Inside the Facebook Ads of Your Competitors: How to Research, What to Learn


If you’re looking for inspiration for your next great Facebook ad, then we’ve got you covered with this post!

We’re diving into the Facebook Ad Library to give you tips on how to research the ads of your competitors and how to find inspiration from some of the most creative and effective Facebook advertisers out there. We’ll share some specific tips on how to get meaningful Facebook ad results, and we’re hopeful you’ll leave with a list of ideas that you can test today.


Let me know if this resonates with you: Social media sometimes feel like more art than science. 

That’s a bit hard to admit since our Buffer podcast is called The Science of Social Media! 

But it’s true. There are strategies and tactics, especially on the brand side of things, that can be hard to measure and hard to quantify. Still, we want to do our best to give you the specifics on what works and why — and we have an especially cool way of doing that when it comes to Facebook ads.


The state of Facebook advertising

You’ve probably heard public perception shifting a little bit in recent months regarding Facebook. Despite this change, the advertising potential of Facebook remains huge. When we talk about Facebook, we’re really talking about Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Whatsapp — all the assorted properties that Facebook owns. This year, Facebook is nearing 2 billion users on its platforms — that’s nearly 1 in every 3 people over the age of 13 in the world. 

Moreso, Facebook ads still get clicks. According to stats as of April of this year, the average Facebook user clicks on 11 ads in 30 days.

Anecdotally, those click numbers sound great, though they have been better. Cost per click on Facebook is as high as 15 cents versus 12 cents a year ago, and clickthrough rate for brand ads was at 1.6 percent at the start of the year and is now closer to 1.1 percent.

So the takeaway here is that Facebook has a huge potential audience, people still click Facebook ads all the time, and the competition is strong for who gets those clicks. 

Now we can bring in the science!


Takeaway: Use Facebook Ad Library to see how other Pages are advertising

With this new tool, you can enter the name of any Facebook Page, and it will show you all the ads that the page has, both active and inactive.

The tool has a lot of features built around political and issue-based ads in order to provide transparency on who pays for what. Marketers can benefit from it, of course, by using the tool to do some research and gain inspiration from the brands that are doing great things with Instagram ads.
For instance, if you pull up Airbnb on the Facebook Ads Library tool, you’ll see that they currently have over 930 ads running in the U.S. alone. Additionally, you can see that they’ve spent $58,000 on political or issue-based ads since May 2018. 

Fascinating stuff.

So we’ve put some time into using this tool to come up with some best practices for Facebook ads along with some research on the ‘net to see what other advice is out there. 

If you have any favorite ad examples you love, feel free to share with us on social media using the hashtag #bufferpodcast. We’d love to hear them. 


Tips for Facebook image ads

We’ve seen a couple of popular varieties of images in our Facebook Ads Library research. First, some successful brands use images that re-enforce the copy claims in the ad’s text and call-to-action. For instance, Lululemon’s ads for a ventilated shirt show a man exercising while wearing the shirt — and looking cool and ventilated while he does it.

Of course, it may not always be possible to come up with like-for-like images, especially if you don’t have a physical product. We find this a lot with our social ads at Buffer since we sell software. 

In that case, we’ve seen a lot of brands go for either an attractive image that catches attention while relating somewhat to the image copy — for instance, AirTable used a dog photo, which is always a winner. Or, if you can swing it, we’ve seen brands like Headspace have great success with illustrations and graphics. 

Vibrant imagery can be really effective on Facebook. If you’re making graphics, you can do this with color, like The Guardian has with its ads. They placed their weekly magazine on a bright yellow background for some ads. We’ll link to it in the show notes so you can see it. It’s striking!

Get an in-depth view of global issues with The Guardian’s essential weekly magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues for $6 with free worldwide delivery.

