Study: Social media ads increasingly less popular among viewers

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Americans have a dimming view of online advertising.

That’s the gist of
a new report from Sprout Social, a social media monitoring and management provider, in which over 1,000
Americans were surveyed for their opinions about advertisements. The report
found that when perusing social media platforms such as Facebook and
Twitter, users ignored a lot of brands’ offerings.

Whether or not the downturn can be pinned on increased fears over how user
data is being handled, the results are clear. Twenty-seven percent of
consumers say their opinion of social media has worsened, with 58 percent
saying their dismay stems from the proliferation of ads.

The study’s findings highlight a growing problem for communicators: How can
brand messages break through the noise and reach a overstimulated general
public?

The study suggests these tactics to stop users from scrolling past brand
messaging:

1.
Entertain your audience.

Though your first instinct might be to use your precious ad budget to talk
about your brand and highlight corporate objectives, your audience might
not give a fig about your business objectives. Instead, create infotainment
or content that creates interest, and always look to tell a story.

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The study found that entertainment was the “best way to stop the scroll,”
with 41 percent reporting that fun content would engage them on social
media. Thirty-seven percent allowed that a discount would grab their
attention, and 33 percent wanted content that would “teach them something.”

One insignificant factor for online users: brands that are recommended by a
friend. Only 10 percent said content that came from a brand that a friend
likes would sway them. This means marketers shouldn’t rely on viral
hits—the chance of engaging viewers through their social media network is
slim.

2.
Educate your audience.

Informative content delivers.

Sprout Social wrote:

While building awareness is important, ensuring potential customers
understand what your brand offers is just as crucial. The latter requires
that consumers make personal connections with your brand—they might
appreciate your differentiators, share the values you’re communicating or
learn a new skill that your offering enables. This type of advertising
makes people feel good about your products and confident in choosing your
brand over others.

The researchers backed up this finding by reporting what kinds of actions
users would take when interested in a social media ad. By far (65 percent),
the most popular answer was to click through to learn more.

These data points also suggest that brand managers should care deeply about
clicks over other metrics. If a customer is on the hook, they probably are
looking for more information. Make sure your landing page is clean and
informative when they get there.

3.
Offer a discount.

Though not as highly ranked as entertaining and educational content, price
breaks can be powerful motivators for social media promotions.

The study found that 37 percent of consumers were more likely to engage
with social media ads that offer a discount. However, that number changes
when you factor in generational differences.

Baby Boomers were more likely to be swayed by discounts, whereas millennial
consumers were less responsive to brash discount offers.

The study authors wrote:

While the decision to offer a discount may require buy-in from others in
your organization, the ability to communicate value is always on the table.
Given Baby Boomers’ preference for discounts and educational content,
there’s an opportunity to combine the two into stories and messaging that
highlights your value proposition and connects with this generation, even
if there’s no immediate sale.

A top takeaway from the survey was the need for social media marketers to
get to know their audience.

Survey authors wrote:

Getting to know your audience in depth and breadth demonstrates a
commitment to seeing them as real people instead of sales targets. The
consumer research process also ensures a more strategic use of your
marketing budget to gain a competitive edge.

How are you changing your social media messages to reach your desired
audience?

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