The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising.

In this article, we’ll go over the social media ad cost by platform, different types of ad formats, and finally, some valuable tips to optimize your ad spending.
Veena Ramakrishnan
March 17, 2021 - 7 min. read

These days, going viral without a little monetary boost on social is tough. Unless you’re Burger King and you tweeted something like this on “International Women’s Day”.

Talk about going viral for the wrong reasons, amirite?

Why advertise on social?

So, here’s the thing; organic reach is not dead, but it is declining and harder to achieve. Social feeds are crowded with so much content these days that it’s difficult for paid ads to gain visibility and reach consumers (and just think about how much harder it is for non-paid content then).

But does that mean paid ads have nothing to gain here?

According to Brian Boland, former VP of Advertising Technology at Facebook: “Paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.”

I guess that answers your question, doesn’t it?

If you’re someone who’s still doubtful about social ad spending. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. In this article, we’ll go over the social media ad cost by platform, different types of ad formats, and finally, some valuable tips to optimize your ad spending.

How much do ads cost on social media in 2021, anyway?

Good question.

A lot of variables go into determining the cost of your ads across all major social media platforms.

Right from what day and time of the week it is to how many users you’re targeting, there are quite a few variables that can raise or lower your ads’ prices on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Before we talk numbers, let’s first differentiate between the CPC and CPM bidding systems on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn in 2021.

Facebook and Instagram

On Facebook and Instagram, most ad costs are measured in cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM).

CPC is the price you pay for each click, and CPM is the price you pay for 1,000 impressions on your Facebook or Instagram ad.

One of the variables that determine the cost of your ad is the industry that you belong to. This means that the banking industry’s CPC is much likely to be higher than the CPC for the retail industry.

And why is that? Because the value of a click is higher to brands advertising loans than to brands selling T-shirts.

The average CPC on Facebook and Instagram are $0.97 and $3.56 respectively. And as for cost per 1000 impressions, it’s $7.19 for Facebook and $.7,91 on Instagram.


LinkedIn calculates CPC and CPM in their own way. Impressions on LinkedIn are counted when an ad is “visible for at least 300 milliseconds with at least 50% in view on a member’s device screen or browser window.”

Meanwhile, if you’re paying on a CPC basis, LinkedIn will charge for clicks on your ad content, your company name, or your company logo.

On average, the cost of LinkedIn ads is $5.26 per click, $6.59 per 1000 impressions, and $0.80 per send.


Twitter is not quite as public about how it counts impressions for CPM bids, but according to Twitter Business, “an impression is any time your ad is shown to users,” implying a fairly broad definition.

Cost per click on Twitter refers specifically to link clicks, so you know that each click you’re paying for took a user to your desired URL.

The average CPC for Twitter ads is $0.38 per click and $6.46 per 1000 impressions (CPM).

As you can see, each social network counts clicks and impressions a little bit differently, which can affect how CPC and CPM are calculated. These differences likely explain some of the differences in average CPC and CPM across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We recommend reading How Much Do Ads Cost on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn in 2021 for quick tips on ways to reduce ad costs on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Social media ad formats

Brands are spoilt for choices when it comes to choosing ad formats on social. Depending on which social media network works best for your business, you can select an ad placement that can be anything from a Facebook carousel ad to a LinkedIn Sponsored InMail ad.

Below are some popular options that work for pretty much any business or industry:

Read Social Media Image Sizes for 2021: Free PSD files and Cheat Sheets.

1. Photo ads

Photo ads are a great way to help tell your business story and drive people to your site. In fact, one Facebook study says that a series of photo-only ads outperformed other ad formats in driving unique traffic.

social media advertising

Pro tip from Facebook: If you have a tangible product to promote, a photo ad is a great place to make it pop and stand out in the feed.

2. Video ads

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but did you know that videos tend to drive more engagement on social?

Video ads are attention-grabbing and require extra focus from the audience to absorb the content than with a static image. But if consumers don’t find it relevant and valuable, they’ll simply continue to scroll down their feed.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising.

You can use short-form videos to show off your products, announce a product launch, or even run a Q&A live session with niche experts. Product videos help people learn more about your items during different awareness stages, whether potential customers don’t know anything about your company or they know and even trust you.

For more ideas to inspire your video content creation process, here’s an article on 9 Instagram Video Ideas that Drive eCommerce Sales.

Pro tip: It’s no secret that sound or music lets the audience know how they should feel about watching a video, so it’s a good idea to include relevant royalty-free audio files to your Instagram video to add depth to visual content.

3. Story ads

Almost every social media platform has its own iteration of Stories, yes even LinkedIn!

Image source: Social Media Examiner

You’re probably thinking, why would I want to invest in content that’s going to last for just 24 hours?

Here’s the thing, Stories have the FOMO effect; it provokes users to take an action faster. Say that you’re running a limited-time offer; the best way to promote your time-limited offer is to create Instagram Stories videos that have a sense of urgency.

Moreover, vertical videos are extremely popular among users.

4. Carousel ads

Can’t pick just one photo or video to promote? No worries. A carousel ad allows you to promote up to 10 photos or videos within a single ad — each with its own headline, description, link, and call to action.

So, if you have your latest collection of winter wear lined-up to promote on social, carousel ads are your best bet.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising.

Check out this handy guide on best practices for carousel ads.

Tips for optimizing your social media advertising strategy

Here are five tips you need to optimize your social media strategy:

1. Know your tribe

If soda-drinking millennial gamers in Yemen are your kind of people, speak directly to them. The best part about social media advertising is the targeting options you get to hyper-focus on your audience.

Based on what you already know (location, age, gender, customer/prospect), find out what content you know your audience will relate to the most. Everything from the tone of voice to the use of emojis should speak the same language as they do to make them interact with you on social and ultimately become your brand advocates.

2. Determine the goals you’re trying to achieve

Ultimately, we all want to ‘make money’ from these ads, but you need to lay down your social media goals and align them with your business goals to get there.

Having a solid grasp of your business goals will help guide your ad strategy, choose the right social media platform to advertise on, and optimize your ad spending.

3. A/B test your ads

To put your money and efforts to better use, A/B test your results to determine what works and what doesn’t. This will take the guesswork out of adverting and let your audience decide on what they want to see from you.

4. Measure your results

Your work isn’t entirely done after you’ve hit ‘run’ on these ads.

For example, if you have identified your business goal as ‘increase brand awareness by XX %’; then you need to measure metrics such as volume, reach, exposure, amplification, and so on to find out how far your message is spreading.

5. Try social media remarketing

Social media remarketing is the technique of serving your ads to consumers who have already interacted somehow with your brand. We’re talking about those consumers who already know who you are and what you do.

So, why reach out to them again, you ask?

Well, the goal is to stay on top of their mind and create another touchpoint with a consumer who is already familiar with your brand. Moreover, social media remarketing, on average, will boost engagement by 3x and increase conversion rates by 2x, all while cutting your costs by a third.

This is definitely worth giving a shot.

Final thoughts

A social media advertising strategy is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ option. With growing competition and declining organic reach, marketers need to put their money where their mouth is instead of waiting to go viral.

If you’re a brand looking to tie advertising to your social media strategy, let me introduce you to someone really cool who can do that for you.

Enter Falcon Advertise.

Look, mastering social media advertising shouldn’t require any course material. That’s why we’re here. With Falcon Advertise, your team can save time while simplifying ad management and reporting for all your channels and audiences.

Not to toot our own horn, but is recognized as an Ad Technology specialist within the Facebook and Instagram Marketing Partners programs. This allows us to help marketers scale campaigns and drive significantly improved performance.

Want to get started with Falcon Advertise? Hit us up here.