In the last article of our series “Media explained”, we discussed mobile advertising and its characteristics as well as the pros and cons of using this channel.
In this article, we will focus on one of the most important channels for advertising: Social Media. Zenith Optimedia forecasts expect the Social Media platforms to overtake TV in terms of ad spend in 2022. We will provide you with a better understanding of the channel itself and its attributes, and what marketers should pay attention to when they run a marketing campaign on Social Media.
Table of contents
What is Social Media?
Social Media platforms enable people to communicate ideas, thoughts, and information virtually. The networks allow users to share photos, videos, documents, and other content quickly and easily through web-based software or apps, accessible via computers, tablets or smartphones.
There are different categories of Social Media but the common features across all of them are the following:
- Users have a profile with a list of connections/contacts.
- As opposed to publishers, Social Media leverage crowd-sourced content, so they are not responsible for the production of such content.
- They are mostly financed by advertising and services provided to both users and advertisers.
What makes Social Media powerful is the ability to connect with anyone on the planet, or across multiple users at once, creating a network effect. Briefly explained, a network effect occurs when a good service becomes even more valuable when there are more participants or people involved.
According to CBS NEWS, Classmates was the ancestor of the trend, offering profiles and friend connections back in 1995. The first Social Media listed was SixDegrees in 1997, named after the "six degrees of separation" concept.
Like every technology, Social Media is a continuously changing and evolving field. One can only take a snapshot at a given time to illustrate its current reach and impact.
According to the Digital Report 2022 from We Are Social:
- The number of Social Media users reached 4.62 billion globally, including 72.6 million people using Social Media in Germany, or 86.5% of the country's population (+10% vs. 2021).
- The average number of Social Media per user is 7.5 worldwide vs. 5.3 in Germany.
- An average user spends around 2 hours 27 minutes on Social Media daily.
Average number of Social Media platforms per user worldwide as of January 2022 (Source: Digital 2022)
What is the usage model for Social Media?
There are different ways to use Social Media. However, the chart below shows that there are three main reasons why people use Social Media, namely:
- Stay in touch: Connecting with family and people, exchanging ideas and views with a community or sharing moments of life. Social Media are a widely used channel of communication, more popular today than traditional means like telephone.
- Pass the time / get entertained: The Social Media algorithm is designed to maximize the time users spend on the relevant platform. It creates the environment for people to pass their time or get entertained by consuming user- or brand-generated content.
- Stay informed / learn about new things: Social Media offer a platform for news outlets and brand promoters (celebrities and influencers of all origins) to communicate with the audience. A large part of the time spent on Social Media can be attirbuted to this point.
Most important reasons for using Social Media in 2021 (Source: datareportal)
What are the major Social Media platforms?
Although the exact number of social platforms is hard to count, the best shot by far would be the one taken by the Influencer Marketing Hub, which lists 103+ social sites available globally.
Some countries and regions have their local platforms, which are unknown anywhere else in the world. Yet not all of them have a large active audience. Here are the top 30 Social Media platforms from all over the world with at least 100 million active users monthly.
List of social platforms with at least 100 million active users monthly, including social networks, online forums, photo and video sharing platforms, messaging, and VoIP apps (Sources: Wikipedia, Statista)
What is marketing in Social Media and how to manage it?
The term Social Media Marketing refers to the use of social networks to market a company's products or services, such as by placing Facebook ads, involving influencers, or otherwise creating an online presence to engage with customers. Marketers can track the success of their Social Media Marketing efforts using relevant analytics tools.
Here are some examples of Social Media Marketing formats:
- Image ad: a static and clickable image format.
- Video ad: a video 6 seconds to several minutes long, promoting a product.
- Carousel ad: a series of images one after another, creating a static story.
- Collection ad: a primary video or image with three smaller accompanying images below in a grid-like layout. Customers who tap on a collection ad to browse or learn more about the product will be taken to a fast-loading website where all the products can be found, without leaving the social media platform.
- Poll ad: an interactive component is added to mobile-only Facebook ads using a two-option poll. For each poll choice, a separate link can be added. The tally of responses to each poll option will be visible to both you and those who respond.
- Canvas ad (or Instant Experience ad): a full-screen ad format that loads 15 times faster than a mobile website outside of Facebook.
- Influencers ad: an ad that promotes a brand on a platform that is watched, engaged with, and trusted by a community. Consumers now trust their influencers of choice to love a product, instead of being skeptical of commercials or social media ads.
- Event ad: an ad promoting an event to attract more participants and collect first-party data. If you want to learn more about first-party data, we have an article about it here.
- Messenger ad: as the name suggests, messenger ads appear in messengers between chat messages.
- Stories ad: a mobile-only full-screen vertical video format ad.
- Filters ad: an ad format hat uses features to allow people to interact with the brand.
- Playable ad: an interactive full-screen demo shown to interested parties triggered by a click, forwarding them to the Google Play Store or the App Store via a call-to-action button.
What are the pros and cons of Social Media as an advertising space?
