Much of Social Media Strategy Is Pay To Play. Use This Guide and Social Media Advertising Analysis Template To Improve Your Social Ads.

When I first posted my Guide to Paid Social Media it was still very new and I was educating myself about what social media platforms had advertising available. Today every major social platform offers social ads and paid social has become a significant part of most social strategies. Social media ad spending has surpassed newspaper and magazine ads to become the third-largest ad channel, behind TV and paid search.

Why have social media ads grown? Social media feeds have become so crowded you often need to pay to reach your audience. Every minute millions of pieces of content are created on social media. Marketing consultant and author Mark Schaefer calls this “Content Shock” and it is only getting worse.

Nearly three-quarters of B2C and B2B companies and non-profits used organic social media to promote content and 49% expect to increase their content marketing spending. Just over half use paid social media as part of that content mix.

Source: Stephanie Heitman,“What Happens in an Internet Minute In 2022: 90 Fascinating Online Stats,”, May 5, 2022.

Social Ads Increased as Organic Reach Decreased.

Organic reach is the number of unique people who see a social media post through unpaid distribution. Getting someone to “Follow us on Facebook” doesn’t deliver the exposure it did in the early days of social strategy. As each platform became more flooded with content, organic reach dropped.

Between 2013-2014 Facebook adjusted the number of posts people saw in their feeds from more than 1,500 to only 300. They did this by adjusting the algorithm and the average organic reach for some business pages dropped 40%.

Cotton Delo, from AdAge described the switch in social strategy, “the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.” By 2016 average organic reach rates were 2.27% for Facebook, 3.61% for Twitter/X, 20% for LinkedIn, and 20% for Instagram.

Social Ads Are Efficient and Effective.

eMarketer found social media ads are one of the top ten most effective marketing tactics. A way to compare media types is cost per mille (CPM). CPM is the cost to reach 1,000 people and is used to compare the cost-effectiveness of media vehicles. Topdraw collected average CPM for forms of traditional and digital ads and shows how economical social ads can be.

Average CPM Per Media Type Shows the Efficiency of Social Media Ads.

Google Search Ads $8.60 CPM Google Search Ads $38.40 CPM
Instagram Ads $8.96 CPM Network TV Ads $20-$30 CPM
Twitter/X Ads $6.46 CPM Magazine Ads $140-$1,300 CPM
LinkedIn Ads $6.59 CPM Direct Mail $500-$1,000 CPM

Buying Paid Social Ad Posts.

While social ads vary by platform, most have similar processes. First, select a campaign objective. Social ad platforms require awareness, consideration, and conversion objectives that represent stages in the buyer’s journey. Below are common objectives under each category.

Example Options for Selecting Paid Social Media Campaign Objectives.

Awareness Consideration Conversions
Brand Awareness Traffic Catalog Sales
Reach Engagement Store Traffic
App Installs
Video Views
Lead Generation

Next, determine your budget. Most set a daily budget that adds up to the social ad budget for a campaign period such as a week or month. Be sure to account for content creation costs such as purchasing photos, graphics, videos, and writing. For a guide to determine your larger budget and categories see my Social Media Budget Template.

Then, select the audience based on your target audience/buyer persona. With organic social media posts, you determine specific days, times, and post frequency. With programmatic ad buying, the AI algorithm automatically places social media posts in specific users’ news feeds based on target audience specifications. It spends your daily budget to reach that audience at optimized times, days, and frequencies.

Most content requires videos or images plus headlines, text, CTA, and link URLs. The specifics such as size, shape, and length vary per platform and type of ad. For a guide on writing and designing content see my post on Best Practices For Social Media Content.

Analyzing Social Ad Posts Results.

Once you run your ad campaigns for a period such as a week or a month collect results from all platforms based on key metrics related to objectives. Set up those results in a spreadsheet or dashboard in social media management software to analyze. The social media advertising analysis template below gives you an example.

(Click on the template image to download a PDF)

Social Media Advertising Analysis Template

Look at budget spending per social platform as a percent of the total budget and compare key metric results as a percent of the total per platform. See what you spent the most money on and how much it contributed to key metrics. Make a list of highest to lowest results and highest to lowest costs to analyze what worked best and what worked less. If you’re targeting multiple audiences note which targets/personas are contributing to objective metrics better than others.

To optimize, lower spending on low-performing platforms, posts, and target audiences, and increase spending on high-performing platforms, posts, and target audiences. But also reserve a small percentage of your budget to experiment with new content, post type, audience, or platform. Over time you’ll optimize spending and results as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Don’t know what your key metrics are? First start with my Social Media Metrics Template.

This Was Human Created Content!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.