Highlights from Social Media Week NYC

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Every year, Social Media Week brings together leaders from brands, agencies, publishers, startups, and platforms. Professionals share cutting edge ideas and insights into how social media and technology are changing business and society across the globe.

Last week, Adaptly had the honor of holding two sessions at the annual conference in New York City. Couldn’t make it? Read on for key highlights from speakers on the panels.

Session 1 | Pinterest: From Inspiration to Conversion

Autonomous marketing platforms aren’t so much about “social” anymore

Sean O’Neal, Adaptly president, noted that autonomous platforms like Pinterest have their own closed ecosystems and user experiences, with ad formats that are native and follow the customer experience (instead of the other way around). Most importantly, they capture users’ identities, allowing platforms to deliver more relevance and value in terms of content and the ad experience.

One of marketers’ mistakes is thinking about the autonomous marketing platforms as “social media platforms” while “social” is just one element of their experience.  Each represents a distinct consumer behavior: if Facebook is about the past, and Instagram and Twitter are about the present, Pinterest is a platform that represents the future. This lack of standardization has led to fragmentation, and each autonomous platform equates to a unique marketing tactic that allow brands to achieve virtually any objective across the purchase funnel.

Pinterest is personal and aspirational, has deep commercial intent

According to Mike Akkerman, Pinterest’s Head of Marketing Developer Partnerships, Pinterest specifically is a mobile-first platform that helps bridge the online and offline divide. While in-store, people pull up Pinterest on their smartphones to refer to products they’ve saved for the future on their wishlist.

Akkerman and his team have seen Pinners turn to their platform for several key use cases: discovering new content and ideas through search and on boards, seamlessly saving them for the future, and taking action later. The planning aspect of Pinterest is the crux of the platform, said Akkerman, with 73% of Pinners using Pinterest to plan for the future—whether it’s the car they want to buy, the new clothes they want for summer fashion, and so on.

Three-quarters of the 50 billion Pins come from brands and not only are businesses essential and brand messaging required, they’re highly welcome. Pinterest is a catalog of ideas and the best ideas come from brands.

Pinterest’s sweet spot is the mid-funnel consideration stage where consumers haven’t made a product decision yet and they’re open to discovery. 72% of Pinners say Pinterest has introduced them to new brands or services. What’s more, 87% make purchase decisions based on items they find on Pinterest.

For Warby Parker, Pinterest is a full-funnel solution

Brian Magida, Director of Digital Marketing at retailer Warby Parker, noted that his team structures marketing campaigns agnostic to strategy and tactic and instead focuses on playing where their customers are. They don’t allocate their budget by social, display, search, etc. Rather, they dynamically designate spend based on performance.

Magida continued, saying Pinterest is a full-funnel solution where keyword targeting is important. Different from a classic search engine, Pinterest opens up keywords for targeting—like competitor terms—since Pins are contextually relevant against queries. While the platform provides brands with ample opportunities unavailable through highly competitive search marketing, Warby Parker focuses Pinterest campaigns on eyeglasses because the vertical is less crowded than the sunglasses category.

Though retailers can use Pinterest to stand out in the marketplace, some may worry about Pins accurately reflecting current offerings since inventory can rapidly change—products sell out, become low in stock, or are restocked, plus completely new goods come in. This isn’t a concern for Warby Parker, which doesn’t promote specific products with the intention to drive sales. Warby Parker’s marketing approach focuses on communicating the brand’s value proposition and why Pinners should consider it over competitors’.

When it comes to measuring campaign success, Magida uses a holistic attribution system, giving credit where it’s due—instead of operating in a first- or last-click world—then adjusting campaigns accordingly. To that, Akkerman responded: “Last-click attribution is like a shopkeeper looking at their front door and seeing all consumers come in and thinking ‘If I had two more front doors I’d have three times as many sales.’”

Session 2 | Friends, Not Frenemies: Facebook and Instagram

Facebook-Instagram SMWNYC 2016

Jessica Sherrets from Instagram: “Images are a universal language.”

Jessica Sherrets, Brand Development Lead at Instagram, explained that images are universal, transcend languages and cultures, and take you to other places.  And Instagram is a place for not only beautiful photos but also creativity and discovery.

