April 07, 2022
April 07, 2022
Contributor: Gloria Omale
It should be part of a larger, coherent social marketing strategy.
Social media use is a near-universal habit. Eighty-six percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 75 have at least one social media account. On average, social media users have accounts on three to four platforms and log in to two of those accounts daily. The breadth and depth of social media adoption creates a magnetic pull on marketing budgets.
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Participants in the 2021 Gartner CMO Spend Survey allocated 11.3% of total marketing expenses to social marketing. This does not include investments in paid advertising on social networks like Facebook or Pinterest. Social marketing is critical to achieving marketing goals, with digital marketing leaders citing it as the number one channel for building awareness and driving conversion, and the number two channel for demand generation and customer advocacy. To support this, paid social channel budgets should be part of a larger, coherent social marketing strategy.
“Individual paid social advertising platforms offer a wide array of creative formats, targeting, testing and measurement, but capabilities vary, and they aren’t interoperable,” says Eric Schmitt, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “The questions of how many and which platforms to invest in are among the most strategically important asked by digital marketers.”
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At least 10 major paid social platforms compete for ad spend. Meta’s Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Meta’s Instagram lead the pack by percentage of consumers using each platform and by frequency of use.
According to the 2021 Gartner Consumer Advertising and Content Marketing Preferences Survey, there are notable age- and gender-based differences in use by platform:
If you’re in charge of marketing strategy and execution, consider audience uniqueness in conjunction with overall platform size. Gartner recommends the following:
There are many techniques for effective audience targeting. These include custom audiences, look-alike models, geo-based targeting, interest-based audiences and a cornucopia of advanced analytics and testing techniques. Successful targeting maximizes reach into the desired audience through ad effectiveness and economic efficiency. Make the most of individual platform targeting capabilities, and strive for limited, pragmatic data interoperability.
Read more: 5 Steps to Jump-Start Your Social Marketing Strategy
While Facebook and Google dominate, the market for paid social media remains dynamic and uncertain. Changes in consumer behaviors, privacy laws and antitrust actions fuel the uncertainty. Mitigate risk by reviewing paid social media investments quarterly and anticipating regular changes to the portfolio. Develop a strategy for testing the benefit of new platforms, perhaps by using geography-based techniques designed to measure incrementality.
Apple and Google have announced critical changes to the use of browser cookie and device identifier data for advertising. Paid social ad targeting and attribution data availability are degrading and hitting paid social performance campaign tactics especially hard.
Brand-engaged users are people who use a given social media platform at least once a week — and say they like seeing content from and follow brands on that platform. This group doubled from 10% of all social media users in January 2019 to 20% in April 2021 and is principally (76%) composed of Gen Z and millennials. Target these users on the platforms where they’re most abundant by building social content that aligns with their preferences.
Adults ages 18 to 43 spend more time on streaming TV than broadcast, cable and satellite. To guide media investments into over-the-top (OTT) TV, connected TV (CTV) and YouTube, stay on top of a market that is fragmented, immature and challenged by the popularity of ad-free services.
The volume of consumer posts about brands has increased sharply since the beginning of 2020. Though Facebook and Instagram experienced year-over-year increases, Twitter continues to dominate as the most prolific platform for brand buzz.
While Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram dominate, successful brands set aside media budgets to advertise on emerging platforms. Focus ad spend where your target audiences are likely to frequent, but don’t be afraid to experiment placing ads with smaller, yet growing platforms.
To successfully manage social marketing content, optimize your assets, scale your production consistently and efficiently, and build a robust pipeline of user-generated content.
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Recommended resources for Gartner clients*:
Where to Invest Your Paid Social Media Budget
*Note that some documents may not be available to all Gartner clients.