Current research estimates around 4.7 billion active social media users (roughly 77% of the global population) and 14 social media platforms. In the UK alone, there were 57.6 million social media users last year. Threads, the Twitter-like text-based platform released by Meta last month, is just the latest high-profile addition to this growing ecosystem.
The explosion of social media platforms reaps opportunity for brands and advertisers because it offers countless possibilities to engage with a range of audiences. But the diversity and sheer scale of social media can also be daunting for marketers in terms of determining which will be most effective.
In a world where marketing and ad budgets are under increased scrutiny, brands may be tempted to take a conservative approach and stick to what they know, rather than venturing into new territories.
But brands that are brave and intentional with their investment decisions can unlock a whole world of opportunity. Here are four important steps to take for brands looking to deliver successful campaigns across multiple social media platforms.
1: Understand the nuances of each social media platform
Platforms are sisters, not twins and it’s fine to show different sides of ourselves. To reach current and potential customers to drive business growth, brands cannot rely on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. They need to understand the nuances of the different platforms and how people engage with them to generate impact and build brand loyalty.
Instagram, for instance, is the place where we share our best, idealised selves. By carefully selecting what to upload (and what to leave out), people craft an identity that emphasises certain aspects of their life. This has created an environment where people browse Instagram with a specific mindset: looking for inspiration and affirmation. Brand campaigns must match this mindset to appear naturally and entice audiences as they scroll.
TikTok, on the other hand, is much more about discovery. People, predominantly the younger generation, use the platform to search for something new – whether that is through experiences, products or education. Remarkably, Gen Z is increasingly preferring TiKTok over Google as a search engine.
There is a big short-term opportunity here for brands who can capitalise on this quest for discovery – they need to make sure they appear in relevant searches when users are looking for presents ahead of Christmas. Or add to the conversation happening on the platform with reactive, informative content that doesn’t appear too sleek or polished alongside native TikTok content.
2 - Get the creative right
Adapting rapidly to constantly evolving consumer preferences is crucial. Gen Z audiences, for instance, are often sceptical of traditional advertising, but can be receptive towards an influencer and creator endorsement. Brands and advertisers leveraging social media platforms should incorporate influencers into their overall creative strategy.
Numerous platforms, including TikTok, are strengthening their collaboration with influencers to generate co-created content that cuts through the noise. Partnering with creators can be a more agile and cost-effective way to deliver brilliant creative content than TV advertisements, which require production teams and big budgets.
While TV ads, whether on linear or connected TV, are still highly effective in driving mass reach and engagement, harnessing the power of influencers on social media allows brands to establish meaningful relationships with specific audiences.
3 - Understand the importance of measurement and ‘test and learn’
Brands need to embrace a ‘test and learn’ mindset and be ready to review their strategies depending on the outcomes achieved and market changes, which may be particularly rapid in times of disruptive technological transformation like those we are currently experiencing.
A solid measurement framework must be at the heart of a test and learn culture. Measurement should be robust enough to validate insights and prove, or disprove, hypotheses. Devising practical solutions that can prove incrementality of each platform is hugely valuable for advertisers.
When it comes to cross-platform campaigns, a main issue is how to ensure consistent measurement. Although challenging, there are solutions, and implementing a location-based system is arguably one of the most effective. By comparing performance metrics in two or more different locations, marketing specialists can determine where and how a campaign has found success and adjust accordingly.
4 - Get skilled in the art of calculated bravery
Delivering cross-platform campaigns allows you to reach a much wider audience. There is no secret formula for success, but brands and advertisers must be brave and experiment with new – and long-standing – social media platforms.
Bravery can be hugely rewarding. Think of connecting with your target audience in their natural social media surroundings to build awareness, impact and sales. But bravery needs to be calculated against any potential hazards. Some platforms present higher risks, be they reputational or logistical, than others, and brands need to understand whether the risk is worth the reward.
With the support of their partner agencies, brands can assess any ‘existential risk’ that comes from their media investment. By enabling a nuanced approach that incorporates different platforms, tailored creative that feels natural in its surroundings and measurement processes that unlock flexibility, brands can divide and conquer in the digital media landscape.
This article was first featured on Performance Marketing World.