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How to write an effective social media marketing case study: 9 important things for agencies and freelancers to include
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How to write an effective social media marketing case study: 9 important things for agencies and freelancers to include

May 15, 2024
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As a social media agency or freelancer with established client relationships, you’ve surely developed an impressive portfolio of projects and results. You’re an awesome marketer, which prospective clients need to see as you grow your business. A social media marketing case study is a great tool to showcase your services in a relatable way and win clients. 

To help you create a powerful case study that stands out, we’ve outlined a fool-proof process for case study design and 9 things you must include. 

What is a social media marketing case study? 

A social media case study is a detailed review of how your services helped a specific client achieve their goals. 

Case studies are common research tools in science and business. But rather than a dry, academic analysis, you want to create a customer-focused story that potential clients can easily relate to. Leads should identify with the successful client’s character and see you as their expert guide. Keep this in mind as we explain how to create a case study for social media. 

“You need to have case studies that directly support your core product benefits and features. Your goal should be to show how your customers succeeded because of your key value props.” - Henry Brown, Head of Growth, Gadget

How to write a social media case study 

An effective case study requires thoughtful planning, research and analysis, and (of course) great writing. After reviewing case study guidelines from various academic, marketing, literary, and scientific sources, we’ve summarized the process into 5 easy steps.  

I. Set goals and prepare for research 

The first step is to set a goal for the case study to determine what kind of story you want to tell.      

Template stating, "Objective: Demonstrate how our [product] helped [company] achieve [outcome]. The goal of this case study is to [specific goal or metric] in [timeframe].
A case study objective statement template from Semrush.

You likely have social media clients that fit different personas. Some may be small organizations with a one-person marketing team and limited budget needing advice on social media content planning. Other clients may be full marketing teams looking for direction on scaling their paid and organic social channels. Each type of client has a very different narrative. 

Now consider your target customer. You’ll want to create a case study they identify with by highlighting work you’ve done for a client with similar objectives. Choose a related client with impactful results and ask if they’d be interested in being featured in a case study. (If you have multiple target customer personas, plan to write a case study for each). 

With a defined focus, brush up on the client account, schedule interviews with key decision-makers in the organization, and prepare case study interview questions. 

II. Conduct client interviews 

Client interviews are a great way to gather research for your case study and add context to your story. You likely know your client’s social media goals, current tactics, and what results they’ve seen. But, what do you know about their situation before working with you, why they chose your agency, or how they’ve enjoyed your working relationship? 

Text blocks showing several case study interview questions, including "How did these challenges hold your business back?"
Example case study interview questions from Semrush.

By asking these questions and digging deeper, you can further define their character throughout your marketing case study. It’s a great idea to share case study questions with your client before the interview, so they can come prepared. 

During the interview, ask open-ended questions that follow a narrative to encourage discussion. Start by asking about the client’s background, how they managed social media before working with you, why they chose an agency or freelancer, and the challenges they faced. Then you can discuss how you’ve worked together to help them succeed and how they’ve grown.

Don’t be afraid to ask why or other follow-up questions to gain further insight. At this stage, you want to gather as much info as possible to make your case study relatable.   

Conclude the interview by thanking your client for their time and summarizing any follow-ups. If you want to feature specific results or content in your social media marketing case study, discuss how it will be used and get any necessary approvals. 

III. Gather reports and results

When reading a case study, prospective clients will want to see results. So, gathering data and reports that show your client’s success is an important part of case study research. 

Pastel purple background with a collage of two colourful line graphs, one text-based report summary, and one overview with high-level metrics.
Collage of HeyOrca's LinkedIn Reports dashboard.

You can include expected metrics like reach and engagement of social campaigns. Brandon Moore advises also going beyond these metrics and incorporating tangible results related to a client’s overall business objectives. 

