Social Media is that beast in the jungle of human attention that every organization wants to tame and make it work for them. However, more often than not, it proves elusive. Many social media trends start up and die down every year, leaving media houses and corporations alike to scamper and ride the wave of trends to align their brands and boost sales.
So what’s the key to leveraging social media for brand building, promotion, and revenue growth? Is it even possible to have a strategy in place that would work?
Use this guide to understand the challenges of paid advertising and how to master them for each social media channel.
Advertising on Social Media in 2022: The Challenges
When a brand invests money in its advertisement campaigns, it expects to see an ROI. Calculating the ROI is a set process with other traditional media, like Print and Television. Things are not that neatly tied up with Social media because this is a two-way street.
Needless to say, advertising on Social Media is not all sunshine and roses. There are many challenges when it comes to leveraging the reach of Social Media. Here, trends crop up and die down in real-time, and chasing the elusive “viral” content hardly ever translates into anything worthwhile.
Here are a few challenges that will need to be tackled in 2022, and even if a few of them might seem to be old news, they are still relevant and must be considered while designing a Social media advertising strategy.
Navigating the Social Media Landscape with Appropriate Messaging.
In traditional media communications, companies cast their net wide and see what comes back to them. In Social Media, the consumer can come back and say that they did not like the brand’s messaging, or they can call them out on their behavior and rally public opinion against them. Many brands have already experienced this phenomenon where their seemingly innocuous messaging to leverage a trend has backfired.
While it is essential to keep up with the trends and be on the lookout for the trending hashtags to stay on top of the social scene, it also has a few pitfalls. When brand managers get tunnel vision and become too focused on riding all the trends and getting a piece of the most ‘trending’ hashtag, they sometimes lose focus on their own brand’s messaging and forget to match its alignment with the trend.
At other times, companies become so focused on their own messaging and business targets that they seem disconnected from the happenings in their industry or the world. During the current times when the emphasis is so much on mental health and empowerment of everyone, putting out elitist or insensitive messaging can very easily backfire on companies and alienate the very users they are trying to engage. Similarly, while trying to relate better to the users by replying to their Tweets, many brands have committed the crime of speed over accuracy.
Remember the Chick-fil-A Twitter fiasco when the company tweeted that they were not planning to expand beyond North America when a user asked them if they would open in Alaska? Since Alaska is definitely a part of North America, the brand came across as both ignorant and insensitive.
Not Embracing the Right Platform and the Right Content Form.
What works better – long-form content or short-form content?
This debate is as old as Social Media itself. 2021 saw a rise in the popularity of short videos as people’s attention spans went down even further. At the same time, TikTok increased the length of its videos to 3 minutes, and Instagram Reels started accommodating 60-second long content.
YouTube came up with YouTube Shorts to encourage mobile users to engage more with its platform. This new medium seems to be an attempt by YouTube to entice Instagram and TikTok users, which primarily use their mobile phones to generate content. With YouTube Shorts, users can now build content without needing the fancy equipment that many YouTubers use on their channels.
As a brand, you need to determine the platform where your target users or consumers live. Then choose the format in which they are most likely to consume content. For example, for a makeup company that wishes to engage with younger consumers, it would be a good idea to focus more on creating videos for Instagram Reels rather than spend on advertising on Facebook.
The video format of social content is currently the most popular, and this trend does not seem like it will go down even in the coming year. Social platforms have made it possible to download a video with high user engagement and run it as an ad. This feature helps companies leverage their in-house content and user-generated content to drive engagement and traffic.
Generating Engaging and Relevant Content.
This aspect will remain relevant as long as there is content on Social Media. Without relevant and engaging content, you cannot even begin to create any awareness, let alone engagement. The first toward generating such content is finding out what your target audience finds interesting and engages with frequently. Is it:
- Tutorial videos?
- Unboxing videos?
- Movie reviews?
- Reaction videos?
On a side note, note the popularity of video content and the sheer variety even on this limited list!
Once you know the type of content you want to generate, there are a few ways in which you can choose various types of content to generate engagement. It is usually an excellent strategy to have a mix of long-form and short-form content in different formats to create a broader engagement on different social media platforms.
You can also approach influencers from your industry and ask them to create unique content for your brand.
Advertising on Social Media in 2022: The Trends
The year 2022 is poised to continue a few trends from 2021 and set up some new ones. While video content would be right up there in generating engagement, the long-form content is set to make a comeback.
