Social media saw significant growth in 2017. Mobile social media usage grew 30% year over year, Instagram monthly active users grew to 700 million and Snapchat and Pinterest continued to see increased engagement metrics. Brands of all sizes cranked up spending to ride the social media wave, with advertising spend on social media increasing by over 60% in 2017.
While impressions on social media platforms didn’t increase by over 60%, the cost of advertising on social media has risen as a result. Take Facebook, for example, which charges by CPM: Average CPM on Facebook increased by 171% year over year, while CTR has remained flat.
How should advertisers cope with rising costs on social media, which has become a necessary marketing channel? The solution lies in taking a systematic approach when implementing your creative, distribution and campaign management.
There are many out-of-the-box solutions that can help you successfully implement a robust system for media buying on social platforms. They usually exist in two camps. The first camp starts with scrum management tools. Several software options exist today that assist project planning and management between creative and marketing teams, specifically for social media needs, such as Sprinklr and Falcon. Tools in this camp facilitate the best-case scenario among cross-functional teams. They automate project management tasks, facilitate discussions among teams and enable file and data sharing in one place for each project. These benefits are critical elements to deliver on-brand creative assets in a timely and smooth manner.
The second camp of tools tackles campaign management. They aim at a perfect system that manages your media buying based on your specific needs and goals. Reality is less than perfection, but it is one giant step closer to successfully automating media buying. Kenshoo and Nanigans are examples of tools that belong in this camp. Their major value-add is that they cut out inefficient spend. The software bids on your target audience and frequently checks in on campaign performance — much more frequently and accurately than a human could. Imagine you have set up over 50 campaigns running across all social media platforms and each campaign targets 10 audiences — that is 500 ad sets to monitor at once. The automatic system leverages software capability to monitor all assets at 30-minute intervals or less. This allows your campaigns to run more efficiently because you are eliminating inefficient spend at least twice an hour across all of your assets.
Now that we understand the importance of systemizing social media efforts, you might assume that that’s it. On the contrary, the more impactful benefit of system implementation is that it builds a culture that is poised to scale. There are inevitably social media platforms that software solutions haven’t reached. The average internet user today has seven social accounts. To reach them everywhere, you need to implement systems on as many platforms as possible. To contend with platforms that software does not cover, you must create a culture that celebrates efficiency and automation in order to build a custom solution. In addition, there will be newer platforms that reach various audiences where existing software solutions have not yet caught up. Figuring out how to succeed on newly established platforms requires efficient systems and a culture that supports them.
With culture in mind, you will soon discover that each social media platform has its own context. Audiences, interactions and content are unique to each platform. As a result, your systems for project management and media buying will and should differ from one platform to the next. Take Facebook and Instagram, for example. Your Facebook audience demonstrates different behaviors than your audience on Instagram. As a result, the solution that you build to generate target audiences should be different between Facebook and Instagram. The signals that flag engaged audiences should be different between these two platforms. Reaction numbers may be a signal that you use to measure Facebook engagement, while video watch rate may be a more appropriate signal to measure Instagram engagement.
Build systems and build a culture that is system-friendly to optimize social media spend in the future. As social media advertising costs continue to rise and new platforms pop up, taking a systematic approach ensures efficiency over time.