“A compelling case study should detail how a campaign increased foot traffic, boosted online sales, or lowered customer acquisition costs. Highlight how your efforts improved customer retention rates or increased average deal size. You may have to dig for this data, but these metrics paint a stronger picture of the real impact social media has on business growth and are exactly what companies will be looking for when evaluating potential social media marketing services. Demonstrating this isn't always easy, but it will set your case study apart from other vendors that haven’t gone deep enough.” - Brandon Moore, Director of Content Marketing at Vendasta & Founder of Sendies

With this information, it’s time to start thinking about your case study’s framework.  

IV. Analyze research and create a case study outline 

The next step in designing your social media marketing case study involves analyzing your research and planning the format of your case study. 

Blue and green text boxes showing a case study format template about how to organize your story.
An example of a case study format from WordStream.

Review all the information you’ve gathered and organize it into the following categories: Client background, problem or opportunity identification, goals, solution execution, and results. Each of these topics can become sections when writing your case study.      

V. Write and summarize the case study

This is where writers shine! When writing B2B case studies, use clear and simple language. Incorporate plenty of white space, bold key points, and separate sections with headings. This makes everything scanable. 

Include data and reports to showcase results, as well as samples of work that was produced for the client. Also, keep in mind that you’re telling a story. Prospective customers should be able to identify with the client you’re featuring and follow their journey from problem to success. Adding quotes from interviewees is a great personal touch. 

After writing the full case study, summarize up to 5 key points and the most impressive results. This can be included at the beginning of your case study or in an infographic to give readers a quick snapshot.  

What is the format for writing a social media marketing case study?

In its simplest form, a case study format should showcase a problem or opportunity, how it was solved, and related results. But, there’s much more you can do to stand out. Based on our research, we’ve compiled a list of 9 things an effective case study must include.  

1. A great headline

First, it’s important to have a great headline. Headlines should be descriptive and specific, so readers understand what they’ll learn from reading further.   

For example, a general headline like “How HeyOrca helped a company plan social content” doesn’t grab attention. With few details, it’s unclear what the case study is about or who it’s meant to target. Many companies plan social media content, so this isn’t a powerful claim. 

Let’s compare this to a more detailed headline: “A social media team saved 60 hours and more than $4,000 in a month using HeyOrca.” (Yes, those are real results!) Notice how the additional detail makes this headline more relatable and showcases desirable results. This is the type of headline you want for your case study! 

(If we’ve piqued your interest, get in touch to learn more about HeyOrca’s social media management tool for agencies and freelancers.) 

2. Case study summary or infographic

Effective case studies also have a summary or infographic at the beginning that outlines key points and metrics. This allows readers to quickly understand the story and decide where they should read further. Ultimately, leading with the right info will catch attention and make leads want to learn more. 

3. Client background info

Business case studies should include background details of the client or organization being featured. This section provides context and humanizes the narrative, so potential customers who fit the same persona identify with their character and want to follow their path to success. 

4. Problem description

A description of the problem or opportunity your client faced before you began working together is essential. This explains why they chose to work with your agency and how they were managing social media before seeking your expertise. The problem described should be relatable to target customers, making the story more impactful.  

5. Client goals 

Some may include goals in the problem or opportunity section, but this is important to call out. Clearly outline the client’s primary and secondary goals for social media, so readers can see how they were achieved by working with your agency. 

6. Executed solution 

In this section of your social media marketing case study, you describe how you worked with your social media client to solve their problem and lead them to success. It can outline specific strategies, tactics, processes, etc. that you suggested and executed. This is a great section to showcase your expertise and what prospective clients can expect when working with you. 

7. Results 

Of course, marketing case studies must include results. This is your opportunity to highlight impressive metrics and revisit your client’s goals to showcase the progress on each one. 

“Protecting the bottom line and mitigating risk is important for many prospective clients. Good case studies add those proof points and make the impact of projects crystal clear.” - Kurt Dunphy, Director of Growth, Spellbook

8. Clear writing 

While we touched on this in the steps above, it deserves repeating. Use clear and simple language throughout your case study. Write like a human! Potential clients don’t want to read complicated wording they have to work to understand your message. Make things easy, be brief, and keep the focus on your client’s story (this is what leads will relate to).   

