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Social Media Overview
Brand execution guidelines

Best practices for creating social media ads

Whether you’re looking to make up for decreasing organic visibility or trying to reach a new, targeted audience, paid social media advertising gives you cost-effective options to share your message. Learn tips, best practices and view additional resources for getting your paid social efforts started.

Paid social media advertising tips

Know what business objective you’re trying to achieve 

Just like with your organic strategy, you must have a clear idea of the business objectives and goals you are trying to achieve with a paid social media campaign. Knowing your objectives will help you decide the critical components of a campaign.

  • Social ad platform — where am I most likely to reach my intended audience?
  • Audience — who are you trying to reach, or are likely to engage with your ad?
  • Call to action — what am I asking the audience to do?
  • Bidding and optimization — what objective is my campaign working to maximize?
  • Content — what ad formats, copy and visuals best convey my message to this audience?

Social ad platform

Each social advertising platform has characteristics that may make it a better or worse fit for your campaign. Things to consider when selecting which platform(s) to use:

  • Which ad formats and features are supported.
  • Does my intended audience frequent here, and am I able to adequately target them?
  • Where will my audience be most receptive to what I’m sharing with them?
  • What will the costs be based on my campaign setup?

Example: LinkedIn ads have strong professional targeting options, but also tend to have higher ad costs than some other platforms. Is specific targeting more important for this campaign, or is wider reach?

Target audience

Most of the platforms allow you to include — or exclude — audiences based on a number of factors, including:

  • Demographics such as age, location, industry and education.
  • Interests in a wide range of areas.
  • Behaviors, including purchase behavior and mobile device use.
  • Custom audiences using customer lists you upload.
  • Look-alike audiences modeled on an existing target audience.

Be careful to balance relevance and reach in your audience selection, and always adhere to ASU privacy guidelines when managing personal information.

Call to action

Your ad’s CTA should align with your business goals and audience expectations. If your offering is new to audiences or is a big commitment, you may want to start with informational calls to action like “learn more.” If your audience is already familiar or targeted for strong relevance, you may want to use more conversion-focused language like “purchase now” or “register now.” 

Campaign optimization

Social ad campaigns are designed to optimize toward the objective you specify, including maximum reach, ad engagement, website traffic or onsite conversions. 

In addition to selecting an objective that aligns with your business goal, be sure your campaign will get enough positive signals to allow for optimization. If your preferred objective gets too few conversions to be properly optimized, consider a higher-volume objective like click-through traffic.

Campaign objectives can also inform bidding and ad costs. Campaigns that perform poorly against their objective can drive up ad costs, so be sure to set yourself up for success with an objective that is realistic.

Ad messaging and content

Effective advertising means reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. When developing your ad creative, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Optimize for mobile — are my ads and landing pages designed for small screen viewing?
  • Aim to capture attention — do I have an impactful ad that will stop someone from scrolling their feed to learn more? 
  • Be concise — users tend to skim online content. Generally, aim for brevity and impact, and don’t bury the lead or users may miss it.
  • A/B test — test multiple messages, ad creative and formats to see what drives performance.

Related training

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