Social media, love it or hate it, is one of the most effective means of advertising available today. Social media tends to have accessible options for demographic targeting of potential consumers as well as relatively low price points, especially in comparison to mass media outlets or publications. This combination of usability and affordability make social media especially well suited for new and small businesses. 

In this article you will find a description of social media channels, the primary demographics within those channels, price points for ad purchases, and some basic concepts to get you started if you choose to manage your own ads. Let’s start with the basics. 

Which social media platforms offer ad services?

Your primary social media platforms for advertising are as follows (Note: There are other social platforms out there, but we are focusing on the most widely used platforms because of their overall exposure to target audiences.)

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

This gives you a wide variety of platforms to use. (Note: If you are unfamiliar with the jargon, first, don’t beat yourself up over it. Marketers use all kinds of jargon. A platform is an environment where a piece of software is executed. In this case, Facebook is a platform, LinkedIn is a platform, and so on.)

Having this many platforms is both good and bad. This is a good thing because you have a wide variety at your disposal. This can be a bad thing because this much variety can leave you asking, “Which one of these darn things should I use?” We have a simple tip for this scenario, use the platform that best targets your potential audience. If there is more than one, use the platform with the lowest cost of entry and the widest mass appeal. As grandpa always said, “You catch more fish with a larger net.” 

Now, let’s dive into each platform and discuss their demographics (Your potential target audiences.)

What does all this mean? 

social media illustration

We have all seen demographics information on some level. This information is highly useful if you know what it means, but if you don’t know how to apply it, it remains utterly useless. Each social media platform has a demographic which can guide you on how to use it. Let’s dive in to see if we can make sense of the data. 

Facebook stats

Facebook: Facebook is the juggernaut of social media. In nearly every meaningful consumer demographic in the United States, at least 69% of the population has it. It is hard to find a single area of the consumer population where Facebook does not dominate all other social media platforms. Through Facebook, you can easily reach any demographic audience you want to target. 

On the downside, most advertisers know about Facebook’s dominance and as a result there is a lot of competition for ads. Sites like Facebook that feature a lot of ads also get consumers used to seeing them. Similar to what has happened to banner ads on websites, consumers get very good at filtering out ads and browsing past them. 

You can easily assemble an ad on Facebook and target it towards a specific audience. The interface for Facebook ads is intuitive and easy to manage. Keeping in mind “Marketing on the Cheap,” make sure you set limits on your spending or you may have a healthy bill very quickly. Your rate will depend on the size of audience you target and the competition for specific keywords. Luckily, you can see all of this up front with Facebook when you put the ad together. Ads can be assembled for as low as $1.00-$5.00 per day and with a low limit of $32.00 per campaign. Cost per click is hard to estimate with Facebook because it is dependent on the campaign and the size of the audience targeted. 

When assembling an ad for Facebook you need to take into account your level of competition. You need to focus on catching the attention of viewers among the static of other ads. Your message, visuals, and offer need to be engaging among a sea of other engaging ads. 

LinkedIn stats

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a reputation as a platform for professionals. The demographic data for LinkedIn reflects this. The data points to pay attention to with LinkedIn are that 49% of consumers making 75K or more and 51% of consumers with a college education use the platform. If your target audience encompasses business decision makers and high income professionals, LinkedIn is a highly viable solution. 

There is not a ton of competition on LinkedIn for ad space. Taking this into account, you must focus on the primary audience on LinkedIn being professionals. Your ads on this platform should be professionally targeted. LinkedIn ads are typically more per click and impression than other platforms, averaging around $2 per click. 

Instagram stats

Instagram: The user audience of Instagram is fairly even across the board, with between 30% and 45% of overall audiences using the platform… until we get to age. The primary user audiences for Instagram tend to be dominated by younger individuals. Instagram is owned by Facebook and is centered around image based content. This is not the place to go for posting articles and information. 

Instagram has an average age range of 18-29 years old. Since the platform is centered around personal imagery, stock photos don’t fly as well here. Users on Instagram crave original visual content that shows originality and must be genuine. The age range of Instagram brings down the purchasing power of its users. Consumers in this age range do not carry the same incomes that you will see, for instance, on LinkedIn. Ads will cost you between $.21-$2.00 per click. 

Twitter stats

Twitter: Despite our current political environment, Twitter has relatively low exposure as a percentage of the population base as compared to other social media platforms. By the numbers, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Twitter is not a powerful platform, it just doesn’t carry the masses like Facebook. Twitter averages an audience capture of between 19%-30% across most demographics. The one thing to note in the Twitter audience is that this platform trends young, with a majority of the audience being between 18-30 years old. 

