Social Media Digital Advertising Channels Explained


I’ve often heard business owners lament about how Social Media Marketing doesn’t work for them. This is almost always simply because they chose the wrong social media platforms. If you’re a B2B company then yes, posting daily on Instagram may bear little fruit. But take that same energy and focus it on LinkedIn and you may double your yearly revenue. Choosing the best social media platforms to focus your organic and paid growth on comes down to 2 main things; users and the platform itself.


The Users

Each social media platform has different types of users. These often vary by demographics and income. Selling high-end clothing to women over 40, Pinterest is your best bet. Selling something to teens, TikTok all the way. Choosing the wrong platforms for your brand leads to wasted money and frustration. 


The Platform

The social media platforms differ pretty substantially in the way content is shared. Some let you share links, others don’t, some are video-based, others image-based, and others more text-based. Even the pace of each can differ. For instance, Twitter has a really fast pace, whereas Quora benefits tend to come later down the road as the post or answer grows in popularity.

Now we are going to give a simple breakdown of each platform, its strengths and weaknesses, its user base, and what the best use cases are for each.




Facebook Advertising

Facebook used to be the top dog. But with the advent of older people joining a lot of younger people have moved away. This has really shifted the dynamic as far as organic and paid.

I’ll be honest, Facebook isn’t great for organic reach when your posting to your Facebook business page. A few years ago Facebook completely changed its algorithm in an effort to push businesses to start advertising. You can have a Facebook business page with hundreds of thousands of fans, but the likelihood of a post reaching even 20% of them organically is really low.

Facebook User Demographics: It skews older now, which isn’t bad if you want to target people over 40. Income and education level varies wildly.

Ideal for: E-Commerce, Local Services, Brick and Mortar.

Content Type: All. Video, images, links, etc.

Facebook Ads: Facebook ads can be amazing performers when set up properly. Unfortunately often they aren’t. Facebook’s big money grab is trying to get small businesses to “promote posts”. This is done with no real targeting so the results aren’t great. But, Facebook as an ad platform offers unparalleled targeting. You can target by gender, age, location but also a lot of great granular targeting like homeowners vs. renters, specific job title, and employers and interests.




Instagram Advertising

Facebook owns Instagram. So a lot of the information listed is similar but there are some really important differences. Instagram is better for organic reach than Facebook, but that is also changing as the ad money grab is well underway. Within the Facebook Instagram ecosystem your not getting very far without running some digital ads. Instagram is still on the rise. And when utilized correctly it is an extremely powerful platform for brands that are in line with the audience.

Instagram User Demographics: Instagram skews younger than Facebook. It takes older people longer to move over to other platforms. This hasn’t really happened yet so it hasn’t scared away the younger generation. It is also really popular with millennials making it a great platform when they are your target market.

Ideal For: E-commerce, personal brands, local businesses.

Content Type: Photos and video (as reels and stories)

Instagram Ads: Instagram ads are similar to Facebook. While you can’t directly link an Instagram post, you can link an Instagram Ad to one. Which is great in the way that the ads offer something substantially different than an organic post. Same as Facebook there is a powerful targeting system in place. Do you want to show your ads to 30-year-old women with Masters degrees that live in Kansas? You can do that. Want to target engaged men that live in wealthy zipcodes? Yup. Creative targeting through custom audience building is one of the most powerful benefits of these platforms.




YouTube Advertising

We all know Youtube is the best place to discover video content. YouTube has over 2 billion monthly users making it one of the most massive ad platforms yet its ad platform is only used by 55% of marketers. It is the most widely used social platform. It also has the widest demographics of any platform we discuss. It’s hard to imagine many brands that wouldn’t find success running ads on Youtube with the right strategy and targeting.

Youtube is the 2nd most popular website in the world and the 2nd largest search engine. Which makes it an extremely important digital advertising platform.

