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Opinion: Forget the #FakeNews, Social Media Advertising Sells | WMI 

28 Mar 2017 Jenna Manula, Director Social Media Marketing

in Media, Digital

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It’s easy to take an opinionated stand on an idea without supporting data, but it’s another thing to have it published from a credible source without #RealData.  I’m talking to you, Mark Duffy! In case you missed it, Mark wrote a biting column on Digiday about the ineffectiveness of Facebook advertising, chock-full of what I would call #AlternativeFacts.

#FactChecker: How Social Media Advertising Sells

In this era of #FakeNews, I cannot help but find the irony in Mark’s piece, and really wish this self-proclaimed “non-marketer” decided to write about a topic he knew inside and out. I am not one to rant, but when blasphemous words are written, a true marketer must stand up and speak the truth…just call me a #FactChecker.

Here are a few of my favorite #RealFacts, from recent client campaigns:  

-An indie beauty brand sold out in 3 days, after a promoted Instagram campaign

-A fashion brand saw a 6:1 return on ad spend within one month of launching their first U.S. Facebook campaign

-An established mineral makeup brand drove e-commerce sales at a 217% return on ad spend

And this wonderful quote from Mike Majlak, Head of Social Media & Partnerships at innovative furniture brand (and Women’s Marketing client) Lovesac:

“In the 6 months since Lovesac has seen multiple posts go mega-viral, we have seen a direct and measurable lift in sales in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

But the #RealFacts go beyond the success I’ve personally seen with social advertising; in fact, some of the strongest data points in favor of social as a sales platform come from industry leaders and independent reseachers:  

“You’ll be shocked. Social media doesn’t just drive users. It drives paying users and it’s really effective. And you can track all of it with analytics these days.”Neil Patel

“Luckily for marketers, there’s a good chance that if someone is following a brand on social media, they’ll be making a purchase—no matter what their age. Around 70% of Gen Xers, 60% of Millennials and 51% of Baby Boomers said they’d be likely to purchase something from a brand they follow on a social media platform.”  – eMarketer Retail, “What Makes People Buy from a Brand They Follow on Social Media?” 2017

“Social media has emerged as a real disruptor in targeting Gen Z shoppers, who are true digital natives. To succeed in this increasingly digital world, retailers must understand Gen Z’s’ expectations, influencer circles, and behaviors—especially their social-media habits—and how they differ from those of Millennials. If they are spending their time on social platforms, this is where they want to be buying their products.”                 – Jill Standish, Senior Managing Director, Accenture’s Retail Industry 

With apologies to Fight Club, the first rule of social media is that there are no rules. The environment is constantly changing and the social giants, backed as they are by lots of cash, are quick to keep up with user demands. The nature of the game is to roll out an update and see if it sticks. If it loses its stickiness, and starts to become tacky, our beloved giants scrap the feature and start over. The same approach is true for advertising on these social platforms. 

Prior to 2016, it’s true that social media advertising was a platform to increase social post visibility and brand engagement. The social channels failed to drive revenue, and even if they did, there was no way for a brand to measure the true impact on their bottom line. Due to the shift in social media from an organic to a pay-to-play model, brands were forced to advertise on social networks to stay relevant, and in return, brands put an inordinate amount of pressure on these networks to deliver sound analytics and conversion tracking. 

So, while I might have agreed with Mark on the effectiveness of social advertising to boost sales prior to 2016, I hope he’ll give it another look in 2017, which I’m hereby calling The Year of Social Advertising.

Read more on the new Year of Social Advertising and contact us to learn how we can help to grow your brand through our suite of marketing services. 

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