Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising in 2021

Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising in 2021

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This article has been contributed by Kristina Žiaukė.

Social media marketing has revolutionized the way we reach potential customers. It’s all about creative storytelling. Be it persuasive copywriting or telling your story through images, social media platforms are the ideal base for getting it out there.

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Whether you’re an online art teacher, feng shui consultant, florist, or artisanal baker, social media is the top platform for getting your goods and the story of what you do out to the world.

The World is Transforming

We are inherently social creatures. We love being in touch with what’s going on in others’ lives, and we love to know what’s going on around us. In days gone by, we got our information from newspapers or news shows, and socializing was done through social clubs, hanging out in cafés and bars, sports events, or even at the library, if you’re that way inclined.

As the world began to embrace technological advances like the internet and smartphones, our focus began to shift. These days we connect, socialize, find information, and kill free time in one space: on social media platforms. Of course, it’s less personal than in-person interactions, but it’s also drastically boosted accessibility. Our world has become so much smaller.

Why Use Social Media Advertising?

Because social media is pretty much the port of call for just about anything for most people worldwide, using it for advertising is a no-brainer – if you have the budget. Social media advertising can reach more people than any other type of advertising. It’s a surefire way to promote your product and showcase your content in various formats like videos, images, texts, and articles.

If you’re not sure whether paying for social media ads is worth it for your brand, here are some reasons that other business choose to use social media platforms for marketing:

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1. Build Brand Awareness and Credibility

Today’s world is a digital one. Do you trust organizations that only have a website? Would you believe an online review or instead rely on a personal recommendation? Websites may have been the flavor of the 1990s, but these days having a website alone is impersonal.

Consumers need more information to build trust in a brand, especially when it comes to an innovative product or service.

It’s up to you to build proof that your future customers can trust your offering. Social media allows you to not only do this but also to build a community centered on your brand. This is where your community members can engage through likes, comments, recommendations, and shares – all social proof to your company.

Social proof attracts people to your business. If you have a large following and a robust community, it becomes evident that others trust your brand. This makes it easier for potential customers to cultivate trust in what you offer.

2. Social Media is Where Your Customers Hang Out

Social media is a great space to connect with your audience and establish relationships. Over 40% of millennials and around half of Generation Z believe that social media is the most relevant digital medium.

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According to Oberlo, around 3.5 billion people worldwide use social media every single day. This is about 45% of the world’s population!

3.5 billion daily active social media users graphic

This shows just how big the impact social media has on the world. It also shows you how many potential customers you have on these platforms, making it the ideal space to entertain, educate, and ultimately convert them as customers.

3. Don’t Get Left Behind

Everybody is jumping on the social media bandwagon. Visually driven platforms like Instagram are particularly popular with creative businesses, especially small to medium in size. They’ve understood the potential of social media advertising and have started investing in this.

According to Review42, as much as 76% of small businesses use social media advertising to promote their service offering. This means that if you’re not doing the same, you could be missing out on many potential customers while other brands harness their full potential.

4. Maintain Control

Using social media to advertise gives you more control than traditional advertising. You can set parameters that will showcase your ads to a particular target group. This allows you to choose who sees your ads and helps you to ensure dynamic interaction with your audience.

Parameters available with social media advertising include:

  • Location
  • Time zone
  • Language
  • Age group
  • Demographics
  • Online behaviors

5. Customer Experience

Although the internet has made the world smaller in some ways, it’s also increased competition. How the customer experiences your business plays a crucial role in your sales and profit.

Social media makes it easier to forge an excellent customer experience. This is why:

  • Direct messaging is a powerful tool in boosting engagement.
  • Mobile users have everything they need at their fingertips.
  • Robust social media advertising forms the basis of word-of-mouth marketing, which is the ultimate marketing tool.

81% of people trust recommendations from friends or family over those from businesses.

Word of mouth marketing

How To Get Started With Social Media Ads

Now we know why your creative business must get going on social media channels. The next question is how to begin. Here are the first few steps to take:

1. Get the Basics Right

Before you begin a social media advertising campaign:

  1. Make sure you have the basics in place, for example, your brand identity and your social media profiles.
  2. Ensure your cover and profile images, bio and handles are all professional and relevant to your target market.
  3. Don’t forget to add essentials like what you do and contact details.

2. Make it Personal

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Once you’re ready to begin sharing, bear in mind that social media is exactly that: social. Besides LinkedIn, most social media platforms are for entertainment. So, when you’re advertising your business on these platforms, don’t act too much like a business. The trick is to make your posts fun but also informative.

