What’s the best social media platform to advertise on?

Written By: Nicole Date: 28.06.2018 Categories: Marketing

With the rate of smartphone use and, subsequently, social media use in South Africa rising at a rapid pace, brands are (thankfully) no longer asking whether they should be advertising on social media - but rather, which social media platforms they should be advertising on. Now, the greedy content creator and ‘brand presence is everything’ advocate in me is tempted to say “all of them, stat”. However, the strategist in me understands that the approach is not always that simple. There are various factors to consider such as budget, your target market, social media use statistics and how different audiences respond to brands on different platforms.

But perhaps you’re wondering: “Is there a general consensus on which social media platform is the best for all businesses?”. Well, not really. Like I said, there are various factors to consider first that are personal to your brand’s objectives. However, here’s my opinion on advertising on different social media platforms and which one you definitely can’t afford not to be on.


Facebook is an obvious one. In 2018 it is still the biggest social media platform in South Africa (the latest stats indicate that there are about 16 million South African users on Facebook). If it’s one platform I don’t think brands can afford to skip advertising on, it’s Facebook. In our own experience with clients, Facebook has consistently yielded better results than SMS, email and yes, even television campaigns. This is not to say that traditional campaigns don’t get great results, but Facebook is usually more cost-effective than those campaigns and results in more leads. If the content of your ad is great and your messaging suits your target market, you’re likely to get a good return on investment here. The younger demographic, your Gen Zs, are less present here but this could be due to a number of factors (they’re migrating to Instagram and Snapchat, they don’t have access to mobile phones, Facebook’s minimum age is 18, their true age is not reflected on the platform etc.) However, for most brands this is not an issue as they generally target Millennials. 

Not only does Facebook have a high number of users, Mark Zuckerberg seems to have put a lot of effort into creating a platform where users can be advertised to. Just remember that Facebook users are learning to digitally co-exist with advertisers, but this also means they have developed higher expectations of them. Make sure that you stay on top of Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm and advertising updates - and always produce ads that are relevant to your target market.


Youtube is the second largest social media platform in South Africa at the moment with over 8 million users. This seems like an obvious one to add to the list of your digital campaigns, and honestly, if you have the budget for it - do it. Youtube ads give you a great opportunity to show off your brand’s creative side and is also great for brand awareness. Video consumption is on the rise in South Africa (which makes sense considering the increase in mobile and internet penetration in the country). Videos are easy to consume and make your content more memorable. However, users are more likely to go to YouTube for a specific piece of content than to leisurely scroll through it. With that in mind, think of creative ways to make your ad ‘unskippable’ and YouTube is sure to give you great results.


Although not as widely used as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, Instagram is still gaining momentum in the country. For me, Instagram is an addictive platform that users can’t help but spend a lot of time on. It’s also given brands the opportunity to visually entice (or simply entertain) its users. You might think Instagram is best suited for bloggers and interior decorators, but brands fair quite well here from both a brand engagement and marketing perspective. Just be careful not to run your Instagram ads in exactly the same way as your Facebook ads (because they don’t share all the same features). I also find that it’s best not to give users a ‘disconnected experience’ while on Instagram. Ads should be visually appealing, captions should be relevant and commenting should be switched on (any kind of feedback is good). Like Facebook, Instagram allows users to engage directly with your ads - which is a good thing. There’s also the opportunity to use social media influencers in a great way on Instagram (if they appeal to your target market and have the engagement numbers, why not?).


Twitter has about 8 million SA users on its platform. So, should you be present as a brand on this platform? Yes. Should you advertise on it? Yes - but be prepared to spend a bit. Twitter now has a minimum amount to spend in order to advertise on the platform but it’s worth saving up for. If not for anything else, the platform is great for brand awareness. This is where all the conversations about what people consider worth talking about are being had. This is definitely where you want your brand to be but you also want to ensure that you’re not being so off-topic that your audience ignores you or trolls you. Competition or social campaigns are still great for Twitter. You can also purchase hashtags for a short period of time that actually allow you to start the conversation - so, there’s that.


LinkedIn is a great platform but it’s more networking than social media networking - if that makes sense. It’s great for B2B connections, showing off your latest work, your latest industry-related article, or posting job opportunities. So if you’re advertising on LinkedIn, think of it more as advertising to your industry, or to entrepreneurs, rather than to everyday consumers.

When it comes down to where you should be advertising - that largely depends on what your objectives are and who your target market is. Different social media platforms have their benefits for brands and with all comes a great opportunity for brand awareness and the opportunity to get further insights from consumers - which can help you optimise your campaigns overall. Advertising on social media in general is great for your brand because it’s generally more cost-effective than traditional advertising and is also measurable - so you know exactly home much you got out of what you put in. If you have the opportunity to advertise on all SA’s top social media platforms - go for it. If your budget allows for you to only spread your marketing across a few - look at where your audience is most engaged and invest your marketing budget there.

TL;DR: Facebook, tbh.