The Secrets of Social Advertising
Social media advertising has been under attack the past few months (years) and for good reason – the “controls” placed on brands and developers have been lax at best and the most rogue among them have capitalized upon this “hands-off” attitude and approach – and you certainly can’t blame them.Facebook’s user count in particular is impressive by any measure, and its user activity levels even more so. That’s appealing to advertisers but in order to leverage the platform for the benefit of an enterprise, “best practices” will need to be in place. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of data available to help social media marketers do just that.
Sprout Social recently released a report on social media advertising and it contains a wealth of information on what consumers expect from their presence on the platform and, at least for those advertisers willing to consider a modified approach, an opportunity to engage users and drive actual results.
Let’s first take a look at the health of social media platforms and the advertising ecosystem surrounding them to help brands make better use of their investment.
State of the Social Advertising EcosystemThe percentage of consumers whose opinion of social media advertising has declined 27 percent in the last 12 months. While many point to abuse, perhaps what it really comes to to is consumers not really finding all that much that truly engages them. While 39% of consumers attributed their declined perception of social ads to recent political events, the top reason for the drop cited by 58% of respondents was simply seeing too many social ads overall.
Fortunately it is still possible to use the wealth of data and targeting options on social networks to create ads that drive conversions and conversations for the benefit of the enterprise. So what is that makes social media users take action on advertising?
EntertainingLeo Burnett once famously said that the greatest danger in advertising was not misleading people, but “boring them to death” – and Sprout Social data provides confirmation. 41 percent of users, in fact, reported that “entertaining content” makes them more likely to engage with a social advertisement. Being “entertaining,” of course, is easier said than done. What is it that consumers want?
The research suggests that 83 percent of users want to see video from brands and 58 percent want to see GIFs (that percentage rises to 70 among Millennials). Those advertisers that go beyond stock art and stylized product shots and are those best positioned to inspire (and entertain) their prospective customers and will have an increased levels of recall.
While “advertising as entertainment” certainly has its merits in certain instances (particularly when it comes to top-of-funnel awareness, developing assets that intrigues and attracts customers can be hit or miss (requiring big budgets, detailed research, lots of patience, and yes, some luck too). Fortunately, entertaining consumers is not the only secret to success with social media advertising.
EducatingOne of the highlights of the Sprout Social report is that one-third of people are more likely to engage with social ads that teach them something.
There should be no question that building awareness (perhaps through a focus on entertainment) is important, but prospective customers also need to know what it is that a brand offers and those that educate these users (whether about a product, subject matter or adjacent topics) will see activity – particularly in the form of clicks. While most users that engage with social media ads are not actually looking to buy at that moment, Sprout Social found that the action consumers are most likely to take is to click through to learn more (65 percent).
Creating content that adds genuine value to consumers directly (or indirectly) can clearly benefit brands in a variety of ways and not just in the form of vanity metrics such as “likes” or “follows.”
Sprout Social’s report provides several other noteworthy data points (e.g. 37 percent of people are more likely to engage with social ads that save them money) and while there are no real “secrets” to success with social advertising success, keeping in mind that developing and distributing ads that meet the demands of users – assets that are entertaining and/or educational – will always benefit the bottom line of your enterprise.