A recent study from Small Business Trends produced an alarming figure for anyone invested in social media: 62% of small business owners who were surveyed for the study claimed that their paid Facebook ads simply weren’t working.

That sounds pretty bad, right? But these kinds of results naturally cause us to ask the question: is there a problem with Facebook’s advertising platform, or a lack of proper tracking and targeting efforts? Not to diss the small business owners from the survey, but we tend to think it’s the latter.

While it’s true that many businesses have experienced challenges in getting their content to reach engaged audience groups, it also seems that many businesses don’t take full advantage of Audience Insights and other targeting tools that are designed to help you reach those relevant groups in the first place.

That’s not the only issue, though. A big part of the problem comes from companies not fully understanding what resources are available to help them track engagements and impressions. After all, not every social media post is going to cause a direct sales boost—but when the right marketing and targeting tactics are used, you’ll be able to see how your paid ads ARE making an impact.

The following four methods are some of the best ways to measure the true success of your social media campaigns.

1) Platform Analytics

Let’s start with the obvious source of your social media measuring: platform analytics. While many people only focus on Facebook’s analytics platform, it’s worth noting that all of the major social media channels provide an analytics overview to marketers.

Facebook Analytics is best-known simply because of how in-depth you can get with your engagement numbers. Facebook Analytics allows you to look at everything from ad reach and frequency to cross-device engagement, offline conversions and purchases.

There are a lot of numbers you can go through, making it easy to determine if your social media ads are actually meeting your goals—and it’s worth remembering that not every social media campaign should necessarily have sales as its end goal. Social media is more commonly cited as a place for building brand awareness than landing sales.

Twitter Analytics is another great resource for marketers, as this provides a high-level overview of your content performance. With a quick overview of your Tweets and how many clicks to your website each Tweet generates, you can get a good picture of whether or not your content is engaging with your audience.

2) Link Tracking

But what about those business owners who are distrustful of numbers provided directly from Facebook or Twitter? Don’t worry, you won’t be left out in the cold.

Tools such as bit.ly or the Google URL Shortener do much more than simply condense your links. Each link produced through these services is fully trackable, allowing you to get an instant picture of how many times the link has been clicked. By creating a unique shortened link for your social media posts, you can get third-party insight into how many clicks your paid ads are generating.

Other third-party management platforms also provide their own tracking data for links and social media post performance. Popular management tools like AdStage and Sprout give a clear overview of multiple social media channels, enabling marketers to compare results from each platform.

3) Google Analytics

It’s impossible to talk about analytics and tracking without mentioning the granddaddy of them all—Google Analytics. Believe it or not, the extensive traffic data provided through Google can also give you great insight into whether or not your social ads are delivering the results you need.

So how do you start? Under the Channels heading for All Traffic, you can find social media listed as one of your potential traffic sources. Google Analytics provides you with much more than the number of visits you received thanks to social media, however. You’ll also get actionable insights such as the bounce rate, how many pages users visited, and even how long they stayed on your site.

Google Analytics doesn’t stop there, either. You can break down social visitor data by specific platform or even set up conversion funnel reporting to see exactly how social media fits in as part of your customer’s conversion paths and if it is delivering the type of results you need. You can set goals based on customer purchases, site visits, or other metrics so that social media-related interactions are measured appropriately.

4) Brand Lift Studies

It’s important to remember that social media isn’t necessarily meant to drive direct sales. For most businesses, however, it can serve as a great way to build awareness. Of course, this isn’t always easy to measure with metrics like reach or direct engagement.

So what’s a brand to do? Thankfully, Facebook allows qualified campaigns to conduct a poll to determine the effectiveness of your ad. A Facebook (or Instagram) Brand Lift Study can enable you to get direct insights into whether your ads truly had an impact on your target audience by asking questions on topics such as brand awareness and plans for future purchases.

Brand Lift Studies (which are conducted in a partnership with Nielsen) are a great way to gauge opinion regarding your brand and to see if your ad content is providing the influence you need to be successful.

With insights and responses taken directly from your target audience, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions regarding your social media campaigns than you’d be with analytics alone.


As you take full advantage of these methods, you’ll be better able to understand the type of influence your social media ads are having on your audience. Maybe you aren’t getting as many clicks and conversions as you’d like. Or maybe your ads are doing a perfectly acceptable job of building awareness and planting the seeds for future customer purchases.

The thing is, without proper tracking in place, you’ll never be able to know any of this information for certain. By using analytics and measurement tools to understand the impact your social media ads, you’ll be in a far better position to make appropriate adjustments to your marketing strategy so you can achieve even greater success.

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