Which Social Media Platform is Best for Your Digital Ads?

Lynn Seah

In the past two decades, digital advertising alone has shown unprecedented performance with its ability to reach, maintain and grow target audiences for brands everywhere. According to Forrester’s predictions, this year, “CMOs will spend nearly $119 billion on search marketing, display advertising, online video, and email marketing,” occupying 46% of their advertising budgets. Given that digital advertising (especially amidst the pandemic) has enabled brands to access an internal consumer-base covering varying age demographics, it’s a no-brainer that they are relying on its implementation.

Digital advances in the advertising industry have allowed for data-driven campaigns, creating instant and accurate connections with the right consumers for their products and services. However, there are multiple suppliers to choose from, especially in the area of social media platforms. And while many debate which platform reigns king, it is undeniable that the uniqueness of each platform provides a different toolset to brands’ clienteles and their strategies.

For advertisers and brands, the only obstacle that stands is identifying the right keys for unlocking the doors to success.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash


A picture says a thousand words, and Instagram is a testimony to that visual prowess in advertising. Instagram may be known as the younger, trendier sibling of Facebook, but the millennial’s favorite platform is clearly booming with over one billion active users currently hosted on the platform. Instagram has clearly wielded its potential and developed the successful Instagram Advertising function, which provides a very seamless experience.

Offering users to post a variety of media including posts, stories, videos, carousels and collections, Instagram provides an easily navigable framework for the medium of your choosing. Additionally, the platform has built-in features that users can utilize to access shops on their accounts, view prices and save items to wish-lists that they can curate and reference later on. Furthermore, Instagram ads can be targeted based on location and demographics like age, gender and interests, all of which can be measured with the platform’s easily digestible analytics. Holding a unique advantage with its famous grid layout, the popular social media app stands out among its sea of competitors by allowing for brands to visually display their story and personality.

The result is a match made in heaven, with users seeing ads that are right up their alley. The advertisements are also cheap, with an average CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of $0.50 — $1.00. This eliminates the need for a middle man and reduces the budget required on traditional media spending.

Whether it be large corporations looking to increase their brand awareness or small, independent businesses looking to leverage social media for inexpensive advertising, Instagram serves as an affordable and accessible choice for a large variety of brands. With its use of visuals, the app is especially useful for those looking to promote aesthetic work, including art, interior design, and fashion. On the other hand, the platform’s video and TV functions thrive in promoting media personalities and popular culture. Rising in popularity amongst brands involved in niche markets, Instagram even allows for them to create communities where they can easily interact with their prospective consumers.

Photo by Olivier Bergeron on Unsplash


If Instagram is the millennials’ best friend, TikTok could easily be the same to Gen-Z. With Gen-Z making up nearly sixty percent of TikTok’s user-base and audience, the platform holds unimaginable potential for brands focused around this age demographic. According to Forbes, “Generation Z is one of the most diverse generations yet, with high levels of education, digital nativism, social and cultural awareness and a high propensity to be more expressive,” and the platform’s video-based interface is the perfect tool for them to showcase their creativity and freely express themselves.

While images are a great method of communication, moving images hold even more impact and receptivity. The power of the moving image paired with the platform’s user-friendly interface, offering users simple solutions to enhance their videos with music, captions and effects. Unlike the glossy pages of Instagram, TikTok’s high engagement rates are fueled by content that is spontaneous, personable and energetic, traits perfectly aligned with a generation that prioritizes content creation over consumption.

Best suited for those targeting younger audiences, TikTok provides many similar advertising tools as Instagram, and prioritizes the dissemination of content by users’ gender, location, age, and unique interests. The platform’s five advertisement types are In-Feed Ads, Brand Takeover, TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenge and Branded Effects, all of which allow for brands to have accessible options that cater to their desired promotional execution. The vibrance of the platform and general quirkiness that exists on it means that advertisers, however, have to also suitably create content that is able to be attention grabbing and relatable, making it most suitable for business-to-consumer (B2C) digital advertising.

