Hello again! Welcome to week two of Get Social with Mary. I’m your host, Mary, the Social Media and Community Specialist at Grasshopper.

This week, we’re talking about when and how to use paid social advertising. I’m going to focus on Facebook in this post because Twitter advertising can get pretty pricey, pretty quick — and I’m the last person who wants you to be emptying out your wallet.

(Wanna start with the basics? Check out last week’s post here.)

First, what is paid social advertising? Well, it’s just like it sounds: posts, tweets, pics, and the like that you put money toward in order to increase the amount of people who see them. To some, that might sound silly. People follow you on social media because they want to see your stuff, so they must be seeing it, right? Well, consider this:

If you’re like me, those numbers make you want to hide under your desk.

...I’m the only one? Okay. Nevermind.

Seriously, though — when you think about it, you’re using precious time and effort to support your social media profiles, and there’s a good possibility you’re not even reaching a fraction of the audience that already likes and knows about you, let alone new potential customers. How crazy is that?!

Well, that’s why we’re here. To talk about how a little money behind your elbow grease can really get your social media train chugging. Let’s get started!

When should I use paid social advertising?

That’s a great question, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. For many small businesses, it can be great to dip your toes in with specific promotions or events that are happening with your business.

Let’s use Mother’s Day as an example. Say you opened your day spa a few months ago, and foot traffic has been low. You want to increase the number of customers coming through the door, so you decide to run a Mother’s Day Special: two facials for the price of one, great for moms and daughters to have a girl’s day.

In this scenario, creating a simple Facebook post advertising your deal with a link to your website and an eye-catching image would be great to use as a paid campaign. You can put as little as $5 behind it to get it in more people’s news feeds (using proper targeting, but we’ll get to that in a little bit), and you’ve suddenly opened up a whole new door to find potential customers.

There are so many other instances where paid social advertising is appropriate. New feature releases, product updates, sales, job openings — you name it, and someone can build a campaign around it. And the best part is, it doesn’t need to be super expensive.

How Much Should I Spend?

Again, there isn’t an end-all be-all amount for how much you should be using on your social campaigns. Typically, when I boost a blog post on our Facebook page, I use $25 and run it for 3-5 days. With that amount, we’ve gotten anywhere from 1,200 to 5,500 “reach” — meaning it appeared in 5,500 newsfeeds.

To put that in perspective, posts where I don’t use any type of ad dollars typically don’t rise above 1,100 reach, unless it’s a photo (Facebook likes photos and gives them higher organic reach).

Start small, around $5, and see what works for you. After experimenting with different amounts and targeting, you’ll find your sweet spot.

Don’t forget to keep track! Make sure you take note of when you start and end your campaign so you can track business during that time, and you may even want to ask your new customers how they heard about you. It’ll give you a good idea of how effective the ad is for your business.

You said something about targeting?

Right! I did. Targeting is how you tell Facebook who can see your ads. When you create an ad campaign, you’ll get taken through a whole bunch of targeting options, and this article is a really great tutorial on all of them, but I want to highlight a few of the more important ones:


Use the entire US (and/or other countries), or narrow down to your state or even specific city.

Age & Gender

Remember our day spa example? Targeting women between the ages of 25-55 would be a good group here, but you’ll tailor that to your audience.

Demographics & Interests

There are hundreds of different options under the demographics and interests, you could create any combination you could think of. But, for our day spa, we could consider choosing parents of college age or adult children (we already targeted women, so dads are taken out of this), and those that are interested in health and beauty.

You can also choose to target only people who like your page, or friends of people who like your page. That’s a good opportunity to cast a wider net to people who most likely aren’t already your customers.

Dizzy yet?

That was a whole lot of information I just threw at you, and it can get confusing — but don’t get frustrated! Start with small budgets, test different things, and learn from what you test. Before you know it, you’ll be a paid social advertising expert!

Have any questions about paid social advertising? Leave them in the comments below and Mary will answer them!

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Tune in next week for Part III of Get Social With Mary to learn about leveraging holidays and special events on social. Missed Part I? Get caught up on the basics of social media >>