Three billion people using social media is both a gift and a curse. Marketers have almost half the planet to advertise to, but so does everyone else. That means there’s plenty of noise to cut through to get your message heard. 

One of the ways social media marketers effectively combat this is with paid advertising. And it’s proving to be a popular method: by the end of 2020, paid advertising on social media is expected to increase 20% to $43 billion. 

But how much do you need to spend on social media ads to run an effective campaign? In this article, we’re diving into the world of paid advertising across social networks to see how much you can expect to spend. 

Read on and find out how much of your marketing budget you should spend on social media ads. 

Which social media platform should you advertise on?

Social media ads

Before settling on an ad spend budget, first, you need to decide which platform(s) you’re going to focus on. Every social media network offers paid advertising, but there are a few differences between how each one works – albeit minimal. 


Classic Facebook ads appear in the side columns on the desktop site and in between posts on mobile. A standardized ad on Facebook includes an image and some marketing copy. During the last 12 months, Facebook ad impressions have increased by an impressive 37%.


On Twitter, you can tailor ads around your goals, audience, and budget. You can opt to have adverts featured in First View, which places them at the top of users’ feeds. You can also choose between text-based ads and video options. 


Many brands choose to give their content a boost on Instagram by paying for advertising. Instagram Ads show up as “sponsored posts” on timelines and usually feature a call to action – though you can personalize each ad. There’s also the option of advertising in Stories, Instagram’s popular posts that last for 24 hours. 


The primary way to advertise your brand on YouTube with paid advertising involves having it appear before another popular video from someone else. There are varying ways to do this, including sponsored ads, bumper ads, non-skippable ads, and skippable ads.


TikTok is one of the newer social media platforms but already has more than 800 million active users. The social media app offers advanced ad targeting and unique creation so that brands can really try and differentiate themselves when marketing via paid ad streams. 


Primarily for businesses trying to advertise to other businesses, LinkedIn also has its own paid advertising service. You can promote your company with targeted ads by specifying your objective and seeing the ad appearing in people’s feeds. 

How do you pay for ads on social media?

Facebook Ads cost

Measuring success for paid social media advertising isn’t binary, and there are many ways to qualify a successful campaign. The type of ad you pay for will essentially boil down your primary target, which includes a variety of aspects. 


Impressions equate to the number of people who saw your ad in their timeline. They didn’t necessarily interact with it, but it showed up in their feed. Impressions account for some of the cheapest ad types. 


Views are the number of people who have viewed your ad. Again, this doesn’t mean they interacted with the advert, but they did read or watch it on their timeline. Someone who viewed an ad is more likely to follow you than become a paying customer straight away. 


Measuring ad success by likes is more costly than impressions and views and takes into account how many people interact with your post and click the ‘like’ button. Someone who likes a post has a higher chance of becoming a follower than someone who merely viewed it. 


Clicks are the most expensive type but also the most sought after. Success is measured by how many people see the ad and click on it to get more information on the product or service. Clicking on one of your ads is by no means a guarantee the user will make a financial transaction with your brand. But the chances are better than impressions, views, and likes.

What is the minimum spend on social media ads?

Each social media network has its own criteria for setting budgets, and it varies between platforms. Here’s a breakdown of the minimum spends for the primary social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Minimum spend per social media network

  • Facebook – $1
  • Instagram – $1
  • YouTube – $10
  • LinkedIn – $2 
  • Twitter – no minimum spend
  • TikTok – $50

With the exception of TikTok, the entry requirements for paid advertising are pretty low, though you shouldn’t expect to get much traction off a $1 campaign. And while bidding for impressions, views, and likes may have some benefits for increasing audiences, cost-per-click (CPC) is the primary way for brands to advertise if they want to try and sell a product or service. 

Average CPC on social media networks

  • Facebook – $7.19 per 1,000 clicks
  • Instagram – $7.91 per 1,000 clicks
  • YouTube – $9.86 per 1,000 clicks
  • LinkedIn – $6.59 per 1,000 clicks
  • Twitter – $6.46 per 1,000 clicks

On average, you can expect to spend between $6 and $10 on 1,000 clicks across the major social media platforms. 

How much should you spend to see traction? 

Social media ads budget

Finding the magic number for your ad campaign can be tricky. There is no definitive figure that guarantees success. Part of landing on the right number involves trial and error and trying several campaigns to see what does and doesn’t work. 

Fortunately, you can set a spending cap when advertising on social media so that you don’t go over your budget. And that budget will mostly depend on the size of business: smaller businesses are unlikely to spend as much as larger ones, for example. 

However, previous research suggests that the average spend for a company is between $200 and $350 per day. That figure is seen as the sweet spot for getting traction out of your social media campaigns. 

Finding the right number

Return on investment is the name of the game. You want to make sure that your spending sees fruitful results, which is why it’s essential to land on a figure that works for your brand. Measuring success largely depends on what you set out to achieve: impressions, views, likes, or clicks. 

Your budget will be smaller if your goal is to build an audience across social media, while it will be significantly higher if you want clicks. 

The majority of companies spend around 15% on general marketing. If you take that figure and narrow your marketing down into different components, you can expect to spend around 40% of that budget on digital (perhaps even more). 

Narrowing things down even further, about 20% of that should go to social media, organic and paid. So let’s settle at a final figure of 10% of your digital marketing budget. 

Making ads part of your wider social media strategy

Paid advertising on social media will only become more important as user bases grow. That’s why all brands should make it a fundamental part of their broader social media marketing strategy. Finding the balance between organic and paid is vital to boosting your social profile. And if you aim to spend around 10% of your digital marketing budget on paid advertising, you can expect to see pleasing results in the long term. 

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