There’s little doubt that social advertising is a powerful marketing tool for brands nowadays, with firms able to take their pick from the likes of TikTok, Twitter, Insta and Facebook, to name but a very few.
Indeed, the market for social ads is tipped to reach $262 billion globally in just six years time, so marketing strategies will increasingly pile into the social phenomenon.
Shannon Horgan, is paid media director at DAC Group and she explains how brands need to think of location, audiences and outcomes when working out their social ad intentions…
Social media mogul, viral sensation are just some of the cliches that come with the territory when you hear the term ‘social media marketing’ or ‘social media influencer’.
But there is some truth behind the hyperbole, the social media advertising market is expected to reach $262 billion globally by 2028, that’s up from $103 billion in 2020.
So, with social on the ascendency, the big question is how can more businesses do it well?
The likes of Facebook and TikTok are doing their best to make advertising on their platforms user friendly. In theory, such accessibility allows any brand to create content that could be viewed by millions of people.
Volume is all very well, but for retail businesses, the opportunities can go beyond just awareness building.
For retailers the fundamental opportunity in social will always lie in targeting. There are two parts to this though: the first is based on interests and intent, the second, and what marketers sometimes overlook, is location.
The latter is important as social channels can be used at different stages across the sales funnel, right from awareness through to conversion.
Consequently, it can play an important role within omni-channel brand-to-local strategies, notably in providing the call to action to drive consumers to particular stores.
Work backwards from the audience needs
The barriers to entry to social media advertising are low, making it a cost-effective way to supplement other channels on which you have previously over or under-indexed on – as long as it’s done well.
Successful campaigns should be built around particular audiences and outcomes, rather than on what the advertiser can afford.
The trick is to use the right platforms to reach the right people with the right message at the right time… Which admittedly sounds tricky!
The first priority is thus to establish a clear understanding of your audience – what they want, their age, where they live.
Next, is to map this to the right social channels, TikTok and Snap have very different audiences to Facebook and Twitter and will therefore have different use scenarios.
For instance, TikTok has been hyped as a channel for brands looking to connect with younger audiences. And it can be hugely successful when used in ways that tally with what its users want from the platform.
Ryanair’s account is a good example of a brand doing this well, it knows people want entertainment from TikTok so has made sure it taps into viral trends in ways that (re)shape younger consumers’ perception of the brand.
Considering audience, context and channel is time well spent. So too is adding device into the mix. There is no way to comfortably make an OOH ad work effectively in a Twitter feed on someone’s mobile phone.
Creative works best when it’s developed specifically for a particular platform and the device it’s most likely to be viewed on.
Where social media fits within the omni-channel experience
Social campaigns usually work best when they are used to complement other media channels. We are seeing more and more start-ups focus their advertising on social platforms due to the volume of users and targeting.
When targeting consumers in a particular area, this could apply to local media, whether that’s print, radio or, increasingly, addressable TV.
The key is to understand what role each channel plays across the customer journey to drive him or her towards conversion.
While a radio ad builds brand recall and drives consideration, a ‘how to’ YouTube video can demonstrate why a product is useful and a well placed offer through Insta ad acts as the call to action.
Paid social can thus be woven in across channels right to the very end of the pipeline to drive audiences into particular stores.
Imagine you’d like to buy an item of children’s clothing and you see an ad from brand ‘X’. You visit one of their shops only to be disappointed because that specific location doesn’t stock any children’s clothing. Not only is it a missed sale, you may have lost that customer for good.
Granular targeting coupled with eye-catching creative could have directed you to the most relevant store instead, for example the one that stocks the widest variety of children’s clothing.
It’s all about the detail
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for social media platforms and advertisers often overlook the nuances between them.
From funny branded TikToks to engaging in discussions in the right communities on Facebook, there is always an opportunity to create interesting and effective campaigns that tap into conversations that matter to the right audiences.
The landscape of social media is constantly changing though, especially now that social commerce is becoming embedded into a growing number of platforms.
You can’t just ‘do social’ for the sake of it, the reality is it’s complex and multi-faceted and even though cost-effective it’s not just the cheap option – the upfront cost is offset by the human hours that need to go into monitoring, engagement and optimisation that need to go into doing it well.
So, when considering paid social as part of a local strategy, make sure you spend time thinking clearly about what you want to get out of it and develop the content that will get the most out of each platform for your specified audience(s).
A successful campaign is joined up and offers something useful at each stage in the purchase decision process. Social is so much more than raising awareness.
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