Want An Award-Winning Social Campaign? It's All About Timing

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It was a big night in Hollywood on Sunday, as millions tuned in to the 90th annual Academy Awards. The politically-charged Oscars ceremony celebrated diversity, inclusion, and women in film, as Guillermo del Toro's “The Shape of Water,” took home the coveted “Best Picture” and “Best Director” nods.

Though final viewership numbers aren't in just yet, initial ratings reports show a 24 percent drop from 2017. Similar lapses in viewership were noted during the 2018 Winter Olympics, which wrapped up in late February.

Like the Olympics, ad spend saw a surge surrounding the Oscars season. ABC reportedly asked for upwards of $2.6 million for a 30-second broadcast spot this year. On social media, brands were also cashing in, as they have been year-over-year. According to data from Unified, Oscars-related spending increased 37 percent from 2016 to 2017, with ad spend exceeding campaign volume. This means brands are spending more, but they're doing it in a targeted way.

Events like the Olympics or the Oscars are prime opportunities for companies to tap into organic conversations and drive creative, event-specific campaigns on social media. But not all platforms are created equally -- and each channel demands different tactics to see success.

“It's not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Rick Martira, VP of marketing, Unified, said. “Social is so rich with data that you can get really specific with what you want to accomplish.”

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook remains one of the most powerful (and cost-effective) platforms to promote and target audiences efficiently. Facebook also offers longevity, allowing brands to build campaign awareness and drum up excitement over extended periods of time. These types of campaigns may offer consumers a mix of content, or unique calls to action that change as the campaign matures.

Instagram is known for its rich visual content and influencer community. According to Martira, video and GIF-inspired calls to action have more traction here.

“Under the hood, Instagram is very ad-friendly,” Martira said, noting the platform uses a similar ad interface as their parent company, Facebook.  “It's also a very visual medium, so it means making sure you tailor and shape your content to the aesthetic Instagram has."

According to Unified research, brands took advantage of Facebook's lifespan to get in on the Oscars conversation as it was beginning. Ad spend on Facebook and Instagram in 2017 were higher on the day Oscar nominations were announced. This is compared to Twitter, which saw higher numbers on the day of the actual event.

Twitter and Snapchat

Twitter is more instantaneous than other social media platforms. Higher volumes of in-the-moment conversation demands close monitoring to ensure brands are communicating at the right time.

“Twitter is great when the event is happening because you can speak to and capitalize on conversations,” Martira said.

On Snapchat, it's all about bringing your audience into the conversation.

“The best creative to have on Snapchat is one that mirrors the experience,” Martira said. “Say, for example, you're a movie studio. Instead of posting a whole trailer, you may want to have a star from the movie do a selfie video.”

When it comes to ad spend, Unified data shows brands are willing to shell out the big bucks as bigger audiences tune in. In 2017, ad spend was 105.7 percent higher than average the day of the Oscars, while impressions saw a nearly 34 percent spike.

What about hashtags?

When considering hashtags, do your research. Tools like BuzzSumo can also help you identify ongoing trends and key influencers you may want to target. Many events will have one main hashtag, or several variants central to the event. For example, this year's Winter Olympics had several trending hashtags (#Olympics, #Olympics2018). The Oscars followed suit, with #Oscars, #Oscars90, and #OscarNoms, which trended during nominations.

Hashtags can also be inspired from organic moments that lead to larger conversations.We've seen this most recently with the rise of the #MeToo movement, which has moved beyond social media and into the national spotlight. In 2015, April Reign started the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, which continues to raise awareness for diversity in Hollywood. In today's climate, consumers find affinity with brands who share their political or social views, which challenges marketers to figure out messaging that resonates with their audience, and aligns with their brand.

Close the loop

The data collected from in-the-moment campaigns can help build new audiences based off unifying interests, or strengthen your retargeting efforts the next time around.

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