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How to calculate the impact of social media advertising campaigns


Joel Davis, co-founder and CEO of social AdTech firm Mighty Social, explains how you can measure the impact of the advertising campaigns you run on social media channels.

Despite its rapid growth, social advertising is still a relatively young marketing discipline. Which explains why marketers often feel challenged when it comes to proving the value of social media advertising, particularly as compared with more established marketing channels.

This does not appear to be putting them off, however, with a recent ClickZ survey of advertising professionals worldwide showing that 61% of respondents expected an increase in social ad spending for Facebook and 40% of respondents expected an increase for LinkedIn and Instagram.

Accurately measuring the impact of their social advertising campaigns requires marketers to go beyond their current reliance on clicks and engagements.

Proving value for traditional performance marketing is much easier as good results and high returns are evident in the key metrics associated with each objective.

In the case of a conversion campaign, however, it can be more difficult to prove, as cost-per-conversion is the most important metric and presents more of a challenge to attribute value.

Reaching an effective cost-per-conversion rate includes many different channels such as TV, outdoor and digital. Attributing a value to each channel for a conversion is a complex challenge for any brand, and marketers need to familiarise themselves with their brand’s unique conversion paths in order to effectively measure social conversions.

They now have the tools to do so. Certainly, with the advancing speed of social technology, they can now implement native and third-party tracking to accurately define the entire consumer journey, from awareness all the way to key business metrics such as sales and ROI.

This comprehensive exploration is leading to bigger and better analyses, insights and effective campaign adjustments, and is a huge step beyond traditional social media metrics, and, as a consequence, it offers marketers unprecedented control in tailoring their campaigns.

There are are three elements to successful social advertising:

Know what success looks like

There is still a strong tendency among many marketers to believe social advertising will not cover costs. It is high time to address this common misconception and raise expectations. It’s, of course, imperative that social advertising covers costs whilst also generating profit.

Start off by ensuring you have clear measurements for the outcomes you expect. These need to be well defined as they will be the benchmark by which you will drive the entire campaign. Online advertising delivers accurate ROI, something that is more guesswork in traditional advertising.

With new products, platforms and capabilities constantly emerging, it can be difficult for brands to remain focused on their core social media strategy. Keeping main business objectives at front of mind will help brands avoid distractions that new platforms might cause.

Focus on key metrics associated with each objective

Understanding which are the most important ad formats and key metrics is vital to analysing what success looks like.

Use Google AdWords and Facebook re-targeting to get in front of those who are actively in the buying cycle. When set up and managed properly, AdWords is one of the best sources for new customers who already know what they want, as it targets users actively looking for specific information.

Social advertising complements this by targeting new customers who don’t yet know what they specifically want, but are the right demographic group to become interested customers.

From there you can start exploring other suitable channels, which ones you choose will of course be dependent on your product or service.


When it comes to your target audience, less is more. A hyper-targeted audience will enable you to gauge exactly who your most lucrative audience segments are. Once you have this information you can scale up. This is where the Facebook ads platform comes into its own as it targets people based primarily on their interests. It is a highly cost-effective acquisition marketing channel that will enable you to build your audience pipeline.

As we mentioned earlier, 61 % of marketers believe Facebook advertising is on the rise, and we would agree. Some of the core benefits include fine-tuned targeting, a large mobile audience, extensive analytics, improved scalability and upward trending click-through rates.

Defining how established and known a brand is or how much the audience likes the advertised products is key. Generally we find that well-established brands produce more cost-effective results due to an already existing high level of brand awareness. However, that doesn’t mean smaller brands can’t achieve impressive results; rather, building awareness needs to be worked into the campaign.

Social advertising certainly offers organisations of all sizes great returns on investment. However, without the expertise to navigate what still appears like a relatively new advertising landscape to those outside the sector, it is easy for companies to rapidly become frustrated as the returns are scarce and their budgets get sucked dry.

And, one final word of advice, it is key to remember that the focus should not be on brand awareness but rather on getting your target audience to experience your brand. Only positive brand interaction will have a transformational effect on your bottom line.