Posted by Guardian Weekly on Thursday, January 31, 2019

One way that seems to work well with testing which images could be ad-worthy is to use organic posts as a testing ground. A lot of our very best ads at Buffer have started as organic posts to our Page. We boost high-performing content — especially content that has high engagement rates — and we’re able to learn what type of visuals and copy resonate with the Facebook community. 

Tips for Facebook ad copywriting

With image ads — and every other type of Facebook ad, really — one of the most important elements after the visuals will be your call-to-action. What words will you use to convince someone to click or tap?

You’ll find a lot of great inspiration with copywriting, too, when you spend some time in Facebook Ads Library. Here are a few of our favorite discoveries.

  • You can point your call-to-action to a Facebook Event. This comes with a bunch of benefits: people get to stay on Facebook rather than leave to a new site, which may boost your click rate. Those who RSVP can act as a form of viral promotion since their “Yes” replies may send the event into their feed and surface the event on their friends’ feeds. And of course, in tying the even back to your Facebook page, you get the added bonus of extra exposure for your page itself, which will hopefully bring you some more follows.
  • You can put social proof in your copy, sometimes even making the call-to-action as explicit as “See the reviews” or “1,000-plus Google Reviews.”
  • And along with reviews, we’ve seen a lot of brands embracing the Instant Experience storefront, which allows people to stay on Facebook but still browse your products through an experience that you can customize. Instant Experiences can be used with almost all Facebook ad formats–Carousel, Single Image, Video, Slideshow and Collection. The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s mobile-only for now.
  • Ultimately, the best calls-to-action we’ve seen written are those that take you to a page that matches the text in the call-to-action itself, creating a sense of continuity for the customer. Whenever possible, we highly recommend building a custom landing page experience that matches the messaging of your ad.

Tips for Facebook video ads

Another popular type of Facebook ad is video. There are a couple of main tips we’ve noticed when it comes to video ads on Facebook.

First, brands create videos that can be effective with the sound turned off. Data shows that as much as 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound, so it’s imperative that whatever video you use in your advertising that it can get its point across through visuals alone. 
You can do this purely by visuals — say, if you’re a clothing brand and want to show off your outfits, or if you’re a food or cooking product and can show your stuff at work in the kitchen. If you really do need words, though, there’s always captions. We’ve seen a lot of effective ads that go with captions to support the story of their ad.

Another common best practice is to use square video rather than landscape video. This is especially important when you consider the viewing experience across mobile and desktop — landscape videos just don’t work as well on phones. 

We ran a study about this and found that square video outperformed landscape video on every social media network in terms of video views, engagement, and completion rate.In some cases, square video resulted in 30-35% higher video views and an 80-100% increase in engagement.

If you happen to be running just a mobile ad, then you might consider a vertical format instead. Otherwise, we suggest keeping your videos square so that they work great everywhere.  

Tips for Facebook carousel ads and lead ads

Carousel ads are another neat way to tell a story with Facebook ads. 

One of the best ways we’ve seen this work is to visually tie the images together, either thematically  by choosing similar images or quite explicitly by cutting up a single image into multiple frames or using graphic design elements that carry over from one carousel image to the next.
With carousel ads, you can apply many of the same techniques as with the image ads we discussed earlier: use images that relate to the copy, be vibrant, be engaging. 

That’s probably good advice for any visual you use on any of the different Facebook ad types. 

Take Lead Ads for instance.

In addition to the visual marketing tips, we’ve seen brands really make the most of this ad type by being smart about the way they set up the lead capture forms. Facebook will autofill certain types of information, which makes these lead forms as easy-as-can-be for the people signing up. Brands use this to their advantage by only asking for the essential information. We’ve seen some companies only ask for email addresses — say, if you’re wanting to send an e-book.For others, especially those with brick-and-mortar locations or regional events, we’ve seen simple forms with email, city, and country. 

As you’re scrolling through Facebook Ads Library, one thing you’re likely to notice is that many of the ads show text that says the ad you’re looking at has multiple versions. 

