In this article we will detail the pros and cons of advertising on several popular social media networks.

Facebook – Facebook is the biggest social media platform on earth, with over 2.38 billion active users. In regards to advertising, the shear scope of the platform is both a positive and negative. Facebook’s scope has allowed it to create an extensive advertising infrastructure packed with a range of campaign types, detailed targeting, tons of metrics, and CRM integration capabilities. On the flip side, Facebook’s scope also means that you will be in competition with the other 7 million advertisers on the network. While virtually all social networks are a black box, meaning the users aren’t privy to the internal algorithms and structures of the network, Facebook is notorious for making sudden changes. In 2018, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that algorithm changes had been made to prioritize meaningful interactions. He explained, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” This means businesses are already at a significant disadvantage in growing organically and will need to rely on ads if they hope on leveraging the platform as a marketing channel. This also demonstrates that due to algorithm changes, what works now may not work 6 months from now. All things considered, Facebook can be a powerful marketing channel for many different kinds of business. Given 70% of Americans use Facebook, the platform is especially great for B2C business.

Pros: large user base, wide range of reporting metrics, advanced retargeting, hypertargeting, page growth, CRM integration, range of campaign types, event tracking,

Cons: limited organic reach, frequency changes, complicated, high advertiser competition, subject to random changes

Instagram – Instagram is the third most popular social media network with 1 billion monthly active users. Instagram is a great network for reaching younger demographics as 64% of the users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, shares Facebook’s targeting options and hosts a range of ad formats and placements.

Pros: high user engagement, great for younger demographics, linked to Facebook’s dashboard, range of ad options,

Cons: limited audience, time consuming, fast-paced platform may mean ads get overlooked, limited space for text.

Twitter – Twitter is a social network built for users to stay up to date with current events. The 280 character limit and sporadic tone of the platform makes it very fast-paced but also allows companies to engage with customers in an informal way. Twitter offers advertisers keyword targeting and hashtag targeting as well as other interest targeting. The main con of this network is that ads may be overlooked due to the fast-paced nature of the platform.

Pros: keyword and hashtag targeting, large reach (330 million), realtime, global reach

Cons: fast-paced (may get overlooked), limited messaging, time consuming,

Linkedin – Linkedin this the biggest social network for business professionals, with roughly 260 million active monthly users. This makes the platform great for B2B advertisers and those who wish to reach their audience in a professional/business context. A downside of Linkedin advertising is its higher cost relative to other social networks. A big positive of Linkedin is that users are more apt to engage with long form content. This is especially useful if your objective advertising objective involves sharing complex ideas.

Pros: great for professional audience, low placement risk (being associated with negative stories or content), variation of ad types, rich professional data, in email options

Cons: cost, email campaigns may be perceived as spam

Youtube – Youtube is both a social network and search engine. This combination makes it an extremely valuable platform to advertisers. Advertisers have a broad range of targeting options, ad placements, and ad formats. Youtube advertising can become costly if you are producing your own videos. Advertisers are also not in control of what video their ads appear on. This can expose a brand to brand dilution or poor message match. It may take a while to find the perfect audience targeting – message match much like Facebook.

Pros: interactive, extensive targeting, range of formats and placements, range of reporting metrics

Cons: video production cost may be high, lack of control over the content ads appear on, time consuming

Other Networks

Pinterest – Pinterest is a platform designed for curating ideas, usually centered around fashion, health, travel, cosmetics, and food. The platform heavily skews female and focuses on users creating their own environments rather than engaging with others. Pinterest offers interest targeting but has relatively limited placement and reporting options in comparison to other networks. If your target audience is female, Pinterest may be a network to consider advertising on.

Snapchat – In the not so distant past, Snapchat was the hottest app on the market. However, in recent years. Snapchat has consistently lost users. Snapchat reported losing 3 million users in Q3 of 2018. The majority of users on the platform are ages 14 – 34, which will be limiting for some advertisers. Snapchat also has extremely limited placement options and a 10 second time constraint. Also, there is no way to gauge user engagement and no means for users to share ads or notify their friends that they have an interest in any given ad. Advertising on Snapchat may be an option to consider if your target is a young audience but shouldn’t be the bread and butter of your digital marketing strategy.

Quora – Quora is a social network where users can post and answer questions on any given topic. Quora’s user base is highly educated and skews towards the middle to upper economic class. Advertisers can target specific questions as well as subjects. This network may be an option to consider if you are targeting a highly educated or niche audience.