At L2′s Social is Media Clinic last Thursday, representatives from Twitter, Facebook / Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest discussed why their platform deserved the largest amount of brands’ social media ad budgets. With social media advertising budgets rising and organic reach to audiences in decline, the need for brands to carefully plan the right cocktail of social media budgets across platforms, and between organic and paid content, is imperative.

Thomas Puckett, Brand Strategist at Facebook and Instagram, discussed the importance of Facebook’s advanced behavioral targeting strategy and also highlighted the usage on the platforms, where 23% of time on mobile smartphones is spent on Facebook or Instagram apps. Twitter’s user base comprises 16% of those of Facebook and Instagram combined in our Intelligence Report: Instagram. Instead of focusing primarily on statistics, Twitter presenter Kunur Patel, Content Planning Manager at Twitter, used a Zzzquill case study to show the unique potential that advertising on the platform can provide. When users tweeted about tiredness, ZzzQuill automatically followed up with the sponsored tweet, “seriously, these tweets will still be here tomorrow, let’s go to bed together ZzzQuill.” With a lower audience reach, smart advertising remains Twitter’s strong suit.

Youtube’s ability to feature brand products in viral videos, with 1 of 3 viewers sharing video content, was a primary highlight for Youtube presenter and brand strategist David Sandler. Individuals in the US aged 18-24 spend more time watching Youtube than cable TV. Sandler stressed the importance of using the platform to inject brands and products onto the channels of popular content creators. According to Sandler, 90% of beauty and fashion views on youtube derive from content creators instead of brands. Positioning products on videos from content creators will be key for brand awareness on Youtube.

Pinterest’s ability to influence users through curated boards and pins might increase the quality of brand influence, but, the quantity (reach) remains low in comparison to other platforms. From 2010 through 2014, Pinterest visits comprised 1% of all social media visits. Vikram Bhaskaran, L2 alum and Head of Strategic Parterships at Pinterest focused on the curatorial and inspirational aspect of the platform. After launching promoted pins in May to a select group of iconic brands, Pinterest launched a new self-service cpc promoted pin strategy earlier this month. However, the ROI for brands remains unknown as Pinterest advertising is still in its infancy.

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Each platform provides a different advantage for advertisers and social media content creators. L2 found in the Intelligence Report: Instagram that the size vs. engagement of brand accounts on Instagram is much higher than Facebook or Twitter with 15x the engagement of its nearest competitor. Active usage continues to grow on Instagram with a 23% change in active usage YoY vs. 6%, 2% and -3% on Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube and Facebook, respectively. For brands, this means that Instagram is the most powerful platform for brand engagement. However, other social media platforms have a competitive edge for budgets and industries, implying that social media strategies require a mix that is unique to each brand and their consumer.

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