Tool: Dynamic creative ads

This Facebook ads feature will automatically optimize and deliver the highest-performing combinations of visuals and copy. You simply give Facebook a bunch of options to choose from, and Facebook will serve variations across its ad network until it finds the best-performing combinations. These combos then get served more widely as the winning ads.

You can apply dynamic creative ads to Conversion, Traffic, Video Views, Reach, Brand Awareness, and App Install campaigns. Pretty much anything you could hope for.

And when you’re coming up with options, the limits for creative are 10 images or videos and 5 options for each of body text, title, description, and call-to-action.
 

Tool: Text overlay

Another favorite tool of ours — and one we see put to good use very often in the Facebook Ad Library ads — is the Text Overlay Tool.

You can upload your ad to this tool, and it will tell you whether your ad contains a High, Medium, or Low amount of text. This is important because the amount of text can affect the reach of your ad.

Ideally, Facebook prefers visuals that have little to no text. You’ll see this in the ads of top brands — they all have bright and stunning visuals with very little text.Still, if your ad image does need some text on it — say, with a brand message or tagline — you can test it on the Text Overlay tool first.

After uploading, the tool will give your image a score of High, Medium, Low, or OK. High-text images may not run at all.Medium-text images may have much lower reach.Low-text images may have slightly lower reach.And OK images should run as expected.


How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on TwitterBuffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!


About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 27,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

Can you make a great six-second ad? Here’s what we learned from the best


When marketers wish for more time and resources, they often wish to spend it on video marketing.

Well, what if you only needed six seconds of video to make your impression?

The current run of 6-second ads on platforms like YouTube and Twitter has opened up new options for marketers who are looking to get their message heard via video without going overboard on video resources.

We’ve taken YouTube’s best practices and looked at the list of the best six-second ads to find all the secret ingredients behind short and snappy video marketing. We think these tips will help you craft the perfect YouTube bumper ad, Twitter video, Instagram story — you name it — and will make video marketing a cinch for you and your brand.


The benefits of being on YouTube

YouTube is a bit of a different animal when it comes to social media marketing, particularly because it has such a heavy emphasis on, well, video content. On Twitter, you can type out a message and hit send. On Instagram, you can upload a pretty photo or a meme.

On YouTube, you have to create a whole video!

We’ve written lots before about how to create awesome videos, whether you’re a newbie or on a budget .. or a seasoned pro. As with most marketing activities, it’s not as difficult as it might look at first. The hardest part is getting going.

Still, it can feel like a big hill to climb. 

So why bother climbing?

Well there are a couple strong points in your favor for putting in the work and making things happen on Youtube.

First, YouTube is gigantic.

Chances are that if you’re targeting consumers, then consumers will have some sort of connection with YouTube.

Take these stats for instance: 

Now, we’re not necessarily talking about becoming a YouTube influencer or growing your channel to millions of subscribers and views. That would be great, of course. But it’s not needed in order to get value from YouTube. 

Spending some of your ads budget on YouTube ads can help you reach a targeted audience through a medium that is engaging and very strong on the storytelling side. 

Which brings us to the second reason why it might make sense to invest some in YouTube advertising … 

One of YouTube’s best formats is six-second video ads.

You don’t have to make a mini movie or spend a lot of time and resources to build something long and lasting. You simply have to fill six seconds of time with a catchy, on-brand message. 

Seem doable? 

A lot of brands think so, which is why the ads format on YouTube has proliferated. There are a lot of options now — and if you spend much time on YouTube, you’ve probably seen a lot of variety in the ads also. It’s becoming a hot space. 

We’ll cover some of the basics of this ad format and then spend the majority of the episode diving into what makes a great YouTube ad by studying some of the best ones out there. 


Your YouTube ad options for videos

YouTube offers three types of video ads

  1. Skippable video ads that viewers can skip after five seconds. These ads come before, during, or after the main video.
  2. Non-skippable video ads must be watched before your video can be viewed. These are a maximum of 15-20 seconds long
  3. Non-skippable video ads that can be up to 6 seconds.

