Lee Odden

Getting Started Social Media Advertising on Facebook, YouTube & LinkedIn

social media advertisingAs consumer use of and time spent on social media sites increases, the opportunities for effective advertising become more attractive to companies in search of customers to connect with.   We’ve given the advice that to grow a social network, a company should participate and engage with communities of interest.

That’s still great advice, just as it is to consider different advertising options within relevant social channels to create awareness, keep a brand top of mind or to suggest timely and relevant offers.   Advertising tools made available by social platforms are also useful research tools when collecting demographic information used with personas in organic social media marketing.

For marketers just getting started with advertising on social media sites, here’s a quick rundown on programs available through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon and Foursquare.  As with organic social media marketing, each is appropriate according to your own goals, the customers you’re trying to reach, resources, timeline and ability to measure.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook: We all know there are over 500 million active users on Facebook, but interestingly, 50% of active users log on in any given day. Each average user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.

Facebook ad costs are pretty reasonable which allows companies of just about any size or budget to test them out. Facebook publishes a pretty thorough Guide to Facebook Ads and their Help Center answers most questions you might have. Ads appear on the right side of the page.

The best practices for Facebook ads are consistent with those you might find with PPC programs on the major search engines:

  • Set goals
  • Target your audience
  • Make the product/service stand out
  • Keep the ad simple
  • Have a strong call to action
  • Make sure ads point to relevant landing pages

Of course, in the case of Facebook, many times the landing page isn’t a page on the marketer’s website selling a product, but a Fan page within Facebook.

You can get started creating Facebook Ads here.

YouTube Advertising

YouTube: As the second most popular search engine after Google and with online video advertising expected to hit 5.7 billion by 2014, YouTube presents a tremendous opportunity for exposure and engagement in a social context. Ads appear within videos or alongside them.

YouTube demographics: 18-55, with an equal mix of males and females. 51% of YouTube users visit weekly or more often, and 52% of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.

Marketers that come to grips with the reality that “make me a viral video” isn’t something you can count on, but advertising and impressions are, may choose to leverage YouTube advertising as part of the mix for promoting video content. In fact, with YouTube you can promote your own video or advertise next to others’ videos. Direct advertising on YouTube is pretty spendy, but you can also advertise on YouTube using Google AdWords.

YouTube provides a robust array of video advertising resources for marketers including best practices, how to’s, specifications, analytics, tools, and of course, if you spend enough you get an Ad Rep to take care of things.

YouTube Video Ad Best Practices Include:
  • Keep it short – The longer the message, the higher the possibility users will tune out. 60 seconds is a good benchmark.
  • Keep it engaging – Entertain, inform and be relevant. Users will view the majority of a video if they are interested and engaged.
  • Inspire, don’t just educate – Avoid focusing solely on being educational; two minutes of talking heads doesn’t work well.
  • Deliver key messages early – Plan for user tune-out near the end of the video and deliver your message early.
  • Include a call to action

In case you think online video is just for consumer marketing, you’re dead wrong. Check out this handy YouTube Guide on Best Practices for the B2B Marketer (ironic it’s a PDF and not video). Also check out Christa Toole’s Ten Tips for Those Who Still Aren’t Using YouTube.

Get started with YouTube Advertising here.

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn: This is “the” B2B social network and with nearly 90 million members in over 200 countries, presents new territory for social network advertising. A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are members according to the LinkedIn Facts page.

LinkedIn launched its own self-service ad network a few years ago, called DirectAds. There are also options for Display Ads and Sponsorships.  Get the FAQ on LinkedIn Ads to understand how it works as well as the Best Practices.  For beginners, there’s a step by step list of instructions on creating a Text Ad here.

DirectAds Best Practices Include:

  • Create effective ads (relevant, call to action, specific)
  • Create multiple ads for each campaign
  • Target the right audience
  • Set an appropriate daily budget (ad rates vary during the day according to site usage)
  • Understand how bidding works (Choose CPM or CPC)
  • Improve performance – monitor click through rates and experiment, refine

For a great beginner’s guide to LinkedIn DirectAds, check out this presentation on Slideshare and also check out this B2B Test on LinkedIn DirectAds conducted by Econsultancy.

To get started with LinkedIn DirectAds, click here. (You’ll need to be logged in to LinkedIn)

Be sure to watch for our next post on social media advertising which will cover ad & promotion options for opportunities on Twitter, Foursquare and Groupon.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    These are maybe the top three sites everyone should be taken advantage of. If you are able to build an audience..then you will grow your business.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. Avatar Mikko Rummukainen says

    Thanks for the profiles from the advertising point of view! I think this sort of info is vital at the moment for companies trying to understand the importance yet difference in terms of how to approach different types of social media outlets.

    One piece of advice I’d like to share, is that while it might be a good idea to get involved in just about every channel imaginable, these should be paired with clear objectives on what each outlet is expected to bring to the table. It could be that B2B companies can get to good results faster on LinkedIn than on Facebook, even though they could find the same customer segment from both platforms.

    One way to find out how you are doing in each platform, and understanding how to shift the weights and approaches on each is to keep track via social media measurement. This will enable companies to really understand where they have had the biggest impact, and where they should improve.

  3. I don’t think enough companies consider advertising on social media, but rather, just focus on grassroots marketing. This is a great way to get the word out

  4. It’s always important to TARGET your consumers when advertising and it’s easy to get lost on the web.

    Just think about the 3W : Who, What and Where

    Who are your consumers
    What do you want to sell them
    Where are your consumers (where to reach them)


  5. Face book, Twitter and Linked In are the powerful social media sites used world wide. Creating profiles in these networks can fetch you great business revenues as well as online visibility for your site.

  6. Avatar Michael Howard says

    Lee – Great post. It is just amazing how we are able to connect with others today. You listed the current Top 3 Social Media Sites. I am curious to see which new social media platform will climb to the top in the next 2-3 years. Bew well and Happy Holidays. ~ Mike

  7. Great intro to social media advertising, yet lots of work and knowledge of the space is needed to make it a success for companies. Done wrongly, it can easily backfire big times, hurting a good brand

  8. Hi Lee– classic article on social advertising. You should update your stats, as Facebook is now 800 million users, plus has a ton more personalization capabilities: http://www.socialmedia.biz/2011/04/12/how-to-run-an-effective-facebook-campaign-for-5/

    • Interesting suggestion Dennis. I’d love to see how many blogs update statistics about companies they mention 8 months ago. Or was this just cover so you could drop a link?

  9. Avatar @Digi_guerrilla says

    Thanks for all your information guys… Keep me up to date on any more blog posts relating to digital marketing @digi_guerrilla