Brands, Ads, and Autonomous Platforms

by Sharp | March 12, 2015

Don’t bother sharing the tires or the leather in a car [on Pinterest]. Create a pin that shows the trip that you’d go on in it. – Nikhil Sethi of Adaptly

Advertising is a long and storied industry. Creative trends change, dollars have shifted from print to digital, and social media has come into play as the new kid on the block in terms of where brands are putting their spend. Traditional advertising campaigns have always been developed to tell a consistent story across all channels.

During a presentation from Adaptly and Pinterest at this year’s Social Media Week NYC we heard from experts at both companies about how the autonomy of social media platforms plays into brand advertising strategy.

Advertising within social media comes with its own set of unique advantages and challenges. On the advantages side, many social platforms allow brands to deep dive into targeting, ensuring that content is reaching relevant audiences. Hashtags provide a method of discovery for prospective fans and a mode of tracking for publishers. Social media allows consumers to publicly interact with brand content.

One major challenge that brands face is that each platform, from Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest to Instagram, has a unique user experience. Fans have options for how to react to content and various degrees of engagement, from a quick favorite on Instagram to a dedicated “share” on a Facebook status update. Brands have to spend time deciding what the ideal outcome is for their content, and to develop smart strategies to achieve those goals when placing social spend.

Below are my top three tips for brands when developing strategy for autonomous platforms.

1.  Study how fans natively interact on the platform

Making sure your brand is well versed in the ins and outs of how fans behave on a particular social media platform is key when deciding how to spend ad dollars. Even platforms themselves are sometimes slightly behind the curve when it comes to fully understanding how their users are participating. For example, in its early stages, Pinterest was designed to be a crowd-sourced organizational tool for the Internet a ‘la Yahoo. As the platform recognized that their fans were primarily interested in using Pinterest as a planning tool and to collect aspirational content, they pivoted their mission to focus on that aspect, and that in turn has informed the way they incorporate brands and advertising.

The best way to be well versed in how a platform is being used is to consistently be on it, watching how influencers are sharing content, and making sure that your brand content echoes those behaviors.

 2. Talk to platform representatives about advertising goals

Platforms like Twitter and Pinterest offer the ability to connect with their in-house teams to best optimize your ad spend. Taking the time to develop relationships with platform representatives can be key in making sure you’re making the most of the tools available, both in terms of creating ads (often times platforms have best practices to share) and interpreting native analytics. Understanding how your ads are performing the only way to make them better.

3. Utilize your audience as a source of content

One of the greatest advantages of using dedicated hashtags on social media is the ability to see the user generated content that your fans are creating, and some platforms are making it even easier with tools for pulling in UGC. Even though it may be uncomfortable at first for brands to relinquish some control of the look and feel of promoted content, more and more research is finding that fans have a positive reaction to seeing their content featured. User generated content feels genuine. It shows fans that your brand is listening to their feedback, and ultimately fosters a feeling of ownership that would never be possible through traditional advertising.

Creating great content for promotion on social takes thought. Autonomous platforms require that brands put more thought into how fans will interact on individual social networks, but in a world that is increasingly a two-way conversation between brands and fans, the time is always worth it.

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