Youtube User Demographics: Youtube has the widest demographic of any social platform. Nearly 70% of baby boomers rely on Youtube to learn more about a product or service. It is used a lot by both men and women. It also reaches more 18-34-year-olds than any TV network. It is also a great place to advertise to Millennials. Basically, you can’t go wrong with as far as demographics go.

Ideal For: E-commerce, Brand Awareness, SaaS, Financial Services, Healthcare, Non-Profit, Travel & Hospitality, and much more. Basically, if you are in a niche that video marketing makes sense then Youtube is a platform you can find advertising success on.

Content Type: Video

Youtube Ads: Your videos are your ads, so you want to really put time into making sure they pull the viewer in and show the problem/solution. Targeting is killer on Youtube. You can target using Search because remember, it is the 2nd largest search engine. You can advertise on competitors’ channels, which is a huge benefit. And Youtube has a built-in audience option based on interests that rivals Facebook. Youtube also allows the building of customer lookalike audiences using a CSV of customer emails. And of course, you can also target your ads using demographics and interests. 




Twitter Advertising

Twitter is either loved or hated by people. Twitter people are on it all the time. Twitter is a fast-paced digital platform with the ability to find and follow just a vast range of account types from brands to practically any niche. It can be tricky to find the right flow to fully take advantage of Twitter. But once you do the sky’s the limit. Twitter also has a really low cost per click versus platforms like Facebook.

Twitter User Demographics: 42% of US Twitter users are between 18-29 years old making it a great place to market towards that demo. It may surprise you but Twitter has quite an affluent user base. 77% of Americans that earn over $75,000 a year are on Twitter and 80% of Twitter users are affluent Millennials. Affluent Millennials are a very sought-after market and can be tricky to target on other platforms. If you want to target more affluent 25-49-year-old Twitter is a great option.

Ideal for: E-commerce, brand awareness.

Content Type: Text, Image, Video

Twitter Ads: My favorite thing about Twitter ads is that it is true Pay for Performance. This means that they only charge when a goal action is taken, such as a website click or engagement. Twitter allows keyword targeting. So if you want to target people that have used a certain set of hashtags they got you covered. Twitter remarketing is fantastic as well. If you want to target users that have engaged with organic tweets you can do that. This means you can find and target your top 1% of engagers. Another great benefit of Twitter Ads is the ability to target followers of other Twitter accounts. This can be a competitor or just a brand that you may have researched and found has a similar audience to you.




Pinterest Advertising

Pinterest is a really unique platform. It focuses on imagery but also links directly to a website. It is based around Boards. You create these boards and add other pins to them. Pinterest has a very distinct demographic that is not suited for every brand. But for those that are well-suited, the stats are great. 87% of pinners have purchased something they discovered on Pinterest.

Pinterest User Demographics: Pinterest demographic skews heavily feminine. Only 14% of Pinterest users are male making it best suited for brands looking to capture the female audience. Within this, it has a pretty broad range as far as age goes but the biggest appeal is that 38% of Pinterest users are over the age of 50 making it a killer platform to capture the elusive older female demo but it also has a growing Gen Z user base. The millennial user base grew by 35% in 2020 and 8 out of 10 moms use Pinterest. Add to this that a whopping 40% of Pinterest users make over $75,000 a year it’s a platform that has a powerful built-in audience for those marketing to women.

Ideal For: Fashion/Clothing, Jewelry, Home Decor, Travel/Hospitality, Luxury Goods, Sharing Blog Posts and Lead Magnets.

Content Type: Images with Links, Product Pins, Videos

Pinterest Ads: Pinterest ads are pretty straightforward. The options are promoted pins, promoted pins with carousels, and videos. There are 4 campaign objectives; Traffic, Brand Awareness, App installs, and build awareness using video. Targeting is pretty simple as well, you can target by: Age, Gender, Location, Language and Device.




