BLOG POST BY: Content Creator
April 17, 2023

Social Media Advertising: Choosing the right platform and ads for your brand

Every brand needs to leverage social media advertising. But how do you know what platforms and ad formats are right for you? You need to build a strategy that leans into your strengths and utilizes the right channels at the right time. We’re going to help you do exactly that.


What is social media advertising?

What you need to know before starting a social ad campaign

The best social media platforms for ads in 2023:

Which social media platform has the highest ROI

Considerations before choosing your platform

Next steps

Mobile Phone Screen Displaying An Instagram Sponsored Post.

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is a type of digital marketing that utilises social media channels to deliver paid ads. It’s an efficient way of targeting your ideal audience and is the second largest market for digital ads. Brands can use it to focus on particular demographics and make creative personalised content. 

When used correctly, social media advertising can be a cost-effective, high-converting form of marketing. 

What do you need to know before starting a paid social advertising campaign?

Before you even start thinking about creatives, you need to ask yourself these questions:

Who is your target audience?

You need to understand your target audience before getting started. That means working out what motivates them, where they are likely to be and what they’ll want to see in an ad. 

What are your ad goals?

Are you looking to boost brand awareness? Do you want more engagement? Are you looking for specific product sales? You need to think about your goals first before deciding on your channel and ad format.

What is your budget?

Your budget may change which platform and type of ad you go for. Working out the numbers first will also determine the kind of ad campaign you want to run and help you maximise ROI.

What are the best social media platforms for ads in 2023?

Below you’ll find the top social media channels for social media advertising, what makes them so good and what kind of ad formats you can find within each. 

TikTok Advertising

TikTok is the place where people come to be entertained. In fact, “entertainment” is the top category on the app. Ads integrate naturally with content on this channel. Here are the main ad formats they provide:

In-feed ads

These are embedded into users’ feeds and appear organically as people scroll through content. 

Aspect ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9

Duration: 5-60s (TikTok recommends 15s)

Top-view ads

These ads appear when a user opens the TikTok app. They are highly visible and engaging as they are the first thing a user sees.

Aspect ratio: 9:16

Duration: 5-60s (TikTok recommends 15s)

Brand Takeover Ads

Similar to Topview ads, these take over the screen when someone opens the app. The difference here is that they are unskippable for 5 seconds, making them highly visible. 

Aspect ratio: 9:16

Duration: 3-5 seconds

Spark Ads

These are where you promote content you’ve already created on your channel. Meaning new views and engagement will be attributed to the original piece of content. 

Aspect ratio and duration: N/A – it’s taken from your original content

Branded hashtag challenge

This is where your brand can invite users to participate in a trend. You can encourage them to create their own content through the hashtag challenge and in turn promote UGC (user-generated content).

Aspect ratio and duration: The same as any TikTok video ad

Branded effects

Brands can create bespoke filters and AR experiences through branded effects. They can last up to 10 days at a time. 

Instagram Advertising

Instagram is the place to connect with friends and family. It’s also a place to find shopping inspo. Since its introduction to Reels, this platform has many facets to social media marketing. 

Photo/image ads

You can use photos you’ve already posted to boost, or you can create a whole new image for the ad. High-quality, eye-catching visuals work best here.

Primary Text: 125 characters

Image Type: JPG or PNG 

Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 px 

Aspect Ratio: 9:16 

Carousel ads

These are ads that come in the carousel format. They are a series of photos that rotate within view. If you’re looking to display multiple products or images these are for you. 

Primary Text: 125 characters 

Maximum Number of Hashtags: 30

Landing Page URL: Required

Image Type: JPG or PNG 

Video File Type: MP4, MOV or GIF 

Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 px 

Aspect Ratio: 1:1 

Collection ads

Collection ads are similar to carousel ads in that they use multiple images/videos. The display, however, is different. Collection ads show the content in a single layout rather than scrolling through like carousel ads. 

Primary Text: 125 characters 

Headline: 40 characters 

Landing Page URL: Required

Image Type: JPG or PNG 

Video File Type: MP4, MOV or GIF 

Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 px 

Aspect Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1 

Video ads

These are what they say they are. Video-based ads that grab attention. They can be up to 60s long. 

