Top tips for using paid social media


It’s no surprise that organic reach on social media is on the decline but without a big budget, how can you make the most of paid social media?

Social giving using Facebook

Here are our top tips for spending your social media advertising budget wisely:

1. Plan your budget

Speak to all the relevant people in your charity about events and campaigns that are coming up throughout the year so that you can plan which will need advertising spend behind it.

2. Have a contingency budget

Make sure to set aside some money for any unexpected ‘wins’. Imagine your charity is the recipient of the next big viral challenge? Sometimes posts on Facebook actually do really well organically so make sure you set aside a small budget to boost posts in this instance. By boosting a post, you ensure that more people (whether it’s people who already Like your page, their friends or even a target audience that you set) see your post in their feed.

3. Decide what success looks like

What do you hope to achieve by putting spend behind your adverts? Do you want people to visit your website, sign up to an event or read research you’ve just published? Knowing the answer to this question is important as it determines which type of advert to choose. Here are the options that Facebook offer:

Facebook Advert objectives


So if you were looking for people to sign up to an event you would choose the ‘increase conversions on your website’ option. This is the best way to track if people have converted to signing up.  However, note that you will need your website manager to place a pixel on the page that you want people to convert from in order for it to be tracked.

Twitter adverts work in a similar way. Here’s how Care International used Twitter Lead Cards to promote their Walk In Her Shoes event.

Care International


4. Know your target audience

Paid social media advertising offers you a unique opportunity to directly target the exact people you hope to engage, and with a small CPC (cost per click) price tag. Facebook allows you to choose not only options relating to demographics but also interests and behaviours (for example, purchasing behaviour). One of Twitter’s unique features is that it allows you to target people based on accounts that they follow. So if you wanted to advertise your charity’s London Marathon places, you could target people who follow Runner’s World UK , Women’s Running UK and even the London Marathon account itself.

You can also use ‘custom audiences’. This is when you target supporters by uploading a list of their email addresses. Facebook or Twitter will then show your adverts only to the people on your list.

A unique feature of Facebook advertising is ‘lookalike’ audience. This is when your adverts will be targeted to a new audience that ‘looks like’ the ‘custom audience’ list you uploaded. This is a great way for trying to reach new supporters.

 5. Be creative

Both Twitter and Facebook allow you to create a number of different creatives (image and text) for one advertising campaign. This helps you to test which image and wording works best with your target audience and allows you to switch off the ones that are not performing well so that your budget is optimised for the campaigns that are working.

For Facebook, try to come up with at least three different creatives – so three adverts that have different images and copy.  In order to test which copy works best, use the same image throughout. If you’re trying to test which image works best then use different images but the same copy. On Facebook you aren’t allowed to have more than 20% of text over an image, so check how much there is using the Facebook Grid Tool. For Twitter, test at least five different promoted tweets or adverts to see which perform best. Check daily to see how your adverts are doing so that you can turn off the ones that are not performing well.

6. Learn from your analytics

The joy of running paid social media adverts is that you can get a real understanding of what your supporters are interested in and what makes them want to take action. Although Facebook Insights is available to every Page, Twitter Analytics is only available if you run adverts. However, it’s certainly worth spending some money on Twitter adverts so that you can access Analytics and learn more about your followers.

 Related reads

Download Friends with Money – our guide to fundraising on social media

How to make the most of Facebook advertising

Inspiring and building an online community – presentation 


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Passionate about using digital channels to communicate with and for charities, Kirsty is a freelance digital communications specialist and accredited trainer. A regular blogger for Third Sector and other sector publications, she is always keen to share her experiences and knowledge with others and help them achieve their goals. She has helped hundreds of charity staff hone their social media and digital marketing skills over the years and understand the importance of good content. She is a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition and in 2016 won a CharityComms Inspiring Communicator Award.