Episode 39: Serious Social – Predicting 2021’s smash hit social ad formats

Episode 39: Serious Social – Predicting 2021’s smash hit social ad formats

Ep 38: Serious Social – Predicting 2021’s smash hit ad formats

We’re not averse to making bold predictions at immediate future. As we look ahead to 2021 we’re forecasting what creative trends will lead to social success and identifying the formats marketers should and shouldn’t be using in their social content. Join Colin Jacobs in this episode of Serious Social as we predict what creatives will be a smash hit in 2021!

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

Good morning, good morning. Welcome along to Serious Social.

This week we’re talking about some of the social ad formats that we think are going to thrive in 2021. And we’re going to try and help steer you away from some of the innocent pitfalls that you can be making. We ensure want to help your social flying next year. Now, I should say time, doesn’t permit me to do a full, deep dive into all of the social media channels and all of the ad formats that they offer. And yes, there are some channels and ads that deliver reasonable performance that I won’t be mentioning today. That is absolutely not a slice on them. I just want to use the time we’ve got this morning to focus on the truly stellar opportunities and the stuff that we think is going to be a smash hit next year. This is the content that we know can consistently deliver double digital engagement results or the content that has the potential to go beyond that. If anyone has questions about the channels and formats that I’m not mentioning, then pop questions to the comments and I will address it for you. I’ve got pretty good knowledge of everything the channels are using. So hopefully I’ll be able to answer things for you.

We’re going to start by exploring a couple of ad formats that you may be aware of, and you may even have tried, but we’re going to reveal how you drive those stellar results and map why we believe 2021 is going to be the year that they fly for, for brands. Then we jump down to some ads that you probably almost certainly haven’t heard of. And I’m even going to share with you a specific name brands that could use one of the ad formats to push their product. No, I’ve not pitched them. This is all blue sky thinking. But we think it will help you to grasp how the ad format could and should work. If you happen to see my campaign idea happen in spring next year, be sure to let me know so I can pop them and invoice. All of that to come.

But first we’re starting with Facebook Instant Experience. Facebook described this as enabling you to create a beautiful full-screen destination for your ads. The key part of that statement is in the plural ads. This is not a format to use only one creative assets, you need a whole suite of them. Facebook Instant Experience used to be known as canvas, but it’s moved on a lot since those days. And there is both beauty and science at play with Instant Experience. Let me explain. I think of Instant Experience as being an immersive microsite in mobile optimized pages, the full screen view can work on both landscape or portraits, it allows you to thumb up and down through content or even swipe or tilt through creative. The brilliance of Instant Experiences is knits together, videos and photos. You can swipe through carousels or tilts or pan through lifestyle imagery. Clearly you are not going to use an Instant Experience on say a single evergreen post. A very minor, negative to Instant Experience is that it’s a paid only deployment, but as we all know, social is a pay to play model now. So, if you want to carry the most immersive and impactful of assets to your audience, Instant Experience is for you. I said there was some science behind the assets and smarts of Instant Experience, well they’re super-fast loading and specifically designed for mobile loading, meaning they load according to Facebook, 15 times faster than the standard web view on mobile. In an age of impatience and the need for consumer information NOW, it’s the fastest way to connect audience to brands.

You will hear us talk a lot about goals, and this is very important. Certain ad formats have built with certain goals in mind, a goal being the objective of your advert. Is it initial stage awareness or helping prospects through consideration phase? Some of you from hearing that would have cottoned onto the fact, Facebook have a line that add goals to the customer journey. Now, whether you favour the McKinsey loop, a brand awareness consideration phase to the trigger point of purchase, and then post-purchase loop coming back to trigger, or the funnel top, middle, bottom of funnel. They have the same stages. Awareness to attract new eyeballs, the consideration phase to nudge nurture audiences through their decision-making phase, and then taking them finally to the point of conversion to deliver those most sought after results. And there is good reason for Facebook aligning their ads to the customer journey. And those of you who think you’re being clever, jumping straight to conversion, trying to drive a one-click conversion with new audiences, you are absolutely wasting time and budget, and you need to stop doing it. Social is not search. It doesn’t surface the people buying this very second, your search strategy will compete to snaffle those individuals. Search starts far higher up the funnel. Now the budge nurture phase as we call it will absolutely be surfaced like-minded audiences who, who possessed the potential for brand interest. The nudge nurture phase will bridge the consideration phase. And if the right standout content is presented and the proposition is right for the audience, those conversion outcomes will come. I should say product and proposition costs does have a bearance in how quickly you achieve it. We see lower value products achieving transaction quickly, but if you’re a big enterprise technology brand, it can take a year or more to build those fully attributed valuable pipelines. Now that long-winded explanation of goal is very important because too many of you who’ve been trying an ad format without understanding its structure, and particularly the makeup of creative outputs needed. Some of you are skipping the best practice copy requirement, too. Too many try and act without giving it a genuine chance to succeed by building the right type of work and volume of creative. Do not take an image from the website and just give it a go that’s web-first content is designed and built for web and shaped to perform against web-based goals. A sporting analogy if you will, you don’t take a defender and play him or her as a striker and expect goals galore. You may see a rare goal go in, but one goal does not say the defender turns striker is successful. Equally say, well, he or she only scored one goal that doesn’t work. That’s not a right assessment either. Instant Experience is an anomaly in the Facebook library of ads as it performs well for all goals, if you’ve got a product launch, a new proposition, a key event, or your quarterly thematic focused, Instant Experience is a great way to make a big splash and the content will play to all goals within the Facebook library. If you want to know about Facebook goals, just Google Facebook goals, and you’ll see this document that breaks everything down, and you’ll very quickly see how it aligns to the customer journey.

