Social Media · Social Media Marketing

Do advertisers care about driving real business results from paid social media promotions?

Michael Hauptman Founder, AdLib Media Group. 10+ years in AdTech. Bacon Lover. Live Music Enthusiast.

May 18th, 2016

I find it interesting that there is so much money funneling to social media influencers via "paid placement" social media promotions but so little measurability and accountability. Brands seem to demand this accountability in other channels like video, display, and search. I'm hoping to better understand from people in this space if you a) find that brands only care about reaching an audience or b) are there brands that actually care if theses paid promotion posts drive more followers and likes, or real business results like sales?

Mana Ionescu President, Lightspan Digital: Digital Marketing Problem-Solver and Speaker

May 18th, 2016

Everybody cares, but they're not all able to put in place the systems and processes to actually track full attribution. In fact you have the same issue with search, display etc. For B2B companies, it requires that marketing and sales work together and that sales people track and report source and supporting channel for each sale. 80% of the time that doesn't happen. For retail sales we need our clients to report back to us their in-store sales data so we can run an analysis. It's only with ecommerce that you can see a direct attribution. All other scenarios require collaboration across departments, and it becomes an institutional issue, not a marketing issue. 

Alain Portmann Founding Partner / Director of Media & Insights, House of Kaizen

May 19th, 2016


It is a an interesting and valid observation. In my experience working with both C-Level and Marketing Managers is that earned social media is managed and executed as part of branding objectives, with paid social media managed and executed as part of direct response objectives. This obviously creates a disconnect and lack of integration. 

I recommend clients map out paid and earned social media across a waterfall of unified KPIs. One of the most valuable metrics is active followers - someone who has logged in and interacted within the past 30 days. This metric applies a degree of scrutiny to the total followers and likes; helping organizations understand what is driving engagement with their audience. 

Mike Moran President, Mike Moran Group LLC

May 19th, 2016

It's important not to lump all social media into one bucket. If your goal for social media is to drive conversions or leads, then that is the way to measure it, just as you would measure advertising or other drive-to-sales techniques. But much social media investment is for PR purposes, or market research purposes, and should not be measured in the same way. Once you understand your purpose in social media, that will lead you to the right measurements for its success. Mike Moran Author of *Do It Wrong Quickly* Co-author of *Search Engine Marketing, Inc*. Co-author of *Outside-In Marketing* Senior Strategist, Converseon Founder, Biznology ( Please note new address: Mike Moran Group, LLC 1121 Route 34, Suite 600 Aberdeen, NJ 07747-2191 973-826-0744 @mikemoran

Risa Field Strategic Integrated Marketing Professional

May 18th, 2016

HI Michael, I think that is an excellent question. It depends on the business and the return on objective/success metrics. I think some companies are indeed beginning to realize that social can be utilized beyond online PR buzz/mentions, engagement and brand awareness/social CRM. I have had alot of people approach me because PAID social media marketing in particular requires transactional ROAS; and not many people have experience tracking leads or revenue as a result of social. I think more and more social/digital analytics companies are beginning to pay attention to this also. However, I've had great experience working with clients to drive actual business results for their bottom line with a combination of both earned and paid media. Over the course, these work best together---- much like SEO/SEM are two sides of the same coin, where one can benefit the other of the course of time. But you are right: very few clients understand this. In some cases, I've been able to generate a lower CPL and CPA than SEM/Paid Search campaigns! Social Media Marketing World conference was in San Diego a few weeks ago; and I was surprised at how few people understand measurability and accountability for social: so it's not just clients, it's SMM's that don't understand this as well.

Michael Wolfe Owner & CEO, Bottom Line Analytics LLC * Marketing ROI Expert * Data Science * Social Media Analytics

May 20th, 2016

As an analytics professional, my analyses tend to find Facebook ads poor performers.   I think many people still do not see this as an appropriate venue for advertising and some are actually annoyed by it.  But advertisers keep buying them.  Go figure.

Ali Roc Producer at Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, Inc.

May 18th, 2016

Most companies really care, they need to know that the money they spend is going to the right markets Google Analytics and FB are pretty good at helping with this..Most social apps like Hootsuite and Everypost do this as apart of the service, but it can get more intricate.

Most companies will ask up front who you reach.... 

Dustin Peterson Founder at Apex Digital Media

May 18th, 2016

I have worked on several "influencer" driven campaigns and can say that you are definitely correct about measurability & accountability as far as direct reporting is concerned.

I would liken measurability & accountability in social marketing more with TV or Billboards than I would with "performance" advertising though. It used to be that there was no way to accurately measure who saw your TV ad... but brands still bought on the strength of a given audience. I feel like the same logic is applied to social media... and should probably be applied more frequently to display advertising since less people click banners than see them it's more like a billboard you pass while driving.

I'm also not attempting to defend the exorbitant rates some charge for "influencer" marketing. Despite the lack of direct reporting there are ways to gauge the scope of an audience and compensation should realistically be based on that.

That was a long way of confirming that I think what you said in "a)" was partly correct. It's more about the audience than measurable likes / follows.

James Till Vice President, K-12 Marketing

May 18th, 2016

Hi Michael,

Whether you have a B2C or B2B model, you should demand accountability from social media marketing just as you would other channels. Even if you're not investing in paid social activity, there's still an opportunity cost - right? 

What we've learned works best, is not to think about social media efforts alone, but instead as part of integrated campaigns. Some social campaign efforts are simply intended to increase awareness, establish identity, thought leadership communities of interest, etc. That's OK. It's "top of funnel" activity that can thoughtfully guide prospects to other content in your campaign, such as an eBook, Slideshare or demo video. 

As you track conversions from 'snackable' to more robust content, you'll gain greater insight into prospect's specific interests and become better able to target trial offers, etc. Many won't be ready when you want, but you can always re-direct them into 'nurture' campaigns until they're ready to advance in your sales cycle. Just make sure you have a flexible marketing automation solution, like Hubspot, Eloqua, etc. to manage the process more easily.

Michael Hauptman Founder, AdLib Media Group. 10+ years in AdTech. Bacon Lover. Live Music Enthusiast.

May 18th, 2016

Thanks, for the feedback everyone!

Dustin - Do you think this reality is due to lack of tools in place to measure? Or even if tools existed, does it seem brands would prefer to leverage this influencer channel like an tv audience or billboard buy? Further - what type of appetite might you have seen for an ability to reach people that "look like" the social media influencers audience? Is there more budget to go around if there are more eyeballs that fit the same profile? Or do they want to reach only that specific audience?

Mateo Fowler Brand Ambassador at The Vault | Work Better Together

May 18th, 2016

I find it useful to focus on interaction, engagement and reach metrics, while also looking at other KPIs based on what social media platform it is you are using. Both a and b are necessary to have a successful business. Sponsored post are not known for getting many loyal customers. Likes and followers are important when focusing on social and content marketing.