Paid Social – Which Channel is Right for Me?

Paid social advertising is an incredibly popular option for businesses to achieve both brand building and lead generation. However, with a lot of different channels that each have their own unique benefits, it can be difficult to decide what’s right for you! 

Before getting started, it’s important to weigh up the unique features and limitations of each platform to align your advertising strategies with objectives.

In this blog, we’ll explore the strengths and drawbacks of the major platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and X— to help you make an informed decision for your business.

What is Paid Social?

Let’s start right at the beginning – what actually is ‘paid social’?

The term Paid Social refers to the practice of advertising on social media using paid methods such as sponsored content or ads. With almost all of the main social media platforms having paid advertising features and options, it has grown to become a huge area of digital marketing.

In fact, Statista project social media advertising spend to reach nearly $220 billion globally in 2024!

How has it grown so much? Paid Social campaigns are a great way to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, and ultimately, help to achieve your marketing goals.

But let’s go through the benefits in more detail…

Benefits of Paid Social

Paid Social has a number of benefits that make it an enticing option for advertisers. These benefits are more prominent on different platforms depending on your business goals/objectives, but are still very much enjoyed across all.

Some common benefits of Paid Social include:

  • Targeting: Businesses are able to target specific demographics, interests, behaviours, and locations, ensuring that their content is seen by the most relevant audience – potentially making their advertising much more effective.
  • Public usage: Over 62.3% of the world’s population use social media with the average person spending 2 hours and 32 minutes on it daily. This presents advertisers with a huge opportunity to appear multiple times a day for users, increasing the chance of conversions and/or brand awareness.
  • Cost: Paid Social is usually a cheaper method of advertising when compared to other traditional forms of digital advertising. This presents a great opportunity for businesses with limited advertising budgets.
  • Creative freedom: Social media platforms offer a wide range of different ad formats, including images, videos, carousels and more. This gives advertisers more opportunity to create ads that stand out and resonate with their target audience.

So as you can see, it’s certainly worth incorporating paid social into your marketing strategy and budget… but what sort of paid social?

Which channel is right for me?

We have already touched on some advantages that Paid Social can bring to the table, so let’s now take a look at some of the main channels that are out there and help you decide which is right for your business.


(Total potential UK ad reach: 35 million)

LinkedIn is a great platform for businesses in B2B industries. The ability to target by factors such as job title, function, industry, and company size ensures you are able to reach the right users.

In addition, the professional user base on LinkedIn is highly qualified and receptive to B2B messages, making it an ideal space for lead generation through lead magnets such as whitepapers, webinars, and e-books.

However, advertising on LinkedIn tends to be more expensive compared to other platforms due to the prestige of the user base. The less interactive and limited nature of the ad formats, as well as the platform’s focus on networking rather than engagement, can result in lower engagement with ads. Crafting highly relevant and tailored ad creatives is crucial for resonating with your audience.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn is unlikely to provide many opportunities for B2C industries – users are simply not there to research products to use in their personal lives, hence the emphasis on providing them with some form of lead magnet that could facilitate their professional development.


(Total potential UK ad reach: 34.4 million)

Known for its expansive reach due to its huge user base, Facebook is particularly suitable for businesses aiming to raise awareness across diverse audiences. Its visual appeal makes it effective for showcasing niche products or industries with visually striking ads. The platform also offers a wide variety of ad formats for creative flexibility, such as videos, carousels and immersive experiences.

Facebook’s e-commerce capability is especially beneficial for businesses with online sales goals. One feature that we love to use when running Facebook ads for e-commerce clients is dynamic catalogue retargeting ads – these allow you to retarget customers who have viewed products on your site or app, and show them a personalised carousel to remind them of items that they viewed, or show them others that you know they’ll love.

A potential drawback of Facebook for advertising is that users are generally on the platform for leisure, rather than product or service research, meaning there is less intent to purchase. Therefore, your creative has to be eye-catching, compelling, and blend in well with organic content.

Facebook has a user base which is slightly older (primarily in the 25-34 age group) than other platforms such as TikTok, something you may want to consider before running ads, especially if you have a young target audience.


(Total potential UK ad reach: 28.75 million)

Instagram, as a visual-centric platform, is well-suited for businesses with niche, innovative, and visually appealing products. With e-commerce capabilities and a range of ad formats, it caters very well to visually-oriented brands.

However, businesses need to be mindful of “creative fatigue” – frequent updates to ad assets are advisable to prevent users from switching off when they see your ads. This is well balanced by Meta’s excellent targeting capability, allowing you to build audiences based on which ads they have engaged with, and to what degree.

