What if we abandon social media to be more sustainable?
Social media is efficient in driving reach, but its effectiveness is limited. You can still be highly targeted using new digital offline channels
Social media can be very anti-social. Racist attacks like we have seen after the Euro 2020 Final, online trolling and emotional abuse on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are happening on a daily basis.
There are more and more brands being more conscious about sustainability and are committed to social responsibility.
But what would it mean if brands bring this commitment not just to their messages but also considering the platforms they are advertising on?
Admittedly, social media is very accessible in terms of planning and buying via their self-serve platforms. Brands rely on building reach when just starting their businesses, plus it offers direct sales opportunities (well, ones that are easily trackable).
But what if brands would abandon social media for their paid campaigns? What would it mean for the campaign’s effectiveness?
While social media is efficient in driving reach, its effectiveness is limited. A view that gets charged is defined as a video being viewed for three seconds.
In these three seconds, you need to get a lot of message (and the brand) across. Ads on Facebook and Instagram are viewed actually less and generate about 1.5 seconds of actual attention according to a study by TVision and Lumen.
Looking at how users are consuming social media, it is very passive. People scroll endlessly and mindlessly. To make them stop you need to have a real relevant and convincing message in these early seconds. According to Karen Nelson-Field’s research, attention is absolute key for media effectiveness.
Buying just cheap reach doesn’t mean it gets noticed. Ensure your message gets noticed.
Next to the creative itself, the environment plays a huge part in that. Think about where you are seen and how the content the user actually comes for gets consumed.
Other video platforms like YouTube, for example, where you get charged only when a video is completely viewed (up to 30 seconds), offers a whole different opportunity to build up cost-efficient and effective reach.
This is not to say that YouTube is not guilty of hosting harmful content. The trolling, however, is less as it is a more passive platform for consumers rather than for active commenting and could be evaluated as a substitute for paid video.
Video content not served through social media gets viewed more and more on bigger screens. Screen size also has a positive effect on the campaign’s effectiveness. You are not on the go, you are not scrolling mindlessly and tend to watch content in a more relaxed environment.
With Connected TV on the rise before the pandemic, but even more so during the pandemic, there are great opportunities to get the video message across, not just in a more effective way but also in a more kinder way.
Context to enhance the message is very important and has been practised before digital opened up a whole world of targeting opportunities.
Whereas biddable platforms have changed the way media is bought – based on the audience, not based on the environment – combining offline approaches to planning with online planning capabilities offers a huge chance to plan for more effective campaigns.
Tap into the whole media mix
If you want to step away from social media, look at the whole range of media channels available. There is a whole mix to tap into.
The digitalisation of traditional offline channels offer more accessible solutions to build up reach which is the key to grow your brand.
For example, look at digital audio. Hugely undervalued and underutilised but highly effective across the funnel, from awareness down to sales.
Digital out-of-home is on the rise as well. And even TV, with addressable TV, gets accessible and can deliver the scale you need to build up effective reach.
And the beauty about the new digital offline channels is that you can be more targeted and localised, which can keep your costs in check.
There is evidence that running several channels increases effectiveness. We should – if budgets allow – not just rely on one channel. This helps in finding a channel mix that aligns with the brand’s values.
Nina Franck is an independent communications strategist and media planner