PAID SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTS AND HOW TO GET YOURS NOTICED
We all know what’s happened over the past 2 years with the pandemic – we’re not going to dwell on it but it’s important to just take stock of the fact that it’s caused a major shift over the past 3 years, as we’ve seen more and more businesses rely on, or in some cases turn to digital.
That impacts competition within the marketplace, as many of us who work in the industry will have seen, it’s become increasingly saturated – something I’ll touch on a bit later, but just as a snippet as to how that’s impacted the industry, on the whole, 2021 saw what World Advertising Research Center calls a ‘meteoric rise’ in the value of the advertising market, growing 23.8% year-on-year.
We now also are enduring a cost of living crisis, so in terms of the landscape, it’s been a very tumultuous 2 to 3 years, but all this plays a part in the state of the industry in the current day.
So, with all that in mind, let’s discuss some of the key elements of making a success of your social media advertising.
Obviously, with any form of advertising, many different factors contribute to success, and by no means will we be able to exhaustively cover every key element of what makes for a successful campaign performance in one webinar, but what we’ll try and do is sum up:
- Audiences and how to leverage them
- Platform diversification and relevance
- Approaching strategy
- Understanding your funnel
- Getting creative right
SETTING THE SCENE
The way people use social media is changing. With it, there are now different expectations as to what will be seen in the social media feeds.
As a result, strategy and approach are more important than ever. Gone are the days of taking a blanket approach to your social advertising (we’ll touch on that in more detail later), but to advertise well, there’s now pressure on brands to abandon broad campaigns and instead create content for each platform and the audience within it.
It’s more important than ever to strategise how you’re going to leverage specific social platforms to generate the best possible results.
For many years now, social media has been a go-to platform to get in front of shoppers authentically. However, we’re now seeing it quite commonly noted that we now have a generation of shoppers who are increasingly not wanting to be advertised to.
This is something that’s cropped up more and more over recent times, as people get increasingly aware and protective of their privacy – something that is showcased by what happened with the relatively recent iOS14 opt-in privacy rollout (if you’re an Apple user, you’ll no doubt have been through the push notifications delivered by apps asking if you permit them to track your activity) – where uptake figures on worldwide level figures as low as a 20% and 25% global uptake.
What that has meant is that the social media advertising landscape is becoming more nuanced. Where previously, you might have been able to drive strong results through rolling out a set-and-forget style set of ads to audiences that have always performed strongly, you’d perhaps have seen this becoming less and less effective. I’m not saying that this was commonplace or best practice, but gone are the days when advertisers could just set up an ads manager across many social channels and expect to roll out a campaign in bulk if you want to see positive results.
To get the best results in an increasingly costly and competitive space, advertisers need to be smarter.
SO HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
More and more thought needs to be put into understanding both the users you’re targeting and also the platform you’re looking to utilise
The ad experience that you’re delivering now has to become endemic to the platform you’re using it on. Users are looking more and more for ads to be an unobtrusive part of their social media experience – so this has to be a consideration for advertisers.
As a result, advertisers are having to be more mindful of how they appear on each platform. The onus is on the advertiser to give users a seamless experience across the platforms that you’re advertising on, as opposed to attempting to shove products and services down their throats.
In a world that’s becoming much more averse to being tracked and advertised, there are gains to be made by integrating more user-generated content snippets and use of relevant trends – this has to align with your objectives still (I’m not saying this is the right type of content for a user that you’ve worked through to the bottom of your conversion funnel – but more on that later)
This is something platforms have seen too – TikTok’s newly announced “Branded Mission” ad product is a clear example of this shift
These ad types will allow creators to connect with brands and possibly receive rewards for videos. With the new ad product, advertisers are going to be able to crowdsource content from creators and turn top-performing videos into ads. Advertisers can launch branded campaigns and encourage creators to take part in them. Brands can develop a brief and release it to the creator community encouraging them to participate in Branded Missions. This is just blurring that line between content and advertising even more – as a platform TikTok is placing importance on the quality of its feed, honing its advertising offering (which is still in its infancy when compared to other more established products), to be as seamless as possible, creating a higher quality of the overall product for the user.
The social media world is continually evolving – we’re in a very different place now from where we were just a few years ago. New platforms have emerged like TikTok, which hit a billion global users quicker than any other social platform in history.
Streaming has enjoyed a huge boom (again, a result of the global climate over the past few years), meaning platforms like Twitch have become more and more popular
Google is doing everything it can to integrate more of its display and video placements into campaigns through Performance Max campaigns which integrate those placements alongside things like your shopping activity.
We could go on for an age about the development of the social landscape and the opportunities that it allows us as advertisers, but the point I’m making here is that there are so many different avenues to explore when it comes to the paid advertising that it’s become more and more crucial that your strategy is based around an unbeatable knowledge of your audience, and as a result, is granular. In ensuring that, you’re able to have a better understanding of what will resonate with them and what platform is the best fit to leverage to grab their attention… In essence, ‘paid social’ no longer just means some Facebook ads.
We’ve touched on how there is a different expectation from audiences based on what platform they’re using, so it’s more important than ever that creativity is being considered alongside that.
If audiences are reluctant to be advertised to, what can we do to make sure that we’re not only creating ads that best integrate with the platform they’re being shown on, but that we’re also making sure that they integrate with the placement within that platform?
Worth adding the screenshots here to emphasise the below bits?
Take Instagram as an example, there are multiple placements within Instagram where ads can be served, the above three examples are from my own Instagram yesterday (I think they emphasise quite well the point I want to make here) – we can see that the timeline ad is much more in your face about pushing a product with a promotion. The reel ad (even though you can’t tell us it’s a static screenshot) was a much softer sell in the form of a video, with slick transitions of a product I’m not aware of, bringing the brand into my consciousness via a much more upper-funnel brand consideration ad. The story placement ad is a static using a star from an industry that closely matches my interests that they know will catch my eye.
When it comes to capturing attention, these ads have all been carefully selected to match their placements. Within the timeline, to try and stop a user scrolling past we’ve got the big and bold offer from a brand we all know of in Gillette. Given the nature of reels, where they’re usually short videos, a user is more open to allowing a clip to play out, making it perfect for a more upper-funnel brand awareness creative. The story placement, where users are used to seeing quick photos or snappy videos, uses the star power of an athlete to immediately resonate with an audience, before giving some snappy USPs and a trial to lure the audience in.
How do we know what works best in each placement? Testing. It’s a relatively obvious point to make, but in a world where so much has changed over the past few years, testing is more important than ever. Analysing performance based on YoY figures is no longer accurate – we’ve had a pandemic, and are currently in the middle of a cost of living crisis, so now more so than ever we need to be ensuring we’re testing creative types and variants to understand what resonates best with our audiences.
As advertisers, we can’t rest on our laurels and assume that the creative that’s worked well in the past is still what’s going to work now. User behaviour is ever-changing, so we always want to be working to generate fresh datasets from which to analyse performance.
CONTROL YOUR AUDIENCES
First-party audience data is more important than ever as we transition to a cookieless world. As we’ve established, people are more and more concerned about data privacy and that’s only going to continue growing, making third party audiences less impactful.
The most powerful thing you can do is make sure that you’re building first-party audiences
Having your own data sets, nicely granulated, allows you to deliver bespoke messaging to users at differing points of their journey. This should already be an important consideration within any business, but it’s more important than ever that we align these with our paid media strategies to ensure we’re able to granularly target users and ensure we’re serving highly relevant, impactful ads at the correct stage of consideration for a user.
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