Most of us are well aware by now that social media takes up a huge chunk of consumer attention when it comes to paid video advertising. But far fewer people stop to think about what’s in that secret sauce – those unique ingredients that make social advertising different from digital video or traditional media, which keep consumers coming back for more. Even more important is to understand how these unique differences can and should be taken advantage of for the most effective social video advertising campaign.

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1) Built-in interaction (Like, Comment, Share)

Social platforms come standard with possibly the best feature an advertiser could ask for – built-in community engagement. The users who view your video can like, comment on, and share the video immediately and publicly. Depending on the platform this interaction can then push the video post into the feeds of the user’s network of contacts, even without direct sharing. 

We now take these interactive features for granted because they’re so pervasive across most of the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Instagram all operate on the ‘Like Comment Share’ triad which arguably puts the ‘social’ in social media. But the usefulness of these functions to advertisers is actually very hard to ignore – not only do they expand your video audience into a bigger web of friend-to-friend sharing, but they also promote community around your video content between relative strangers, who can read and reply to each other’s comments and bond from the mutual experience of viewing your video content.

To best take advantage of these features with your own paid social advertising, aim to produce content that provokes thought and emotion rather than sales or info dumps. Promote discussion, sharing, and interaction between your ideal users to foster community around your videos.

2) The prestige of public numbers

A further benefit of the built-in interaction that social advertising offers is the unofficial prestige (and further exposure) that comes from public statistics on your video. What we’re talking about here is pure numbers – the number of people who liked, shared, and commented on a video is often viewable to everyone directly below or beside the video. Some platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn also show tallies of view counts across all shared instances of the video. This means anyone who comes across your content can see at a glance exactly how popular it’s gotten so far. 

And while in theory, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or its view count), most of us still do, and we let our sense of FOMO guide our decision on whether this will be a worthy video to watch. This is a benefit of social media we simply don’t see with television advertising, whether digital or traditional – to know the viewing statistics of any given show a viewer needs to actively search out the Nielsen ratings, which of course can only be viewed after the content premieres. Social media video on the other hand is a growing count number and reflects to a viewer the inherent worth of spending their time watching the video. If a huge number of other people liked this content then it must be pretty interesting, right?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick to hitting those big viewer counts. To play your best numbers game, promote social videos that are short, easily sharable, and offer genuinely valuable content for the viewer.

3) Specialised ad targeting tools

The larger social media sites have a range of customised tools for paid advertisers to use to narrow their audience profile and get the best bang for your advertising buck. To name a few, Facebook has decent A/B testing and demographic profiling, while TikTok has a hierarchical campaign creator with advertising objectives for either Awareness, Consideration, or Conversion, plus an Automated Creative Optimization tool which generates combinations of your video and image content for testing.

To take full advantage of these tools with your social video advertising, be prepared to test and adjust your content in iterations to really hone in on your target market. Work with the platform’s analytics tools to track what’s working and whether it’s reaching the kind of audience you want.

4) Each platform has its own unique culture and voice

Just like the mood and audience of a Disney+ animated show differs greatly from a gritty Netflix animated show, so too do social media platforms carry their own distinct tone. But the differences in social media platforms tend to go further than what you’ll find between digital streaming services – this is because the user base is very much on display just as much as the content is. Through seeing and adapting to the behaviour of others through comments, reactions, and user posts, individual cultures emerge on individual sites and therefore strongly affect what types of advertising will work on each one. 

Instagram by nature is a very visual platform, lending itself to a culture of aesthetic worship and individuality. Posting something visually pleasing that fits an existing niche is far more important than writing a witty caption comment. Reddit on the other hand has a very strong culture of skepticism, in-jokes, and relative anonymity compared to most other notable social media, making it a much trickier platform to master advertising on. It’s imperative to thoroughly nail the right voice in your heading, know the rediquette, and be aware that blatant spam and ‘advertising masquerading as native content’ are strongly reviled. 

Take the best advantage of your chosen social advertising platform(s) by doing your research, being an active user, and tailoring your content where possible to individual platforms.

5) Multiple approaches to advertising

While television-based advertising is generally linear in that users are guided by a set menu/curated channel (you go there to watch the videos that are available and that’s really about it), social advertising can be found in multiple places and formats due to the open-ended nature of the website. There are multiple things to do and users can search for subgroups, interact with the site, or click around until they find a feature they like. 

Accordingly, different styles of advertising are available to reach these different types of user experiences. Native advertising, sponsored content, and influencer marketing describe three of the different ways advertisers can present their content, either first-hand or through a collaboration (check out a breakdown of the three here: https://mediakix.com/blog/native-advertising-vs-sponsored-content-vs-influencer-marketing/). Individual platforms can have multiple advertising avenues built-in, depending on a campaign’s needs. Tiktok for example offers five different options natively within its Ads Manager – in-feed video ads, branded hashtag challenges, brand takeovers, TopView ads, and branded effects 

To best take advantage of the opportunities available to you, dive in and get familiar with the different options in your most important platforms first. Consider whether your audience would respond more to a front-and-centre approach or a subtler in-brand experience. Thirdly, consider a diversified approach, taking advantage of multiple types and formats of social video advertising to nail down what best speaks to your target market.

Written by Maree Railton.