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The Power of Real-Time Content - Adaptly

4 Apr 2017 - 15:09 |

The Power of Real-Time Content

Amidst a 150% increase in video consumption on Instagram, as well as the rollout of ‘Stories’ last year, it is safe to say that moving imagery in general -and the ephemeral format in particular - have become increasingly important elements of the platform. And to help businesses capitalise on the growing popularity of real-time content, Instagram launched full-screen ads in stories to global advertisers in March.

A popular feature from the get-go (100 million Instagrammers adopted it within the first two months), Stories has since led to a significant increase in user-generated content and follower engagement on the platform. 70% of users follow at least one business, and one-third of the most viewed stories currently come from brands. The introduction of ads within the feature provides advertisers with yet another avenue to connect with current and prospective audiences, using efforts that are complementary to other paid activity in the main news feed.

Video has long been one of the vital elements of social media marketing, especially for building awareness, and livestreaming is great for engaging users around current happenings with a natural tie to your brand. Real-time formats, such as Instagram Stories, are particularly interesting as they enable companies to be a bit more experimental, raw, and authentic. They open up an array of opportunities, so how can advertisers best use these features to connect with the right audience, at the right time?

Start with the audience

There are already a lot of real-time formats out there and in order to know which ones are a good fit for your brand, it is usually wise to start with identifying your audience. Once you have established who you want to reach and when, you can move on to mapping out the platforms where these users are the most active. People turn to social platforms for different things and when in various states of mind so by breaking down the user journey, brands can fine-tune their messaging to resonate with the right people.

Also, remember that an effective paid social campaign is not always about reaching the largest possible audience. Depending on the objective, who you connect with is just as important in driving true return on investment.

Fine-tune your creative

While real-time formats allow brands to be a bit more experimental, it is crucial to tweak your creative to work with the native look and feel of the various platforms. In general, social media users are rather accepting of advertising, as long as creative (and messaging) add value rather than disrupt the experience.

It is often possible to repurpose creative elements across various social channels, as long as the content is fine-tuned to work with their respective style and mode. However, it is usually not advisable to try and use assets from traditional channels, such as TV commercials, for paid social activity. Social video is different in that it often only has about 5 seconds to engage viewers, and this is particularly true for ephemeral formats. Therefore, it is good to include prominent branding early on in order to engage and retain audiences.

Stay true to your brand

Live video and disappearing formats are exciting but that doesn’t mean that they are inherently suitable for all brands and objectives. It is important that advertisers stay true to their identity and brand story in order to convey a coherent message across various platforms and features. In the vast majority of cases, ads will achieve greater audience engagement when there is real credibility to the content – i.e., “it just makes sense.” For example, real-time formats are effective in showcasing things such as limited time opportunities, exclusive experiences, current promotions, and behind-the-scene content.

And as these types of social ad products continue to evolve, we can expect to see a corresponding increase in users’ expectations on everything from creative and messaging to overall effectiveness in telling the brand’s story.

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