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Copywriters rejoice. Twitter survived the advent of Instagram and TikTok, and it is still going strong. Twitter does not have a minimum budget and, like other platforms, it too has its own set of advertising choices for those with different strategies. Promoted tweets create visibility to people who are not already following accounts, and the same can be done for accounts themselves. Another useful function the platform offers is the Promoted Trends option, which allows trends to appear at the top of search sections. The platform also added a Promoted Moments feature which curates a group of similar tweets to create a storyline. Additionally, Twitter creates automated ads for those new to advertising, with the function coming at a cost of $99 per month.

Twitter is another platform with a wide reach in target audience. Unlike TikTok, however, Twitter’s user base is greater in age (18–24), with one in five adults being users on the app. Unlike the playfulness of TikTok, Twitter users use the app for a wider variety of reasons, from voicing opinions to receiving news. Twitter is great for creating and maintaining brand awareness and personality. This is especially the case for brands with distinct voices or those looking to establish brand activations. However, brands wanting to use the platform for advertising purposes should note that their messaging needs to be succinct, memorable and more importantly, compelling, in order to stand out amongst the clutter. While Twitter also lets users post videos and photos, the necessity for conciseness is a common theme in all messaging on the platform, regardless of medium.

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash


If you want to create a viral video of you bellydancing to a hit song, perhaps stick to another platform. The antithesis to TikTok, LinkedIn is certainly the powerhouse of business-to-business (B2B) marketing. LinkedIn is the most effective at driving leads, especially for their main audience: job advertisers and recruiters. The beauty of LinkedIn lies in its more narrowed, targeted audience, wherein those on the platform are united in the similar goal of career aspiration and success. Unlike the other platforms with a wider audience, LinkedIn is very much to-the-point when it comes to figuring out audience aspirations, and there is no second guessing the audience base. With the added function of being able to narrow down job function, level and company size, the advertising on the platform is both extremely specific and often times, successful.

LinkedIn has a variety of media available: single image ads, carousel image ads, video ads, or message ads. Users can even upload more professional forms of media including slideshows, PowerPoints and PDFs. A few simple steps allow brands to fill out what they are looking for in a method that is both very exact and direct. Paired with easily navigable analytics, it is no wonder that the platform is the go-to for those looking to do B2B advertising, promote educational and skill-advancing services and softwares, and of course, recruit prospective employees.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash


Snapchat’s icon may be a ghost, but the platform is far from being unknown. With nearly 250 million active users globally, the platform is both popular and addictive, and so it’s no surprise that advertisers are tapping into the app’s user base. However, Snapchat’s audience has reportedly experienced the highest advertisement fatigue on the app, which is owed to the fact that the ads are too repetitive in nature. Those inclined to use this platform must ensure that they provide a variety in their advertisements to retain the audience’s interest, instead of tiring them out. After all, advertisement fatigue is one of the ultimate killers of performance. However, that’s not to say Snapchat isn’t worth a go, because it certainly is.

Snapchat’s ‘For Business’ function has introduced a $5/day advertising service, an improvement for their initial history of expensive advertising that limited the audiences to large corporations. The Snapchat website states that their service targets audiences “based on their interests, behaviors, location, and more.” Moreover, the average user spends over 30 minutes a day on the platform. Snap Ads provide full-screen video advertising with three different formats: web viewing, application install, and long-form video content. The first allows users to swipe up and be taken to a desired site, the second creates a link that directs users to a desired app for download, and the third involves short videos that can be used to create and then drive traffic to longer versions.

Snapchat is a successful gateway for instant, eye-catching advertising that then prompts users to indulge their interest through the easy swipe-up link function. However, another one of their most successful methods is their branded filters, which provide audiences with graphics that they can place over their photos or videos. As brands can easily create desirable and fun filters for Snapchat users to integrate into their own content, those same brands further develop their brand awareness and create a form of earned media in the process.

Lynn Seah
Lynn is a rising Senior at Syracuse University majoring in Advertising with a minor in German. She is currently a Lunch and Learn intern at The Advertising Club of New York and a G.R.O.W.T.H. Initiative Fellow at 100 Roses from Concrete.
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