Businesses have always been important to the Instagram community, which now has more than 200,000 advertisers:

  • Nearly half of users follow a business
  • Almost 60% learn about a product/service
  • 34% visited a site for more info

While initial ads on the platform focused on upper-funnel objectives like driving brand awareness, association, and affinity, they can now achieve lower-funnel goals like mobile app installs or re-engagement. 

Overall, one in five mobile minutes is spent on Facebook and Instagram, more than the next 10 platforms combined. Just how do the two platforms compare?

  • Facebook is about personal discovery and one-to-one relationships with friends and family
  • Instagram is geared towards visual inspiration and an interest-based relationship

Sherrets later said “good creative is good creative” and shared tips for brands to produce standout content on both channels:

  • repurpose existing content
  • develop content with a partner
  • produce content in-house—it doesn’t have to be high-budget to perform well
  • create custom assets with an agency and/or production company

Ultimately, companies can achieve incremental and efficient reach by running a campaign across three platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. They can tailor campaigns to things like interests, behaviors, partner categories, custom audiences, and lookalikes to result in no waste for their message.

Paid social allows brands to “reach people not just cookies”

Ruth Arber, Adaptly’s Director of Solutions, shared reasons why Facebook is an established marketing channel. A few of the perks:

  • reach people not just cookies
  • huge scale—reach and frequency
  • effective native formats
  • achieve objectives from brand lift to on-site sales
  • reach users across devices and report on it

Although Instagram was initially seen as a branding channel, it’s a full-funnel solution, able to drive brand awareness all the way to direct response (e.g., app installs).

Brands can strategically leverage Facebook and Instagram for advertising success—Facebook for its wide audience reach and Instagram for its engaged and creative millennial audience. Using both platforms allows companies to extend the reach of TV activity and optimize placement, enabling advertisers to identify their core objective and optimize inventory across channels to increase cost efficiency.

Cross-platform storytelling, specifically sequenced messaging, can funnel users from awareness to action. Arber provided several tips for advertisers launching Facebook and Instagram campaigns:

  1. Leverage the uniqueness of each platform
  2. Tailor creative, content, and messaging to each channel
  3. Take advantage of cross-platform features like optimized placement
  4. Test against multiple objectives and gain learnings—TV Land, an Adaptly client, successfully extended the show Teachers’s video campaign from Facebook using the same creative assets for Instagram and optimize placement to optimize for views. Adaptly found that Facebook ads had higher video completion rates for older audiences but Instagram for higher video completion than with younger audiences.

Video: biggest opportunity for Instagram advertisers (aside from Canvas)

Josh Machiz, Director of Integrated Marketing at Nasdaq, shed light on the fact that Nasdaq advertises for listed companies when they go public.  According to Machiz, paid social often performs better than other digital ads and “has more to measure and takeaway.” Plus, brands can reuse their audience for future promotions.

Machiz’s clients have seen great success testing video—especially those that are 15-second—and cites the medium as the biggest opportunity for advertisers.  That’s after the immersive and mobile-first ad unit Canvas, which Machiz finds most exciting and says will be a game-changer.

Use insights to inform social media strategy

Kristin Rolla Mirek, VP, Multi-Platform Development & Marketing, TV Land at Viacom, discusses how experimentation is a strong component of her team’s marketing activations, which is focused on show launches/premieres instead of trying to be “always-on.”

For Season 1 of the show Younger, they invested heavily in Facebook ads and little on Instagram. For Season 2, they relied more on the audience they built organically on Instagram and the reputation they had gained for strong visual content.

Mirek’s team tends to experience higher view-through and engagement rates for shorter videos and operate with the mentality that ”shorter is better.” TV Land typically sticks to delivering ads no more than 20 seconds long on Facebook—where autoplay strategy is key—and 15 seconds on Instagram. However, Mirek is willing to break orthodoxy a bit when it comes to blended placement, which makes it easy to extend media reach across platforms and drive efficiencies. Ultimately, she applies best practices from platforms like Facebook and Instagram and her own insights from past experience to develop future paid social campaigns.