Specifically for this blog post, we’re going to focus on the six-second ads. These appear in the pre-roll — the ad that shows right before your video starts. 

Because of this, you pay for bumper ads by impressions. They are charged by CPM – cost per thousand impressions, meaning that you pay for a bumper ad for every 1,000 impressions of your video. 

YouTube ads typically have an average cost-per-view of $0.10 – $0.30. And according to an AdStage report, in 2018 the average CPM on YouTube was $9.68. Additionally, the average cost per click was $3.21 and the average click-through rate (CTR) on YouTube was 0.33%.

How does this compare to other social networks?

It’s on the higher end because of the high engagement on YouTube’s video ads. Facebook is near $9.00 CPM, but Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn benchmarks are closer to $6.00. 


Best examples of six-second ads on YouTube

YouTube recently announced its list of the top six-second ads from the past year. The list included:

  • Subaru
  • Frito-Lay
  • Doritos
  • Oreo
  • Eggo
  • Almond Joy
  • and many more

Personally, I love what Geico dos with six-second ads: they’re often quite brilliant and funny and play with the form really well. 

What do all these videos have in common? There are a few elements that we noticed, plus YouTube has shared some of the qualities that it believes are key to a successful ad and video on its network. 


How to make a successful YouTube ad

1. Put your brand front-and-center

There are a couple reasons for this. Featuring your brand early on will help orient the viewer and increase engagement with your ad. Also, the first few seconds of the video are crucial, whether you’re making a longform video or a six-second ad. 

YouTube recommends starting with a powerful brand moment rather than a slow build. And of course, when making a six-second ad, you don’t really have time for a slow build!

You can do this in a lot of different ways. If you have a product, you can feature it in the first frames, as Doritos does in its six-second ads. Other brands start with a shot of their logo or a logo overlay onto the video. 

2. Use catchy music and sounds. 

95% of video watched on YouTube are played with the sound on, so music and voice are an essential component to your ad’s success. This is a bit different from other social platforms where sound is often turned off and captions are necessary. You don’t need any captions here. 

If your ad doesn’t necessarily have a strong audio component, another way to capture attention is from quick editing. This is obviously used quite well in the six-second ad formats. 

By putting multiple shots into the first few seconds, you can capture attention quite well. 

Looking at some of the top 6-second ads on YouTube, for example, Doritos put five shots into its six seconds, and Dove had seven shots — more than one shot per second. 

3. Think mobile-first when building your ad.

The majority of YouTube watching happens on mobile devices, so you’ll want to consider this experience when you’re coming up with your ad idea and your production. For instance, consider how people are using their phones — people may be watching on battery saving mode which means darker screens and less visibility, so bright colors and big text will make the biggest impact in your ad. 

Ok, let’s take a quick music break and then come back with some final advice on making the most of your YouTube ads.


Strategy: What are six-second ads good for? 

It’s not a lot of time to drive an action from your viewer, which might be why a lot of brands use the short videos for increasing brand awareness. 
Of course, this comes with challenges of its own. How do you even measure brand awareness?

YouTube has thought of this. They offer a brand lift survey that you can run to measure the direct impact that your ad is having on the perception of your brand and the behaviors that you’re influencing. The survey measures a number of different factors: 

  • increases in brand awareness
  • ad recall
  • consideration
  • favorability
  • purchase intent
  • brand interest

They even let you optimize your campaigns while they’re happening, based on the results from this brand lift survey.

Of course, if a Youtube brand lift study is outside of your budget, there are other ways to measure its impact, too. You can look at foundational metrics like view rate and click-through rate to determine which of your ads are working well. 

Now there has been talk about the super-short ad format being too short to effectively communicate a message. There may be some truth to that, but at the same time, there is science and research behind just how quickly we’re able to process ads. 

