Molly Buccini

I understand why marketers can be apprehensive about the effectiveness of social media ads, because I am among the cautious crowd. Historically speaking, I like to think I’m “above” being duped into buying things I don’t need, and I pride myself on avoiding posts that feature that little “sponsored” symbol.

My reasoning against social ads was simple: I don’t want to be sold. That’s not why I use social media. But a few weeks ago, I had a change of heart.

I was scrolling through Instagram on a Saturday morning when I noticed an ad for a free app called OfferUp. As someone who was in the middle of moving to a new apartment, this app was clearly targeted to me so I could sell my used furniture and unwanted items to those within my neighborhood.

offerup page

Despite my disdain toward being “sold on social,” I caved and downloaded the app. And guess what? I sold all of the items I wanted to get rid of within two weeks.

Here’s why it worked: This sponsored Instagram post was totally in line with my need at that exact moment in time. It got me thinking: Why should I be annoyed that a brand paid so I could learn about their app? Was this any different from having a friend recommend the app to me? Do I wish I hadn’t seen this sponsored post? Definitely not.

The key to a successful social ad is giving the audience something they actually want, when they want it.

If someone is annoyed every time they see your sponsored posts, you risk losing their business, so it’s important to tread lightly. The way to do this is through incredibly specific targeting, which luckily, is really easy on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Read more about creating social ads on Facebook:

Inspired by my own success, I spoke with several Braftonians who’ve also had positive experiences with ads. Here they are:

Ryan Sides, Senior Social Media Engagement Strategist

Bevel INstagramSaw an ad for: Bevel Razors
On: Instagram
What is Bevel: Bevel sells a shaving system designed for men with coarse, curly hair.
Why it worked: First of all, I’m a sucker for a pretty picture and great packaging, and Bevel definitely has that. I’d been looking for a razor or shaving system that made it easier for me to shave daily without the fear of razor bumps, and when I saw that there was a razor designed by people that seemed to understand and address my problem my interest was piqued. I’d been hearing about Bevel for a while via some podcasts I listen to, but when I saw the carousel ad on IG that was the final straw that finally got me into seeing what this was all about. A year later and not only am I still glad I started with Bevel, but they’ve grown so much they’ll now be offered in Target as standalone products in addition to the mail-order subscription service I currently have.

Michelle Joseph, Senior Business Development Exec.

Saw an ad for:
On: Instagram
What is Blinkist: Blinkist lets you read the key lessons from 1,000+ nonfiction books in 15 min or less.
Why it worked: I have been telling myself that I would start “reading books” again. It gets very easy to just read articles online and feel as though picking up a book is a thing of the past. Blinkist is essentially an audio book meets cliffs notes. They offer quick “blinks” of key points in a given book. The book overviews/blinks are a grand total of about 15 minutes. So in 15 minutes’ time you get all the key points from some great books that you would consider reading but “find you don’t have the time to actually do it.” They offer a ton of different categories as well. I started the free trial and ended up paying for a full year!

blinkist page

Carmen Sanchez, SMB Social Media Specialist

Poshmark InstagramSaw an ad for: Poshmark
On: Instagram
What is Poshmark: Women can buy and sell women’s fashion through Poshmark.
Why it worked: Poshmark used a picture of Victoria’s Secret Pink products with a caption that said something along the lines of “Get Pink for less.” I’m ALL for getting brand name products for less than retail price, so the picture and the caption hooked me right away. I’m an avid thrift shopper so they definitely targeted the right person.

Sumit Sharma, Social Media Engagement Manager

Saw an ad for: LG TV
On: Facebook
What is LG: LG is multinational electronic company that sells a wide variety of electronics including mobile, TVs, home appliances, computers, etc.
Why it worked: I was looking to buy a new 3D TV and was not sure whether to go with active or passive 3D. LG’s ad was very well drafted to talk to tech enthusiasts like myself and did a great job at explaining why their technology is the way to go.

Ben Silverman, Marketing Writer

Gillette CVS adSaw an ad for:
Gillette razors
On: Facebook
Why it worked: A couple days before my first interview at Brafton, I went to CVS to pick up a cheap razor and a small can of shaving cream. Gotta look sharp for my interview. A few weeks passed. About two days before my first day at work, and just as my razor was starting to dull and my can of shaving cream was running out, I was thumbing through Facebook on my phone and spotted this:

Just in time, and exactly what I was looking for (and a fancier razor and a bigger bottle of shaving cream). Facebook reminded me that I wanted to look good for day one at work, so I stopped by the store and picked it up.

Jocelyn Kane, Social Media Engagement Associate

Saw an ad for: Tree Hut Wooden Watches
On: Instagram
What is Tree Hut: They all-wooden watches made in California (mainly for men).
Why it worked: I had been actively searching for something unique to get for my boyfriend for his birthday. He is someone that only likes practical gifts, and I really don’t like getting gifts that aren’t special or different. The watch on the sponsored post caught my eye and was right along the lines of what I was looking for. His birthday hasn’t come up yet so whether or not he likes the gift or not is to be determined.


Learn more about Brafton’s social media services.
When have social ads hooked you? Let us know in the comments.