How Brands Can Navigate Millennials’ Shifting Loyalty To Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat

The research about waning teen and Millennial use of Facebook keeps pouring in, with the main conclusion that these demos  leaving the largest social media network behind in favor of FB-owned Instagram and rival Snapchat.

While Facebook’s revenues hardly seem to show the pressure, the latest stats, from eMarketer, presents a challenge to brand marketers.

As eMarketer’s study shows, Facebook’s monthly user base among the marketer-coveted 12 to 17 age group will fall 3.4 percent vs. 2016 to 14.5 million people—the second consecutive year of expected usage declines by this group and one that will have accelerated from the 1.2 percent slip seen in 2016.

Jeff Fagel, video ad platform Eyeview‘s CMO, says most brands are ill-prepared to reach teens and millennials via Instagram or Snapchat, relying on media recycled from other channels (including TV). One problem is that advertisers are not bothering to personalize these ads for the channel or the individual.

Moreover, Instagram and Snapchat are still selling media buyers on guaranteed audiences instead of guaranteed business outcomes – the latter approach is coming into favor as marketers demand to know exactly what they are getting for their media investments.

“In the past, brands have measured success of social media campaigns using engagement metrics such as clicks, views and impressions,” says Fagel. “But brand marketers are now looking to measure real business outcomes, such as incremental purchases driven by a campaign. Facebook has a head start tying campaign success to products moved off the shelf, and that has carried over to subsidiary Instagram – we’ll see if Snapchat can move fast enough to catch up. This issue presents a real challenge for brand marketers trying to reach young audiences.”

What can brands do?

The first step is to create campaigns specifically for social media channels, and this can often be done using existing assets, says Fagel. Marketers also need to press media agencies to work with them to define measurable business outcomes for campaigns, he adds, outlining the potential fixes.

GeoMarketing: What do brands misunderstand about extending their social media campaigns aimed at Millennials and teens from Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat?

Jeff Fagel: What brands need to keep in mind first and foremost when communicating with teens and Millennials across social media platforms is that these groups are accustomed to having a fully personalized experience placed in the palm of their hand. Brands also need to remember that any campaign that is executed on any specific social media platform must be created with that specific platform in mind from the start.

No one knows these platforms better than teens and Millennials, and they’ll be the first audience to notice when something isn’t completely in sync with their experience. That will break their engagement with your message and lessen your impact.

As an example, many brands repost Instagram content to Facebook, but the way people use and engage on the platforms differs greatly. Facebook is seen more as a news and topical channel, where you connect with friends and family, while Instagram is driven by visuals, beauty, design and fashion. Having the same approach to both won’t drive the outcomes a brand is looking for compared to a separate strategy for each channel.

What we’ve found in running personalized video across both Facebook and Instagram is that you have to think beyond the platform. Marketers must also personalize creative for their audience, the time of day, the user’s location and their current activity. It’s about much more than just the platform the viewer is on, and most brands are missing an opportunity by ending their personalization at that point.

You note an emphasis on personalization when focusing on Snapchat and Instagram. How do you define that approach versus other channels that are highly targeted (such as Facebook)?

Personalization can, and should, be a part of every social media strategy because you need to personalize for the audience you’re reaching and the platform you’re on. Realize that you are competing with what the user has chosen to engage with — friends, family, favorite celebrities, etc.

Messaging must be platform-centric and mobile first, considering factors such as immediacy, attention span, scrolling behavior, but most importantly how you leverage audience data to dictate personalized creative. A/B testing is a thing of the past — marketers should be thinking about A to Infinity.

Sequent Partners’ report, Digital Video At The Inflection Point, found that video advertising with targeting and personalization generates $2.40 more return on ad spend than typical digital video benchmarks. It would be foolish for any brand investing in campaigns on these platforms to not emphasis the personalization that will make these ads work.

All of these platforms are different and brands need to edit and adapt the creative asset to work – whether that’s adding filters or images, layering in new motion graphics, generating or editing videos to create the best experience for that particular social environment.

What are the right metrics brands need to focus on when considering these personalized efforts?

Brands have been primarily focused on proxy metrics, like GRPs, TRPs, and CTRs for too long. These are worthless, plus open you up to fraud. You can fake a lot in the digital advertising space, but you can’t fake sales.

Simply, when views and completions move to the back burner and advertisers focus on actual outcomes, performance becomes the cornerstone of the campaign.

The measure of success for the entire industry needs to move to tangible sales outcomes — marketers need to hold service companies (and agencies) accountable for actual sales. The primary issue with engagement metrics is that they can easily be hacked, miscalculated or faked in some way — and they do nothing to drive measurable business. Paid media should be held accountable to delivering transactions.

If more advertisers felt the same way, we might just see fraud reduced and sales increased dramatically.

Facebook has been pushing for better outcome-focused metrics, launching updated ad formats and increasing participation with third-party measurement providers. Snapchat recently acquired Placed to help prove out the actual impact of ad campaigns on its platform. Social media companies are already trending in the right direction; as they make their measurement capabilities more standard on each campaign, brands will follow.

Snapchat has been focusing heavily on maps and attribution. How well positioned is Snapchat to drive in-store traffic and sales with those tools?

Focusing on maps and attribution shows that Snapchat is heading in the right direction in being accountable to its advertisers about what matters most: driving outcomes. Personalization is a multi-faceted strategy and comes down to a granular knowledge of user, brand, creative and platform. While a map definitely helps to drive a consumer to purchase, and is a strategy we implement frequently, it is a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are moving from simply branding to a sales tool. Marketers are under pressure to demonstrate ROI from the marketing channels they use. When it comes to social media advertising, marketers have traditionally relied on these channels to deliver branding objectives with less of a focus on sales goals.

Multi-billion-dollar marketing categories like search and display have been built around performance based approaches proving ROI and sales. That is where Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are headed, moving from simply branding to a sales tool. More and more, marketers need to prove business results. Now, with the right tools, marketers can connect social media ad spend to online and offline sales.

Do you have any recent examples of campaigns you’ve worked on by brands that are charting the right course in its focus on Instagram and/or Snapchat?

Casper, the online mattress company, is a good example of a brand using video on Instagram brilliantly. From highlighting finding the best foam, expertise and sleep science, to building creative that stands out in a cluttered feed that works with sound on or off. But what makes their creative really work is it marries visual rich, scroll stopping visuals with clear calls to action and a seamless drive-to-purchase experience. There are five simple things to drive success:

Can (or should) the approach to personalization on Snapchat and Instagram influence what brands are doing on other channels? Or does the approach need to remain unique to Snapchat and Instagram, as opposed to using the same methods on Facebook and other platforms/channels?

What’s similar across Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram is that each are mobile-first, but many marketers still think of mobile as a ‘channel’ vs. a behavior. But to make any mobile advertising worth your while, it needs to be relevant, contextual, and engaging.

In other words, we need to consider how consumers already interact with their devices and take advantage of that behavior. Today, all marketing must be channel relevant for in-market shoppers, learning along the way what combinations of creative executions with which audience segments drove the most impact.

Messaging must be platform-centric and mobile first, considering factors such as scroll behavior and app jockeying in order to drive an immediate impact within mobile environments, leveraging data to dictate creative and drive bottom-line sales.