

You can also utilize free tools online, such as Google’s Keyword Planner.

5. Pull high-performing content from your influencer content library.

So long as you have the rights, any of your creator content is fair game. Instead of creating social ads from scratch, revisit some of your best influencer campaigns and peruse those posts.

These posts are excellent for ad repurposing. Not only do they save you production costs, but they also contain performance data. In other words, you can use content that you know for a fact will resonate with your audience.

6. Build your ad.

Even as you repurpose influencer content, you may have to alter dimensions and brainstorm headlines, captions, and calls-to-action (CTAs). While making edits, try to focus on minor adjustments so that you retain the IRL (in real life) essence of your top-performing influencer posts.

7. Set your budget.

Each PPC platform allows you to set your spend limits. Make sure to set those limits (i.e., daily, total campaign, etc.) carefully. If you’re using LinkedIn, remember that the ads manager may exceed your budget slightly, and it’s always a good idea to check in on those ads regularly to ensure that you stay within your budget.

8. Run your ad & track performance.

Most social ads managers have a 24 hour approval phase. Within 24 hours of submitting your ad, it should go live as long as there are ad violations.

Use the dashboard to track your ad’s performance. If you’re running multiple ads at once, you can compare results and draw insights about what types of content and copy gain traction with your audience.

9. Use ad insights to refine your content requirements for creators.

Very quickly, you’ll notice that having a certain asset (image, video, etc.) could drastically improve your ad campaign. Take note of these insights and consider updating your influencer campaign briefs so that you can plan ahead for future ad campaigns while building out your content library.

It’s also important to recognize that not every creator on your influencer team will be able to produce the kind of content that works in ads, and that’s okay. But for those creators that have the right talent, it will save you time and money if you can keep content repurposing in mind when launching your influencer campaigns.

10. Test, tweak, & relaunch your campaigns.

Like any marketing strategy, your success depends on your ability to absorb performance data, test variations, and refine your approach over time. Try to be patient with yourself and your team as you improve your skills with each social platform.

Conclusion: Leverage influencer-generated content to create compelling, lifestyle ads for a higher ROI.

Once you achieve great results during your influencer marketing campaigns, remember that your success doesn’t have to end there. Using influencer-generated content in your social media advertising will help you get more mileage out of your influencer program, lower your customer acquisition costs, and increase overall ROI.

Collecting and managing an influencer content library doesn’t have to be complicated. Use GRIN to simplify the content repurposing process and increase your program ROI.

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What the best brands are doing to drive revenue from influencer marketing

Whether you are just getting started with influencer marketing or already have your program in place, this guide gives you the tools to get the return on investment your C-level will love. 

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