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10 social media advertising examples to inspire your next campaign

By Hannah Herman · April 15, 2024
A hero image of an orange megaphone on a light yellow background.

As a writer and creative lead, I've worked on a ridiculous number of social media ads and campaigns in my career. I know that advertising can feel like the coolest, highest-impact part of your marketing and brand strategy. If we're being honest, we all kind of want to be Don Draper. 

But ads—especially social media ads—can feel like a tough nut to crack, especially if you don't have a creative background. 

Why use social media ads?

The short answer: you need to meet your audience where they spend their time. And in almost every industry, you audience spends time on social media.

To add to that, we're in the midst of a generational shift in how people use social media. Millennials and Gen Z tend to use social the same way previous generations used Google: as a search engine to find what's trendy. There's a huge opportunity to create branded social content that pushes your products and services out to an audience that's already searching for what you're offering.

What makes an effective social media ad?

From both a creative and strategy perspective, the most successful social ads have a few things in common:

  • They stand out when you scroll. People are absolutely inundated with ads, and social feeds are meant to be scrolled through quickly. Explore ways to make your ads stand out—whether it's with cheeky copy, great motion design, gorgeous video, or by amplifying organic branded content.

  • They speak to what keeps your audience up at night. We've all done it before: you see an irrelevant ad on social media, and you scroll on by (unless it's for industrial-grade glycine). Avoid this same pitfall with your own social ads by speaking to the greatest challenges your audience faces.

  • They use the right platform to reach the right audience. This is also called channel mix, and it's a crucial part of making sure your ads get seen by the right audience. If you're a B2B company targeting tech decision-makers, for example, you might find that LinkedIn ads perform better than TikTok ads

  • They reinforce your overall brand. Like so many things in life, consistency truly is key with advertising. Make sure all your ads feel cohesive in terms of design, tone of voice, and messaging—so that repeat encounters build brand awareness and equity with your audience. 

  • They feel authentic. There's nothing more cringe-worthy than a social ad that feels forced, but it's also important not to hide the fact that you're a brand. Find that balance.

  • They have a clear CTA. Maybe you're just looking for lots of views and likes, or maybe you want folks to fill out a signup form. Based on your anticipated audience and targeting, you should be really strategic about whether an ad is aimed at growing awareness or conversion—and if it's the latter, craft a strong CTA to match. 

These criteria are good to keep in mind when planning your next social advertising campaign, but the ways you can bring them to life are honestly infinite.

10 social media ad examples that landed

Here are ten social ads that hit the mark, from traditional ad buys and sponsored content to fully-fledged social activations. 

1. A product-focused Instagram ad from Aday

If you want to successfully sell your product, you have to speak to what keeps your audience up at night. What challenges make them sweat? What do they fixate on in the wee hours? 

A social media advertising example from Aday: a picture of a woman putting a phone in her pocket.

When I saw this ad from sustainable clothing brand Aday, I stopped scrolling immediately. It perfectly dials into the audience's challenge: women's pants are notorious for not having pockets—or for having pockets that aren't big enough to hold more than a couple pennies. By showing a phone seamlessly sliding into their pants' pocket, Aday speaks directly to that well-known, oft-joked-about pain. It's so compelling, I actually ordered a pair—which was easy, thanks to the clear CTA. 

2. An audience-aware LinkedIn ad from Google

Because it's a professional networking site, you might think that LinkedIn ads need to be stuffy-ish. But while LinkedIn is a great place to advertise to a more business-focused audience, its users are still humans. 

Google demonstrates a keen awareness of that truth with their recruiting ads. They're still speaking to that professional audience—and specifically, to job seekers—but they're also highlighting the human side of their workplace. Plus there's a clear CTA to their Careers site, so they can capture any potential applicants who feel inspired by this ad. 

3. A user-generated campaign from Apple

If you've existed in the world since 2015, you've probably seen Apple's ubiquitous #ShotOniPhone campaign. The concept is astonishingly simple—highlight great photos taken with iPhone cameras—and unbelievably evergreen: it's been running now for about a decade.

But beyond the billboards and subway ads, the campaign has a social component. By encouraging folks to tag their photos as #ShotOniPhone, Apple is cleverly harnessing user-generated content to extend the life of this campaign far beyond the original ads.

A social media advertising example from iPhone: the hashtags from the #shotoniphone campaign

It's a great example of how social media ads can grow beyond traditional paid media or sponsored posts. Apple even created an Instagram Reel featuring cute baby photos—shot on parents' iPhones, of course. 

4. A celeb-studded Instagram campaign from Loewe

If you poll a room of fashion-conscious consumers, chances are most of them will have heard of Loewe, a Spanish fashion house known for leather goods. But a fair few of them might struggle to pronounce the brand's name (which is pronounced "low-eh-vay"—or something close to that).

A social media advertising example from Loewe: a poster for the Dan Levy and Aubrey Plaza video

The brand is keenly aware of how its spelling and pronunciation don't quite line up—and they leverage that quirk in their new Instagram ad. Starring comedy faves Aubrey Plaza and Dan Levy, the short film depicts Plaza as a spelling bee contestant struggling to spell Loewe. Beyond starring two well-known jokesters, the campaign is funny and beautifully shot, with gorgeous vintage costumes. The brand also smartly reused behind-the-scenes footage as shorter TikToks—generating even more eyeballs.

