Setting Expectations for Social Media Advertising

In my own opinion (not backed by any sort of fact, mind you), social media advertising is one of the biggest breakthroughs in digital marketing in the past few years. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, account for a plethora of traffic per day, and offer something to advertisers that other forms of marketing only touch upon– self-identified data. Social media is all about Big Data, and, luckily for us marketers, they’re willing to share.

The combination of traffic, data, and the average amount of time engaged per day equal a big boom for advertising within social media. The problem for many of us, however, is how to either sell this marketing channel to clients, or, once sold, justifying its worth.

As I’ve said in the past, social media advertising isn’t for everyone. There are very distinct goals with social media marketing- customer loyalty/support, building brand recognition, etc -that apply to paid social as well. Often, though, these vary greatly from the success metrics of your other digital marketing objectives.

If social media advertising has been sold to your client as “just another DR channel”, stop right here. If I were in your position, I’d have a serious talk with your client, or sales rep, about setting reasonable expectations. If you’re not in that position, though, keep reading.

Metrics to Focus On

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, specifically, provide fairly decent reporting in their own UIs. They can be clunky, which is why I typically rely on downloaded reports in Excel to get the most out of this data.

There are some obvious success metrics that inherently should be highlighted for your client. They include:

  • Favorites/Likes
  • Retweets/Shares
  • Followers/Page Likes

I like to put the first two into the “Engagement” bucket, and the last into “New Followers”. Then, a cost-per can be determined for each bucket. Below is a sample of the columns I’ve created in past social media advertising campaigns:



I also do include website metrics– visits, time on site, conversions, etc –but, and this is important, not as primary goals. Of course clients are going to want to see this, even if it isn’t the key factor of success. The point is, you, as their digital marketing expert, need to ensure that they do not get hung up on these secondary social media advertising goals.

Social media advertising can be of great importance to your client, and a major marketing channel for agencies and freelancers alike. Setting proper expectations up front can save a ton of headache for you, and dissatisfaction for your advertisers as well.


    Lots of work involved with DM. Phony metrics and constant updating, yuck, How many SEO/SEM companies are out there……try to many. Internet is a joke and occupies to much space in the advertising conversation. Consumers, thanks to the internet, have the attention span of a flea. ever try hitting a moving target, good luck and good rid dines internut.

    • Little confused w/ this comment…so, you’re advocating the use of, what, billboards? Skywriting maybe?

      The internet isn’t going anywhere. Get with the times, or get lost w/ the rest of them.