Case Study:
The ROI of Social Media Ads

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By Alexandra Golaszewska

I’m asked all the time whether it’s worth spending money to advertise on social media. The answer is that it depends on your audience, and how well you target them.

For example, today I saw an ad in my Facebook newsfeed that’s for something a mom might buy for her daughter. Some women my age are mothers, but I’m not. Whoever set up that campaign just targeted women within a certain age range, without narrowing it down any more than that, which means that a lot of the views — and therefore the money — is being wasted. 

Here’s a better way to do it, and a specific example.

I recently ran a campaign for an organization that holds fundraising events all over the United States. The goal was to get people to sign up and pay to register for a local event; results were tracked through a Facebook pixel. 

I was responsible for boosting registration in multiple cities. Here's what I did.

  1. Had my client split the list into higher and lower priority cities. 
  2. Took the ad budget and made a spreadsheet listing what we’d spend in each place, using the total budget as my starting point. 
  3. Wrote customized copy for each city. It didn’t need to be complicated, but it did need to prominently include the date, place and cause. A generic version that covers every location is a lot less work, but it’s also a lot less effective.
  4. Created my target audience. In this case, I included people of all ages and genders, and targeted by location (living within 25 miles of the events) and interest. The ads were shown to those who were Facebook fans of nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups and businesses related to the cause I was promoting. 
  5. Set up campaigns and ad sets for each city. (These were created as ads only, so they did not show up on the organization’s timeline or in the news feed of anyone who didn’t live in the area being targeted.) Facebook allows you to create a group of ads that will go to the same targeted audience, but it will rotate up to 6 images. Once it sees which images are doing well, it will show those more frequently.

These are the results from the past 10 weeks:

Reach: (number of people who saw one of the ads in the campaign): 176,611

Amount spent: (Facebook ad fees only; does not include our fees for ad creation and setup): $3648.95

Complete registration: (people who registered and paid for the event after clicking a Facebook ad): 429

People taking action: (this includes people who liked the ad, shared it, etc.): 8920

The organization has a formula for calculating how much money each registered participant is expected to bring in. In this case, the total from those who registered through this campaign was $41,000