What Do Consumers Want from Social Media?
There are two major categories that active social media accounts fall into: consumers and brands. And it’s no surprise that those two groups want much different things from their social media experience.
Consumers want interesting content. Brands want an attentive audience.
The tricky part is balancing those wants. You can’t just throw unlimited ads into people’s cat videos and expect them to be fine with it—trust us, they will not be fine with it. And while we as brands and advertisers know that there’s a difference between ads and content, a lot of social media users don’t separate things into ads and content, they separate them into “I don’t want that in my feed,” and “Yes. That can stay.”
Some of the most popular places on the internet are pay to play in one way or another. Consumers either pay a subscription fee to avoid advertisements entirely, or they pay with attention and mindshare to access “free” content alongside advertising. . . and above advertising, below advertising, interrupted by advertising—you get it. Advertising is everywhere. The challenge brands face is making their social media presence an enjoyable and worthwhile part of the user experience.
Don’t panic! “Enjoyable and worthwhile” comes in a lot of shapes and sizes to suit all kinds of brands and audiences.
Service-focused brands may focus on being helpful and educational by creating listicles and sharing industry-related tips and tricks. If you have a luxury brand, you may spend a lot of time featuring the benefits of your product or the lifestyle they fit into. And if you have a large product offering—and great inventory photography—you can let those products do the heavy lifting and feature a few different products a week, with some curated links or user-generated content thrown in for variety.
So that’s content taken care of, but what about your ads? Paid ads will reach considerably more people than your organic content will, and they stand a much greater chance of annoying people. There are a couple of ways to make your ads less irksome to social media users. One way is to make your ads look more like content. Last year, both Shreddies and Taco Bell jumped on the tiny food video bandwagon to advertise their products—and tiny food is kind of a big deal.
Lucidchart created a series of chart-based video ads that used their product to explain the hierarchy of internet animal memes—video ads that were shared by thousands of people and amassed tens of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube.
But even tiny food and doggos won’t make your ads welcome if they hold people hostage when they’re trying to enjoy themselves. So the second thing you can do to be a good social media brand is to think like a consumer. Do you want your Facebook video interrupted by a 15-second unskippable ad? No. And neither does anybody else. Those placements may deliver good view-through rates on paper, but that doesn’t mean much when your choice is viewing the ad or abandoning the rest of the video.
Okay. That’s enough for right meow. We’ve got a lot more to say about brands on social media, but we’ll save that for Part II.