Social Media Advertising: The Total Cost Breakdown of a “Like

Money can’t buy you love, but in the social media world it can buy you friends. We’re breaking down cost-per-click ads to calculate the lifetime value of a fan and weigh the benefits of expanding your social media marketing strategy to include paid ads.

There’s no denying The Beatles said it best, “Money can’t buy you love.” But in the world of social media marketing, pay-per-click ads can at least bring your brand, “likes.” Social media advertising platforms have continued to develop various fan engagement features over the past few years and brands can now capitalize on promoted posts and cost-per-click (CPC) ads to expand their fan base and strengthen their social following in a variety of ways.

Here are some of the ways ads through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can help market your company and bring long-term fans to your social media accounts.


Facebook Ads have been operating in a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression format (CPM), but Facebook recently rolled out new features available to marketers allowing for streamlined post updates, promoted posts, and sponsored stories. Sponsored Stories are an especially effective update for marketers, providing advertisers with the ability to create ads that show social engagement including “likes” or “comments” on any post.

Another change to Facebook Ads in October of 2012 brought embedded sponsored stories and suggested posts or accounts in a user’s News Feed as opposed to the right-hand side of a user’s homepage. This update was met with mixed reviews and concerns over a decrease in engagement; however, since the change, News Feed Ads have only reduced “likes” and “comments” by 2%.

Facebook ads can be targeted to a specific audience based on location, age, gender, interests, education, relationships, connections, and more. Optimizing for clicks can further help brands track impressions, engagement, clicks, and actions. This is especially helpful since “actions” were expanded to include any actions taken within 24 hours of a Facebook user viewing your ad or 28 days after clicking on it.

Facebook Ads are a great way to drive traffic to your website or Facebook page and increase your following. Remember, when fans “like” your page, they are demonstrating their trust in your brand and voluntarily agreeing to regular exposure to your social content. For eCommerce sites, this is especially important because it allows your brand to tap into their social networks to track social conversions and calculate the ROI of Facebook fans, thus determining the exact monetary value of a Facebook “like.”


The Twitter Ads platform offers two options for brands to help increase their followers: promoted accounts and promoted tweets. Promoted accounts display your company’s Twitter account in the “Who to Follow” section for users who are most likely to be interested in your type of account. By choosing your daily ad spend and setting a maximum bid for promoted accounts, your account will only be charged for the new followers you actually gain.

Promoted tweets work in a similar fashion to promoted accounts with a set monthly budget and a maximum and minimum bid; however, your account will be charged for each click. Based on historic data of how followers have engaged with your Tweets in the past, Twitter will provide an estimated amount of clicks per day to help you budget accordingly.

Users can choose past tweets to target, as well as promote new tweets, or even have Twitter automatically refresh to promote your account’s newest, most engaging Tweets. Choose up to five tweets and enter information about your targeted audience to begin increasing your brand’s following and expanding your reach on Twitter.


LinkedIn Ads operate on a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression basis, similar to Facebook, but provide targeting options that allow businesses to target very specific groups based on location, company, job title, school, skills, group, gender, age, and more. LinkedIn allows for a variety of advertisements including poll ads, join group ads, social ads, and video ads. Each type of ad will be displayed as a suggestion on the right hand side of LinkedIn pages.

Examples of LinkedIn Ads based on geographic location, demographics and interests.

Campaigns with engaging ads that perform well and return a CTR (click through rate) over 0.025% will be given preference and the ads will be shown more. Close monitoring of impressions and actions is important with LinkedIn ads. If a campaign has a single ad that is performing poorly, it will decrease the likelihood of each of the other ads being shown and will affect the entire campaign.

LinkedIn Ads are great for B2B relationships or companies interested in reaching LinkedIn users who drive business decisions. For universities or companies in niche markets, LinkedIn ads can be a great way to more narrowly target users and reach those most interested in your products or services.

Examples of LinkedIn Ads, promoting related Groups based on demographics and interests.

Before taking the plunge and creating your brand’s first social advertising campaign, it is best to have a targeted social media strategy that defines who your brand is, who your targeted audience is, what your messaging will focus on, and what your tone will be. Having an active profile with regular updates and engaging content will create the solid foundation to keep fans engaged with your content and active on your page once ads have brought them in.

Inno Garage can help develop a cohesive social media strategy that combines unique content, fan engagement, high-level analytics, brand management, and direct marketing. We’ll calculate the lifetime value of a fan on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to help analyze which platform affords the best opportunity before providing our recommendations for community outreach, content management, and social advertising.