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Amy Flippant

Published on

April 21, 2020


facebook, LinkedIn, paid social, social advertising, Social Media, twitter

Many marketers are struggling with the moral dilemma of how to approach advertising during this pandemic. Many have had their marketing budgets pulled in an attempt to rein in costs due to virus-related uncertainty, while others were (understandably) nervous about appearing to profit from the crisis. With such a sensitive subject on their hands, it’s so difficult to know where the line is, so as not to cross it.

The major social advertising platforms like Google and Twitter banned coronavirus-related ads in an attempt to curb the spread of misinformation by restricting keyword usage. However, these heavy ad restrictions have since been lifted, due to number of complaints caused by the widespread ban.

“We believe that the messaging that brands and businesses can provide to the world and provide to consumers are going to be positively received,” said Sarah Personette, head of Twitter Client Solutions “because they are talking about what they as brands and businesses are doing themselves in the face of this crisis, and also what their employees and customers need to understand or be informed about in the face of this crisis.”

Despite the concern around the sensitivity of the subject for advertisers, it’s worth noting that consumers are not opposed to it. Recent research conducted by Kantar found the majority of the population (92%) did not think that brands should stop advertising all together during the crisis.

The advertiser’s opportunity

With so many of us confined to the walls of our home, it’s not surprising to hear that many of us have been turning to social media for news, entertainment and to generally let off steam. Twitter, despite announcing a stark spending decline on ads, also reported that the number of active users has soared. A recent report also suggested that 66% of consumers expect their social media usage to increase during Coronavirus confinement.

Although the knee-jerk reaction for many companies was to cut marketing spend, it seems that the importance of advertising to reach target audiences can now play a very important role in carefully controlling brand perception.

With a drop in advertisers competing for space and attention, ad prices across all advertising platforms should also go down, while consumption should go up.

If it’s done sensitively, skilfully and it’s not hurting anyone, then a brand surely should take advantage of the opportunity to promote itself. Here are four social advertising strategies for brands to utilise during a crisis.

Related: COVID-19 Behaviour: Key Online Trends

4 Strategies to consider

1. Striking the right tone

Now, perhaps more than ever, consumers want empathetic and human advertising that speaks to them directly. Don’t be irrelevant, spread inaccuracies or pay lip service to crisis for the sake of being part of conversation, this will not portray you as a company that understands your customer. It’s not worth trying to convert now, but rather add to your pipeline and nurture your existing prospects for later in the year.

Ask yourself, what value can you add to your customer right now? Do research into the industries you are targeting as it’s likely that the pain points that you have long since attributed to personas have changed. Companies that can pivot their messaging to accommodate these new pain points will be much more successful.

2. Test, test, test

It’s always difficult to predict what exactly your audience will respond well to. The most successful ad campaigns are rarely the first round of ads you launch. Spend time honing your messaging and design in defined optimisation phases. Ensure your creative and messaging is aligned and clear; ask yourself “what would someone who knows nothing about my business take away from this ad?”

Although testing is an important strategy for all social advertising platforms, a ‘one size fits all approach’ to testing won’t work. The factors that you choose to test will differ across the platforms, since the way you build the campaigns have slight nuances. On LinkedIn for example, you might choose to create different audiences through job titles vs job function, comparing the CPC and overall performance. While on Twitter, you might test messaging variations while simultaneously testing creatives.

3. Time to trial new features

Interestingly, since the pandemic took over the world, the big players in social advertising have chosen this moment to release some important new features.

At the end of March, Facebook rolled out ‘experiments’, a feature to help streamline all your results from multiple tests in order to optimise performance and deepen understanding of impact.

In the same month, LinkedIn launched their conversation ads. This new ad format builds on InMails, and features a ‘choose your own path’ personalised experience allowing you to incorporate multiple customised calls-to-action.

4. Be agile and optimise

With everything changing so quickly, as marketers we need to watch our campaigns like a hawk. We should give them time to resonate with the audience but be quick to adapt and optimise based on what is working and what isn’t. Keep track of what you’ve optimised and why to help you analyse your results.

If you would like to chat to us about how to create an optimal strategy for managing your paid advertising campaigns during these uncertain times, we’d be happy to help.

Do get in touch