Primary Text: 125 characters 

Maximum Number of Hashtags: 30

Video File Type: MP4, MOV or GIF 

Aspect Ratio: 4:5 

Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 px 

Video Captions: Recommended but Optional

Video Sound: Recommended but Optional

Shopping Ads

Instagram shopping ads help you promote products on the platform. You can insert clickable product tags on a video or image and direct people to a landing page. You need to set up a product catalog on the channel to access this. 

Section-based Instagram Ads

Ads on Instagram can be categorized by section too. These are the ones you need to know about:

Stories ads

These appear under the stories section on Instagram. They can help you give a sense of urgency since they disappear after 24 hours. 

Stories Ads use these ad types: Images, Videos, Collection, and Carousel Ads.

Explore ads

The explore section on Instagram houses these ads. You can use this section to target specific audiences as it’s a place of discovery based around each user’s interests. 

Explore Ads use these ad types: Image and Video Ads only.

Feed ads

These are the ads that you see most on Instagram. As the name suggests, they show up in your feed and look like any other video (except for the “sponsored” label that appears). 

Feed ads use all ad types: Image, Video, Carousell, Collection, and Shopping Ads.

Reels ads

Reels lets you create and share short videos. They don’t disappear (like stories) and are highly engaging. Don’t exceed 30s if you want it to look organic within someone’s reels section. 

Reel ads use video ad format. 

Facebook Advertising

Facebook’s extensive reach, combined with its powerful targeting and measurement capabilities, make it an excellent choice for driving ROI. Since Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta they have some overlaps in ad formats. For example, you can use Photo Ads, Video Ads, Carousel Ads, Slideshow Ads, Collection Ads and Story Ads on both Facebook and Instagram. The following formats are specific to Facebook and are not available on its sister app.

Instant Articles Ads

This ad format is designed for publishers to create fast-loading and interactive articles that appear directly within Facebook’s mobile app. This increases engagement by allowing users to access content quickly without leaving the app.

Length: No specific length requirement.

Size: Minimum width of 300 pixels and maximum file size of 5MB.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Right Column Ads

You’ll see these on the right-hand side when you log onto Facebook on your desktop. They are smaller in size and are generally less expensive than other ad formats. 

Length: Headline – 25 characters, Text – 90 characters, Description – 30 characters.

Size: Recommended image size of 1200 x 628 pixels.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Dynamic Ads (property)

This ad format is designed specifically for property agents and managers, allowing them to promote their listings on Facebook. The ad format uses information from the advertiser’s website to create highly targeted ads for people who have previously shown interest in similar properties.

Length: No specific length requirement.

Size: Image size of at least 1200 x 628 pixels and a maximum file size of 30MB.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Sponsored Messages

This is where brands can send personalised messages to  Facebook Messenger and allows advertisers to send personalized messages to users who have interacted with their business on the platform. Sponsored Messages are designed to re-engage users who have shown interest in the advertiser’s product or service. This ad format is not available on Instagram.

Length: Message – 500 characters, Image – 1200 x 628 pixels.

Size: Recommended image size of 1200 x 628 pixels and maximum file size of 30MB.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Lead Ads

Looking to generate leads? This is the ad to do exactly that. When a user clicks on the ad, a form appears that is pre-populated with their Facebook information, making it easier for them to complete. 

Length: Headline – 25 characters, Text – 90 characters, Context Card – 30 characters.

Size: Recommended image size of 1200 x 628 pixels and maximum file size of 30MB.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Twitch Advertising

Twitch is the go-to place for live streams. It’s especially prevalent in the gaming world but is also a growing hub for all kinds of communities. It’s a brilliant space for accessing niche communities and drumming up a ton of engagement. 

Cross-Screen Video

Cross-screen video on Twitch enables your ad to play across devices. It can help you track your ads (supporting 3rd party tracking). 

Length: 30s (unskippable) or 60s (mid-roll only)

Desktop Video

These are integrated directly into live-stream broadcasts. They are accessed via desktop computer. They can either preroll or play during ad breaks. 

Length: 30 seconds (unskippable) or 60 seconds (mid-roll only)

Homepage Carousel

Homepage carousel ads show up at the top of the homepage. They promote live streams through clickable thumbnails. 