In a recent study, brain researchers found that mobile ads can trigger an emotional response in less than half a second. The brain only needs 400 milliseconds to see and react emotionally to mobile ads. YouTube in particular has a couple things in its favor: video ads were twice as likely to stimulate an emotional response than static images, and mobile ads are a full one to two seconds faster to get a response than desktop ads.

Strategy: Cross-channel marketing

We’re big fans of repurposing content here at Buffer. We love taking a blog post and turning it into a SlideShare, a podcast episode, an infographic, and more. So we think it’s great to be able to do the same with ads.

Fortunately, there’s not much that needs changed with six-second videos because so many other places support this short format. 

I’m sure you’ve started to see this format on places like Hulu and other streaming services. On the social media side, Twitter has recently rolled out 6-second ads as a new ad type. Early tests with some brands on Twitter have shown up to a 22% increase in view rate.

What’s really interesting, as we mentioned earlier, not everyone browses Twitter with the sound on. So if you’re planning on using your short YouTube video ads on other social networks, it might be useful to really lean into the strong visual branding side of things.

In fact, a study by EyeSee showed that short-form videos with the sound-off that included clear branding, delivered a significantly better ad recall and message association compared to typical TV-style ads. 

Alright, one final strategic point we wanted to share is more like a quick time saver. When it comes to making short, six-second YouTube ads, you may not even need to start from scratch. 

Tip: You can repurpose existing ads and have YouTube cut them down to six seconds for you. 

That’s right, This year, YouTube began testing a tool called Bumper Machine that optimizes video ads for mobile audiences. The tool uses machine learning to pick out key moments from longer ads and convert them into the six-second bumper ads that we’ve been talking about this episode. 

Some of the elements that the machine learning algorithms are looking for are: 

  • human characters
  • motion
  • the sharpness of the video’s focus 
  • the quality of the framing

So if you’re looking to create a short ad to try out on YouTube, you may be able to test quite easily by repurposing a well-performing ad to work in the six-second format.

We’ve had a lot of fun researching short ads for this episode. If you have any personal favorites, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send us a link on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and use hashtag #bufferpodcast so that we can spot it!

Social Media Attribution: How to Get Started


When someone makes a purchase or signs up for your product, how do you know where they came from?

Especially when it comes to a top-of-funnel channel like social media, how can you ensure social gets credit for the impact it’s having?

Attribution to the rescue!

Seeing the impact of your social media marketing is definitely possible with an attribution strategy that assigns value to the channels that send new business your way. We’ll show you how to start in a lean way and then go deep with robust solutions as you scale.

Attribution can be a tricky science, so we’re hoping to give you some clear and actionable tips to start measuring attribution today. Whether you’re looking at running some omnichannel campaigns or if you’re wanting to measure the impact of some quick experiments, we hope these tips will have you covered.


Did you know …

The average consumer comes in contact with a brand 6 times on average before they make a purchase. 

So how can you know which of those touchpoints deserves credit for the sale?

This is where attribution comes in. 

Attribution is very close to another key social media metric: ROI. You probably hear about ROI more often because, well, to be honest, attribution is even trickier to measure than ROI — if you can believe that.

So maybe we should begin with defining each term and the differences between them.

The difference between ROI and attribution

ROI stands for return on investment. It is a dollars-and-cents measure of how much you earn based on how much you spend. There are related terms here too like ROAS, which stands for Return on Ad Spend. In either case, these are measuring your earnings.

Attribution is subtly different. Rather than measuring how much you earn, attribution assigns value to the channels that drove an outcome, whether it’s revenue-related or not.

For instance, ROI would measure revenue whereas attribution measures a purchase or a web visit or a download

With attribution, you’re basically working backward from an event like a purchase or signup and figuring out what channel or channels get the credit for that event.

We’ll be focusing on attribution in this blog post, but it can get a bit muddled along with ROI. We’ll do our best to keep it all clear for you.