Social Media is indeed an excellent opportunity to expand your business. Here are some benefits of Social Media Marketing :
- Targeting: With Social Media Marketing, companies can target their resources with higher efficiency because audiences can be segmented more precisely compared to traditional marketing channels. The criteria go beyond social and demographic, which offers creative opportunities to target niche groups as well.
- Volume: Major Social Media platforms like Facebook or Instagram have a large number of users from all the different age groups. This allows marketers to reach a wide range of customers. People check their Social Media at least once daily, which means that the chance of the targeted audience seeing an ad is very high.
- Engagement: Social Media are particularly equipped to provoke interactions. The users are encouraged to comment and share the content they receive and to interact with it. This term is called “Engagement”. We have written an article about this, take a look at it here.
- Proximity to the brand: The capacity to interact with the brand and experience closer and more regular encounters is a really good opportunity to turn brand fans into real advocates. Such a campaign may be targeted at current and prospective customers, employees, bloggers, the media, the general public, as well as third-party reviewers or trade groups at the same time.
- Insights about the audience: Companies with a good understanding of their market are more likely to succeed. Why? Because they know what their customers want, why they want it, and how they want it. Insights into the market help companies recognize their customers' preferences, opinions, and needs. Using this information, a company can strive.
However, there are also some drawbacks of Social Media:
- Immediate reaction from the audience when something is wrong: A viral video or post which claims a company's product causes people to become ill should be addressed by the company, regardless of whether it is true or not. Despite the company's efforts to correct the message, consumers may be less likely to purchase from the company again. Take a closer look at the case of the Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana and its ad campaign from 2018, in which a Chinese model attempts to eat an oversized cannolo with chopsticks. The controversial ad went viral immediately and it threatened to damage D&G’s reputation in the world’s largest luxury market. A fashion show scheduled for Wednesday evening in Shanghai was canceled after models and celebrities threatened the company with a boycott. A fashion-focused Instagram account reposted the ad with English subtitles, accusing it of trafficking a “tired and false stereotype of people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods”. It didn’t just stop with one social media platform - the actress Zhang Ziyi also posted a comment on her Sina Weibo account, saying that “D&G has brought humiliation on itself”. The company claimed afterward that both accounts had been hacked and apologized publicly for the controversial ad campaign. However, they were forced to cancel their fashion show in Shanghai and their products were removed from several retailers in China. Chinese consumers also called for a boycott of the brand. After 3 years, the company is still struggling to win back the Chinese market, according to CNN.
- Frequency must be high, otherwise the ad is quickly forgotten: In order to stay relevant, companies need to post regularly on social media. The frequency depends on the platform. The high pace at which the content is consumed dramatically reduces the capacity to impact the long-term memory - being always present is the only way to stay top-of-mind.
- Competition is high: The entry price in Social Media is very low, multiplying the competition in comparison with traditional media. It entails that brands have more competitors and detractors, and they are more exposed but at the same time, also fierce to grab attention. Maintaining healthy engagement levels implies long-term resource investments - and that costs more than usually expected.
Where to start with Social Media?
Businesses use Social Media for their marketing campaigns to target consumers right on their phones and computers in order to build long-term loyalty and establish a brand culture.
Here are some recommendations for a successful marketing campaign in Social Media:
- Choose the objective: In order to choose the right campaign objective, one must answer the question, “What is the most important outcome to be achieved by this advertising campaign?” The answer would be different in each individual case. It could be - for instance - more sales, more app installs, or increased brand awareness.
- Select the audience: Define the most relevant demographics, interests, and behaviors that best represent the desired target - such as their age, location, etc. Select the Social Media according to this choice.
- Decide where to run ads: The next step is to choose where to run the campaign and whether to involve just one channel - Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. - or run it across multiple media. Neither option requires having a personal page on the relevant platforms.
- Set a budget: Define a daily or lifetime budget and the timeframe for the campaign. It will limit the volume of ads that are being served and guarantee that spending is under control and evenly spread throughout the campaign period.
- Pick the right formats: Choose between different types of advertising formats such as photo ad, video ad, etc. They should all be designed to work on any device (with the focus on mobile though) and at any connection speed. The advertising formats and content types impact the efficiency of the campaign and testing before launching is essential.
- Measure and optimize: It is possible to monitor the campaign's performance and optimize it while it is running. Granular performance data helps take action in case of deviations.
With more than 3.8 billion users at the moment - and that number keeps rising - Social Media has taken the world by storm in less than 20 years. Allowing users to stay connected with friends, find information easily, and add their own personalities to the online world, social networks are here to stay. Businesses can use Social Media to market to consumers in so many different ways that the probablity of conversion is higher than ever before.
To effectively monitor and optimize Social Media advertising campaigns, MMT Mercury and MMT Scout offer the best combination of end-to-end media management modules. MMT Scout provides clients with smart dashboards tailored to their individual needs so that they can see how their social campaigns perform and optimize them on the run. Our ready-to-use products and specially crafted services enable direct cost savings and lay a strong foundation for your company’s digital transformation by allowing you to address your needs in a future-driven manner.