While most brands don't have the budget for this kind of celeb-studded campaign, the point here is to not feel limited by the rhythms of a traditional ad. Whether you pull in a local celebrity or just take a different approach to scripting, thinking outside the box can go a long way to making your creative stand out. When that's the case, you might not even need to make it a sponsored post to get eyeballs on it.

5. A seasonal Facebook ad from Grass Roots Farmers' Cooperative

Seasonal advertising can be incredibly effective for businesses—you know what's on your audience's mind at certain times of the year, so lean into that. Bonus if you can tap into the mindset of consumers who are actively seeking solutions or gifts for those occasions.

A Facebook ad for Thanksgiving turkey that talks about a possible shortage and mentions when the orders will ship.

Grass Roots Farmers' Cooperative went seasonal and generally timely: they ran this ad suring a turkey shortage around Thanksgiving. They address a current concern, create urgency, and connect it to a specific seasonal event. Pretty compelling.

Even if a product or service is evergreen, highlighting its seasonal relevance can breathe new life into your social media ads.

6. A relatable TikTok ad from Sport Chek

You shouldn't be hiding the fact that you're a brand, but that doesn't mean your ads can't be relatable.

Sport Chek's TikTok ad below uses the popular get ready with me (GRWM) format, so it doesn't feel scripted. But it still feels polished: there's no "millennial pause" at the beginning of the video, and the video itself is beautifully edited.


Ready to turn up the heat? Get Regan’s top 3 tips for training outside. Psst: one is UA HeatGear®.

♬ Promoted Music - Sportchek

7. A tongue-in-cheek LinkedIn lead gen form from Minnow 

If you're a B2B company, you're probably focused on generating real, high-quality leads from your social media ads. But that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice creativity.

LinkedIn Lead Gen ad example from Minnow Technologies, Inc. with a humorous angle

This LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms ad—from food pickup company Minnow—is a great example of balancing creativity and functionality. The side-by-side photos do an amazing job illustrating the problem that Minnow can solve, while still piquing audience interest. And there's even a form prospects can fill out to get a quote, which means this ad will actively gather new leads.

8. A cheeky Reddit ad—from Reddit itself

On social media—especially on discussion-based platforms like Reddit—ads can easily feel inauthentic.

A social media advertising example from Reddit: "The ciiiiiiircle of ads on Reddit"

This Reddit ad (ironically, advertising their advertising opportunities) nails it, though: the extra I's in "circle" feels true to how real Reddit users talk. Plus the copy is short, to-the-point, and focused on explaining how their advertising product works.

9. An elevated Instagram collab from Ruggable

I know I've said this about a million times by now, but good creative can really make or break a social ad. That's one reason I think this Ruggable ad really stands out.

A social media advertising example: A picture of Ruggable rugs introducing the collab with Architectural Digest

The draped and unfurled rugs! The lighting! It all feels so upscale and almost editorial, like a haute couture shoot—definitely not like an ad for rugs you can throw in your washing machine. And that elevated approach is fitting, given this ad is promoting Ruggable's collaboration with noted magazine Architectural Digest

10. A self-aware Facebook ad from Scissors and Scotch

People are inundated with ads these days—so it can be hard to cut through the noise and meaningfully connect with your audience. That's why I love this ad from Scissors and Scotch, a luxury men's grooming company. It actually pokes fun at the accuracy of social media targeting—and uses that self-awareness to promote their offerings. It's simple but witty, which is a refreshing combination.

A screenshot of Scissors and Scotch's Facebook ad

Automate your social media advertising

A good social media ad is so much more than the right targeting strategy or a great image. It's an almost-magical combination of both, equal parts art and science. But remember: a single ad isn't forever. It's just one moment that contributes to building your brand—so consistency will always be king. 

To help maintain that consistency—and scale your campaigns—you can use Zapier to automate your social media advertising. Automatically add leads to your CRM or email marketing tool, send conversion events based on form submissions, and keep your team in the loop. Learn more about automating Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram ads, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Add new Facebook Lead Ads leads to rows on Google Sheets

Add new Facebook Lead Ads leads to rows on Google Sheets
  • Facebook Lead Ads logo
  • Google Sheets logo
Facebook Lead Ads + Google Sheets

Send LinkedIn Conversions events from new HubSpot form submissions

Send LinkedIn Conversions events from new HubSpot form submissions
  • LinkedIn Conversions logo
LinkedIn Conversions

Create or update Mailchimp subscribers from Instagram Lead Ads

Create or update Mailchimp subscribers from Instagram Lead Ads
  • Instagram Lead Ads logo
  • Mailchimp logo
Instagram Lead Ads + Mailchimp

Add or update ActiveCampaign contacts with new TikTok Lead Generations leads

Add or update ActiveCampaign contacts with new TikTok Lead Generations leads
  • TikTok Lead Generation logo
  • ActiveCampaign logo
TikTok Lead Generation + ActiveCampaign

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

Related reading:

  • The best social media management tools

  • The best AI tools for social media management

  • The best Instagram scheduling apps

  • 17 testimonial advertising examples

  • 10 examples of ethos in advertising

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