The three main types of marketing attribution

So attribution comes in a few different flavors. You have:

  1. Last-touch attribution
  2. First-touch attribution
  3. Multi-touch attribution

This diagram from digitalthought.me does a good job of showing these different models side-by-side. The multi-touch models include Even, Time Decay, Weighted, Algorithmic, and even more.

Here are some other resources that help explain these concepts because they can get complicated, fast.

Essentially, first-touch attribution gives full attribution credit to a person’s very first interaction with the brand, regardless of how many touchpoints occurred after the fact. If someone sees an ad on Monday and signs up after a Google search on Friday, then the Monday ad gets all the credit.

Last-touch attribution is the inverse. The very last touchpoint gets full credit. If you see an ad on Monday and sign up after a Google search on Friday, then Google gets full attribution.

We’ve found that last-touch attribution is the easiest to measure and is a great starting point if you’re just getting your feet wet with social media attribution. 

However, these single-touch measurements won’t show you the complete customer journey like multi-touch attribution can. The only problem: multli-touch attribution is hard! and it requires a series set of marketing data ops. 

For this reason, we won’t go too deep into multi-touch attribution — we’ll save the details for another episode — but just to give you a taste, here are a few of the models that you could consider with multi-touch:

  • Linear, which measures all the touchpoints and assigns equal value to every one
  • U-shaped, which gives 40 percent to the first touch and 40 percent to the last touch and then the remaining touchpoints share the final 20 percent
  • Time decay, which gives more weight to touchpoints closer to the final conversion event and less weight to those at the very beginning of the journey

We’ll share some quick ideas and tools for multi-touch toward the end of the blog post, but for now, let’s transition from models into the specific tactics for measuring some of this. 

We’ll start with a few of our favorite, scrappy ideas, some of which you might already be trying.


1. Track attribution with UTMs

What are UTMs?

UTMs are the extra parameters you can attach to links so that you can track your traffic from specific sources, mediums, and campaigns. If you’ve seen a funky long URL with question marks and ampersands in it, then you’ve probably seen a link with UTM parameters. 

UTMs appear in your Google Analytics reports. You can see your traffic broken down by all the different UTM parameters you use. 

So, let’s say you’re running a social media campaign about how dogs rule and cats drool. You can add a UTM campaign tag of “dogsrule” to all the links you share on social media. Then, when you hop into Google Analytics later, you can see the exact traffic impact of this campaign.

Yes, there will still be the referral traffic section in Google Analytics that counts your social media traffic in aggregate.

But with UTMs, you can also drill down into utm campaigns to see the total clicks from your specific “dogsrule” links.

If you have Goals set up in Google Analytics, you can then see the attribution to things like signups or downloads or purchases. If you have revenue numbers attached, you can even get the full ROI picture. 

Same goes for tools like Mixpanel or Looker or any other analytics software that you use to track results.

Now with UTMs, you’re typically going to be getting last-touch attribution. Here’s how the tech works: The UTM parameter is added to the browser in a cookie. And if a person clicks on a link with a certain UTM then clicks on a second link with a different UTM, the second UTM is the one that will get credit. And of course, if someone clears their cookies or has cookies disabled, then the UTM attribution won’t work at all.

There are some tools that track the first click also. They call this the pancake stack — first click and last click. You’ll want to check with your analytics provider or your data team to see what exactly you’re tracking.

If you’re looking to add UTMs to your social media links, there are a bunch of easy ways to do this.

First, you can do it manually by typing in the parameters at the end of your URL. These are:

  • utm_source=
  • utm_medium=
  • utm_campaign=

Additionally, we add these for you automatically with the Buffer product. On our paid plans you can customize the text here, too. So if you click on a Buffered link, you’ll be able to track exactly what kind of attribution it brought you.

2. Include a “How’d you hear about us” survey

These are going to be so much easier-sounding than UTMs. All you need for this form of attribution is a simple survey, placed after the event. 