So why is Instant Experience going to be big in 2021? Well, more of you are going to realize the potential of the ad format. More of you are going to invest the right time to build the right content and get the right messaging. And as a result, more of you are going to launch super impactful ads next year. We have achieved double digit engagement results on all parents and experience this year. It takes time to build it. It takes real thought, but they are brilliant if used correctly.

Another hit in 2021 is going to be stories again, but not because there’s new functionality. A common theme is about to emerge. Very few of you are using them to their potentials. Now stories have been a huge hit for years now and you would be fair to say, come on CJ. This isn’t forecasting 2021 success. No. What if I told you that on Facebook alone, half a billion, if you’re using them daily and 4 million monthly adverts are deployed on Facebook too, you’d be right to say what’s new and innovative about this dialogue. Here’s the kicker. It’s a pretty big one. And this came direct from Facebook. I think some of you know, we’re Facebook partners. So, we have access to information support under their agency marketing partner program. Facebook themselves are saying too many of you aren’t following best practice. And you’re all falling short of the great results available. Shockingly, shockingly brands owning that content, Facebook are having to tell you to put your brand logo and key message up from now, given it’s a story and the asset will disappear super-fast. I’m staggered there having to remind marketers to brand their contents and deliver key messages fast. The fact Facebook have had to come out and say, this is quite astonishing. Why has that happened? Now, this part is purely my opinion, and it’s nothing more than my opinion. I don’t have data to back this up. It’s just based upon all my years of working in marketing and across social media, specifically. Social media users, aren’t marketers. Social media users may offer your brand insight into channel function, popularity by saying everyone’s using stories, we should be doing stories. But if you then allow those innocent minded individuals to go and create content, they won’t necessarily have the experience to ensure your content is branded and landing the right first thought quickly enough. They’re also unlikely to manage your creative designers to design your ad with the objective specifically in mind, something that is fundamental. You may end up with a fun and quirky story-like output, but if you’ve not designed with the objective in mind, you really are wasting your brand’s time and money. On stories you do need to pair text with key elements of the app. Do use audio and sound. Don’t overly clutter with unnecessary stickers because a fine, but don’t bombarded with unnecessary stickers and finally land key takeaways with text overlays. Facebook offer a lovely example of best practice as executed by Volvo. Just hop onto their business page for more information. So your brand, whether you’re a consumer or B2B, you can make social a smash hit by focusing on correctly, executing Instant Experiences and stories, but plan the content properly, invest in creating content around your goal. Invest time in trial in the format correctly and invest paid media in serving assets. Do that, and you’ll be truly stunned by the results.

Right, I promised you insight on ads that you may not have heard about. I even said that I was going to share a brand that idea with you didn’t I. This one is probably more suited to consumer brands out there. We’re moving on to TikTok. Similarly to what Facebook did, six or seven years ago, there was clear investment being made right now by TikTok in business propositions. They appear to be avoiding the well documented mistakes that Snapchat made by dragging their heels on their monetizing journey. Snap thought they were being the super cool kid on the block, holding back paid for ad formats until everything was perfect. Evan Spiegel, snap, founder even came out and said, we focus on getting it right. All he did was delay things long enough for Zuckerberg to go in and refine Instagram and still that market share. TikTok though, they’re absolutely capitalising on their cult status and they’re moving at real pace to support businesses, wishing to play in TikTok. We all know it’s been the emerging story for the last couple of years as it takes off, but quick look at the numbers and you will see they are no longer an emerging player. They have absolutely arrived. They’ve refined their ads to help brands with both the awareness stage and drive to conversion too. The latter I’m yet to see true results on but stick with me.