9. Supporting images 

Add supporting images and graphics throughout your case study. This breaks up all the text and helps show results and the work you’ve done with the client. Include examples of posts, as well as reports and analytics. 

“Many case studies from agencies discuss the experience of working together, but don’t show any work, so you have to dig into their portfolio to connect the dots. If everything is packaged together, it’s easier for your prospect.” - Kurt Dunphy, Director of Growth, Spellbook

Other social media case study tips

In addition to our guide above, here are some other tips and tricks to create an effective social media marketing case study: 

1. To get started, consider finding a social media case study template to work with. Hubspot has free downloadable case study templates you can customize for your brand. 

2. Consider getting approval for writing case studies upfront during your sales or agency onboarding process, or making it part of your social media management contract. - Kurt Dunphy, Director of Growth, Spellbook

3. Leverage your content by repurposing quotes, results, and other elements on multiple channels.   

4. Be creative and design a case study in a nontraditional format — make a video, a case study infographic or a podcast case study series. 

5. Create a case study presentation that you can use when pitching new clients. There are some great Canva social media templates to help with your PowerPoint. 

Social media case study examples

To help you put everything into practice, here are some marketing case study examples you can use for inspiration. 

#paid and Precision Nutrition 

#paid uses case studies to showcase how brands like Precision Nutrition achieve results with creator content. They use a simple case study template that includes a descriptive headline, key metrics, client background info, client goals, campaign details, and results. 

Simple case study title page called "How Precisions Nutrition achieved a 4:1 ROAS with creator media."
#paid’s case study about Precision Nutrition’s use of creator marketing content. 

Slintel and Leoforce

Slintel created a case study to showcase how Leoforce used its sales intelligence tool to get more leads and sales meetings. This example does a great job of showcasing Leoforce’s challenges before using Slintel and the results of using their tool. The case study layout also uses a lot of visuals, white space, and clear language, making it easy to understand.

A case study example that uses a lot of white space, visuals, and clear language.
Slintel’s case study of how Leoforce increased sales meetings using their platform.

Trello and Desk Plants 

Trello’s case study about how Desk Plants used its platform to get more organized and increase sales is an awesome example of storytelling. There’s certainly room for improvement with its layout — visuals and headings could help break up all the text! But Trello does a great job of humanizing the main character, which helps create a personal connection. 


A yellow case study title page that says, "Sprouting Small Business Success With 30% Increase in Sales."
Trello’s case study of how Desk Plants increased organization and sales using their platform. 

How long should a marketing case study be? 

Most sources suggest that B2B marketing case studies should be between 500-1,500 words. Some can be summarized in a page, while others may be up to 5. However, don’t have 5 pages of just text — this should include plenty of images, work samples, white space, and reports, as well as a summary of the case study that’s 100 words or less at the beginning. 

Why do agencies and freelancers use social media case studies? 

First and foremost, marketing case studies are a proven sales technique. According to research collected by Ascend2, case studies are one of the most trusted content by marketers. 

Blue bar chart showing the most trusted content by marketers with "Research/case studies" in the top position at 60%.
The most trusted content by marketers according to data collected by Ascend2 and presented by Marketing Charts.

There are many other benefits of case studies: 

1. They build trust and credibility since they’re based on research and customer testimonials.

2. They showcase different customer perspectives, which helps potential clients relate to the story. 

3. When done right, they’re a low-pressure sales tool. Instead of typical sales calls or pitches, case studies are essentially long-form customer reviews. 

4. They show and tell what it’s like to work with you as an agency or freelancer, your work, and the potential results.   

“Case studies do a lot of lifting across the marketing funnel. Traditionally, they're looked at as a sales enablement tool to help close deals with prospective customers. But, they're also impactful assets that brands should leverage at the top of the funnel to drive brand exposure and engagement. Social proof goes a long way!” - Henry Brown, Head of Growth, Gadget

Build your case (study)

Social media marketing case studies are great for showcasing your work as an agency or freelancer. A major advantage of case studies is that they follow your client’s perspective and are based on results, building trust and credibility. Hopefully, our guide will help create a powerful case study to win clients and utilize your social media management expertise. 


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