Size: 280 x 156 pixels in JPG format with a maximum file size of 10KB 

Text: Max 250 characters.

Homepage Headliner

These appear at the top of a homepage and are a prime placement. They appear under the streaming thumbnails and take up almost the whole width of the page. They’re great for boosting brand awareness and product placements. 

Format: JPG or PNG

Size: 450 x 350 pixels with a maximum file size of 150KB

Medium Rectangle

This ad format shows up as viewers scroll through Twitch content. As the name might suggest, they appear as rectangles. 

Length: Maximum animation length is 15 secs or 3 loops.

Size: 300×250 (max file size is 100kb). 

Format: GIF, JPG, PNG.

Stream Display Ad

During live streams, these ads appear at the bottom of the screen. Because of their seamless integration, they are very organic and engaging. 

Length: Maximum of 15 secs or 3 loops.

Size: 728×90. (max file size is 100kb). 

Format: GIF, JPG, PNG

YouTube Advertising

YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform, with over 2.6 billion monthly active users. It provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach a massive audience through video ads. What’s more, Youtube is where people watch content for longer (the average video watch-time is 30 minutes), making it an ideal spot to advertise effectively. 

Skippable In-Stream Ads

These ads appear before, during, or after a video and can be skipped after five seconds. They can be any length, but a maximum of three minutes is recommended. Brands can use them to grab the viewer’s attention and convey a message within a short amount of time.

Length: Any length (recommended maximum of three minutes)

Size: Max file size of 1 GB

Format: Video format, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, minimum resolution of 480 x 360

Non-Skippable In-Stream Ads

As the name suggests, non-skippable in-stream ads can’t be skipped. They play before, during, or after a video and can be up to 15 seconds long. They are highly visible since they can’t be skipped and can be helpful for brand awareness campaigns. 

Length: Up to 15 seconds

Size: Maximum file size of 1 GB

Format: Video format, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, minimum resolution of 480 x 360

Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are short, non-skippable ads that play before a video and are up to six seconds long. They are designed to convey a message quickly and grab attention. 

Length: Up to six seconds

Size: Maximum file size of 1 GB

Format: Video format, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio

Overlay Ads

Overlay ads appear as banners on the bottom of a video and can be text, image, or video. They are semi-transparent and can be closed by the viewer. They feel non-intrusive and provide additional information to viewers.

Length: N/A

Size: Maximum file size of 150 KB

Format: Image or video format, 728 x 90 or 300 x 250 pixels

Display Ads

Display ads appear on the right-hand sidebar of a YouTube video and can be text, image, or video. They can also appear on the homepage and channel pages. 

Size: Max file size of 150 KB

Format: Image or video format, 300 x 250 or 300 x 60 pixels

Sponsored Cards

Sponsored cards are small CTA pop-ups that appear during a video. They’re good for product placements and brand awareness. 

Size: Maximum file size of 1 MB

Format: Image format, 300 x 300 pixels or 480 x 70 pixels

Discovery Ads

Discovery ads appear in search results, related videos, and the YouTube homepage. They are usually in a thumbnail format and are clickable. They can help you drive traffic to a website or landing page.

Size: Maximum file size of 2 MB

Format: Thumbnail image format, 1280 x 720 pixels

LinkedIn Advertising

Linkedin is the top place for B2B marketing. So if you’re looking to appeal to other brands, you should think about ad campaigns on this channel. 

Sponsored Content

  • Sponsored Content is a native ad format that appears in a user’s LinkedIn feed. These ads are designed to blend in with organic content. You can choose from five different formats of sponsored content:
  • Single image ads: These ads include a single image and can be used to promote a product, service or boost brand awareness. 
  • Video ads: These ads use video. Brands can demonstrate how a product or service works, tell a brand story or increase engagement.
  • Carousel ads: These have a series of images or videos that users can swipe through. Carousels typically showcase multiple products, services or ideas, or tell a story in slideshow format.
  • Event ads: You can use these to promote upcoming events like webinars and conferences. They include date, time and location details and a call-to-action to register or attend the event.
  • Document ads: With these ads, you can promote whitepapers, ebooks or case studies by displaying a document preview and linking to the full version. They’re typically used to generate leads and increase brand awareness.

Length: Headline – 70 characters, Body – 600 characters.

