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At this stage in the digital game, there is little to no debate over the value of social media. Facebook users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on their properties,i with the other platforms not far behind. Video has seen a renaissance within the digital space, led by the expansion of social capabilities such as Facebook Live, Snapchat, and InstaStories. Current events and political influence are inseparable from the platforms that promote them. In short, social is more impactful than ever.
Social is taking center stage within daily media usage and as user behavior shifts, advertisers are not far behind. Social media spending will top $19 billion in 2017, with ad spend expected to see a 26% increase from last yearii. Social media allows us to reach target audiences with a level of sophistication that we’ve never had access to before. Users proactively weave a narrative of their behaviors, interests, and intentions by the simple act of using social media platforms, which enables targeted online advertising to be that much more customized and precise.
Given the influence of social in targeted marketing, the big question for businesses is which social networks they should be on. As each platform has its own voice and audiences utilize them differently, it’s essential to understand each one in order to build a social media marketing strategy.
• Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, with 1.5 billion users. People come to Facebook to connect with content and the volume of what Facebook hosts is truly all encompassing. A single newsfeed scroll can include updates from family and friends, a recipe video, a New York Times Article, a promotional offer for a weekend sale, and a podcast. This provides businesses with incredible opportunity for leveraging unique and granular targeting as well as maximizing user engagement. Facebook offers a wide range of marketing objectives and creative options that apply to every stage of the consumer journey, allowing businesses to test and optimize against numerous campaign initiatives.
• Instagram is the destination for engaging images and videos from both personal contacts and public figures/brands. Instagram is seeing the fastest growth across platforms, reaching 600 million members in Q4 of 2016, with 100 million of those joining in the last six months.iii . Across Instagram, audiences have consistently demonstrated higher-than-average brand recall and spend on average $65 per referred sale, which beats out both Twitter and Facebookiv. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, businesses can tap into their micro-targeting capabilities as well as run cross-platform campaigns more seamlessly.
• While Twitter is the most specific of the social networks, it’s the go-to source for any real-time event. From commentary on red carpet fashion to breaking news reporting, audiences seek the platform out for information and to make their voice heard. And the brands component provides businesses the opportunity to address consumer concerns directly, as well as communicate in a different tone. Many brands have gained favor with well-timed jokes or alignment with current events. Twitter has leveraged their position in the space and extended it to their targeting. Some of the more specialized segments brands can tap into include event and TV targeting as well as moment analytics.
• Pinterest is extremely unique in that audiences seek the network out with intent but are equally looking to be inspired by the content. They know they are there for a dinner recipe, but have yet to decide on what, exactly, that will be. Users are there to both share and discover new ideas, giving businesses a number of valuable opportunities to connect with their audience. Targeting is available at the audience, interest/topic, and keyword level. The platform is fantastic for awareness campaigns but is also a search powerhouse. Pinterest is the third most popular search engine in the world, behind only Google and YouTube. Many businesses mistakenly assume that Pinterest is only full of wedding, crafts, and food content, and if their brand doesn't fit within those boxes then they'll be wasting their dollars. These assumptions only lead to missed opportunities, as 75% of saved pins come from businessesv and the exposure to the ads leads to increased awareness and purchase intent.
• While video is showing up more and more across each of the social platforms, YouTube remains the undisputed destination for video content. The scope of the platform is unmatched—it reaches more 18-49 year olds than any broadcast or cable networkvi and is an ideal way for brands to target Millennials. It has evolved into a true content destination that will be further amplified by their recent set top box partnership with Comcast.vii Beyond their reach, being owned by Google allows advertisers the advantage of their targeting capabilities. The ability to explore the searchability of the YouTube platform leads to higher view rates over longer periods of time. The average session per user on YouTube is 40 minutes, and as a whole the audience is more receptive to long-form video than across the other social networks. As the demand for video continues to grow, YouTube’s expertise in the space and innovative expansions indicate that it will remain a titan within digital.
All this goes to show that a cohesive social strategy is an essential component for an advertising campaign's success. With media consumption growing across the board and this being the year that digital media finally surpasses TV spending, it is more important than ever to understand which social networks to leverage. Focusing on the platforms that allow you to most effectively target and communicate with your audience in a meaningful way is the key to building brand loyalty and delivering on campaign goals.
ii U.S. Social Trends For 2017 | eMarketer
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