AdNews investigation: How marketers use social media platforms

By AdNews | 10 May 2018

This article corresponds to an in-depth feature from AdNews in-print. It appeared first in-print so please support AdNews by subscribing here. Check out what's in the latest issue here.


Facebook is the dominant platform when it comes to social media marketing investment and marketers most commonly use cost metrics provided by digital platforms to measure success, an AdNews study has found.

AdNews wanted to find out how marketers are using social media platforms and measuring its effectiveness.

This publication carried out a social media study of more than 50 marketers from various industry sectors to understand how they use the platforms. The full results can be found in the infographic below.

The study found that around 26% of media budgets are being spent on social media platforms with nearly all marketers (98%) using Facebook, while 53% used Instagram and 45% used YouTube.

The platform where spend is the most is Facebook (75%), followed by YouTube (13%) and LinkedIn 6%.

Marketers use social media to raise brand awareness (cited by 79% of respondents), for engagement (60%), to drive traffic to a website or call to action (51%) and drive sales conversions (42.6%). This was followed by improving reach and frequency and targeting (both on 40%). 

When asked to only choose three choices, marketers also perceived brand awareness, engagement, driving traffic, increasing reach and targeting as the five strongest suits for social. Interestingly, lead generation, driving sales and store visits were not viewed as strong points for social.

Although audience targeting was only viewed as what social media did best by only 11% of marketers, it was cited as a major benefit of social by 68% of respondents, followed by reach and frequency (51%) and low cost (49%). 

In terms of monitoring success, nearly two-thirds of marketers use social media dashboards, while nearly 60% consult a media agency partner or third-party and 23% rely on digital marketing colleagues.

The most common metrics that marketers use to measure effectiveness are cost of impressions (CPMs) for 60%, cost of click-throughs (53%), impact on sales (51%) and cost of conversions/acquisitions (40%).

This was followed by the number of shares/retweets of a post (34%), number of likes to a post/page (30%), cost of completed video views (26%) and cost of leads (23%).

Further down the list was how social media influenced a brands market share (21%) followed in last position by an influencer’s fan base as a measure of reach, which was monitored by nearly two out of 10 marketers.

When AdNews asked marketers if they found social media CPMs more cost effective than other channels, 56% said ‘yes’ and 44% said ‘no’.

The parts that marketers didn’t like about social media include a “lack of transparency and accountability”, “terrible viewability”, “brand safety concerns”, “reporting issues” and a “low ROI”.

AdNews approached the major social media platforms to find out their perspective on how brands are using the platforms and where they can add value.

The full feature, which first appeared in the May issue of AdNews, will be published online this month.

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