Advertising on social media

Guidelines for advertising and retargeting on social media.

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Creating cost-effective campaigns 

To make sure that your campaign is effective on social media, you can't “set and forget”. 

Whether you’re working with an agency or running the campaign yourself, you need to:  

  • choose the right platform for your target audience 
  • choose the right platform for the subject matter
  • create assets specifically for the platform and placements you’re advertising on  
  • set measurable objectives and define how you intend to achieve them 
  • identify each ad’s purpose, for example to raise awareness, to encourage consideration or to drive traffic or conversion on your website 
  • consider refreshing creative for recurring campaigns so your audience doesn’t get fatigued 
  • A/B test the copy and creative to help you understand what resonates best with your audience 
  • Once the campaign has exited the learning phase check whether creative, copy and targeting is performing as expected and optimise as needed 
  • implement learnings from previous advertising activity 
  • have a strong focus on community management – moderating comments and answering questions. This includes in-language moderation if the ads are for CALD audiences. 

Contact us

If you need help delivering a paid social campaign, email or lodge a request for assistance. 

Advertising compliance

If your total campaign budget is under $250,000 you need to follow the  advice on advertising rules and restrictions.  

If your total campaign budget meets or exceeds $250,000 it will need to undergo a peer review process and budget approval via the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC). Please follow the advertising rules and restrictions for campaigns with a budget of $250,000 to $1 million.

If your campaign exceeds $1 million in budget please follow the relevant rules and restrictions. 

To remain apolitical, you must never mention or feature a minister in an advertising campaign. If you post something organically that mentions or features a minister, you cannot boost it or advertise with it. Political parties must not be mentioned or featured in any paid or organic post. 
Additional restrictions apply in the caretaker and pre-caretaker periods. Find out more on the advertising section of the NSW Government website. 

Reporting on budget

You need to report on your agency’s social media advertising and campaign budgets. This will include estimated forward expenditure and final campaign costs. This will be published on Data.NSW. You are encouraged to publish information about your own advertising programs on your websites too. Information may include advertising rationale, objectives, costs and outcomes. 

If another NSW Government agency puts spend behind a post about your campaign and links to your campaign landing page (either via your website or the relevant content page on, the spend needs to be added to your total campaign budget.  

However, if another agency posts about your campaign but links to another website instead of your campaign landing page, it wouldn’t be considered part of your overall campaign budget. This is because the campaign message and call to action have been altered and therefore it can be considered a separate campaign.  

Work closely with other agencies who are promoting your campaign messaging so you can maintain oversight of total campaign spend and manage ongoing compliance to the regulatory framework.



If Treasury, through the NSW Government Facebook page, spends $500 on advertising a post about the latest Budget and links to a article about the campaign, then the boosted amount ($500) does not need to be added to Treasury’s total media spend. 

Audience Targeting

Each social platform offers different methods to reach an intended audience. Common targeting methods include demographic, geographic and behaviour- based. 

When creating an audience targeting strategy, you should consider: 

  • the overall campaign objective 
  • what does your campaign research tell you about your target audience? Have you run campaigns previously where insights can be applied? 
  • does your budget align with the size of your target audience? Bigger audiences will require bigger budgets to achieve reach and frequency.
  • does your audience share any common interests or behaviours? 
  • what platforms/placements are your audience most likely to engage with? 
  • if your campaign has lower funnel marketing objectives, consider audience retargeting.


Retargeting allows you to reach your website visitors with your social ads after they visit your website (subject to device tracking settings) or engage with content on your social page. If you’re using a pixel or insights tag, make sure you’re using the capability effectively. This means you should:

  • align your creative with the page that it leads to, where possible
  • make it easy and intuitive for people to take the action you want them to take
  • use frequency caps to limit how many times people see your ad to avoid fatigue
  • rotate your creative to avoid ad fatigue
  • chat to your media agency or the relevant social platform for further tips.

If you’ve not used retargeting before, speak to the Digital Campaign Leadership Team to see this is a suitable approach for your accounts.

Determining budgets 

Social media teams may be asked to recommend a budget for a social media campaign or ad. Understanding your stakeholder’s objectives is key to providing the best possible advice in this instance. 

Before recommending a budget, you should consider the following questions: 

  • Who is the target audience, and can they be reached on your social media channels? 
  • What are the campaign’s overarching KPIs? 
  • Are there any specific objectives (for example, minimum number of people reached or clicks to the website)? 
  • Have you or other agencies run similar campaigns in the past that can inform decisions around budget on future campaigns? 
  • What benchmarks can you determine from prior campaigns (for example, average cost per outcome)? 
  • Will other campaigns targeting the same audience be running on your or other agency’s channels that may cannibalise outcomes? 

Some platforms host campaign planning tools that can provide budget estimates based on audience size and objective.

If you’ve considered these questions and are still unsure how much to spend on a campaign or ad to meet your objectives, you may wish to reach out to your advertising team or platform contact for further advice. 

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