TikTok Advertising

Hearing about the platform TikTok may bring the mind images of 15-year-old girls dancing and weird challenges. TikTok is predominantly a Generation Z user base with a female bias. TikTok has been blowing up. Especially so during the pandemic. Short videos that utilize hashtags are the basic breakdown. It’s a fun platform and when brands advertise the success is reliant on fitting it into the vibe of the platform.

TikTok User Demographics: TikTop is mainly Gen Z. Teen users make up 25% of TikTok users. But there’s more to it. Users aged 20-49 make up over 60% of TikTok users.

Ideal for: Ads targeting Gen Z. Some of the most popular topics include: Pranks, Fitness/Sports, Home Renovation, Beauty/Skincare, Fashion, Recipes, and Life Hacks.

Content Type: Video

TikTok Ads: Successful ads on TikTok are ones that are authentic, funny, entertaining, and strike an emotional chord. 33% of the top TikTok ads feature a person talking directly to the camera.




Reddit Advertising

Reddit is my personal favorite social platform. It’s huge with over 2.8 million subreddits and there are subs for any interest you can imagine. From subs dedicated to entrepreneurs to subs dedicated to supplements, crypto, news, fashion and fitness to a bunch of NSFW subs. There is a subreddit for ANY interest someone may have. And the beauty of the platform is that it is diverse. You can post articles, content, GIFs, images, and videos.

Reddit User Demographics: Reddit is most popular with users aged 25-29. It skews younger and only 6% of users are over 50 making it a great platform for brands trying to market to younger age groups. It is also mostly male, with 69% of users being male.

Ideal for: nearly any non-local brand due to the number of subs.

Content Type: Text, Image, Video.

Reddit Ads: Reddit advertising can be tricky. The users are wary of overtly sales-y marketing. But it really is a hidden gem as many marketers focus so much on Facebook and Twitter ads that Reddit gets left behind. The true power of Reddit is found by using promoted post ads. These allow you to pin your ad at the top of any subreddit you target. As long as the copy is great and the targeting is on point great returns on ad spend can be achieved.




LinkedIn Advertising

The old person’s Facebook, a digital business networking site. LinkedIn is a unique social media platform. While it’s not really fun it has an important place as the ideal B2B focused platform. It is the most trusted social platform. It is used primarily to network and job hunt.

LinkedIn User Demographics: LinkedIn skews slightly male-centric, with men making up 57% of LinkedIn users. 60% of LinkedIn users are 25-34 years old.

Ideal for: B2B products, Recruitment,

Content Type: Content, Images

LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn ads are pricey, but that’s because there is no other platform to market B2B as effectively as LinkedIn and it has a high purchase intent from ads. The power of LinkedIn ad targeting is the ability to target by job title, industry, and even companies themselves. It is a powerful way to get your ad in front of decision-makers in the niche your looking to advertise to. There are 3 main types of LinkedIn ads; sidebar ads, ads that show up in the newsfeed, and InMail ads, which are direct messages to inboxes.




Quora Advertising

Quora is a Q and A-styled social media site. The basis of Quora is people ask questions and users provide answers. There are over 400,000 topics on Quora and they range drastically. Quora has great reach and answers often show up in the SERPs. This makes for great evergreen content that drives traffic, but that’s IF your content is amazing and informative. Half-asses answered will not get much love.

Quora User Demographics: It leans slightly male-based and 54% of users make over $100,000 a year. 65% of Quora users have a college degree and 37% are in management positions.

Ideal for: Brands looking to target users doing research within the different topics.

Content Type: Text, Image, Video

Quora Ads: Ads on Quora follow the structure of organic posts, but also feature typical text-based ads. The real benefit of Quora ads is leveraging it during the awareness and consideration phases of the marketing funnel. You can target Quora ads to topics as well as by geography.

Gabriel Bertolo

Gabriel Bertolo is a 3rd generation entrepreneur that founded Radiant Elephant 10 years ago after working for various ad and marketing agencies. He is also an award-winning Jazz/Funk drummer and composer as well as a visual artist. He has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Shopify, and MECLABS for his insights into marketing and SEO.