Identifying The True Cost of Social Advertising

Here at Point It, we love managing paid social advertising campaigns. Why? Because most of the time, we eventually prove to our clients that it can be successful, and a legitimate channel that complements search and/or display very well. What is “success” you may ask? Most of our clients are lead gen or ecommerce, so yes, we’re talking about driving leads and revenue, most of the time.

Obviously, paid social isn’t always effective (and yes, it takes a lot of work), but you could argue that’s the case with nearly all digital channels, right? The biggest challenge we often face is how to scale it after we’ve made it work. Thankfully, Facebook & Twitter, and to a much lesser extent LinkedIn, continue to release updates to their ad platforms that allow marketers to hit that mid & lower funnel traffic more efficiently & effectively.

We’ll save the strategies for how to scale social ads for a later post though, because before you even start a social ads campaign, it’s imperative to understand what it is that you’re actually paying for when someone clicks on your promoted post, tweet or sponsored update. Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn all treat ad “clicks” slightly differently and if you aren’t careful or don’t have a true grasp of what the campaign objectives are, you could end up wasting a lot of money very quickly.

When you promote a post, here’s when/where you are charged


  • Pretty much everywhere. Any link that is clickable, any social engagement – like, comment, photo view or share, etc – and you’ll be charged

All Campaigns



  • Similar to Facebook, just about everywhere. Any social engagement (retweet, reply, follow), but also any click on a link, hashtag or handle or expansion of the tweet

4  Twitter



  • The only channel that DOESN’T charge for social engagement – like, follow, share or comments – but all other clicks incur charges

Network Update Discussion   LinkedIn


It’s important to understand these differences, because it directly impacts not only how you should write your posts (especially on Twitter), but also how you report on costs, clicks and most importantly, cost per click. Twitter for example, may appear to have a lower CPC than say LinkedIn (assuming you’re pulling click data from their Ads UI), but once you dig deeper and isolate the number of clicks on the URL (tip: use a shortener like to track actual link clicks) Twitter may not be such a great deal after all. Of course, if the campaign objective is more awareness and general engagement, clicks to your website won’t matter as much. In that case, you better have some understanding of what a share, follow or comment is worth.

Facebook is the only social channel that currently breaks out website clicks for you (and even allows you to optimize your ads for website clicks.) Twitter will follow suit and it would be helpful if LinkedIn provided insight into what part of the ad unit is most often clicked on so you can know what to optimize.

Ian Mackie About the author
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