COVID-19 kept hundreds of millions of people locked down or quarantined in their homes in 2020 and most of us turned to the Internet to buy vital necessities, stay in touch with the outside world, and fight boredom.
Social media was one of the key outlets that enabled us to do all three.
As we head into the new year, what will be the impact on Social Advertising? How might it change? What other factors are on the horizon that will fuel the fire or change it’s trajectory?
We sat down with some of our internal Skai Social experts to gather some thoughts on how 2021 will shape up.
Five Social Advertising Predictions for 2021
Social Advertising Prediction #1 – Social advertising growth will be even higher than predicted
According to a Harris Poll, between 46% and 51% of US adults were using social media more since the start of the crisis. And that’s just on average. Younger generations skew higher as social media—which was already so ubiquitous in our lives—gained momentum.
According to a forecast from eMarketer
“US social network ad spending will rise by 11.4% to just over $40 billion this year. That’s an upgrade from our June forecast, in which we estimated just 4.8% growth in 2020. Next year, spending will rise by 21.3%, reaching nearly $49 billion.”
We predict that it will get even bigger. Building on the further inroads made by social publishers into consumer lives in 2020, this channel will flourish and entice brands to invest more than expected in 2021.
Social Advertising Prediction #2 – A cookieless 2021 means that marketers will become more reliant on social advertising
In 2021, third-party cookie tracking and mobile identifiers will become even more limited by industry policies—in the name of consumer data privacy. While in the long run, we think that this is a necessary step to keep the Internet safer for consumers, the short term impact on marketers could be severe.
Some of the standard tactics that marketers have enjoyed for so many years will fundamentally change. This includes anything facilitated through cookies such as targeting, personalization, measurement, and optimization.
Yes, marketing on the open web is going to be quite different in 2021.
However, social media and a few other big publishers will be somewhat insulated by these changes. They have first-party data on their massive user bases which they can use to enable these advanced digital marketing practices. Once the final privacy policies are enacted, marketers will be forced to decide whether or not to keep their investments in channels that will be most impacted by tracking limitations.
Eventually, marketers will adapt to the “new normal”, but until then, social advertising will be able to continue offering the data-fueled tactics that help brands meet their ROI goals.
We predict that marketers will opt to migrate a good portion to channels such as social advertising where they will be able to continue marketing with a strong focus on data-fueled audience targeting that is part of a best-practice approach.
Social Advertising Prediction #3 – Facebook makes it easy for SMBs to be retailers—and then they discover advertising
Social commerce at scale has been an inevitability for some time now, but social publishers have been somewhat challenged to make it a part of every user’s life.
One of the big steps in that direction came in 2020 when Facebook launched Shops for both it’s app and Instagram which it announced on its blog in May:
“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”
We predict big things from this move—especially because Facebook is taking a very holistic approach to incorporate multiple parts of its stack including checkout, links from ads and posts that take users directly to a buy page, Messenger to enable customer service, etc. This offering is a true end-to-end ecommerce solution and bolstered by highly engaged social audiences.
As small and medium-sized businesses begin to see the success trickle in from their Shops, they will begin to become interested in boosting that revenue through marketing. Social advertising’s “long tail” will get even longer as the aggregate spend of these small investments will add up to big gains.
Social Advertising Prediction #4 – Influencers play an even wider role in marketing
2020 was not just about COVID-19. It was a politically-charged year layered with intense societal tension. People took to social media to air their grievances and share their experiences. With more people turning to social media during the pandemic,—combined with the heightened awareness around social and political issues—influencers rose to be central figures lending their voices to the angst.
Influencer marketing was already on fire coming into the year, with 63% of marketers reporting in 2019 that they would increase their influencer marketing budget. But, coming off a charged 2020, we predict that we will see a rise in influencer marketing as a much more dominant form of social advertising.
Until now, the social media publishers have stayed out of this niche’ marketing channel, but maybe as it skyrockets, these companies will get more interested to see how they can become an intermediary.
Social Advertising Prediction #5 – Building a cleaner/safer social media environment
One of the bigger storylines that dominated the news about social media was how publishers can best police fake news. It’s a touchy subject—who decides what’s real or fake, what action should be taken against those who break the rules, what is the impact on free speech, and how does a publisher do this without losing too many users or revenue?
These aren’t easy questions to answer, but steps are already in motion. Facebook, Twitter, and others have begun taking action in the wake of a big advertiser boycott over the summer and ongoing consumer outrage.
While “fixing” social media from this perspective won’t be easy, it will hopefully result in a cleaner and safer environment for commerce and advertising. Marketers know the value of social advertising and want to invest in this area, so if the publishers can find their way through, it should give brands more confidence that they won’t feel consumer backlash over their ads.
What you will see from Skai Social in 2021
Skai Social is the leading enterprise-level platform to engage social customers while achieving your branding and performance goals.
Some of the areas that the Skai Social team are working on for next year are:
Creative intelligence tools to help social advertisers leverage AI and machine learning to better understand not just what is or isn’t working with their messaging, but why it is or isn’t working. Most large-scale social advertising programs consist of hundreds or thousands of ads. Intelligent machines can help marketers identify at scale which elements are most resonating with consumers so they can use those insights to improve their next round of creative development.
Social commerce features. As ecommerce and mcommerce heat up from the migration of consumer shopping behavior online, retail and CPG marketers will be placing a bigger emphasis on social advertising to contribute to their bottom lines. Skai Social is exploring ways to help our clients drive sales in combination with the additional tools social publishers will be launching in 2021.
Leveraging data and signals. With cookie and mobile identifiers becoming more limited in 2021, social advertisers will need to find actionable insights to fuel data-driven decision making from the available signals left after the change. As part of our Total Social Intelligence direction, our plan is to help social advertisers gather, process, and leverage first-party and third-party data inputs to get even smarter about how to plan and optimize their social investments.
Independent social measurement is a request we heard many times from our clients in 2020. Social advertising is a full-funnel marketing channel, and sometimes it can be hard to measure how upper-funnel exposure impacts conversion behavior. Look for some big moves in this area to help social advertisers better understand how their programs contribute to profitable ROI.
How ready are your social advertising programs for 2021?
This channel is heating up. What may have worked in the past might not be enough for success in the future.
What is your competitive edge? How do you plan to defend your customers from your competitors?
Social advertisers need a solid foundation for their practices and that begins with the right technology. While sufficient for small businesses, enterprise-level social advertisers need enterprise-level tools.
Skai Social has innovative and powerful features that help you save time, automate repetitive tasks, reduce errors, and build insights to maximize your advertising programs.
Reach out today to set up a brief demo to see this innovative platform for yourself.