Hootsuite says that although marketing budgets are tightening for many organisations, more than half (51.4%) of the 18,100 marketers surveyed said that they’re planning to increase their paid social spend in 2022. This is despite privacy changes and tools limiting targeting options, making marketers' lives tricky!
So, if targeting options are down and budgets are up, how can we level up paid social to compete? Simply, get creative! Platforms are telling us what to do, many brands just aren’t doing it yet, so there are opportunities for growth. Meta uses the term ‘Liquidity’ to describe giving the algorithm a chance to learn; the idea being we embrace broader terms, budgets and placements, and allow the AI to do its thing and find new and bigger audiences.
10 ways to level up your Paid Social Creative in 2022
Video - don’t worry about studio-quality finish!
We’ve been banging the video content drum for a long time, but so many businesses still aren’t utilising it. There may be a wealth of reasons why video doesn’t feel achievable for you, but in our experience, the main concerns tend to centre on quality and production. Let’s put this to bed right now, you don’t need a studio-quality finish. Your starter kit can be as simple as good lighting and a phone. For inspiration, think about TikTok trends and some minimal-stress content like a product unboxing, ‘routine’ videos, a behind the scenes glimpse of your operations, etc.
Sound on/off - use captions for inclusivity but give users freedom to choose.
In the past, sound hasn’t been the highest priority but TikTok has arguably changed the game. However, we can’t ignore that many users are still opting to have their videos muted, and so for this reason - and to ensure your content is more inclusive and accessible - you should be making use of closed captions. Facebook has been pushing this for years; back in 2016, it reported that using CC can increase video view time by an average of 12% and in 2021, 9 out of 10 TikTok users agreed that sound is vital to the experience.
Tailoring to desired placement - maximise content but one size doesn’t fit all.
Think about where your content is going to be used and tailor it. This doesn’t mean you can never repurpose content to other channels, but it means being aware of the limitations of doing so. For example, don’t just repurpose TV ads and VOD. You cannot box-tick by pushing one type of video onto all platforms as there are nuances and considerations that need addressing. You can however, maximise results by following best practices. When you’re creating content, think about where they are going; a great example is text placement. Where you place text may not matter too much for ads in your Instagram feed, but it matters a lot for others. If you’re running ads on Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels, they may have the same dimensions but they aren’t the same requirements, so don’t use text in the bottom third of your image or video. The same applies with TikTok - paid ads need more space at the bottom than organic TikToks, so things like this need to be kept in mind when creating content. Keeping this in mind will mean your content meets needs, and overall, performs better.
Let the brand breathe - use guidelines but don’t be too rigid.
Brand guidelines are essential and a very useful resource to ensure recognition of your brand, but when creating social content, it’s ok to loosen the rules a little from time to time (we don’t mean abandon them). Think about what works rather than what the brand guidelines say. For example, UGC is a great way to creatively involve your audiences and consumers, and will likely not fall directly into your guidelines. UGC can do the talking, rather than polished, brochure-style photography. Not all paid social artwork has to be beautifully branded; if they’re clicking through to your social profile/website then this is where they’ll find it. Hello Fresh has recently been running ads that promote their recipe boxes, but their branding takes a back seat and only features at the end. They let the product do the talking. Don’t be afraid of the unpolished, the growing trend for ‘anti-design’ sees people mixing and matching fonts all over the place to create organic, unpolished content and there’s definitely a place for that in the right space.
Think about the customer journey - cater to shorter user attention spans.
Optimum lengths for video ads on Facebook is between 5-15 seconds. If a social media user is being introduced to your brand for the first time, what do they need to know? And if you’re running retargeting ads, think about who you’re retargeting and tailor your message accordingly. Think about the 5-second-rule, and create video ads that stop people from skipping. This is relevant to static ads too - create something that stops them scrolling, but quickly communicates why they should click through. Think about what your consumer wants to see, rather than what you want to show them.
Split-test different creative styles and formats - test, review and be flexible.
Creativity is limitless, so don’t be bound by one creative idea to drive your brand. More creative options allow for liquidity; you’ll have more presence across placements, and you’ll be able to learn more about what your customer wants. We’d aim for 3-4 creatives per ad set, testing different styles and choosing both image and video (where appropriate).
It’s also a good idea to cross-test different formats and platforms, so try your TikToks on Facebook and Pinterest, just remember to work within any limitations of size/text placement so it can still be effective.
UGC - trust your users to be your best trust signal.
If you’ve got it, use it. If you haven’t, ask for it - this can be via existing customers or influencer programmes such as TRIBE. No one else can replicate this - it’s completely unique and it provides a great trust signal to see products in action via real people. This also fits into showing your customers, rather than telling them to; letting your audiences see how to use your product in real-time is far better than listing its benefits - show them how people use what you sell to solve their problems.
Diversity/Inclusivity - remember audiences are diverse and varied, cater to that.
Representation in your content matters. In the same way you may include closed captions to be inclusive (to allow all consumers to engage with you), you also need to allow consumers to see themselves reflected in your creative. This means different ages, sizes, ethnicities, family setups, and even varied pet breeds - not everyone has a golden retriever!
On-trend - try your hand at current trends or sounds/styles.
Is there a popular sound right now? Is there a saying that’s going around? Make your ads feel more native and current by paying attention to how and what people are consuming. It is worth bearing in mind trends (and attention spans) are shorter these days, so move fast and don’t wheel out the same creative when the trend has already passed.
Keep it authentic - find the balance between on-trend and totally off-brand.
Yes, work to trends, but some just won’t work for you no matter how hard you try if they feel clunky and totally inauthentic. Have fun with content, but keep your values in mind so you can retain trust. Avoid hopping on trends to showcase a fashionable piece of creative - no greenwashing or faux allyship, your audience will see through it and it will leave a bitter taste.
Play, experiment, be bold! Play, experiment, be bold and if you’re still not sure how to make your paid social creative work for you, let our team of paid social media experts help.