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An Artist’s Guide to Social Media Advertising

There’s never been a better time for artists, especially when it comes to making money. No longer are artists at the mercy of big name galleries and dealers in order to sell their work. Instead, today’s social media landscape has made it possible for creators of all kinds to monetize their craft, especially once understanding how to effectively advertise on social media.

About Social Media Advertising

In simplest terms, a social media ad is any type of paid content that appears on a social media network. From Promoted Pins to Snapchat campaigns with hefty budgets, there’s something for every brand and goal. Additionally, each social platform has different things to offer (in terms of ad types, audience and targeting, pricing, etc.), so we’ll make sure to go over the key differences in this guide.

The Numbers

Today’s social media stats are astounding. There are over 3 billion internet users, 2 billion of which are active on social media. 75% of companies that leverage social selling report an increase in sales in just 12 months. Nearly one third of millennials say that social media is their preferred way to communicate with brands.

In other words, if done correctly, social media advertising works.

However, it’s critical to keep in mind that social media ads are rented advertisements. If you run out of money to purchase these ads, the traffic associated with them will likely stop. Additionally, if you’re not careful, you might actually lose money on your investment.

What it Means for Creators

For creators, the right social media advertising means selling more work, increasing brand recognition, and even connecting with fans on a deeper level.

Note: Don’t let advertising make you feel like any less of an artist. Monica Byrne, the author of the Tiptree Award-winning ​debut ​novel The Girl in the Road, says it best:

Calling yourself a businessperson doesn’t mean you’re compromising your art…Business is just another vehicle for creativity.

Paid Channel Pricing Models

Before shelling out money for social ads, it’s important to understand the different types of paid channel pricing models. Here’s a breakdown of the most common ones, plus the pros and cons of each:

Cost Per Mille (CPM) 🚗

The Basics

  • You pay a flat rate per 1,000 impressions of your ad, regardless of clicks.


  • CPM rates are relatively inexpensive.
  • Your ads will be shown the exact number of times you specify.


  • If people who view your ads don’t convert, you risk wasting money.
  • It’s hard to asses the success of your ads until the end of the campaign.

Cost Per Click (CPC) 👆🏼

The Basics

  • You pay for every click.
  • The price you pay (per click) depends on the market-determined value of the keyword or expression you’re interested in.


  • You only pay for the clicks you need.
  • It’s easy to place budget caps on incoming traffic.


  • Since you’re competing against other advertisers for traffic, prices can go up.
  • It might require more money initially to see results.

Revshare ⚖

The Basics

  • You pay for traffic based on a proportion of revenue (5%, 20%, etc.) earned.


  • You only have to pay for performance.


  • It’s not always easy to quantify performance.

Choosing the Right Ad Network

With so many social platform out there, choosing the right ad network can be tricky. Consider basing your decision on the following criteria:

Targeting Options

  • Do you care more about interest-based targeting or demographic targeting (or both)?
  • How will this ad network help you reach your target audience?

Ad Format

  • Does the ad format help you tell your story in a clear and compelling way?
  • Does the ad format have the ability to inspire user engagement?

Alignment with User Experience

  • In what situation do you want to be introduced to your target audience (while they’re browsing Instagram Feeds, curating Pinterest Boards, etc.)?
  • Note: When it comes to interacting with potential customers, first impressions are extremely important, so really think about how your ad affects user experience.

Noteworthy Ad Networks for Artists

Whether you produce podcasts or feature films, here are four social media advertising networks you need to know:


Ad Types

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Carousel (up to 10 images and links in one ad)
  • Slideshow (several static images that create a video)
  • Canvas (combination of videos, still images, and call-to-action buttons)

Audience and Targeting

Facebook has numerous targeting options, like demographics (education, ethnic affinity, generation, household composition, life events, parenting, politics, relationship, and work), interests, and behaviors. Additionally, Facebook also lets you upload a list of email addresses, phone numbers, or Facebook IDs to create what’s called a Custom Audience. You can then use Lookalike Audiences to find people that resemble your Custom Audience.


Pricing depends on multiple factors, including the country you’re targeting, the time of year, even your ad quality. In Q3 2016 (in the United States), the average CPC was 27.29 cents, and the average CPM was $7.19.

Example: The New York Times

Facebook Ad


Ad Types

  • Promoted Tweets (purchasable Tweets to target users)
  • Promoted Accounts (ads that invite users to follow your brand)
  • Promoted Trends (context-, time-, and event-sensitive promoted subject matter)

Audience and Targeting

Twitter offers language, gender, interest, follower, device, behavior, Tailored Audiences, keyword, and geography targeting. Similar to Lookalike Audiences, the Tailored Audiences feature uses your own contact lists to reach specific groups of users on Twitter.


Whereas Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts can cost anywhere from 50 cents to $10+ per engagement, Promoted Trends can cost a whopping $200,000 a day!

Example: The Elite Advisor Blueprint (Podcast)

Twitter Ad


Ad Types

  • Photo
  • Video
  • Carousel (up to 10 images and links in one ad)

Audience and Targeting

Instagram offers the same targeting options as Facebook. However, the demographic of Instagram users skews younger than Facebook users


Like Facebook, Instagram lets you pay per engagement or impression. In Q3 2016 (in the United States), the average CPC was $0.72.

Example: World Chef (Game)

Instagram Ad


Ad Types

  • Awareness Campaigns (place Promoted Pins in front of people who haven’t yet interacted with your brand)
  • Engagement Campaigns (encourage Pinners to repin or click on your Promoted Pins)
  • Traffic Campaigns (send visitors from your Promoted Pins to your website)

Audience and Targeting

Interest targeting lets you target Pinners based on 420 different interests, and Keyword targeting makes it easy to target Pinners based on what they search. It’s also possible to target Promoted Pins using your own business data.


In order to promote Pins, you have to bid against other advertisers.

Abby Fromm, part of Pinterest’s Partner Ops Team in San Francisco, explains the Pinterest bidding process like this:

A bid tells us the max amount you want to pay for a click or engagement on Pinterest. You should bid what that action is worth to you, but keep in mind you’re competing against other advertisers who are targeting the same interest or keywords. If your bid is too low, your ad might not show up as often as you want it to.

We use a ‘second-price auction model,’ which means you’ll only be charged what you needed to beat the next highest bidder in the auction. You won’t necessarily pay the full amount that you bid (and you may actually see your average cost per click or engagement lower than your initial bid).

Example: **The Age of Adaline (Feature Film)**

Pinterest Ad

Key Takeaways

  1. If you know how to effectively utilize social media advertising, you can sell more work, increase brand recognition, and even connect with fans on a deeper level.
  2. Before advertising on social media, it’s important to understand the differences types of paid pricing models, like CPM, CPC, and Revshare.
  3. Choose the right ad network for your brand based on criteria such as targeting options, ad format, and alignment with user experience.
  4. For creators specifically, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are all great networks for social media advertising. However, each platform offers different ad types, audience and targeting options, and pricing models, so make sure to do what works best for you.
  5. Believe in your craft and yourself. You were put here to do great things, and your mere existence is reason enough to celebrate.