When Does it Make Sense to Advertise on Social Media?

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While highly effective in the right situation, social media ads aren’t always the best solution … so when does it make sense to advertise on social media? And, equally important, when does it not make sense?

As a digital marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing, the WorldLight Media team frequently gets asked about social media advertising as a way to reach new customers, generate leads, and make more sales.

Social media ads can achieve those goals and more, if executed properly and under the right conditions.

However, as with any form of advertising, social media ads aren’t universally applicable and aren’t recommended in all circumstances.

It Makes Sense to Advertise on Social Media When …

Some examples of when social media ads make sense include:

  • When you’re selling directly to consumers
  • When you’re selling impulse items
  • When brand awareness is your primary objective
  • When you’re retargeting an existing audience

Direct Sales to Consumers

The audience on social media is consumers. Individual people with individual needs. If you are selling directly to individual consumers, targeted social media ads are an excellent way to meet those people where they already are and introduce your products and services to them.

Impulse Items

If you’re selling a product that people buy on impulse for instant gratification, or something that can be emotionally compelling, it makes sense to consider social media ads. Since they can be so highly targeted, social media ads give you the ability to advertise your products directly to a “warm audience” of people most likely to want them … an audience most likely to give in to the impulse to buy.

Brand Awareness

With the sheer volume of people on social media, if brand awareness is your number one goal, then advertising on social media makes a lot of sense because of its relatively low cost. The ability to target a specific audience makes social media ads cost-effective as well, delivering more “bang for your buck” than other types of awareness advertising.


Retargeting allows you to deliver social media ads that are highly relevant to people who have already visited your website (pixel-based retargeting) or who are on your email list (list-based retargeting). With retargeting, you can make your social media ads highly personal because you already have some basic knowledge of your audience.

It Doesn’t Make Sense to Advertise on Social Media When …

Some examples of when social media ads do not make sense include:

  • When you aren't already advertising on Google Ads
  • When your target market isn't on the channel
  • When you don’t have a clear “next step” to measure ROI

Not Preceded by Google Ads

Social media ads are effective, but Google Ads often can deliver even better results. While social media ads are “paid social” that help new customers find you as they’re scrolling through their feed on the platform, Google Ads are “paid search” that help you find new customers who are actively searching for the products and services you provide.

A well-rounded digital marketing strategy includes both, but since Google Ads are delivered to people who are closer to the buying stage, we recommend implementing them first.

Target Market not on Social Media

There’s an old saying that “if you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.” This applies to advertising on social media, too. If your target market isn’t on a particular social media channel, it doesn’t make sense to invest in social media ads on that platform.

No Measurable Next Step

To measure the return on investment of advertising on social media, you must have a clear, measurable "next step" to track. In addition to actual conversions or sales, measurable next steps can include actions like signing up for a free trial or webinar, downloading a lead magnet, or subscribing to your email list. So, without that trackable, measurable next step, it may not make sense to run social media ads.

Does it Make Sense for YOU to Advertise on Social Media?

The decision to run social media ads — or not — must be carefully considered on an individual basis. While we’ve given you some basic things to consider here, we invite you to reach out to the WorldLight Media team to discuss your specific situation and goals in more detail or learn more about digital marketing on our FAQ Page.

Get in touch with us using the easy and convenient online form here. We look forward to talking with you soon.

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