Ten years ago, social media was much simpler. Advertisers only needed to target the two most dominant social networks in the industry: Facebook and MySpace. Today, advertisers are swimming in a pool of social platforms and constantly being told that other classic advertising mediums like print and radio are no longer worth the investment.
Brands and advertisers have a hard time identifying the best channels and platforms for what they’re trying to accomplish. Many end up spreading themselves too thin by using a “spray and pray” approach: blasting the same content across every channel and hoping that it takes off. It’s not a sustainable approach, especially as new social networks continue to pop up monthly.
Another issue brands face on social media is the sheer volume of content they’re competing against. Every minute, 527,000 Snapchat photos are sent, 456,000 tweets are posted and 46,000 Instagram photos are shared around the world. While brands want, and need, to be on social media, it’s daunting to compete with all these posts.
To break through the noise, there are two very effective ways brands and agencies can balance their ad plans and harness the power of social media for their promotional efforts: concentrating on high-value platforms and working with social media influencers.
Less Is More
Rather than being omnipresent and spreading ad dollars to every channel and social platform, brands and advertisers can find better ROI by focusing their efforts on select channels that truly drive engagement. However, for it to be effective, advertisers need to understand how each channel performs for their brand and match the right campaigns with the best channel.
For instance, brands that want to tell an episodic story should consider YouTube, which lends itself to related content being viewed in sequence, as opposed to in a news feed. Brands looking to engage older millennials should consider Facebook and Instagram, platforms where that audience tends to spend more time. Temporary stories on an influencer’s Snapchat or Instagram can help drive traffic to a limited-time offer.
It's important to weigh all relevant factors to focus on the best platforms and channels to distribute a given campaign or message.
Invest in People
Channel-centric advertisers often forget that there is another option when it comes to social media marketing: influencers. If there is already a desired target market, like millennial males, then brands should invest in social media influencers who speak directly to them rather than just creating their own content. In addition to the third-party validation and endorsement, influencers maintain an active presence across multiple social channels. According to Bloomberg/Shareablee, two-thirds of all brand engagements on social media in the first half of 2017 happened on influencer content as opposed to content created by brands themselves.
According to a study we recently completed with Nielsen, young sports fans today consider sports social media celebrities to be more engaging than MLB athletes or professional soccer players. Sports creators inspire fans with authentic and relatable content.
Recently, we partnered with a national hospitality website to create a campaign targeting basketball fans using social influencer FamousLos, who traveled across the country courtesy of the hospitality company during the NBA Playoffs integrating the brand into his basketball-based “Last Word” content series. As he traveled, he enlisted his followers to send him user generated basketball videos for him to comment on, which resulted in over 600,000 engagements and a significant lift in brand favorability with those exposed to the content, demonstrating the kind of results brands can achieve when they leverage influencers to communicate with their audience.
However, there is a catch to working with content creators. Consumers today don’t want to be advertised to, and they’re savvy enough to spot an ad placement from a mile away. Additionally, the FTC requires influencers to clearly disclose any paid or sponsored post with the hashtag #ad or #sponsored.
With those factors in mind, influencers who have a better connection with their fans can work with brands to strike a balance between their own content and sponsored messaging. This prevents content creators from losing fans and engagement, while ensuring their brand partners are included in the conversation.
More social platforms are created each year from Slack to Snapchat. Advertisers need to resist the urge to be on every channel and instead develop smarter, more focused strategies. By being picky with platforms and working with content creators who already have an existing audience, brands can drive better engagement without wasting resources.