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- Brands face increasing challenges to capture audiences’ attention with paid posts as users learn to scroll past sponsored content.
- Advertising spending has dropped during the pandemic, meaning there’s less competitive noise and no better time to shine.
- Marketer Mike Monroe shares the three most important drivers of increased engagement with sponsored posts on social media.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, navigating social media marketing was like trying to make your way through a bustling metropolis. It was noisy, full of ads, and generally oversaturated. After a while, all the scrolling turned into a fuzzy blur.
It has become increasingly challenging for brands to capture audiences’ attention with paid posts. People are scrutinizing big tech and its seductive algorithms. Labels are getting larger. As a result, users on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter learned to scroll past anything labeled #sponsored. They want to see entertainment, not advertisements.
But now, there’s no better time to shine. Advertising spending has significantly decreased due to COVID-19, which means that the volume has been turned down. Companies have a better chance of standing out now if they follow Seth Godin’s theory and put a Purple Cow — or a remarkable, buzzworthy, unique element — into their social media marketing. It’s the perfect time to capture new attention by creating memorable content on Instagram, Facebook, and beyond. By creating unique ads that are worth looking at during a marketing lull, brands can stand out and snag the attention of target audiences.
Find an opening for your brand
It’s not easy to create sizzle on social, though. Many companies have tried and failed to gain traction with paid media. Sometimes the problem is the sponsored ads look like they’ve been made by people who’ve never tweeted or snapped in their lives. Other times, the error is lacking a clear objective or trying to attract the wrong audiences. For instance, Generation Z won’t scroll Facebook, and Generation X isn’t that interested in TikTok.
However, it can be done. Instagram says that 6 out of 10 users discover new products through its channel, and Twitter ads can net up to a 3% engagement rate. Habits and behaviors are up for grabs right now as people define their new normals, so brands that zig while their competitors’ zag will dominate popular platforms. The trick is figuring out how your company fits into the narrative.
At Vector Marketing, we experienced a huge spike in brand awareness thanks to a deceptively simple TikTok video featuring our product, a clay Baby Yoda head, and annoying background music. The video was our first big hit, and it helped us grow our account significantly in terms of followers and views. Why did the video amass so much engagement? It tapped into a few key internet trends: TikTok was hot, Baby Yoda was popular, and #oddlysatisfying videos were taking off. By merging those phenomena, we struck pay dirt.
How to increase sponsored post engagement
Write the right message for the right person at the right time. That’s the recipe. If you’re struggling with sponsored posts, check the recipe, and see whether your social media marketing efforts include all three ingredients:
1. The right message
What’s your plan? You need to know why you’re saying something before you say it. Think about the purpose your paid ad will serve and position it accordingly. For instance, if your goal is lead generation, make sure you have a hook, an educational element, and a call to action. If you’re aiming for brand awareness, then make engaging content the premium. Remember not to assume that your images, copy, and other creatives are good but instead to A/B test them and learn what really engages your audience. It’s crucial because more than half of all online brand discovery happens in public social feeds. Remember: The more people who see or click your ad, the larger the ROI will be.
2. The right person
Your social media audience serves as the judge, jury, and executioner. If you think your content is trendy and users aren’t biting, then you need to redefine what you consider to be trendy. Your perception is not as important as the audience’s perception. Let’s say that you just created a post for Millennials talking about Baby Yoda. It’s still relevant, but Millennials and Gen Xers have moved on (as they quickly do). You need to meet your target audience where they are, so look into the demographic data of the social platforms you’re courting and plan accordingly.
3. The right time
Identify the perfect moment to post by matching your content to the zeitgeist. If it’s autumn and you own a laundromat, you might ask followers, “You should never wash your jersey during football season. True or false?” While their answers will likely be interesting, they don’t really matter. What does matter is that you capitalized on a trend and met consumers when they were ready to engage.
Capturing the attention of social media users is tough, but it can be done. Just stay attuned to what’s happening, remember the recipe’s three ingredients, and be ready to see that engagement increase.
Mike Monroe is Digital Strategy Manager at Vector Marketing.