As social media platforms become pay-to-play, businesses should learn how to make the most of advertising on them—step one, invest big.

In the past few years, social media platforms have adjusted their algorithms to become increasingly pay-to-play. To have their content seen and drive results, businesses must invest significantly in advertising—and that won’t end anytime soon. In mid-February, eMarketer released a report predicting that digital ad spending will hit $129.3 billion in 2019.

As ad options change and evolve, it’s difficult to keep up with what’s new; what’s working. It’s not as clear which networks to run ads on, or which types of ads to use. As you look ahead to what’s next and how to diversify your social strategy, consider trying these four types of ads:

Facebook carousel ads: Connect with potential customers using a series of compelling visuals, and then drive them back to your website. With Facebook carousel ads, include up to 10 images or videos, each with its own link, all in one ad. These image-centric ads work well to showcase multiple products or various features of a product, or to explain a step-by-step process. Carousel ads have a 30-50 percent lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30 percent lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads, according to Facebook.

Pinterest ads: Especially in the food or fashion business, and if women are a key audience, Pinterest ads, which show up as promoted pins or videos, should be high on your radar. About 41 percent of U.S. women use Pinterest, compared to just 16 percent of U.S. men, says the Pew Research Center. Pinterest ads quickly become a top driver of website traffic with a very affordable cost-per-click. Tip: Because Pinterest is often used for creative planning, start running Pinterest ads tied to a seasonal or date-specific campaign about 45 days in advance.

Instagram photo and video ads: If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen them: Posts in your feed that look like regular photos or videos, but they say “Sponsored”below the account name. They may have a clickable call-to-action button, such as “Learn More” or “Sign Up”. More than half (64 percent) of Instagram users are between 18 and 34, so, if your target audience is millennials, Instagram is the place to be. Also good news for companies—80 percent of users say they follow at least one business on the app, according to Instagram, with 60 percent hearing about a product and service through the platform.

Instagram story ads: Want to show off a product to a young, hip, engaged audience? Consider placing an ad within Instagram Stories, which are short updates shared on Instagram profiles that disappear within 24 hours. Instagram Stories ads can use photos or videos that are up to 15 seconds. These ads display in full-screen format between people’s stories. To view a link, the user swipes up, and the landing page appears. The best Instagram Stories ads grab the viewer’s attention quickly—before they may even realize it is an ad.

Knowing where your audiences are and reaching them there with compelling content in a way that resonates best with them is key to successful advertising. Don’t be afraid to switch up your strategy and try something new—it may very likely pay off.

Hana Bieliauskas leads digital and social media at Inspire PR Group, a public relations firm headquartered in Columbus. She can be reached at (513) 919-1880 or via email at