With the proliferation of social media networks, platforms are realizing the potential to create new revenue streams through ads. Businesses are starting to take advantage of these ad platforms in order to get in front of their target audience, build brand awareness, and encourage further engagement.
However, not all ad platforms are created equal. Each has a different way of displaying ads that may or may not fit your brand’s needs. Some of these social networks have had an ad platform for a long time so they have had time to refine it while others are still in testing mode.
Here are my thoughts on the look and feel of four of the main social media ad platforms from a user perspective – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Twitter allows you to promote your account as well as your tweets. Twitter has a different pricing model that is based on engagement. You are only charged if the ad leads to an engagement such as a retweet, follow, reply or click. You can set a daily budget and bid on the amount you want to pay for each engagement.
Overall, the ads look like a regular tweet with the exception of the “Promoted by…” after the copy.
Promoted Tweet Example
Promoted Account Example


Facebook serves up several different kinds of ads on their platform. You can choose from ads in the right sidebar as well as the ads in newsfeeds. These ads can be targeted specifically to the types of audiences you want to reach. You can target by demographics such as age range, geographic location, and gender and by psychographics such as likes and interests. You can select the budget you want to spend and Facebook will project the amount of people the ad will reach. It also has a user-friendly ad platform that allows for ads to be created easily.
Facebook ads also do a great job of utilizing social validation by allowing people to see who in their friend groups like the same thing. This makes their ads more effective and personalized.



Ads on Instagram have less of an ‘ad’ feel than many other social media sites. As the whole platform encourages sharing of photos that capture moments in life, ads take on the same look and feel as any other personal post on Instagram. Brands use the platform to show pictures of their items in use with very little traditional sales messaging. It is about connecting to their community through beautiful imagery.
Basically the only way you can tell it is an ad is by the brand name and the ‘sponsored’ where the time stamp would usually appear.
While these ads are currently only available to select brands, businesses can use Instagram in a similar way without payment to engage audiences, the reach will however be limited to people who are current followers.



Pinterest is an interesting social network in general and with the release of ads, there is a lot of great potential for brands that use Pinterest. Pinterest has been known for driving more qualified traffic to retail sites than other social media options, which makes this an attractive space to use ads if you have a brand that Pinterest caters to. Promoted Pins were designed to be seamlessly integrated with organic pins. The only differently is the ‘promoted pin’ label at the bottom of the pin.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when deciding which social media ads to use as part of your marketing efforts.

Define Your Goals

Social media ads can be a costly investment, especially if you do not define what your goals are to help you track performance.
Consider these questions:

  • Are you trying to drive traffic to your website?
  • Are you trying to engage your audience?
  • Are you trying to grow your social network?
  • How much are you willing to pay for each goal completion?

Focus On ROI

Once you define your goals, it will be much easier to evaluate your return on investment. You need to constantly monitor your ad campaigns to make sure they are preforming to the goals you defined. If you are not getting the results you want for the budget you allocated, change the plan and try something different.
With most things in regards to social media, you have to try things out to see what works for your brand. Each social network provides a different type of engagement that may or may not work for your specific brand. Experiment and find the right mix of social media advertising to achieve your goals.
If you have any thoughts on these ad platforms, please share them in the comments below.