Simple Social Media Advertising: LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat

  •    Barney runs a digital marketing consultancy and writes about technology, startups, music, movies and business, as well as his hometown in the UK.

Facebook and Twitter are often the first social networks that businesses try out for paid advertising campaigns. However, there are a whole range of smaller, fast-growing and more niche social networks that can also be very effective. Often, if your company fits in well with the community on one of these smaller social networks, then your campaigns may perform as well or even better than those run on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.


Recommended starting budget $300 - $500

LinkedIn is often the social network of choice for businesses trying to sell to other businesses (B2B). With LinkedIn you are able to target people based on their particular industry, seniority, even job title, so it is perfect when you have a very specific business audience in mind. It is also the most popular online platform for recruitment, so there are many options available to advertise job vacancies.

Image of LinkedIn Ads

There are many options to reach specific groups of people via LinkedIn Ads.

You can sponsor your posts or run traditional image or video ads and reach your specific, (potentially very valuable) business audience. You can also use LinkedIn to promote corporate announcements, new research, product launches and whitepapers. The platform provides a way to truly show the expertise and credibility of your business. Publishing articles on LinkedIn can help you gain a following with your target audience and help boost the reach of your content with advertising.

The first step for giving your LinkedIn posts a bigger audience might be to choose the "sponsor a post option." Select something commercial that you want as many people as possible to see - it might be an important event or a sale. You can post your update as usual on your LinkedIn company page. Click on your profile icon on the top right of the screen and choose "Advertising."

You can then follow the flow to set up a sponsored post campaign. As per the graphic above, you can use all of these powerful targeting options to find exactly the right audience for your business. Choose job titles, industry categories, the right geography, demographics, skills and many more. The interface will show your recent page posts and you can choose which one to sponsor and enter a budget.

The advantage of LinkedIn is precise targeting, which is especially good for reaching other businesses. One thing to keep in mind is that niche targeting can also attract a more expensive cost per click rate. Often, LinkedIn CPCs might be higher than those on other social platforms or Google AdWords. However, the quality of the audience should justify this extra cost.


Recommended starting budget: $50-$100

Among the emerging social networks, you might also look at Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat. The advantage of Instagram is that because it is owned by Facebook, you can use all of the Facebook ad targeting options and run campaigns from Facebook's Ad Manager. This means if you are already an established and experienced advertiser on Facebook, you won't need to learn how a new ad platform works to get started.

​Because of its visual nature, Instagram advertising is good for reaching a younger audience and great for building awareness and bolstering your brand image. You can choose a single image, series of images or a short video for your ad. As Instagram is all about curated, high quality images, it is very important to choose striking, high-resolution visuals and to think about the standard square shape of a typical Instagram post when you are taking or editing your photos or videos.

Your first campaign on Instagram might be part of a bigger Facebook campaign. There is the option to tick the Instagram box when running campaigns on Facebook and include Instagram. The two platforms are very different, so if you try this approach, make sure to check the ad reports carefully to see how Instagram performed compared to Facebook - what kind of audience responded to your ads and what the return on investment (ROI) was in the end.

Often Instagram might be more suited to building awareness of your brands and products - for a new launch for example. It is very most effective for visual industries such as fashion, entertainment, food and restaurants or home decor.


Recommended starting budget: $100-$200

Another primarily visual network is Pinterest. On Pinterest, users create themed pinboards to collect or "pin" images, video and sometimes snippets of text from around the Web. Often those images will be on a distinct theme — for example "My New Home," "Wedding Ideas" or "Dream Holiday Destinations."

While Pinterest is smaller than the other networks, it is growing fast. "Pinners" are often very engaged with what they are doing and are actively seeking out ideas for things they will eventually purchase. This makes Pinterest users the perfect audience for businesses selling relevant goods.

Culture Socks on Pinterest

Culture Socks promote their colorful designs on Pinterest.

If you have a design, fashion, home, food, travel or any image-based product, then "Promoted Pins" on Pinterest might be an option to try. By promoting your pins, you can extend their reach and put them in front of people using the platform's search results. This will encourage users to like and "re-pin" your pins to their own boards and visit your website.

It is easy to get started with Pinterest advertising. Go to and you can choose between an engagement or traffic campaign. If you already have a Pinterest account, you may need to switch from a personal to business account (an easy process that Pinterest will walk you through step-by-step). An engagement campaign is your choice if you want people to know more about your products and to share and interact with your pins. A traffic campaign is a more likely choice for a first-time advertiser, as this will aim to drive traffic to your website.

You need to post the pins you want to promote in the campaign via your Pinterest account. Create a few different image variations. This will help test which images work best at attracting clicks. Include your brand on the images, so this instantly tells users about your business. Targeting options include geography, demographics, a number of quite detailed categories and also keywords. Find the most relevant audience for your product or service and don't be afraid to change this as your campaign runs to find the best performing targeting.


Finally, Snapchat is an emerging powerhouse of video and image-based social content. Users post short clips that disappear immediately or after a day on "Snapchat Stories." Snapchat is often considered to be a bit more like TV broadcasting in that your brand content is not directly trackable like other social platforms. Snapchat posts are fleeting, so it requires different strategic thinking to the other social networks where posts generally persist over time. This is one to watch, as even the largest brands grapple with how to make the most of Snapchat's popularity with young users. But, if you have a phone handy and you're doing some interesting projects for your business, it couldn't hurt to start sending some Snaps to you contacts and see where it goes.


Don't be afraid to try out the smaller social networks, as they may be perfect for your brand. Targeting on these platforms can often be more efficient than the bigger networks for reaching your customers. There can be cost savings and less competition if you are an early adopter, so test out some new strategies to boost your social success.