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Social media ads: which platform is best for your small business?

It seems like new social media platforms are popping up all over the place. For small businesses, navigating the social media landscape can be a daunting task. How do you know which platforms are right for your business? Where should you focus your ad dollars to get the best ROI?

Social media is essential for almost every industry, but figuring out where to start and where to focus your efforts is hard. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular social advertising platforms out there today to help you make your decision on where to spend your ad dollars.


Starting off the list is the largest social media platform out there: Facebook. With 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook is a social media platform that most every small business should look into for their social advertising. More than 7 million advertisers use Facebook ads—and for good reason. Its targeting capabilities allow advertisers to target prospective customers with surprising accuracy. 

If you have a physical storefront or the majority of business comes from local customers, Facebook can expand your reach and help you get more business without spending a fortune bidding for keywords. And since Facebook is such a popular ad platform, there are lot’s of Facebook troubleshooting help out there to make the process easy for small businesses to navigate.

Even if your target demographic doesn’t necessarily live on Facebook (like Gen Z and even younger millennials) you still need to have a Facebook presence. Many people check a business’s Facebook account before visiting or becoming a customer, so make sure you at least have everything set up and post on a regular basis.


If you’re selling a physical product or have a business that is visually-appealing, Instagram will be a great platform to focus your ads. More than 800 million people use Instagram every month, and 60 percent of those regularly find a new product or service through the platform. Small businesses regularly find extreme success on Instagram and build up a loyal following as well as paying customers. 

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you know they’re going to have some great targeting capabilities. Advertisers can target customers by location, demographics, interests, and behaviors. And they can also build custom audiences (aka current customers), and lookalike audiences (potential customers) to target.

If that sounds like too much work, they provide an automated targeting tool. 


Twitter is a notoriously difficult platform for brands to gain an organic following on, but that shouldn’t stop small businesses from advertising on it and being involved in relevant industry conversations.

With more than 317 million active users per month, Twitter can be a great platform for small businesses looking to share their message or connect with their customers on a personal level. 

Unlike other social media platforms that try to disguise ads as organic posts, Twitter’s promoted content is visibly marked as promoted. Twitter does have ad targeting capabilities, but it’s not as precise as other platforms.

Their automatic targeting feature is great for small businesses who don’t want to spend their free time setting up complex targeting campaigns and instead want to focus on engaging in relevant conversation with users.


LinkedIn is primarily a career and professional networking social platform. With more than 600 million users, small businesses have a lot of opportunities to get their name out there and people interested in their business.

LinkedIn’s CPC (cost per click) can be a little higher than other platforms, but is well worth the investment if your business is something professionals and business leaders are interested in. 

Like Facebook, LinkedIn can target people by factors like language, geographic location, and demographics. It also allows advertisers to target business-related factors like job experience, company size, and education requirements. 


Too many businesses sleep on Pinterest. While the platform does have a strong young female-leaning audience, there are still lots of opportunities advertising with Pinterest.

Unlike other platforms on the list, Pinterest is more like a visual search engine than a traditional social media site. This allows businesses to get themselves right in front of the eyes of people who are actually interested and searching for services and products like theirs.

And since 55 percent of users say they use the platform specifically to shop (and 98 percent say they use it to discover new products) it’s a gold mine for products-based companies. 

Pinterest has targeting capabilities that work much like Google. Advertisers can target users who have engaged with their brand on Pinterest before, people who have previously visited the website, and “act-alike” audiences based on similar interests.

And when people save your ad to one of their boards, the tag that shows it was a “Promoted” pin disappears and looks like an organic pin.