Brands are also willing to invest in building long-term loyalty and hence may invest more in community building. If this happens, the consumers will have a lot more say in content development.
Here are a few potential trends that will affect Social Media advertising:
- Facebook: Reeling from Apple’s introduction of the ‘do not track’ feature, Facebook is bound to develop new ways of tracking target audiences. It may leverage it’s cross-platform presence more and may actually attract more users into the Metaverse. However, though the platform’s unparalleled reach, its effectiveness leaves a lot to be desired. The sheer size of the number of users makes it hard for any single brand to stand out.
- Instagram: Instagram and its Reels are here to stay, and the platform is already adding new users every day. With a considerable influence base and celebrity presence, it is still the place to be where new items drop and experiences are shared. Instagram Stories are a great way of driving more engagement, especially with new interactive features added to them, and this trend is sure to continue. Running paid advertising campaigns here gives you visibility on Facebook as well. The platform’s eCommerce support helps you convert users to customers faster.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn leveled up its video content game with LinkedIn Live by delivering video analytics such as viewer demographics, video engagement, live viewer stats, and more such metrics. It is the top platform for all B2B conversations and will remain so in the coming year. Add to that LinkedIn’s latest offering, Creator Mode, and you get a rather effective tool that professionals can use to generate and post more original content, highlighting their brand’s messaging.
- YouTube: Brands are going to rediscover YouTube in a big way. If video is going to be king, then who has more videos and users than YouTube? With people looking for more and more authentic content, there are still (more are coming up) many content creators who showcase their videos on platforms like Instagram and ask their followers to look at the longer videos on YouTube. Many YouTubers have huge and engaged loyal followers with their video content ranging from reviews and reactions to DIY and documentaries.
- Twitter: Twitter remains one of the most impactful short-form social content platforms. Its only drawback is the quickly changing trends, making it difficult for brand managers to shift gears and leverage a raging trend organically. However, with hashtag promotion via paid advertising, it is possible to get Twitter to work in your favor. The Twitter account of Wendy’s chain of restaurants is a great case study that engages users, participates in ongoing trends, and almost always manages to make a positive impact. Advertising on Twitter is expensive, requiring you to budget your advertising campaign rather tightly.
Top 5 Ways to make Paid Advertising work for your Social Media marketing efforts
1. Know Your Audience.
Even with the visibility of almost all top brands on social media, people trust content generated by their peers way more than that of the brands. A brand or company would do well to invest in market research and determine where their potential customers spend their social currency and what type of content engages them. Knowing that your target audience prefers video content is not enough; you must know the most appealing format to them.
For example, while many YouTube channels are related to entertainment and movies, everyone has a different approach. In 2022, your uniqueness or your ‘weird’ will matter as it will set you apart from others competing for the same attention from users that you are craving.
Many content creators make ‘how to’ and DIY videos, but Simone Giertz has a strong community of followers with over 150 million views on YouTube. It is all due to her unassuming style and the quirky items she builds. So if you are a company that sells power tools, wouldn’t you want to approach someone like her to showcase your products?
Pro tip: Look at what your target audience engages with to find the right content strategy, but also look for the right influencers to find your target audience. You advertise with the right people, and you will get the right customers.
2. Measure the Right Metrics.
Choose the metrics to focus on that help you take your plan forward. There are tons of metrics out there, but knowing which are relevant to you will depend on what you are trying to achieve with your advertising campaign.
- Are you looking to increase your brand awareness, revenue, or website traffic?
- Is your advertising campaign focused on consumer education as you want to launch a new market segment?
- Do you have a new product that needs to engage with new audiences for which you want to attract the right influencers?
- Do you want to build a thriving community around your brand and want to encourage consumers to make user-generated content for you?
These are some of the questions you would need to answer before designing your advertising campaign to generate a positive ROI on your investment. The KPIs that you set at the beginning will allow you to map the success of your campaigns more accurately.
Here are a few metrics that you must track for maximum impact:
- Engagement: While this is a hard category to track, today’s social AIs can give you a great insight into what is engaging the audiences and what is not. Going beyond individual engagement indicators like Retweets and Shares, you can also track metrics like Post Engagement Rate, which shows you if users seeing the post are finding it interesting or not. Then there are Account Mentions where an account is tagged organically by users, indicating high brand awareness.
- Awareness: This is an important metric to track as it directly impacts your ROI. Awareness includes measuring the Impressions and Reach of an advertising campaign. While Impressions are a measure of how many times a post shows up on a user’s timeline, Reach is a little more complex. A post’s Reach increases dramatically when it is shared by users as it expands the number of potential unique viewers exponentially. That’s why all content creators are always asking their subscribers to share their content.
