Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the spring, there’s been a marked upsurge in interest from businesses and individuals for more control over what happens to their information online.
Perhaps inevitably, the bulk of the concern is over social media platforms and how advertisers and influencers are manipulating the hearts and minds of users, from innocent grandmothers sharing pictures of their grandkids to naive college students debating whether or not a taco is a sandwich.
Despite all of this, social media is still a hugely influential outlet for advertisers and the companies they represent. A recent survey performed by Reveal Mobile found that social media was by far the most favored platform for small- to medium-sized companies’ holiday advertising budgets, with 36.4 percent of respondents stating that the majority of their spend will go in this direction. For comparison, email marketing was second, with 15.2 percent choosing the strategy.
Social Media and Digital Advertising
Social media has been a favorite tool for advertisers for years now, partially because it was one of the few truly effective ways to reach people on their mobile devices, but also because of the sheer power of these platforms.
Social media speaks to an audience in a way that traditional media hasn’t, and it’s that very level of intimacy that has drawn so many to these networking sites. It’s possible that without the rise of social media, digital advertising may have languished and died.
Take a look at these five ways that social media influences digital advertising:
1. Digital marketing designed for a specific audience. Sure, traditional marketing has always been constructed with an audience in mind, but nothing like how social media marketing is designed.
It’s a world full of niches, and specificity is key. When an ad for a razor shows up on LinkedIn, it’s going to be very different from the corresponding ad for Facebook. But the same is holding true outside of the social media world. With tools that allow retargeting, predictive algorithms that can suggest products you might want to buy and can even show you plain-old ads better geared toward individual audiences. There’s no doubt, social media has shown digital marketers a better way to improve ROI.
2. Data is everything. Facebook has been collecting data for years, making it easy to target very specific audiences, but also creating a means to really measure that information in a quantitative way.
The analytics of the social media world are robust, forcing other digital marketing platforms to follow as best they can. Once digital marketers designate their KPIs, they can begin to see patterns emerge based on how visitors behave on their sites and fill in the blanks about why their product isn’t selling as well as they’d hoped.
3. Turning emotional manipulation up to 11. From Russian operatives using social media to create a massive social split in America to marketers using it to break down barriers to a sale, social media has a special way of reaching deep inside its users.
A study reported in the journal Social Science Computer Review found that people who felt socially excluded tended to focus harder on their social networks, and, it would seem, tend to become more susceptible to online advertising. They want to be part of the crowd, they want to buy what everyone else is buying. Social media mastered emotional marketing, other digital formats can and are being used in much the same way.
4. Putting more effort into organic traffic. Despite all reports to the contrary, organic search and social aren’t dead. They’ve just undergone some serious refinement.
Facebook went through a period where almost no organic traffic was occurring Then it tweaked the algorithm yet again and those companies that were getting “meaningful interactions” due to high-quality content started showing back up on the organic radar.
Sure, it’s easier to pay for ads, but a company may not have to if it invests in high-quality content. Social media and other digital advertising formats may have come to this conclusion independently, but quality is the name of the game today. Besides, if the content in question is really good, it might be able to be tweaked a bit and used on multiple platforms. Double win.
5. Don’t forget holiday campaigns. According to the Reveal Mobile study discussed above, Facebook and Instagram together will generate about 60 percent of the holiday ad spend from small- to medium-sized businesses.
This level of dominance, of course, is going to force other platforms to watch for innovations or strategies that really work well. As in any form of marketing, the guys at the bottom are going to look to the guys at the top for inspiration. And there’s no time like the holidays to really get serious about advertising.
Before social media, digital marketing mostly consisted of annoying pop-up ads and ineffective banners, both blaring their messages at anyone who happened upon them rather than being targeted to the right audience at the right time. Social media has changed the way marketing works online. Instead of throwing a lot of noise at a prospect, it helps marketers better understand that person, what they need and how to engage them in a more relevant and, ultimately, effective way.
Engagement is the end game, no matter how it comes.
About the Author
Peter Koeppel is Founder and President of Koeppel Direct, an influential direct response media firm focused on direct response television (DRTV), online, print and radio media buying, marketing and campaign management. With a Wharton MBA and three decades’ experience in marketing and advertising, Peter is a widely recognized leader who has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs from all industries develop and implement successful direct marketing campaigns. Peter, who shares regularly on his popular blog, is a sought-out expert on all things media, and has been interviewed and covered in Forbes (Forbes Agency Council), Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, Electronic Retailer (Editorial Advisory Committee member), Response (member Advisory Board), MacNewsWorld, TechNewsWorld, eCommerce Times, Microsoft Small Business and Wharton Business Radio.