PR & Social Media

Our Top Tips for Paid Social Media Success

By Travis Biechele, Director of Digital Media

October 04, 2016

When it comes to paid social media campaigns, everyone has the same burning questions.

  • How much should I spend?
  • How do I set realistic goals on each social platform?
  • How can I ensure that my money goes the furthest it can?

Good news! We have some answers. Recently, I presented before Madison’s PRSA Chapter on this very topic, which spun into an interesting and collaborative discussion. Below are some highlights, including key planning steps for paid social campaigns and how to nurture them along the way.



We begin media planning with four critical questions. These may seem intuitive, but the challenge is obtaining truly detailed and thoughtful answers, no matter how well you “know” your target audience. This can uncover unexpected consumer insights, thereby enrich your targeting strategies.

  1. Who are you trying to reach? (Think demographics, job titles, psychographics, and HHI.) What are their current awareness levels?
  2. What value propositions will you promote? What’s the “hook” to attract attention? Is it a brand attribute/differentiator? A product? A feature?
  3. What are you trying to get the target to do? What barriers exist that prevent the behavior you seek from your target (i.e. long purchase cycle)? How do they interact with your brand today?
  4. What are you currently doing to reach this audience? What have you done in the past to reach this audience? How did it fair?


Setting a Budget

Each social platform has its own estimator tools, so use them during campaign setup. They dynamically update as you add targeting details and budget. While not perfect, they can illuminate potential reach and even campaign duration. They can also expose what competitors spend, per social action, which guides expectations of what a given budget can deliver.

Facebook’s “Audience Definition” tool within the campaign setup wizard

Setting Realistic Goals

  1. Know what a paid social action (click, like, follow, comment) is worth to you. That said, be ready to adjust expectations. For example, a Page Like might be “worth” $0.50 to you at campaign launch. However, if other advertisers are willing to pay $0.75-0.80 per follower, that may be your cost of entry.
  2. Assign each campaign a singular KPI (key performance indicator). If you run a brand awareness campaign, avoid judging success by clicks or CTR. Similarly, if you run a traffic-driving campaign, focus less on engagement metrics when evaluating success.
  3. Use your own benchmarks. Industry benchmarks are a fine starting point, but they never account for your specific targeting, spend levels, or geography. This means they are not the most reliable points of reference. With your own performance data in hand, evaluate subsequent efforts by those homegrown benchmarks. Sometimes, you have to spend to learn.


Nurturing Campaigns

  1. Start with multiple creative versions. A/B testing is key to evaluating user response to visual creative and messaging. Just be sure to isolate a single change between creative versions
  2. Set regular performance checkpoints. Make sure that you have buy-in by all stakeholders before campaign launch and at least at the campaign mid-point. This avoids surprises at campaign end, allows all parties to feel invested throughout, and creates natural breaks for campaign optimizing.
  3. Shake things up. Soon after campaign launch, you will see which creative resonates with targeted users and which targeting is most effective. Tailor your creative and your targeting to user response over time.


For help tackling any of these questions, feel free to leave a comment or email us at And check back soon for a follow-up post on how to meaningfully analyze your paid social performance data.


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Eat Dessert First

Eat Dessert First

This successful holiday marketing campaign paired high-quality video production with smart media buys.

This successful holiday marketing campaign paired high-quality video production with smart media buys.

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