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

Social Media Advertising Analysis Template

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.

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Improve Brand Social Media Talk By Listening With This Social Media Audit Template.

An audit isn’t something you normally look forward to with accounting or tax audits. But a social media audit is a valuable strategic tool that improves social media efforts on a regular basis.

According to a Planable survey the top challenges social media managers face are engagement/reach, individual platform trends, content creation, social media strategy, and authenticity/relevancy. A social media audit can provide insights to help with these challenges.

Source: Vlad Calls (January 9, 2024) Social Media Challenges & Solutions from 80+ Social Media Managers.

What Is A Social Media Audit?

A social media audit is a systematic examination of social media data. It’s a snapshot of all social media activity in and around a brand evaluated in categories. Think of it as a social situational analysis of internal company social media actions and external consumer and competitor social media activity.

In writing the first edition of my Social Media Strategy book I develop a social audit process and I created the Social Media Audit template below. My inspiration was journalism where you’re to uncover the Five Ws – the who, where, what, when, and why of a news story.

The template is divided into three key areas: company, consumer, and competitor. In each area, you gather information and record what is found in the “W” categories. In the bottom row indicate any key metrics the company could or are measuring in each area. The rest of the post explains how to perform a social media audit.

(Click on the template image to download a PDF)

Social Media Audit Template To Improve Social Media Marketing Strategy.

First Start By Listening.

Listen to what the brand publishes on official social accounts and what consumers are saying about the brand on any social platform (user-generated content). Listen with an outside perspective to brand, employee, customer talk on official, unofficial, or personal accounts. Also, listen to what is being said by and about the brand’s main competitor.

The audit should seek to identify challenges or problem areas within the current social media environment. Also look for opportunities that may become significant parts of a new social media plan or tweaks to optimize current strategy.

Next Organize Social Talk Data.

Organize data collected to make it accessible and meaningful for analysis in the “W” categories.

  • “Who” is the company brand accounts, consumer user generated brand talk, and main competitor brand accounts. A big company with divisions or branch/regional locations may need to divide company category further.
  • “Where” is the social media platform where talk is happening such as YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. Also describe the general look/feel (environment) of the platform. What type of content tends to be popular on each from trends and algorithms?
  • “What” is the type of content posted such as articles, photos, videos, questions for company and competitors. For the consumers category describe type of content and sentiment as mostly positive, negative, or neutral.
  • “When” is the frequency of activity such as number of posts, comments, views, shares per day, week, or month for company, competitor, and consumer. This can point to unequal levels of activity on various platforms compared to consumers or competitors.
  • “Why” is the purpose/performance for being on each platform. Is the brand mostly trying to generate awareness or share promotions? Are consumers mostly complaining, asking questions, or praising? Same for the competitor.

The number of rows under each “Who” varies based on the number of brand and competitor social accounts and the number of social media platforms where consumer brand talk is found. Create a table or spreadsheet and add additional rows as brand accounts are found and significant consumer talk is discovered on various social media platforms.

At the bottom list specific metrics that are currently being measured or will be important to a new social strategy. These metrics can turn into key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure social media success in an evaluation plan. For a guide on evaluating social media see my Social Media Metrics Template.

Then Determine What The Data Is Saying.

Does the data point to opportunities? Are there trouble spots? Do brand social media platforms present a consistent look, voice, and unified message? Are customers complaining about similar product or service issues? Is the brand consistently posting quality content and consistently responding to customers? Are there social platforms where customers are talking about the brand, yet there isn’t an official brand presence?

Determining “Why” is important. If you can’t think of a strategic purpose, reevaluate. Is maintaining a brand account on specific social media platform worth the time/resources? Ask questions like, “Why does the organization have a Pinterest page? How is success measured?” “Because everyone is there” and “to increase followers” is not enough. If you know the business/marketing/communications purpose and metrics ask, “How has the platform performed?

Finally Evaluate Brand Engagement.

Are consumer’s engaging with the brand? How are views, likes, comments and shares? Have they gone up or down over time? Only social media that is viewed and shared reaches an audience that can then take action to meet objectives.

Today you can interrupt people’s social feeds with paid social media. Social media advertising can buy reach to a targeted audience, but that does not replace the need to create interesting content. Social media ads merely buy exposure. Content must convey value to drive consumer action, further distribution, and ultimate ROI.

Social advertising also includes influencer marketing. In your audit also check on current brand influencers content and consider how it fits with the bigger picture. Keep an eye out for potential new influencer partnerships.

Is It Time For A Social Media Audit?

If you haven’t evaluated your brand’s social media presence in a while it may be time for a social media audit. Use this template to see how consumers are experiencing your brand in social media. You may uncover some problem areas, promising opportunities, social platforms you should be in and ones you should leave behind.

A social media audit can help you:

  • Realize the need for increased integration with other departments.
  • Find gaps in brand promise and product/service performance.
  • Uncover inconsistencies across brand social accounts.
  • Reveal blind spots in current social action with content, schedule and response.
  • Discover consumer ideas for product/service improvements.
  • Optimize brand content to drive engagement.
  • Find unexpected consumer generated content on other platforms.
  • Discover valuable brand or industry influencers.
  • Optimize time devoted to most effective social media platforms.
  • Learn from successful competitor social strategies.
  • Uncover a need for metrics to connect social action to business objectives.

Whether launching a new social media effort or evaluating current social activity, a social media audit can deliver valuable insights to create or optimize any social media strategy.

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