If someone has clicked an ad, but not made a purchase, try showing them a completely different creative! This could take the form of a more informative creative, which helps to guide your audience through the marketing funnel, facilitating their research journey on the way to conversion.

Instagram’s primary audience falls in the younger demographic (18-29 years) and, keeping in mind its visual nature, businesses heavily reliant on using words to sell their products or services may find it less suitable.


(Total potential UK ad reach: 19.66 million)

For businesses targeting a younger demographic, TikTok can be a hugely effective platform. It offers various targeting options – based on website data, ad engagement, location, interests, behaviours and more. There is also the opportunity for in-app shopping, which can be beneficial to e-commerce-based business models.

The platform’s appeal to a predominantly Gen Z audience makes it great for brands with trendy products and a young target audience but may provide drawbacks for companies aiming to target an older demographic.

In addition, TikTok advertising tends to be quite expensive, due to the high volume of competition between advertisers and its rapid expansion as a leading social media platform.

A final, but very important, consideration when it comes to TikTok ads is the need for engaging, authentic visual creative – which should make an effort to blend into the native content that users are consuming.

The young, tech and marketing-savvy audience on this platform will be able to spot an inauthentic, over-produced ad from a mile off. Therefore, we’d advise focusing on creating UGC-style content (User-Generated Content) for this platform, maybe in the form of an influencer review or product demonstration.


(Total potential UK ad reach: 7.61 million)

Similar to Instagram, Pinterest thrives on visual appeal, making it ideal for businesses with visually appealing or innovative products. This, of course, is a drawback for companies that offer services or products that communicate their value through words.

Studies suggest that users on Pinterest display a higher intent to engage with the content they are being shown than on other platforms such as Facebook. Scroll speeds are much slower, and they generally use the platform in a curious, research-based mindset.

Users are there almost exclusively for inspiration on what to buy, conducting unbranded searches for different types of products, and it has been found that off-platform branded searches can see an uplift of up to 10% as a result of running a Pinterest campaign.

The ad formats available on Pinterest are far less invasive than those on other platforms; paid content blends in almost seamlessly with organic. If you can create visual assets that are eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing (but don’t stick out like a sore thumb), users may even pin your ad to their dashboard – this can allow you to make an impression on them time and time again.

The targeting options on Pinterest stack up very well against those of other platforms – not only can you target users based on interests and demographics, but you are also able to target them based on the searches they are performing. Keyword targeting is great for reaching users based on their level of intent – one of the reasons that so many businesses have great success using search engine marketing to advertise their offerings.

Pinterest is cost-effective for smaller businesses regarding CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per 1000 impressions), but its smaller user base and skewed gender demographic (predominantly female) may limit reach, especially for businesses targeting a male audience.

X (formerly known as Twitter)

(Total potential UK ad reach: 23.15 million)

Studies suggest the user base demographics for X tend to be skewed towards males, as well as being on the younger side (mostly between 18-34 years old). Another interesting statistic is that their user base is more likely to have a university education than the general population.

This is comparable to the professional user base of LinkedIn, however, it is important to note the user intent on X will be very different to that of LinkedIn; more focused on leisure, rather than networking and professional development.

With the level of prestige among the audience on X comes a slightly elevated cost of advertising, stats suggest that X costs significantly more both in CPM and CPC than platforms such as Meta. However, for B2C brands looking to target an affluent audience, X could certainly be invaluable.

X’s targeting options are fairly exhaustive, making it an excellent platform for brands who know their audience. Take your pick from keywords, locations, interests, behaviour, and much more. Its real-time nature makes it ideal for promoting content related to trending topics.

However, X doesn’t facilitate the use of visual assets to the degree that other platforms do – it is a platform that is very much reliant on words to engage its users. This makes it less useful for a brand with innovative or hard-to-explain products, but great for a brand that needs to communicate its message more verbally.


In conclusion, the selection of the right paid social channel depends on various factors, including target audience, industry, and campaign objectives.

In this piece we’ve covered what those factors mean for each platform – so now you need to identify what they mean for your business, and match that up to a platform that fits best.

However, it’s worth remembering that paid advertising is very rarely a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It may be that you require multiple platforms to reach different audience segments, or you need to experiment to find the right channel for you.

But thoroughly evaluating the pros and cons of each platform will enable you to make an informed decision, and continuous experimentation and optimization remain key to success in the dynamic landscape of paid social advertising.

If this all seems a bit daunting, or you struggle to keep on top of a consistent paid social strategy, it might be time to speak to the experts…

Our award-winning team has helped countless businesses generate more sales and grow using paid social marketing – find out more about our service or get in touch today!