Twitter advertising demographically is a useful platform for accessing younger audiences but the user base is not as large as other platforms. This can be limiting and can also have its benefits. Unl ike Facebook, you will not be facing an onslaught of competition for your ads. Average cost per click tends to be low, in the $.38 range.

Snapchat stats

Snapchat: When it comes to targeting young demographics, you can’t do much better than Snapchat. While other audiences may be small, with ages 18-24 around 73% of the U.S. population uses Snapchat. Snapchat is a visually based platform and any ads used on it need to reflect this. Video ads should be short, in the range of 5-6 seconds for best results. 

Snapchat lacks the metrics that you see on other platforms, meaning it is hard to measure your success. Snapchat used to be fairly expensive to run ads on, in the $10,000.00 range, but recently minimums have been dropped to $3,000.00 per month. In light of our topic, Marketing on the Cheap, Snapchat is not cheap. 

Pinterest stats

Pinterest: Pinterest has led the way with female social media users. On the platform, females dominate the membership with 42% of female social media users and only 15% of male users. Also to note, there is a higher percentage or Pinterest’s female users that have earnings of 75k+. Pinterest does have a minimum of $.10 per click on CPC based campaigns. On average you can expect $2.00 – $5.00 per thousand impressions and $.10-$1.50 per engagement on Pinterest, making if very affordable. Pinterest ads can take some getting used to as there are several different categories such as Promoted Pins, One Tap Pins, Promoted Carousels, Promoted Video Pins, and Promoted App Pins. Each one of these types of ads will have to be researched to see which is best for your situation.

YouTube stats

YouTube: Everybody uses YouTube. The platform is a phenomenon. Whether you are trying to figure out how to fix your car engine or watch funny cat videos, there is something on YouTube for everybody. Demographically, a whopping 90%-93% of U.S. citizens between the ages of 18-30 use YouTube. The numbers drop off as the audience grows older, but not by much. In fact, you won’t see much a drop in user numbers unless your target audience is 65+ in age. 

Advertising on YouTube varies in effectiveness. Essentially, you will need to produce a video which can be expensive. Not only will you need to produce video, but you will also need to produce quality videos rather than a self-shot cell phone video like you can do on other platforms. The reason for this is the sheer amount of quality video already existing on YouTube, you’ve got competition. As an average, YouTube video costs around $3.21 per click but there are also no minimums on the platform. This means that if you watch your budget, you can be fairly frugal when advertising on the platform.

Basic advice for ad management:

illustration of like and dislike icons

The management of ads on each specific platform will be addressed in articles down the road. There is quite simply too much information to place into one article without putting a reader to sleep. This being said, we can give you some pointers that should help guide you as you set up a social media ad. 

Set your maximums: 

There’s no worse feeling than opening up your account, only to realize that you’ve spent two years of budget in a couple of weeks. This situation has happened to countless marketers so don’t let this situation fall upon you. Make sure you set up your maximum expenditure every time you place an ad on social media. Some platforms have minimum spends set up, so make sure that you can afford the minimum amount (example: Snapchat comes in with a healthy $3,000.00 minimum). Make sure that your minimum extends to the end of the campaign you are choosing to run. If you accidentally set a daily minimum instead of a campaign minimum you could accidentally pay $100 per day instead of your intended $100 per month. 

Use a call to action: 

Regardless of what kind of ad you are placing (conversion, awareness, traffic, etc.), make sure there is an intended purpose to the ad. Awareness campaigns inhabit a gray area in this domain and may or may not utilize a clear call to action. For the sake of this argument, we will assume that you, being a new or small business owner does not have the budget to throw at general awareness. You most likely want to concentrate on generating traffic and sales.

Outside of general awareness campaigns, make sure there is an intended purpose for the ad as a request to the reader. Conversions should direct potential consumers to follow a link to purchase. Traffic campaigns should have something engaging to send them to a specific website (article, video, etc). Simple often used calls to action are (click here, read more, learn more, etc.). Sometimes these calls to action get overlooked because they are used so often, so feel free to experiment with your own calls to action.

Evaluate early and often:

You simply MUST know if your ad is working, especially if you have a limited budget. While checking daily may be too often (ads effectiveness can fluctuate daily) to make a decision, weekly checks are a must. For this, you must become familiar with the analytics tools provided by various social media channels or utilize an external analytics tool. To verify that your ad is effective, you must choose which KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are important to you. For instance, if your ad is supposed to generate sales, conversions will be your most important KPI. 

After checking your KPI measurements, adjust regularly to see if you can maximize the effectiveness of your ad. This may involve changing the ad message, changing the target market, or changing the amount of money spent. Once your adjustments have been made, they should be monitored to check effectiveness as compared to the version of ads that were running before those changes. If it can be afforded, running these ads at the same time can be effective to compare side-by-side.

For questions on social media marketing, feel free to reach out at