There is no doubt that the world of marketing has been changed forever thanks to the emergence of social media, especially in the last five years or so. In the past, the only real way to advertise your brand or product online was to do it on your blog, or to develop a relationship with the media. Now, you have a wide variety of options to choose from on any social media platform, and the most relevant of them all seem to be Instagram and YouTube.
Instagram is the fastest growing social network, with over 1 billion monthly users and over 500 million people who use it on a daily basis. From a digital advertising perspective, that is a huge market, with lots of potential customers, as well as lots of people advertising their products. Not too shabby for a platform that was originally conceived as a way for people to share photos with their friends.
YouTube, on the other hand, is no less impressive, since it is the world’s second-largest engine and second most visited website after Google. But, it is also the second-largest social media platform with over 1.9 billion monthly users. There is no doubt that both of these platforms have made a massive impact on how digital ads are used nowadays. Let’s take a look at how they did it and how they will continue to shape it in the future.
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1. Video Is More Popular than Ever
Whether you are looking to promote your handmade products or promote paper writing services, YouTube and Instagram are the places to be, because most of your target audience is already there. But, that’s not the only reason why you should turn to video. It is huge right now in terms of popularity, and it’s only going to grow even further. According to Adobe, 52% of marketing professionals have singled out video as the content with the best ROI of them all.
For instance, the biggest YouTube ad of 2018 was Amazon’s “Alexa lost her voice” video, featuring a line-up of celebrities, raking in over 50 million views. Obviously, people have an affinity for video content, because they are visually oriented, and because video is easier to digest than other forms of digital advertising. And it’s not just ads that users are looking at. They are also looking at behind-the-scenes content, tutorials, courses, industry interviews, as well as reviews, all of which you can use to promote your brand of product.
2. Ephemeral Content Is All the Rage Nowadays
At first glance, this sort of content makes very little sense from a digital advertising point of view. Why would you put an expiration date on your content, and one of 24 hours at that? Of course, we are talking about ephemeral content such as stories, which can be found on Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. According to Mark Wilson, who works as the head of marketing for A-Writer, it works because of the viewers’ fear of missing out, which is a marketing concept that has been around for ages, and which has been used as a driver for just about every sale and special offer out there.
One of the best examples of using this type of content to drive sales is Everlane, which has been killing when it comes to their Instagram stories. Not only are their stories creative, but they are also very diverse. They have even gone as far as to hire professional filmmakers in order to shoot videos featuring their latest puffer jacket, and to do so in an ice cave.
3. Influencers Have the Power
Most users out there are tired of being buried in ads everywhere they go online, as pretty much everything has turned into a sales pitch, no matter how creative. Instead of listening to companies, they are looking for social proof, which shows that the products they are interested in are the real deal. And when it comes to social proof, they either look for recommendations from their friends, or their peers online, also known as influencers. They trust the influencers because they are regular people just like them, providing their own authentic take on products they are interested in.
And it works, because influencers on both Instagram and YouTube have millions of followers and represent an extremely influential force capable of shedding a positive or negative light on anything from a beauty product line to dissertation service. Unlike ads, content created by influencers is a lot more unbiased and features the products actually being used, giving viewers a better idea of what they like.
4. User-Generated Content Has Become a Thing
One of the most effective Instagram ideas for engaging your followers is UGC, or user-generated content. While user-generated content is not an entirely new concept, it has emerged into the spotlight with the invention of YouTube and Instagram. We have already mentioned how influencers are creating content in order to generate a genuine user experience and provide social proof, and users are doing pretty much the same thing, with brands enabling them every step of the way. For brands, user-generated content adds a layer of authenticity to their ad campaigns, but in a way that doesn’t feel forced or overly salesy. But, what really makes UGC so great is that it boosts engagement unlike anything else, especially on Instagram.
This leads to more comments and likes, and it also means that those posts will be prioritized in the Instagram feed, which is crucial, since there is so much Instagram content out there and it’s easy to get lost in all the noise. One of the best examples of using UGC in digital advertising is Starbucks’ #RedCupContent annual campaign that takes place during the holiday season. Starbucks is known for its green cups, but during the holidays, they will roll out the red cups and holiday drinks and invite users to generate holiday-themed content featuring the cups. Using the branded hashtag, users also get a chance to win a generous Starbucks gift card.
