Although Facebook seems to garner the lion’s share of talk when it comes to social media advertising, the major player isn’t the only game in town. Those seeking to market their own products and services, or others’ brands, are starting to see opportunities in other social media channels. This is causing a major switch in the behavior of strategists when it comes to getting the word out via paid advertising on social media. Three of the most significant developments are highlighted in this article.
1. Snapchat and LinkedIn Have Become More Attractive Mediums for Advertising
Certainly, LinkedIn has been around for quite some time, but it’s only now beginning to hit its stride in terms of persuading marketers to spend their campaign dollars to woo its members. The facts available indicate that LinkedIn has a strong user base that uses the site to do much more than simply seek jobs and post resumes. Research suggests that LinkedIn’s members want to connect with one another in meaningful ways, network like crazy and build followings. LinkedIn’s new publishing abilities – still not rolled out to all users, but ramping up each day – give any person with a LinkedIn profile a net-based soap box to share their beliefs. It’s a powerful way to gain audience interest, and advertisers are taking advantage of its popularity to get some traction.
A large portion of active LinkedIn users are high-income and highly educated. This allows the platform to stray away from the general influx of “mindless media” – the type of media that gets traction on BuzzFeed, ViralNova, etc. LinkedIn very much favors B2C and B2B channels for advertisers. If we look at how B2B might approach advertising on LinkedIn, we’ll notice how relevance plays a big factor in allowing businesses – especially suppliers – to connect with prospects. For example, the benefits of Sharretts Plating are highly targeted at businesses that require a specific type of service – in this case, it’s electroplating. LinkedIN allows Sharretts, or any supplier for that matter, to target qualified leads with relevant advertisements. That’s a huge upsell from a media-buying perspective when we have broader, less-direct options such as Facebook or Twitter (for B2B).
LinkedIn isn’t the only player to catch marketers’ attentions. Snapchat has also begun to vie for advertising dollars by setting itself up to become more than just a platform where teens share soon-to-be-expired thoughts and pictures. Snapchat has now released data suggesting that due to its basic premise – that users have to visit the site often or risk missing opportunities to see messages that will disappear shortly – users are on Snapchat many times during the day. This provides a wealth of chances for those users to see advertisements that have been targeted to their profiles.
Unlike LinkedIn, Snapchat is going to have to prove its moxie as an advertising venue by putting out information that sways marketers. LinkedIn already has a mature advertising model; Snapchat is in the infancy stages of its own. Still, Snapchat might be able to break through barriers and rise to the top as one of the top picks for advertisers looking to attract a younger crowd.
2. Real-Time Social Media Advertising Improvements
An ongoing complaint about advertising on social media is that the advertising options aren’t always appealing to marketers. Without a doubt, some models have been very flawed, as well as poorly executed. The buzz surrounding Facebook and its advertising-related snafus was highly negative. With that being said, Facebook forged ahead and, as anyone with a profile knows, the advertising is still going hot and heavy, indicating that it’s working despite the naysayers. In fact, more than 60 percent of marketing specialists surveyed by the Nielsen Group in 2013 said they were both using social media channels and preparing 2014 budgets that included monies set aside for social media marketing.
Sites ranging from Twitter to Pinterest are making improvements to the advertising options they offer. Some of those improvements include:
- Twitter now has promoted tweets and promoted trends. These enable marketers to more specifically get the word out to readers in real-time. One caveat: Getting an advertisement at the top of the trends can be costly and may be above the average marketer’s budget levels. Despite this fact, these options are definitely worth consideration by any marketer looking to invest in Twitter’s uber popularity with numerous age groups.
- Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg all have advertising promotion options, but whether they’ll work for all brands is in the air. The trick is to carefully monitor each site and spend advertising dollars methodically and wisely. A good rule of thumb is to see what competitors are doing with their advertising dollars to keep their products at the top of paid advertising promotions via these channels.
- Pinterest’s promoted pins are attracting new audiences with images. The promoted pins are said to be robust, and are search engine optimized to enhance the user experience. The key to standing out with these pins is to be creative and invest in eye-catching photography and graphics. Marketers whose clientele lend themselves to exciting pictures can take advantage of promoted pins to open new doors.
- Similar to Pinterest’s advertising options, Instagram is also providing advertisers with the chance to use images that encourage users to spend their discretionary dollars on a wide range of products and services. Again, the most important aspect of advertising on Instagram isn’t making the decision to do so; it’s spending time upfront developing rich images.
Of course, it’s important to note that these advertising methods will no doubt continue to get better as more advertisers join the fray. Experiencing the world in “real time” has taken center stage across the globe, and it would be a shame for marketers to ignore this fact.
3. Top Vine and Instagram Accounts Securing BIG Advertising Deals
The final example of new strides in the era of social media advertising is the exciting development of top accounts with Vine and Instagram getting huge advertising deals. Of course, the top accounts have – as one might suspect – impressive followings. Some of them might well be called social media stars in their own rights, and they’ve monetized their popularity by offering advertising for innovative marketers willing to think outside the proverbial box.
What it takes for these Vine and Instagram mavens to build up a loyal following is tons of hard work, and more than a little luck. Some have even quit lucrative jobs to remain on the cutting edge of the social media world. Their identities are wrapped up in the images and videos they create, whether they use stop motion photography, fascinating pictorial subjects, or hand-created models and graphics. Because they’ve spent so much time on their channels, they’re very picky about who can advertise with them. It’s understandable; their blood, sweat and tears makes it possible for them to set their prices high.
In order to work with these folks, or to start a channel that has a similar following, advertisers must possess a deep understanding of how Vine and Instagram work. Vine’s appeal, for instance, is in the “short but sweet” nature of its several-second videos. In a few moments, the audience should be moved to action. Instagram is similar in that one picture truly should say one thousand… or more… words. Advertisers who recognize this and value the possibilities can begin to leverage popular accounts’ successes by attaching their brand to the channel. This is no different than taking out an advertisement in a popular newspaper, such as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times; you’re riding on mighty coattails to obtain more customers.
This can also be a much more cost-effective route, considering a full page ad in the NY Times runs over $100,000.
The Vine and Instagram phenomena also lend themselves to supporting a variety of businesses, regardless of the niche. Just think how much room for development a plumber or a construction worker has in this media space. They might not be as naturally awesome as blacksmiths such as Man At Arms:
But there is plenty of opportunity. Take for example, Davids furniture store which features an array of – yep, you guessed it – furniture! Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of their creative social media director for a second. Here’s a couple things we could do on Vine and Instagram
- Vine series of furniture being built from start to finish (how cool would that be; seeing a desk constructed in 5 seconds!)
- Themed Instagram – such as “Table Week”, “Desk Week”, “Drawer Week”
There’s plenty of tangents we can go on as well, such as making pop-culture themed tables or DIY ideas.
The Future of Social Media Advertising
As for the coming months – years is too long when discussing social media, there is no telling how advertising opportunities may morph. This is part of the reason that marketers have to be willing to step outside their conservative barriers and try to increase interest in their brands through any means they can. One truth is that social media isn’t going away; while the channels may differ in popularity, and not all will be attractive to every age or socioeconomic group, there’s likely going to be at least one that’s ideal for just about every brand.