Creative, meet social

There is a famous idea in the world of forecasting that there are two types of predictors in the world: Hedgehogs and Foxes.

Hedgehogs make their predictions based on their unshakeable beliefs in a few fundamental truths. 

Foxes, on the other hand, are constantly re-evaluating their forecasts based on diverse strands of evidence and ideas.

We came across this idea recently on a podcast about a man who bet his house on Eurovision, but we believe this is true in all marketing, and social in particular.

6 minute read

8th December 2023

The perfect social media system

We’re going to break it to you: there is no perfect social media system. There's no magical formula to push your posts viral or get you the sales you need. 

We see it like a constant football league table, where your competitors and you are constantly trying to improve on themselves to reach the top.

Instead, you need to perform in-depth research to gather insights on your market, your competitors, your positioning, your messaging, and your target audience.

You should:

  1. Be able to develop creative based on your audiences’ wants and needs.
  2. Take evidence from what has previously worked, either from other social channels, or from your competitors.
  3. Set a benchmark and then constantly test variables to try and beat yourself.

It's a process, and it should be fun. You'll fail occasionally. It should be endless. Be a fox. As Baz Luhrmann said “The race is long and hard, but in the end it’s only with yourself”.

Why is Creative important in Social?

Social platform algorithms want users to consume as much content as possible. Good creative gets people engaging. If an ad is scoring high engagement, the algorithm will rank it as:

  1. High performing
  2. Deliver it to more people 
  3. Prioritise it in the auction to get more impressions at a lower cost.

That means creative directly influences audience engagement and how efficient a campaign is. 

The importance of ideas
This one often gets lost in all the talk of formats and platforms. Just like all advertising, the ad itself is crucial. We can all sometimes be guilt of starting with the format and then fitting around it, rather than starting with the idea itself.

A good idea that resonates with your audience is more important than the format. There's always great ideas that break all the rules in terms of what ‘works on social’ and outperform e.g. the Lost Class of 2021 or Escape From The Office.

So take these tips and then ignore them. Do something amazing instead.

So what have we learnt?
“You’ve got seconds to grab your audience’s attention and only minutes to keep it” 

— John Medina (Neurobiologist). 

This statement is especially true when it comes to social media. Over the last couple of years of experimenting, we have learnt a few creative tips that have helped increase our clients’ campaign objectives. These are certainly not a replacement for the substance of the idea, proposition, or messaging of your brand. They're simply a way to enhance those.

What have we found?

From campaigns across Meta, Linkedin, Tiktok, X & Reddit, we have found the following rules generally apply:

  1. Videos perform better than statics.
  2. Videos under 20 seconds perform best, 15 seconds ideally. Attention spans are very short.
  3. Make sure to stack the first 7 seconds with your key points.
    1. The average video view time for a campaign (across a number of objectives) will often be 4 to 7 seconds. 
  4. Blend in. Ads do better when people do not realise they are watching ads. 
    1. Drop the branding and look at the style of content your audience is generally consuming on the platform. Use it as style inspiration.
  5. People like looking at people. This is one of the reasons TikTok is so successful. So, use people. 
    1. Use face to camera to show “real people” that your audience can relate and aspire to.
  6. Stand out by using bold, bright colours in your images or at the start of your video assets. 
    1. Social feeds are mainly full of blues, greens and greys. The world is mostly these colours. 
  7. CTAs — Tell people what to do. Tell them what to do in the main asset, then tell them again in the post copy and then again in the headline. 
    1. People generally take a maximum of 1 action from an ad. The clearer you make that action, the more likely they are to take it.

The importance of the main asset
People often obsess over post copy. We're so sorry to tell you, but the stats say it's very low in the virtual pecking order. Looking at how people consume social posts, the main asset that takes the attention, followed by the headline. 

We should create the post in that order of importance.

So how do I create a wicked cool main asset?

  1. Start your video with a question
    Grab attention and reduce video drop offs.
  2. Contradict popular opinions
    Pique audiences’ curiosity and encourage engagement.
  3. Feature people in the first 3 seconds
    Capture attention. People love looking at people.
  4. Keep your copy clear, concise and attention grabbing
    Avoid complicated or ‘techy’ words (unless your audience is 'in the know').
  5. Keep the visuals dynamic and moving
    Capture attention with rad, fast-paced designs.
  6. Adopt disruptive colours
    Break the monochromatic feed (yawn).
  7. Differentiate your Top of Funnel & Bottom of Funnel messaging
    Curate your message to each stage of the journey.
  8. End your video with a CTA frame
    Guide your audience towards the actions you want them to take.

Importance of creative & data

We cannot rely on our intuition when producing ads. This is where the power of data comes in. We need to continuously test new ad variants, based on data, to ensure the greatest success for our clients.

Although the social journey starts at an ad-level for your audience, it usually ends with a landing page. We're here to tell you that destinations matter. You could easily lose your leads if your landing page is not optimised for your objective / content / devices etc.

Even if you're running the best ad ever, its success will alway be limited by a poorly-performing landing page. We often bore colleagues with the terrible analogy of filling up a damaged bucket with a hose. 

It’s no use looking for a better hose if your bucket is in tatters.

Landing pages matter. We cannot emphasise this enough. If you're running on social, test your landing page on mobile – it drives 95%+ of your traffic, and often gets overlooked, especially in big organisations where you check everything on your work laptop. 

Sometimes simple CRO and mobile technical fixes have doubled our LP conversion rates. It also can reduce CPL significantly. At the very least, run a page speed insights test before launch.

Test… then again… and when you are done, test again!

Audit what has worked for you and create your baseline. Then create variants. 

  • Use the hierarchy of how people consume the post to prioritise what you want to test. 
  • Change one element at a time to create a fair test.
  • Throw in a curveball idea that is completely different. It might set you down a new and better path. Use trends, competitors, content your audience is consuming as inspo for your curve balls.
  • Adopt, adapt, improve — motto of the Round Table but works just as well for approaching social.

Quiz time
Which colour performs better? Blue vs Yellow. Come on, you know this… 

If you managed to reach this far down the blog, surely you know this.

So… where are we going with this?
You never simply know what works on Social. Make sure you know what the KPIs are for the channel and work to improve those stats. From there, you only know what worked last time, what your benchmarks are to beat, and what you want to test this time.

“If someone tells you what is right or wrong on SM, tell them to fuck off. It’s too early. It’s moving too fast” 
— Michael Concoran, Ryanair, Head of Social.