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Our country has reached a flashpoint, and at the center of it all is social media. Many turned to social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and other online resources, like Google, for information, entertainment and to stay personally connected.
Over half of U.S. adults said they were using social media more since the COVID-19 outbreak began, according to a Harris Poll. And Nielsen reported that though social media usage was flat during the first few months of 2020, it jumped to nearly 25% of all mobile app usage.
With so many eyes on social media, it would seem the ideal place for advertising. Media agency Zenith last year predicted that social media ad spending would grow 20% in 2020, reaching $84 billion and accounting for 13% of total global ad spending. More telling, Zenith noted that social media advertising would for the first time exceed print advertising, ranking as the third largest advertising channel behind TV and paid search.
The tides turning on social media
But these predictions didn't account for current events that caused the tides to turn on social media advertising. Advertisers significantly cut back on social ad spending as consumers lost jobs, stores closed and travel was significantly reduced. Numerous large advertisers – Coca-Cola, Diageo, Lego, Microsoft Starbucks, Unilever, to name a few – have stopped advertising on some, if not all, social media platforms.
Facebook, in particular, has faced the biggest onslaught, as more than 240 companies across virtually every sector has signed onto the #StopHateforProfit campaign.
Brands need to continue building trust and connecting with customers
Social media has long been a place where consumers and brands can engage, interact and build trust. And the stands that brands are taking against misinformation and for social justice show just how closely they are listening to their customers.
As brands disengage from these social media channels, they will need to discover other ways to listen to and understand their customers. One option is through data analytics. Using a variety of sources - from brands own customer loyalty and sales information to third-party sources and demographics, brands can discover important insights into their customers as individuals. This approach will enable brands to build stronger relationships, forged on trust, loyalty and understanding, by investing in personalization as they reevaluate their marketing and advertising strategies.
The key is becoming data-led
The availability of more data sources, and greater details about customers preferences, with analytics powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, is making it possible for brands to gain a clearer understanding of what motivates customers as individuals. With these valuable insights, brands can then develop campaigns and 1:1 personalized offers that enable them to meet individual customer needs.
Today's societal flashpoint is also a catalyst for change in brand marketing. The move away from traditional marketing to one focused on smarter use of budget to leverage customer data will enable brands to deliver the value each customer wants, when they want it – making their customers lives better and building the lasting loyalty that will strengthen customer lifetime value.
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