Tips For Analyzing Social Media Ad Performance

Aug 29, 2018 | 5  min
author Allegra Korver

One of the most common questions we get asked in regards to social media at Pyxl is, “Are those results good?” It’s a fair question. After all, it’s often unknown territory for even savvy marketing departments because attributing a return on investment can be difficult and the detailed metrics can quickly overwhelm. Full disclosure, we’ve even found ourselves scouring the web for data to help make sense of the CTRs, CPCs and CPMs. Ready to dive into the details? We’ll first offer a word of advice:

You’ll find we’ve generalized some details for the sake of time and clarity, but our hope is that this guide will become your quick go-to for making sense of your ad performance.

Understanding the marketing funnel is key to measuring social media ad performance. Generally, awareness ads are much cheaper but can lead to frustration when conversions aren’t seen right away. It’s better to crawl before you walk. Focus on traffic to your website before launching more expensive campaigns, like lead generation and conversion ads.

Metrics to track:

  • Click-through-rate (CTR) – The average amount of clicks on your link
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – The average cost per click on your ad
  • Frequency – The average number of times someone sees your ad
  • Cost-per-thousand (CPM) – The average cost per thousand impressions
  • Relevance score – The quality and effectiveness of your ad to your target audience

1. Facebook Ads

This is a good place to start since it’s not only the largest social media platform but also offers the most options. One of the biggest perks is leverage. Directly within Facebook Ads Manager, you can choose to have your ads shown on Facebook, Instagram, the Audience Network of apps, or Messenger. Selecting the placement option will usually give you the best bang for your buck because Facebook will decide where to place your ads for greater efficiency. Keep in mind, your spending will vary on factors such as campaign objective, targeting details, your industry, and so forth.

Facebook Quick tips:

  • Aim for a high relevance score (7-10) and low frequency (1-4). This will help run an efficient campaign. Get a little more help with our guide to creating your own Social Media Calendar.
  • Generally, if your CTR is above 1 percent, you’re doing ok. We also like to see a CPC between $.50 – $4.00.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your targeting, copy, and creative frequently if you’re not seeing the results you’d like – two weeks is a good timeframe.
  • Allow Facebook to run ads on its Audience Network for better results.
  • Lookalike audience targeting is ideal for reaching people who may not know your brand, but would likely become customers.

2. Instagram Ads

As mentioned earlier, Facebook Ads Manager easily lets marketers place ads on Instagram. Besides benefiting from more ad placements, marketers also have access to a highly sought-after demographic – millennials. And about 53 percent of those millennials also love to follow brands on Instagram. The days of encouraging followers to click “link in profile” are long gone, as photo and video posts can now include a clickable banner. Placing ads directly in Stories is gaining in popularity, as business ads make up one-third of the most popular stories. Keep in mind, if you choose Stories placement, the ad will only show up there.

Instagram Quick tips:

  • High-quality imagery is always important, but especially important on Instagram.
  • If you’re looking to boost engagement with your brand, try the “messages” placement option.
  • There’s not a huge need to add hashtags since you’re paying for exposure.
  • A CPC between $.50 – $2.00 is acceptable.
  • As with many social ads, a .70 percent  – 1 percent CTR is a good result.
  • Lead generation ads can be very effective on Instagram.

3. Twitter Ads

Twitter ads are simple to set up, and you’ll likely find that it’s one of the most cost-effective platforms to advertise on. They don’t offer lead generation, but you can still flood your website with traffic, track conversions, and bolster your follower count. We love using Twitter ads for awareness campaigns because they’re often cheaper to run than on Facebook and LinkedIn and have a very high click-through-rate.

Twitter Quick tips:

  • Consider Follower targeting. By inputting a competitor’s or influencer’s Twitter handle, your ad will be served to those who are similar to their followers.
  • Keyword targeting will show your ad to those who use the word you’ve specified in a Tweet, whether in a hashtag or body copy.
  • A CPC of $.3 – $.50 is doable. Anything over and we’re usually making changes to the campaign.
  • You may also see a higher CTR on Twitter. We like to see them between 3 percent – 13 percent.
  • Install Twitter’s tracking code on your website to open up more robust targeting options and the ability to retarget ads.

4. LinkedIn Ads

When it comes to B2B advertising and recruiting, it’s hard to beat LinkedIn. The Microsoft-owned platform is very effective in its targeting capabilities because, unlike Facebook, users have a real advantage to fully filling out their profiles with details like job titles, skills, and level of education. All of these help marketers effectively reach their target audience. They have fewer active users and limited placement options compared to Facebook, which often results in higher advertising costs. InMail campaigns can be very effective in reaching out to users because they’re more personalized than a traditional digital ad and they’re sent only when a user is online, which can increase the open rate.

LinkedIn Quick tips:

  • Targeting ads to LinkedIn groups can be very effective in reaching your audience
  • Matched Audiences allow marketers to target ads based on previous web visits or contact lists.
  • Look for a CTR between .40 percent – 1.50 percent.
  • Aim for a CPC between $4 – $8.

5. Pinterest Ads

If you’re an e-commerce company, you’re likely well aware of the power of Pinterest. One strategic advantage it has over other social platforms is that users are already in the shopping mindset. In fact, about 50 percent of users converted to customers after seeing a promoted pin. Ad options include promoted pins and videos and app-install pins. And while affluent, middle-aged females continue to be core users, the platform is steadily gaining in popularity among men. When it comes to ads, you get many of the same options as Facebook – robust interest-based and “actalike” audience targeting.

Pinterest Quick tips:

  • If you promote a pin and a user then saves it to their board, the “promoted” label disappears, while you still capture performance metrics.
  • A good CTR should be anything above .20 percent – .30 percent.

Additional resources to help you measure social media success:

Social media has become a powerful outlet for businesses looking to engage people in all phases of the marketing funnel and tracked properly, they’re finding clear returns on investment. We always recommend pairing social media ad performance metrics with Google Analytics to gain an even better understanding of how your audiences are interacting with your brand. If you’d like more help managing your social presence – paid and organic – we’d love to help. Reach out to us and let’s work on a custom strategy for your business.  

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

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