The buzz about paid social-media ads is getting louder all the time, and many advisors may be wondering whether they’re worth the time and money. The short answer is — absolutely.

Social-media user profiles outline important demographic facts related to status updates, birthdays, occupations, hobbies, location and relationship status. With this information, you can target exactly the people you want. You can eliminate the guesswork and put an end to spending valuable marketing dollars courting the wrong audience.

Just as your approach to each social network is determined by your overall marketing strategy and goals, your approach to social advertising will be determined by which platforms provide the best result. Are you trying to gain more followers? Promote an event? Drive people to request information from your website? Your choice of campaigns will depend on what you want to achieve. And, as with all advertising campaigns, you will want to track what works and what doesn’t. Use the analytics provided by social networks to measure your performance and help determine your return on investment.

Here are three major benefits of social advertising, regardless of which platform you utilize.

1. You can stop wasting money on reaching the wrong people. Social advertising allows you to not only specify your demographic regarding age, gender and location, but also define prospects’ job titles, interests, relationships and business associations. This feature ensures only prospective clients (i.e., people with a specific income or industry experience) see your message. Twitter takes this one step further and allows you to filter people by their use of a specific keyword. Not only are these users in your target demographic, they’re also speaking your language. Filter “#retirement” or “#invest” and reach out to people interested in these terms.

2. Have your clients promote your business for you. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful forms of business development, and social networks are built on this concept. Information and activity is easily shared on social networks, and the same goes for social ads. Facebook lets you advertise and promote specific page posts, thereby doing all the word-of-mouth work for you. An ad on Twitter is known as a “promoted tweet,” a regular tweet that shows up in the newsfeeds of users beyond your current network. This promoted tweet can be re-tweeted, replied to and “favorited” they way regular tweets are, even though the user has not followed you. The ability to share information outside of your network creates more engagement than a non-promoted tweet.

3. Pay only for what you get. Unlike an ad in a newspaper or on the radio, social ads include an option to pay only if it’s clicked on or, in Twitter’s case, if the ad is re-tweeted, replied to or favorited. This means that advertising on your social networks can be significantly less costly than other types of marketing. These ads also work on a bid system, which means you’re in control of how much you want to spend. Each platform lets you set your daily budget, and once you reach your max, your ad will no longer appear. Having control over how much you spend can be very reassuring. In addition, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to create multiple ads for a given campaign. The ads that perform best will be deployed the most often. With this feature, you know your best interest is being safeguarded.

If you haven’t done it yet, maybe it’s time to dive into the world of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter advertising. There’s a world of opportunity awaiting you, and it’s only a few clicks away.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.