Choosing the Right Social Media Advertising Platform

By Geena Nazareth | Jan 24, 2017
More Articles by Geena

You have decided to move forward with social media advertising, but which advertising platform do you choose? With all of the social media platforms that offer advertising, you do not have to settle. You can choose the platform(s) that meets your needs. Let’s discuss how to determine which social media advertising platform is right for you based on your goals, the platform’s user demographics and targeting options.

Facebook Logo


User Demographics



Percent of online adults who use Facebook

Facebook has the most diverse user base and evenly distributed demographics, with 79% of online adults using it. While the age of its users continues to skew on the young side, with 88% of 18 to 29 year olds using the website, the percentage of users 65 and older continues to grow—now at approximately 62%. Additionally, 83% of online adult woman are on Facebook and 75% of men use the social media website.

Targeting Options

Facebook’s targeting options are the most extensive of all social media advertising platforms. In addition to remarketing, custom audiences (email list targeting), location (including radius), basic demographics and interests, their targeting options include everything from education (e.g. education level, field of study, schools) and job-related (e.g. job title, industry, office type) to home ownership, life events (e.g. birthday, anniversary, newlywed) and parental status (e.g. parent of toddlers).

Who Should Advertise on Facebook?

The answer: almost everyone. Not only does Facebook have the largest audience, its users visit the website more frequently than any other social media platform.  Therefore, your target audience is somewhere on Facebook…probably at this very moment.

Facebook’s extensive user base and targeting options are great for increasing engagement and visibility. If you want to increase brand awareness, use their interactive ad options (e.g. video, carousel) to achieve your goal.  That’s not to say Facebook advertising is only beneficial for companies whose goals are engagement and visibility. Facebook also has great remarketing and custom audience targeting options that can help you generate leads and sales.

Instagram Logo


User Demographics



Percent of online adults who use Instagram

Instagram is used by about 32% of online adults.  It is one of the most used social media websites for young adults, with 59% of the 18 to 29 age group on Instagram and only 8% of adults aged 65+.  The website is also more popular among women (38%) than men (26%), and those living in an urban setting (39%).

Targeting Options

Instagram campaign setup takes place on Facebook; therefore, the targeting options are identical.  All you need to do is select Instagram as a placement when drafting your campaign.

Who Should Advertise on Instagram?

On Instagram, you can showcase your brand with engaging images and videos.  Its young, visually stimulated audience is highly engaged, with 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook.  The combination of actively engaged users, Facebook’s great targeting options and a visually appealing advertising medium make Instagram the perfect platform for increasing your reach and visibility.

If you offer something that can be effectively represented through visual content (think fashion, food and lifestyle brands), Instagram might be the social media advertising platform for you.  This doesn’t mean that something like accounting software couldn’t be successful on Instagram. Remember, Instagram also has Facebook’s remarketing options.

Twitter Logo


User Demographics



Percent of online adults who use Twitter

Approximately 24% of online adults use Twitter.  The social media website is most popular among the 18 to 29 age group, with 36% being users, and only 10% of adults aged 65+ using the website.  The male-to-female user ratio is fairly even at 24% and 25%, respectively.  Twitter is also slightly more popular among adults with a college degree (29%) making more than $75,000 per year (30%).

Targeting Options

Twitter’s most beneficial targeting options include keyword, which allows you to target users based on words and phrases they’ve Tweeted or searched for, and follower, where you can target the followers of relevant/competitor accounts. In addition, location, gender, language, device, interest, behavior and tailored audience (email list) targeting is available.

Who Should Advertise on Twitter?

Twitter can be a great social media advertising option for you no matter what your goal is.  You can use Twitter’s targeting options to cast a wide demographic/geographic net and promote your brand. Most Twitter users use the platform with the intention of interacting, so you can use this to your benefit and engage with your audience. Additionally, the platform’s follower and keyword targeting options can help you get leads for your niche product, while a tailored audience (email list) could generate sales.

LinkedIn Logo


User Demographics



Percent of online adults who use LinkedIn

Approximately 29% of online adults use LinkedIn. The social networking website continues to be popular among college graduates, as half of online adults with college degrees are on LinkedIn, while only 12% with a high school degree or less use it. Additionally, LinkedIn is popular with high income earners who make $75,000+ per year – 45% of online adults, compared to 21% who make less than $30,000 per year. LinkedIn also has slightly more male users (31%) than female (27%) and is most popular among the 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 age groups, with 34% and 33% using the website, respectively.

Targeting Options

LinkedIn’s targeting options are primarily related to education and jobs. In addition to basic demographics, you can target based on degrees, field of study, job title, job seniority, company industry, company size, etc.

Who Should Advertise on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn’s fairly young business professional user base and company/job-centric targeting options makes it the perfect social media advertising platform for a niche B2B offering. One of the reasons people use LinkedIn is to enhance their careers and/or companies. If you have a product or service that could make a business run more efficiently or make someone’s job a little easier (e.g. business accounting software or corporate financial services), LinkedIn might be the right advertising platform for you. Keep in mind, LinkedIn is the only platform mentioned here that has a budget minimum: $10 per campaign.

Pinterest Logo


User Demographics



Percent of online adults who use Pinterest

Pinterest is used by about 31% of online adults. The social media website’s gender demographics are much more divided than the others, with 45% of women using Pinterest and only 17% of men. The website is also slightly more popular with those living in a suburban setting (34%).

Targeting Options

In addition to basic demographics, Pinterest allows you to target based on “Pins” users have engaged with (interests) or things users have search for (keywords). Remarketing and email list targeting are also available.

Who Should Advertise on Pinterest?

Pinterest has a highly targeted and engaged user base that often relies on the platform for help deciding what to purchase. Similar to Instagram, fashion, food and home decor companies do well on Pinterest, as it was essentially made for visually pleasing brands. If your goal is awareness/engagement, you can get in front of your audience with “Promoted Pins” or encourage direct purchases with “Buyable Pins” if your goal is increased sales.


Social Media Advertising Resources

Explore the resources below to help finalize a successful social media advertising strategy for 2017.

(Demographic Data Source:  Pew Research Center)

Questions or comments?  Continue the conversation below.

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