Size: Image size of at least 1200 x 627 pixels and maximum file size of 5MB.

Format: JPG or PNG.

Sponsored messaging

  • You can send paid direct messages to targeted users through sponsored messaging, available in 2 formats:
  • Message ads: Where you send personalized and targeted messages to users with a single call-to-action (CTA.) You can also add lead gen forms to your message ads to capture leads easily.
  • Conversation ads: This is where you can add multiple CTAs to your messages to help prospects engage with your business. You can send them targeted links and offers to boost conversions. 

Length: Subject line – 60 characters, Message body – 1,000 characters.

Text and Dynamic Ads

LinkedIn also offers text, spotlight and follower ads:

  • Text ads: Pay-per-click (PPC), text ads are displayed on the right-hand side of a desktop screen and consist of a brief headline, blurb, and a small image. While they may not be as noticeable as sponsored content, they can still be highly effective, depending on the goals of your campaign.
  • Spotlight ads: These are tailored to suit the profile of each individual and can be linked back to your website or landing page. They serve as an excellent means of disseminating insightful, thought-provoking content.
  • Follower ads: Follower ads are dynamic ads that are also personalized, but their objective is to increase the number of followers on your LinkedIn company page.
Two Phones - One Displaying A Facebook In Feed Shopping Ad And One Showing A Tiktok Sponsored Video

Which social media platform has the highest ROI on average?

So that was a lot of ad formats. But what do you do with all this information? You need to work out which platform is best for your brand. The first question to ask is which platform has the highest ROI on average.

According to HubSpot’s 2023 Social Network Trends Report, Instagram is the social media channel that offers marketers the highest ROI. This is followed by Facebook at a close second. But of course, your ROI on particular social media channels will massively vary depending on your target audience, marketing goals and content. Some campaigns will work a lot better than others on particular platforms. 

Things to consider to determine which social media platform is best for your brand

The right target audience demographics

To attract the right audience, you need to find where they hang out. Social media platforms attract different age groups, genders, interests, and geographies. For example, younger generations tend to use platforms like TikTok and Instagram, while older generations tend to use Facebook. Understanding where your target audience spends their time online is essential to ensure that you’re reaching them effectively.

Brand resources

Building and maintaining a social media presence takes time, effort, and money. Some platforms may require more resources than others based on your content strategy and posting frequency. Assess your resources to determine which platforms are feasible for your team.

Brand voice & personality:

When selecting a social media platform, consider your brand’s voice and personality. Each platform has a unique tone, style, and culture. You might not want to be doing a funny TikTok dance trend on Linkedin. Choose a platform that aligns with your brand to present an authentic image.


Ad spend can vary from platform to platform. When focusing on social media advertising, make sure you assess the cost of each platform and choose the ones that fit your brand’s budget.


When choosing a social media platform, it’s crucial to consider the level of competition. High competition on some platforms can make reaching your target audience and standing out challenging. Take the time to assess the competition on each platform and decide if it’s worth investing your team’s time and resources to build a presence there.

Industry trends

To win on social media, you need to stay updated with trends. Platforms may experience shifts in popularity, algorithm changes, or new features that could affect your brand’s success. Stay informed about industry trends and adapt your social media strategy accordingly to maximize the available opportunities.


Influencers are vital to social media marketing, and some platforms have a stronger influencer presence than others. Partnering with influencers can be critical to your social media strategy, depending on your brand and industry. Finding the right influencer is also crucial. You need them to align with your values to create authentic, leading content on their chosen channel. To determine whether a platform aligns with your brand goals, consider its influencer landscape.

The Goat Agency Instagram Account - Experts In Social Media Ads

So what should be your next steps?

Listing down all of these elements can help you identify which social media platform would work best for you. Once you understand this, it’s time to build the right ad campaign. You’ll need scroll-stopping creatives and eye-catching content to ensure your ads work. Then it’s all about measuring. Tracking data through your social media analytics will inform you of what’s working and what’s not, helping you build on your strategy. 

Better yet, enlist the experts. At The Goat Agency, it’s our job to create effective ad campaigns for your brand that maximize ROI. So get in touch to find out how we can help you build a social media strategy that wins over your target market every time. 

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Written by: Content Creator