For example, we recently implemented this within our Buffer signup flow.

When you sign up for Buffer, we ask you a few questions, including, “How did you hear about us?”The options are:

  • Friend, family, or work colleague
  • Google search
  • Online advertisement
  • Blog post
  • Social media post
  • Other

With this data, you can then see exactly which sources send you the most attribution. We tend to think of “how did you hear about us” as first-touch attribution, though it does remain a bit open to interpretation. 

At Buffer, social media accounts for our third-biggest attribution source at 10% of signups. Our top two are Google searches and word of mouth.
Generally-speaking, you could expect a certain margin of error in the survey results from people giving random answers or clicking incorrectly. Still, it’s useful data to know!

3. Try bit.ly URLs to track attribution

These can help measure ballpark attribution numbers, especially when it comes to the middle of the customer journey. 

Let’s say you’re wanting to see how many people came to your site from the link in your Instagram bio. Well, you can hide UTM parameters within a shortened link, and then go to your bitly dashboard to see some robust stats about clicks and timing. 

This can become especially useful when you’re using a single bit.ly link across multiple channels because bit.ly will give you the conversion by channel. It’s a real-time view of your stats, versus a bigger dashboard like Google Analytics that excels at looking at previous days and macro views.

We’ve touched on some quick ways to get started with attribution — adding UTMs to your links, putting surveys onto your website, or using bit.ly to track click performance. These are great for single-touch moments of attribution. 

4. Multi-touch attribution resources

Resource #1: Find a tool that will help you track the data and then place it into a multi-touch model for you. 

Here’s a few ideas of what tools to try:

Bizible — This tool specializes in end-to-end marketing attribution. It was acquired by Marketo last year, so it has a ton of resources behind it. It’s one of the biggest and best tools out there for attribution. It’s not cheap — you need to hop on a demo call to get pricing. But it is an awesome solution especially if you’re wanting to integrate with a CRM like Salesforce.

In addition to Bizible, there are also tools like Impact and the appropriately-named Attribution

Also, some of the major networks like Facebook and Google have their own attribution products that can help with multitouch attribution. Facebook Attribution covers all the different touchpoints that your user might go through in the Facebook network, which includes organic and paid on Facebook and Instagram, plus any placements on Facebook’s Audience Network and Messenger. Google’s attribution solution is now built right into Google Analytics so you can build your attribution model right in there. 

The other way to look at multi-touch modeling is to be consistent with the way you model and track your social ads. This can be a huge component of the marketing journey for some brands, so it’s important to get these settings right. 

Specifically, you’ll want to look into the attribution windows for your ads, and you can do this right in the ads managers for all the social networks. 

Generally-speaking, there are three types of attribution windows for these ads: engagement windows, click windows and view windows. This means that if you were to set, say, a 7-day click attribution window, then the ad would take credit for the conversion for anyone who converted within seven days after clicking the ad.

There are a lot of different ways to set up these windows. Pinterest alone has 24 different options for you. The key is that you want to be comparing apples to apples so that you can easily compare the effectiveness of each channel.

One of the best places to start is with a 7-day click attribution window. This can be the same across all your social channels. You can start here and then tweak and adjust the window over time once you start seeing the results. 

Of course, it goes without saying: In order to get value from attribution, it’s important to know what your social media goals are.

Since attribution is based on the events and behaviors that you want to drive … then you need to know what those events and behaviors are!

We’ve seen a ton of great examples of the different ways that brands are measuring their social media impact. When you have revenue and attribution modeling in place, you can find some really cool insights. 

Here are just a few stories that eConsultancy shared in a recent blog post:  

It’s important to remember that when you use social media as an engagement and brand-building channel, you might not generate many leads or sales directly from social media. But you would indirectly.

We’re hopeful that these attribution ideas might give you a sense of how well social media impacts those indirect leads and sales and that setting up attribution can help you know your channels better.


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About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 27,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.