The really impressive thing about TikTok is it’s a super short format and it’s designed for mobile. And there’s two things that they’ve definitely got right in my opinion. One is the dashboard display they’re making ads truly tangible for marketers. Now that took even Facebook, a few years to figure out where they were going wrong. And secondly, TikTok’s search function is brilliant. Whether it’s keyword or hashtag, the resulting reach that you can attain as a brand through their search is truly stellar. The short form videos playing for vertical view, and they connect to goal specific actions. TikTok have a number of ad formats. They’ve got five in total. I want to focus on four of them. The first one is top view. Now top view is a video-first format that captures users through sight, sound and narrative say TikTok. I think we’re going to see a lot of TV adverts and even film premiers appearing here. You get the reactions overlaying on top of the video is quite similar to reactions on Facebook live. So if you think about seeing a film ad for the cinema and that emotive response that some of us have, I can absolutely see this format, top view, playing well to those types of brands.

Next, I want to briefly look at something called TikTok brand takeover. I think you’re going to hear a bit more about this next year. It’s an interesting short format that operates dynamically or statically. I say it’s interesting because it’s basically a really short dynamic site-side advert, similar to what you would see on web. I can’t think of a single social media channel where that type of execution works. They certainly don’t work across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. We vehemently steer people away from it. But Vanz, the shoe company participate in a trial with TikTok and they seem to have impressed fans a lot. It’s a super short ad format. Now, I think for the larger FMCG brands who seek impressions rather than engagement, you know, your big supermarket brands that you see on the aisles. I think we’re going to see some of those may be playing in brand takeover.

The fourth ad I want to talk about is TikTok’s in-feed ads. It’s exactly what you’d expect but with the addition that you have up to a 60 second video and sound here. Now, the really cute twist on this execution is you as a brand, put a video out and then the audience can shoot their own video using the music you used. It’s already proven to be quite popular. The only caveat I would urge caution around, it remains to be seen where the brand recall is carrying through those subsequent videos that users are making. But if you think about brand loyalty, brand affection, hooking users in, that format is really going to work a treat, TikTok’s in-feed ads.

Now, the ad format that I think is going to be the smash hit in 2021 is TikTok’s branded hashtag challenge. This is the format that I think we’re going to see the most growth in. TikTok say it’s one of a kind engagement like format that taps into user passion for creation and expression. What does that mean? Well, users are invited to participate in create content around your campaign. A campaign lasts for just three to six days, so really short. TikTok are quick to say it comes with supporting media placements. TikTok also claimed that they get an average engagement rate of eight and a half percent through likes, comments, shares. I think we’re going to see this used for key moments. Imagine drinks brands creating pop-up events in the summer, wishing to promote awareness or a calendar moment like Easter. And this is where my brand idea comes in. As I say, campaign ideas last three to six days, right? The brand pushes the advert and then the users participate, replying, sharing content that becomes part of the campaign. Think Cadbury Creme Egg using one of these. I could see Cadbury Crème Egg launching the hashtag #HowDoYouEatYours. The usual annual signal that their confectionary is in supermarkets. And the response is, I think we could see is people showing those truly TikTok creative styles of how crème eggs could be eaten. Now, the interesting thing about this, I think the short fund burst maybe enough to trigger subsequent organic trend on TikTok, and possibly drive further awareness to deliver not just the required outcome for Cadbury, but maybe a sustained outcome over in ensuing months.

Any unlikely event, Cadbury that you are watching this, do get in touch if you want to flesh this idea out further. As you can see, I’m also brand loyal.

So there you have it there, the three stand outs I think for 2021; greater adoption and success in utilization of instant experience and stories, they are brilliant. Please use them, give them a go, but do justice to the requirements. And then TikTok, absolutely becoming a go-to advertising platform, particularly with its branded hashtag challenge, and maybe even top view ads too.

My tip for brands wishing to avoid boring social stop with the flat visual only approach. Flat visuals work, but you have to use them sparingly. If you just use flat visuals, you’re not going to stand out in your feed. Stop solely engineering social content through content from your web or print, start building true social-first content. Invest in paid. And if you do that and try our tips for 2021, you will be sure to fly. I’ll put my reputation on the line. Let me know how you get on, drop me a line with any questions, Katie, Howell will be back with you next week at 10:30 next week. Have a good weekend. Thanks for watching. See you again, soon, bye-bye.

If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.