How to Use Attribution Models for Your Social Media Campaigns

Brian Powers
Brian Powers

Do you find it difficult to know specifically where your leads and conversions are coming from? Are people subscribing to your newsletter via a social media link, or a popup on your company's blog? What about the effects of word-of-mouth? 

Collecting data and closely monitoring your social media's performance analytics is essential to adjusting and refining a campaign as it progresses over time. Keeping on top of this data, including the implementation of calls-to-action or other "engageable" elements of your pages, especially for larger pages, can be a full-time job.  

Staying on top of your KPIs (key performance indicators), and in particular, your CTAs, is essential to tracking the success of your social media content performance, advertising, or other efforts.


Attribution modeling is an enormous part of tracking the performance of different calls to action. This modeling is basically a framework that helps digital marketers or social media managers recognize the touchpoints or sources for conversions and act upon their values.  

To perform as well as possible, marketers need to know whether their successful leads come from a blog article, from social media posts, advertisements, or anywhere else. This information is essential for figuring out what works and what doesn't. 

It is also necessary for accurately determining the success of advertisements and their ROI.  

Generally speaking, there are six basic attribution models. These include: 



First interaction: First touchpoint a person experiences along the customer journey. This could be an advertisement, a chance encounter at a trade show or event, or even a first mention by a friend.


Last interaction: The final nudge that leads to a conversion. This is the point at which the customer says yes and makes a purchase or enlists your service.

chart-position-orientedPosition-oriented: First and last interactions given most value and mid-touchpoints less. This focuses on early funnel and late funnel and is ideal for testing the effectiveness of a specific type of marketing campaign.

chart-time-decayTime decay: Weighted touchpoint distribution focusing more emphasis on late journey. As time goes by, a time decay model tracks the growing success of a campaign and allows marketers to push increasingly hard as they zero in on their conversion.

chart-linearLinear: Split value of each touchpoint evenly across the customer journey. Great for tracking every step of the way to ensure a consistent flow. This is a decent for maintaining a successful campaign.

chart-last-indirect-clickLast indirect click: The penultimate nudge prior to last interaction. This model guides marketers towards refining the latest stage of the conversion funnel to really drive home a very promising lead. 


The model chosen can depend on your company's goals, marketing channels, and product or service type, among other things. 

For the purposes of this exercise, we'll use the example of a software company, such as Facelift, implementing attribution modeling for a social media lead generation campaign.  

Our seven touchpoint CTAs in this example include: seven-touchpoint-ctas

For the purposes of this explanation, we're choosing to use a first interaction attribution model. 

The reason we've chosen to go with a first interaction model is because social media CTAs and touchpoints tend to be among the very first steps taken along the customer journey. Late-funnel models, such as last interaction or time decay are more likely to fall into the realm of sales departments, etc., who demo products and guide customers closely to an eventual sale. 

Because we, as social media managers, are most interested in the steps that take place directly on social media pages, we have placed the most emphasis on attracting followers and fostering engagement with content.  

Your marketing department may choose to use a different model that focuses instead on either indirect click or last click, because their overall goal is probably some form of "larger" conversion.  

Our attribute model will give us a nice overall view of our social media content's performance and can be seen as a way to bundle a bunch of small KPIs all into one larger KPI like a holiday gift basket loaded with delicious data. Our social media marketing team can see the impact that it has on the customer journey, reflect on it, and adjust its efforts accordingly. 

So, how do we do attribution modeling? Unfortunately, it can be something of a large project depending on goals, number of CTAs or touchpoints, and data sets, but here's a basic idea. 


  • Construct a series of overall performance reports by aggregating all relevant social media data into one place. Native social media analytics will usually let you create detailed reports, as will highly customizable tools such as Facelift Cloud.  
  • If necessary, coordinate with other departments or teams that may have other valuable data for other touchpoints in the funnel, i.e., web analytics teams or the sales department. 
  • Extrapolate the most valuable KPIs for your customer journey from that data. In the case of our example, this could be web link clicks to a subscription page, or simply engagement rate with social media content. 
  • Create weighted visualizations representing that data in a straightforward way that your team can easily follow. Facelift also aids with this process. 
  • Adjust according to your model's suitability. The better your business results are projected by your model, the more effective that model is. 
  • There is also nothing wrong with experimenting with other models! 

Tying it all together 

Attribution models are extremely important for assessing the efficacy and performance of your social media marketing campaigns. Even though they can take considerable time and effort, they are a wonderful way to create an overall picture of your successes and failures, and to help your team prioritize its content or campaign practices. cta-important-for-your-campaign

Look at the attribution models we've listed here and try to find out what applies to your company and its goals. While we tend to focus on social media campaigns here at Facelift, attribution models are great for assessing all sorts of marketing endeavors from web content such as blogging and newsletters, to more traditional forms of advertising such as billboards and TV ads. 

Your industry will likely dictate the sales funnel point that you need to emphasize most. For instance, many retailers may focus primarily on early-stage advertising for awareness on social media to generate interest and lure customers to their brick-and-mortar or online stores where the conversion is relatively straightforward and the funnel short.

On the other hand, premium SaaS companies or auto dealers may need more steps and lengthy coaxing by a sales team to finalize a sale, placing emphasis on later-stage models. 

Regardless of your industry, the right attribution modeling strategy is perhaps the strongest way to track calls to action and is well worth the added effort. 

Want to get a better handle on your social media analysis and learn about the best KPIs to track? Download our free white paper, 10 KPIs to Track for Increased Social Media Campaign Performance. Check it out!


Brian Powers
Brian Powers

More about the author

A New Yorker in Hamburg, Brian is facelift's content marketing manager. With over a decade of experience in content and social, he is responsible for creating much of facelift's English digital content, in particular the facelift blog, guides and downloads, as well as the writer and co-director of facelift's YouTube series "The Socials".
Subscribe to our newsletter.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all the latest news around marketing and social networks.