Based in Brisbane, Andy Pudmenzky is a marketing consultant with over two decades of experience in web technologies, marketing, graphic design, theatre audio / visual and event management. | More...

Social Advertising in 2018: Storytelling Is the Key to Successful Engagement

A recent We Are Social Global Digital Statshot shows that over 51% of web visits are now performed on mobile, with an Ericsson report from June 2017 highlighting that video accounts for 42% of mobile data traffic.

It’s no surprise then, that the social media platform with the second highest number of monthly active user accounts (1.5 million), is none other than video sharing platform YouTube. Facebook comes in at number one, with 2.047 million monthly active user accounts. Given the trend over the past few years, this shift to mobile and video is only increasing.

With our target audience spending more and more time on their phones looking at videos on social media, in an ever-crowded landscape of brands promoting content left, right and centre – marketing on social is getting awfully difficult.


Engagement Has Changed

Over 175 million Facebook users use the ‘love’ reaction every day, and over 800 million users ‘like’ something every day. It’s clear that people do still engage in content – but these days, that content needs to work much harder to stand out.

If I were to take myself as an example – I often flick through my social feeds fairly quickly and only stop if something looks interesting – be it a well composed photo, or a video that captures my attention quickly …but timing is absolutely everything.

Research indicates that just a two-second delay in loading a YouTube video increases stress by three percentage points, so if you’re using video in your marketing – especially if it’s an ad on social media – it needs to load quickly, tell an interesting story and get to the point somewhere between 5-15 seconds (the shorter the better).

Facebook’s own documentation for advertisers does a great job of comparing video success stories between social media and traditional TV ads. On TV, a user is often given glimpses of a product with a product or brand reveal right at the end. In internet advertising however, it’s recommended that your brand name be on screen almost at all times, and should be visible right from the start. You also have about 1-2 seconds to engage the user before they keep scrolling …it’s a tough ask!


Old vs. New

A Redbull TVC, for instance, would show a snowboarder hitting the slopes, soaring over a cliff edge and shredding the gnar (…can you tell I have no idea what I’m talking about?) with the logo & tagline appearing near the end. Here’s a great example – the Redbull logo appears just once in the first 20 seconds.

The social version of the ad featured the logo right at the start, then again every few seconds somewhere in the shot (sadly I can’t find the link to this ad anymore – but I’ll update this post once I do!).

So it boils down to this: When designing a video for social media advertising, you’ve got less time to engage a more-distracted user, on a smaller screen – often with no sound! (NB. Most social media platforms will autoplay videos, but the user needs to manually un-mute them).


Success Is in the Story

The first step is to get the user to stop scrolling. This can be achieved through an interesting visual that they can relate to. For example – if you’re a self storage facility running targeted “boat storage” ads to boat owners who like fishing, then ensure your images or ads contain – you guessed it, visuals of boats and fishing. This means your ad will resonate with your target audience & it will stand out from the plethora of memes and cat videos. In other words, they’re more likely to stop scrolling because it interests them.

Another example might be a tradie who’s garage is so full of tools & trailers that they can’t get their motorbike out on the weekend. This person would connect with an ad that uses relatable imagery and a relatable situation.

Now you’re probably thinking that these ads are awfully targeted and the audience numbers for your catchment area might be quite small – but that’s a good thing if you’re a small business. Remember: For small budgets, targeted ads work. Mass pay & spray ads do not. Of course by using tools such as Storman at your self storage facility, you can also track your marketing campaigns and report on their effectiveness over time.

You are trying to target the individual, so ads – and content for that matter – really does need to be personalised!

Personalised content means you’ll stand out from the crowd, and people are more likely to buy from you. In fact, big data (customer insight & predictive analysis), content marketing (mapping your content to your customer journey & customer personas) and artificial intelligence are the Top 3 marketing trends for 2018. All three of these will help us find, understand and convert our browsers into buyers.


Test, test, test!

Most online advertising platforms let you run A/B tests – that is, two very similar ads to a split audience to see which works best. You can then take the key learnings from your test and either test further refinements, or use your results to inform future ad designs, button placements, colours and so on.


Sounds great, but… how?

If you don’t have time to sit around creating video ads, testing variants, CTA’s and button placements …why not get an expert to do it for you? It’s easier than you might think!


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