This campaign works in two ways. First of all, it boosts engagement, as we have already mentioned. Second, it boosts sales directly because, in order to take part in the campaign, you need to actually buy the drink inside that special cup.
5. New Visual Trends Have Emerged
YouTube and Instagram have also become a playground for a whole slew of new visual trends. For instance, if you were to search for the hashtag #flatlay, you would be able to see over 7.5 million different posts on Instagram. In case you are not familiar with the term, a flat lay is an overhead shot of a product that is displayed as part of a fancy or artful arrangement. The great thing about flat lays is that they can be used for anything, from showing off your tech gear to your food. Not only is this trend visually appealing, but it also looks like a perfect match for Instagram’s post format. Plus, it really stands out among all the selfies out there. And when it comes to YouTube, you will also find plenty of videos that utilize this visual approach.
Also, people are taking photos of their food more than ever, for better or worse, either by utilizing the flat lay approach or any other angle. Restaurants and bars can make use of this approach and promote their offers in a way that is eye-catching and appealing, teasing the kind of user-experience their guests will get. This means that your regular shots of menu items will no longer do. In addition to food, another area where both Instagram and YouTube have really taken it up a notch is travel. It’s extremely hard to imagine anyone going on a vacation and taking at least a few snaps or videos of their experiences out there.
6. Different Types of YouTube Ads
While brands can use YouTube videos to promote their products, or make use of reviews and unboxing videos, that is still a form of content production. However, you can use YouTube to display your own ads in other people’s videos, and even choose among several different types of ads. In a broader sense, there are only two types of ads on YouTube: those that you can skip, and those that you can’t skip. But, both types of ads can be categorized based on their placement too, which means you have more than two options at your disposal.
Non-skippable ads get better engagement than their non-skippable counterparts, because a user has to watch them all the way through in order to view the desired video. However, this also leads to higher video view abandonment percentage. Skippable ads, also known as TrueView or In-stream ads, can be displayed in two different manners. In-stream ads are shown anywhere inside the video itself, while Video discovery YouTube ads, also previously known as In-display ads, are shown at the top of the YouTube search results, among the related videos, or as video overlays.
There are also ads that are called bumpers. These are the shortest, as they only last for six seconds, and they always play before your chosen video. You have probably seen a bumper for Netflix many times by now. They are also non-skippable. While they are not necessarily enough on their own, they can complement your existing video ad campaigns. It all depends on how creative you are.
7. Companies Can Now Experience Backlash
Not that they couldn’t have experienced backlash before in case of huge gaffes, but they do have to be a lot more careful nowadays, especially on social media. Just like a great video, post, or a story has the potential to go viral, a bad reputation can also spread like the plague in no time. All it takes is one bad customer experience, which is then magnified on social media through likes, shares, and comments, especially if a company fails to address the issue.
Things are a lot more transparent on both Instagram and YouTube, and it’s not just the customers who are willing to provide their take on a particular brand or product. Former employees and industry insiders are also willing to take a stand. Also, the companies themselves have to be more careful when it comes to political correctness in order to not offend any particular group. Needless to say, that is easier said than done nowadays.
8. Organic Marketing Is Where It’s At
Most marketing methods feel forced, and that includes PPC ads, banners, and pop-ups. Even sponsored content can feel artificial and forced a lot of times. Customers are looking for brands that are able to provide them with a more personalized experience, which demonstrates that they are being valued. We have already mentioned how transparency can be used against companies, but companies can also make it work for them. For instance, they can now actively engage with their followers on Instagram and YouTube, either through comments, or live video streams.
And it can help them mitigate the damage that has already been done. Let’s say a customer is complaining on your social media about the meal they have ordered in your restaurant. The best course of action would be to address them personally and remedy the issue by offering a complimentary meal (provided that it was indeed a mistake on your part) and an apology. It will most likely help you keep that customer in the future and attract a few others along the way, just because you have gone the extra mile and engaged with your customers.
The world of digital advertising has become incredibly complex, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how good you are at using it to your own advantage. There is massive potential in YouTube and Instagram, and we hope that the tips laid out in this article will convince you to join the bandwagon. Good luck!