“Turn everything off!” That’s what many social marketers started telling each other as COVID-19 began to spread and disrupt our daily lives. It’s an understandable reaction; this is a crisis and it’s the typical direction social media managers receive during times of strife. When something bad happens we tend to go dark.
This moment is different, though. Yes, the threat from COVID-19 is very real, but people are still going about their lives. It’s just that now it’s more online than it was before. That means it’s an opportune time to do paid social media marketing, as long as you’re doing it well, and you’re doing it right.
Why Is Now The Right Time For Paid Social?
Right now, all social platforms are experiencing a significant increase in activity. Social Media Today reported that Facebook is experiencing as much as a 50 percent traffic increase in the U.S. People are connecting with their friends, seeking guidance, reading articles, finding Pinterest ideas to keep their kids out of their hair…you get the idea. With more people online, there’s more opportunity for ads to be served to a larger audience.
For businesses that have been trying to gain an advantage over their competitors, this could be their moment. Many companies did decide to pull the plug on their paid social spend and are waiting until things calm down before resuming their programs. With the competition out of the way, this could be an opportunity to capture interest and grow your potential customers base for future conversions.
What Kind of Ads Should You Run?
It’s no secret that there are valid concerns about a pending recession, and some say we’re already in it. Most businesses aren’t going to be looking to make a big purchase at this time. Still, there is opportunity for your brand to build awareness and prime the pump for conversions down the line.
In the sales process, getting people to trust your brand is more than half the battle. Awareness campaigns—along with consideration/traffic campaigns—are the perfect way to introduce your product or service and encourage people to visit your website to learn more or even set-up a demo. Also, awareness and consideration/traffic ads typically cost less than conversion ads, so they are more economically-friendly at a time when budgets are likely to be under a microscope. It’s a win-win!
What Should You Be Cautious Of?
With all the additional online traffic, people are reporting that ads can take longer than usual to gain approval. Just like other businesses, social media platforms are experiencing challenges as their workforce shifts to working from home. While social platforms are algorithm heavy, they do need people to move things along, fix bugs, and manually review and approve ads. Don’t let this deter you from moving forward with your ads but do keep it in mind if you notice approvals are taking longer than usual or if your ad is disapproved for no apparent reason. It’s frustrating but knowing that it’s probably not your fault helps ease the pain. After all, we’re all in this together, right?
Also, keep a close eye on how your ads are performing. This is a best practice that should have been followed pre-pandemic, but we’ve all been guilty of letting ads run unchecked at some point. Checking in frequently will help you understand how your content is performing, determine if you need to adjust the budget, make tweaks to the elements of the ad (copy or asset), or even pause poor performing ads. This will maximize your spend and your ROI.
When you’re writing your copy and choosing your assets, make sure that you’re not hard selling. This was already frowned upon on social, but it’s even more imperative now that content is carefully scrutinized before going out into the world. Tasteless or tone-deaf content could result in backlash.
Something to keep in mind: Higher-than-usual traffic volumes are putting networks to the test. Facebook and YouTube have already taken steps to reduce the strain on their systems, both providers have swapped from HD to SD as the default for video in many regions. If you’re running a video ad and notice the content isn’t as sharp as it usually is, try not to fret over it. Like everyone else, social platforms are doing their best given the current situation.
It’s the Perfect Time to Experiment.
Brands are being challenged to think outside the box as businesses are forced to shift away from anything remotely considered “usual.” More companies are pivoting to providing posts and ads that are useful, informative, lighthearted and compassionate. If you’ve been sitting on a social ad idea that you’ve wanted to test, but it seemed a little out of the ordinary, now is the time!
Additionally, testing copy, imagery and video, alongside your top performing ads will give you insights as to what is and isn’t performing well for your brand. As things slowly return to a new “normal,” having new batches of tested and proven ads that can be utilized in the future will come in handy.
Yes, conventional wisdom tells you that this is the time to pause your paid social efforts, but conventional wisdom is wrong. While you may need to adjust your paid social strategy, now is actually a great time to reach an audience that is bigger than it’s ever been. You just have to reach out with the right content.