4 Smart Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Social Media Ad Budget



By focusing on your quality score, using videos as sponsored posts, creating your own graphics, and speaking the language of your consumers, you can stretch your ad dollars even further.


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The cost of Facebook ads has increased by 90 percent year-over-year. Twitter is already more expensive than Facebook. And, Instagram is fast catching up. What can we do as marketers to survive in such a hyper-competitive environment? You’ll need to learn to make the most of your marketing budget moving forward.

Here are four tips to help you get the best bang for your marketing buck.

Focus on Improving Your Quality Score

Each ad platform has a quality score that dictates your cost per click or cost per impression. Facebook refers to this as the Relevance Score, while Twitter calls it the Quality Adjusted Bid. Formalities aside, the biggest thing to note is that a higher quality score means the platform is going to show your ads to more people. Conversely, a lower quality score means you will have to pay more. The quality score is determined by engagement. So, the more your target audience clicks on, likes, and shares your advertised content, the lower you pay.

Previously, it was the norm to rapidly test out different creatives and then promote the winners. But, doing so now can be extremely expensive and ineffective. Fortunately, you can figure out which content has the highest chance of good engagement without even running an ad campaign.

Your website, for instance, is a gold mine of creative ideas perfect for your social media marketing campaign. Here’s an awesome way to find your top-performing content using Google Analytics and a spreadsheet.

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Your best content attracted engagement for a reason. It clicked with your target audience. Use this creative to come up with fresh ad ideas. For example, each subheading in an article can be turned into a sponsored post with a bit of work. Start with organic posts first. See which posts perform the best, then sponsor them across the ad-network. By the time you hit play on your ad campaign, you’ll already have most of the hard work done.

Use Your Audience’s Insider-Speak to Stand Out

Creatives that deliver the most value will always attract more engagement. But, you can take it even further. As social creatures, we tend to belong to cliques and groups with specific lingo. This insider-speak serves as an “Identify Friend or Foe” test, which separates the group members from the outsiders. Suffice to say, using your audience’s insider-jargon will help you break the ice and establish an instant rapport with them.

For example, Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to use chat acronyms on social media. You can strategically insert abbreviations into your sponsored content to get it to resonate with them. Even images are awesome places to use them! Check out this US Marine Corps ad for a marathon.

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The ad is targeted to millennials and Gen Z since it starts with an acronym they likely know.

The same principle can be applied to virtually any demographic or audience group, be it baby boomers, coders, or artists. (Even social media professionals have their own jargon!)

Create Your Own Graphic

There’re plenty of stock photos and graphics online, which can certainly take one huge step off your checklist. The problem is, everyone’s doing it. Using stock photos or graphics comes with three deal-breaking disadvantages.

Primarily, your audience may have already seen it, so it won’t have the first-impressions effect. Second, it comes across as lazy and unoriginal. Finally, it will never completely match your content unless you write it around the picture, which is self-defeating.

There are some cases where stock photos may work, but their utility is very limited. Instead, spend some time taking your photos or creating graphics that complement your post perfectly. You will have more freedom and will be able to better express your ideas. The images don’t have to be Picasso grade either.  Any basic design or photo that gets the idea across will do for the most part. For example, check out this graphic from Manly Wellness:

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Notice that this image doesn’t illustrate the point – frequency of contact as much as it supports it. It may seem counterintuitive, but images don’t always need to be central to your social media strategy. They can play a supporting role while letting the text do most of the heavy lifting. Images and custom graphics can be used to capture your audience’s attention before they start reading the text, and eventually, clicking the ad.

Use Videos as Sponsored Posts

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a million. The power of video is undeniable. For example, LinkedIn users are 20 times more likely to share a video than any other post. And with YouTube now being the second-largest search engine, you would not want to miss out on creating video ads.

While your chosen video depends on your marketing goals and KPIs, the following types are good places to start:

  • Behind the scenes videos
  • Live videos
  • How-to videos
  • User-created videos
  • Informational videos

Even so, it’s worth noting that videos don’t perform that well just because they are videos. It’s high-quality video content that accounts for most of the “video effectiveness stats” that populate the internet. And those certainly require some investment. That being said, it’s best to have a combination of different types and quality videos in your social media mix.

That’s exactly what Freshbooks does on their #imakealiving campaign. They amplified the power of video in social media through sponsored partnerships with successful entrepreneurs.

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These videos are submitted by the entrepreneurs themselves, therefore the production and quality vary.

It’s generally a good idea to make videos that directly represent your brand and/or product as professional as possible. But, more affordable, Go-Pro type instant and user-generated videos can be used for social proof and building credibility.

The bottom line? Running a social media ad campaign doesn’t need to cost you a lot. Most end up turning expensive solely because it takes so much rinse and repeat to find the winning creative copy, graphic, color combo. Once that truth is established, your ads can start paying for themselves. The idea to reduce your ad spend is to do as much of the research before while keeping your ads looking spectacular.

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