Social media doesn't exist in a vacuum. Tapping into the needs of an ever-connected audience means recognising the true power of social ads – and if there's anything the pandemic has taught us, it is that consumers are increasingly turning to online spaces.
The negative impact of siloes on creativity has extensively been demonstrated by research and reports, but some parts of the industry are still operating with a legacy approach to social, where the teams working on those platforms work separately from others. This dated approach brings a whole set of new challenges for creative teams, in terms of consistency and performance measurement to name a few.
How do you unlock the true power of social? We reached out to Lucy Hinton, Head of Client Operations at Flashtalking by Mediaocean, to learn more about the topic in the thought leadership piece below.
How to make social a creative force in any ad campaign
Social media continues to grow its power as a key connection hub for brands, as well as users. Not only are consumers following brands and companies on social, but almost a quarter also use these platforms to search for new products; especially in the coveted 18-34 age range.
No surprise then that social advertising budgets are swelling in sync. Due to climb by 23% globally this year and hit $230 million by 2025, social ad spend is rising fast among brands keen to harness expanding reach and receptivity. But as investment soars, optimising returns is going to mean tackling the issue of how to drive steady engagement across platforms, devices, and formats.
Smart targeting alone isn’t enough to forge meaningful ties in the competitive social space. For brand marketers hoping to secure and maintain user favour, the core priority will be ensuring consistency at both the strategic and, most crucially, creative level.
Disparate teams bring strategic chaos
While silos are already a well-known source of inconsistency, they remain one of the core factors causing marketers to set off on the wrong foot. Often, this is due to legacy structures from the early days of social; when brands and businesses formed specific teams to explore new networks. Although not necessarily illogical at the time, the continued existence of these divides means activities are still being planned, executed, and managed separately.
An issue commonly associated with siloed approaches is measurement: without a complete view of total performance, it’s much harder for marketers to quantify their impact accurately. There are, however, other challenges created by silos.
Poor alignment on multi-channel campaign strategy makes for disjointed delivery. As well as causing confusion around brand perception, this enhances the likelihood users will be frustrated by interactions across social, display, and wider video that don’t link seamlessly. Considering the huge importance consumers place on positive social experiences — named by 78% as a prime purchase motivator — treating social and social channels as standalone strategies puts brands at a definite disadvantage.
Creative freedom can go too far
With strategic fragmentation comes another serious problem: creative disconnect. There is a strong probability that teams working on independent communications will craft messages using their own selection of assets, and risk veering significantly from wider brand style.
Although most marketers have been drilled on the value of brand governance, it can be easy to disregard in day-to-day operations as simply a best practice ideal. But in reality, clear brand identity — built via consistent application of cohesive creative elements — is critical to power ongoing business success. This is not only evident in the number of companies that have made their mark with distinctive visuals – think the Nike swoosh or the McDonald’s golden arches – but also consumer response.
Multiple studies illustrate that unified branding across channels helps companies close more deals, bolster revenue, and improve general growth. In fast-paced social environments where users have infinite content choice at a swipe, presenting an instantly recognisable and unified brand image is invaluable to quickly cut through the noise and maintain trust.
Bringing social ads back in line
Of course, the obvious solution to isolated social management is removing internal barriers. Bringing teams under the omnichannel marketing umbrella will enable collaborative strategic development of integrated campaigns, and allow them to tell the streamlined and personalised stories consumers want, across every channel. But manually pumping out myriad ad variants for different channels and screens without losing creative coherence is no mean feat, which makes automated creative tools worth considering.
For instance, modern platforms give marketers the capacity to easily upload their store of approved assets and offer availability for the entire team, ensuring everyone can access and consistently serve the same creative. Some of the most advanced tools also provide specific social integrations that allow for the coordination of all advertising activity from a single console; including the ability to set rules for how ads should be dynamically adjusted in line with real-time data, from local weather to individual purchase history, and track overall performance.
Social media has its unique strengths and ever-increasing user appeal, but it’s vital for marketers to recognise that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For today’s borderless audiences, social networks are just another part of a much broader digital universe; and one they expect to be smoothly connected. To harness the full force of social advertising, marketers will therefore need to enhance focus on consolidated campaign planning, delivery and — most importantly — creative uniformity.
Lucy Hinton is the Head of Client Operations at Flashtalking by Mediaocean.