How much to spend on social media paid advertising?

A recent poll run by Attention Experts, suggested one of the most curious things about social media is how much is appropriate to spend on paid advertising.

Often this answer can get a response of ‘how long is a piece of string’. I want to give a more definitive answer to that today.

The factors that make-up any answer to this question relate to:

  • Advertising goals (Is the campaign for client conversion? Brand awareness? Database build?)
  • The size of your marketing budget
  • Your patience threshold

Your advertising goals really do need to be the key focus when setting and aligning marketing spend. Setting realistic marketing goals and working backwards, in terms of:

– Cost per acquisition (CPA)
– Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM)
– Click through rate (CTR)

Once you define your target, and your costs with the three factors above, you will have a better understanding of where your budget will need to be. It is important you are realistic with your expectations and know what are the industry standards in terms of CPM, CTR and conversion rates off engagement.

For example:

If you are aiming for 10 conversions over 3 months, you will need to do the math in terms of what will get you to that point. If your industry numbers look like this:

Average Industry CPM = $20
Average Industry CTR = 1.8%
Average conversion off 100 clicks = 2%

Then to acquire 10 conversions with cost you $278 at $27.80 per conversion.

The math to equate the above would look like this:

1000 impressions x 1.8% = 36
(number of clicks acquired when ad has been shown 1000 times)

100 divided by 36 = 2.78
(Number of clicks needed to convert at 2% divided by what we achieve for 1000 impressions)

2.78 x $20 = $55.6
(cost to acquire 100 clicks, at the rate of $20 per 1000 impressions)

$55.6 x 5
(Since we converted at 2% per 100 clicks, then we have 2 conversions per 100 clicks. To get 10 conversions we times this by 5)

$278 is what it will cost us to achieve 10 conversions on an optimised campaign, according to industry averages.

We will need to allow for non-optimised time, for when we are still trying to make our advertising run efficiently with correct targeting. We will need to allow for around $5-$10/day for 2 weeks, so $70-$140 on top of budget.

So we will need a total of around $350-$420.


If you are not a small business (if you have 15 employees or more), you should be looking at total marketing budgets. As a rule marketing budgets tend to be around the 10% – 30% of revenue. Within that marketing budget you should be funneling a large portion of that to digital marketing. Around 25%-40% of your digital marketing spend should be towards social media marketing.

If you are a small business, the absolute minimum you want to be spending on Facebook/Instagram marketing is $300/month (around $10 a day). We normally advise that $450 a month at the time of this article is more where you should be in ad spend per month ($15 a day ad spend). We have found this to be the best minimum ad spend to be productive. We have found anything less, not to be a productive amount of spend.

There needs to be an understanding as to what is the minimum for productive ad spend. Any less can start becoming counter-productive and wasteful for your efforts.


A social media campaign in 2018, from its beginnings on average takes around 6-9 months to mature (some industries longer, some shorter).

Knowing your ads won’t achieve results overnight, is the mindsight which will actually allow you to groove in a channel for you moving forward long into the future. You need to allow time, for your audiences to mature with your brand and for them to eventually convert with you. Understanding that people won’t buy off you on the first time they touch your brand is really crucial to your success. You need to be attempting a long term strategy, that will build with lots of optimising, surveying and understanding what communication best relates to your audiences.

If you’ve read to this point, you’re likely very interested in the above and should give us a call for a strategy session. Our number is (02) 8069 9796 (02) 8069 9796 if outside Australia), or message us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/attentionexperts. You can also book a meeting with us via our website at www.attentionexperts.ie – I would be very happy to run through some of the above strategies with you in more detail.