You want your potential customers to connect with your message and interact with your post. This does not mean you should upload random memes, share posts relevant to your business and showcase what you offer without being too ‘salesy.’

3. Maintain a Calendar

Brands that do well on social media channels usually post often, but they don’t flood their walls with posts. Keeping a social media content calendar will help you stay on top of things and streamline your posts. The idea is to keep it fresh while also getting your message across.

4. Take Your Audience on a Journey

The Journey Is On image

Begin by understanding the mindset of people who visit your profiles. They will likely fall under one of three categories:

  1. Newcomers who have no idea about your brand and are there for the first time.
  2. People who know a bit about your business and have questions about what you do.
  3. Customers about to make a final decision about whether they will use your services or buy your products.

Your job is to take your audience down a road where they learn about your creative offering and allow them to see how your brand is the ideal choice. The journey has to be informative enough to cater to all three types of people while not providing so much information that some lose interest.

5. Use Video Where Possible

A picture speaks a thousand words, but a video tells a story. On social media, where it’s all about content, video is king. It does everything you need, including educate, entertain, and inform. Most of all, it adds value.

It’s always a good idea to use various formats, like images, text, competitions, and polls, as long as you also use video. This is by far the best type of content for most users who are expecting video content from brands.

6. Engagement is Key

We’ve all been hearing about engagement the past few years. Although it is a bit of a marketing buzzword, it’s also important to understand that if you want engagement, you need to engage as well. If you share something and users comment, reply to them, or at least show a reaction. Mention people in your message to make it more personal and dynamic.

To take your engagement to the next level, follow others with content similar to your niche. This will cultivate a more robust digital relationship with other brands and businesses.

7. Share User-Generated Content

If somebody publishes a post that mentions your brand, it is instant word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. User-generated content (UGC) builds your reputation and boosts your credibility. You should also share useful posts your users would love. Even when others first share posts, re-share them as dedicated posts.

Example of user generated content - Photo on social media

Once you’ve got the hang of your schedule and you’re beginning to see the fruits of your labor, it’s time to start looking at trends. You’ll soon be able to figure out which ones you can incorporate into your strategy.

Here are some of 2021’s top social media ad trends:

Social Marketplace Ads

More and more people are buying directly from social media platforms, especially with Facebook Marketplace for Business. This makes it easier to keep everything in one place.

Social Story Ads

Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have seen great success with social media stories. It’s an excellent way to create ephemeral content that generates a fear of missing out in your audience. This creates exciting opportunities for businesses to promote their brand identity.

Live-Stream Advertising

Live streaming has boomed in the past year on platforms like YouTube. This type of advertising is a great way to boost engagement. Users can be in the moment, even when they can’t be there in person. What makes this even better is that live streaming is free on YouTube!

AI for Ads

Incorporating AI is not really an advertising method, but it is making a massive impact on social media advertising. Machine learning is making sure that customers see relevant ads, which will greatly determine sales success.


AI not only helps with targeted marketing, it is also increasing the capabilities of chatbots. This dramatically improves the user experience while saving you time and money as a fast and effective customer service interface.

Examples of Great Social Media Ads

When you start out, it’s not always easy to create original content. Don’t hesitate to find inspiration from other brands; here are some excellent examples of effective and highly creative social media ads:

Guinness – Stay at Home

This ad is a simple yet effective way to give the audience a visual representation of how current events (the COVID-19 pandemic) affect life and show them that the brand’s product will bring reprieve. This ad conveys that even though you have to stay at home, it can still be fun.

Guiness social media ad during COVID-19 pandemic

Burger King – The Moldy Whopper

In response to the social media outrage about McDonald’s burgers not getting moldy after several months, Burger King made this video of their signature burger, the Whopper, decomposing. It’s highly effective because it ‘proves’ that the Whopper is more real and healthier than the Big Mac.

Getty Museum – Art Challenge

It’s always good to create competitions and challenges to boost engagement. When it comes to a creative audience, what better way to engage with them than to set a creative challenge?


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A post shared by Getty (@gettymuseum)


To achieve success in social media advertising, you should develop a learner’s attitude. Sometimes our judgments will bring us positive results, and other times they won’t. It’s all about learning. Over time, you will begin to understand your potential customers’ needs, mindset, and online behavior.

It’s essential to bear in mind that nothing is set in stone, especially when it comes to a dynamic environment such as the internet. This is particularly true for creative industries, which are known for continuously evolving.

These valuable insights will help you to tailor your upcoming campaigns. Soon you will be equipped to stay ahead of the game and effectively market your creative business across all the popular digital platforms.


About the author: Kristina Žiaukė is a content manager at sixads. 

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