- Share of Voice: The Share of Voice metric is extremely important for advertisers as it indicates the market sphere that your brand is able to influence. It shows your brand’s social standing, or how much it is being talked about, as compared to your competitors. This metric goes up and down over a period of time, but it is an important one for brands to know where they stand in their immediate marketplace.
- Conversions: Conversions show the ROI that you have generated with your advertising. When someone looks at your ad and then clicks to buy the offering, you have had a conversion. Many factors influence the conversion rate, so keeping track of this metric is good, but it makes sense to understand it with insights from other KPIs.
- Customer Care: For a brand with a social presence, the way it treats its customers, community, and followers reflects how much it respects the people who have helped the business or brand grow. Word of mouth is the real currency here, and the inability to deal with real people respectfully and politely can make a significant impact on your bottom line. Stories of brands getting boycotted by communities are not unheard of, and therefore, investing in a sensitive social media handler is always a good idea.
The list is not comprehensive, but these metrics are bound to give you a clear picture of whether your social media strategy is working or not and where you need to invest your advertising dollars.
Pro tip: Measure the right KPIs, and not everything. Define first, measure next, be flexible enough to course correct.
3. Focus on Content of All Kind.
Once again, we are back to talking about content. We have to because the content is king! Now that you know your audience and metrics, you must create content to bring people toward your offering and show them why it is relevant to them. While you know your product or service well, the customer needs to understand the value of what you are offering.
Create advertising campaigns to educate, create awareness, offer guidance, and encourage users to share their stories on your channel. Invest in generating the right and most engaging content and ensure that it’s unique and does not disrespect any community in any way.
If you are launching something new, generate a mix of content like long-form blogs and videos, how-to guides, user testimonials, eBooks, podcasts, and others to understand what engages your user base best. Some formats will grow while others might fizzle out, and that’s okay!
In addition to advertising media, you can also run campaigns inviting community members to share their experiences in exchange for a physical or experiential gift. Give-aways and event invitations are always popular and generate a lot of goodwill.
The initiative by KFC, where they sponsored the wedding expenses of a couple in Africa when someone made fun of the groom’s proposal at a KFC on social media, was immensely popular and was very well-received. Many other popular brands jumped in, turning it into a wholesome story where corporate houses came out as generous and helpful rather than menacing or uncaring.
Pro tip: Create the correct type of content for your target audience. Do not disrespect your brand’s community.
4. Collaborate with Content Creators.
The collaboration game is on, and it pays rich dividends. Developing in-house content is excellent, as you have complete control over your messaging and the way you are presenting your brand. However, inviting creative and successful content craters from your community expands the reach of your content in ways that you can never do on your own.
As mentioned before, people trust their peers and their experiences more than they do a brand’s glib and professional packaging. Therefore, when you invite members of the group that they belong to and listen to, you are validating their trust. You also show that you are willing to listen to them and people like them.
You can also ask for permission from content creators to use their existing content as a part of your advertising campaign. Most are happy to let you do so in exchange for social credit, an invitation to events, or monetary compensation. With the ability to run engaging videos in the form of ads, your campaign just got bigger and better with a fraction of the cost that you would have put in to generate unique content on your own.
Pro tip: Work with the community for content creation and idea generation for content.
5. Test Everything!
This may sound like common sense, but things often get messed up when social media managers tend to favor speed over the accuracy of facts or correct response tone. While executing an advertising campaign, run through all the steps multiple times to ensure all the content is in place. Further, check that the right metrics get tapped on the analytics tools, the drip content is ready in the pipeline, and the right people man the comments.
Try to put together a focus group for your content to get feedback on how your community will receive your content. If you are too focused on telling your side of the story, you may have missed some perspectives which may need correction when viewed by people other than the team who developed the content.
Test the user’s entire journey from beginning to the end – how they will view the ad, the CTA to follow, the links to click, and then the conversion. The chances of customers abandoning their cart are very high on social media as the eCommerce capabilities may not be very robust. So test all user experience touchpoints carefully and under various conditions.
Pro tip: Test everything, make the user experience seamless, and ensure that you capture the customer data of users who have abandoned their carts.
Social Media is a space where the user base dictates what works, and they can do so in real-time. In comparison, viral content remains the holy grail of social media marketing, social media advertising benefit from streamlining the campaign and content creation strategies.