Here’s why you should create social media infomercials instead of ads
I recently discovered some incredibly interesting research on social media advertising produced by Travis Chambers and his firm. They analyzed $ 80,000,000 in social media ad spend spanning 30,000 different creative assets to try to determine which types of social media ads work the most.
And frankly, what they discovered will likely surprise you and make you rethink your social media ad creation strategies in the future.
Research findings on the effectiveness of social media advertising
After analyzing all the numbers, Travis’ team found that 7 fundamental announcements represented the top performers of the top performers. Per Travis’ team, in order they are:
Video of the spokesperson: A simple video – usually about a minute long, featuring a talking head, usually a salesperson or company representative making a presentation for your product or service.
Product demo: This one is pretty straightforward. It is a demonstration of your product. A basic example of your product or service in action.
Proof / social proof: Telling you that your product is good is one thing. Getting someone else to say your product is good is a BIG thing. Look for social proof like awesome news articles, content posted by influencers, or just user-generated content that you can share.
Closer announcements: These are ads that will play more with urgency – overcoming common objections, sending add-to-cart reminders, or even post-purchase ads with a thank you from the founder who offers an additional discount on another product.
Case study: A case study has one purpose, to empirically support the statement you are making. It could be clinical trials or a simple before / after or comparison video.
Lifestyle Announcement: These videos are traditionally what you would see from a company like Nike, Febreze, or Red Bull. They focus on the most ambitious elements – how they make you feel. Show you the product used in a natural environment.
Unpacking: It really focuses on the user experience. Show your product at a customer’s doorstep, create a creative stop motion unboxing video. Show what a customer can expect from the moment they open the package and use your product for the first time.
What’s the key to learning from research?
Of the seven most effective social media advertising formats, SIX of them can be categorized as a form of infomercial and the second most effective format — Product Demo — is absolutely infomercial. But even more than the rest, the spokesperson’s video, proof / social proof, close-up publicity, case study, and unboxing are all staples of the classic infomercial format made famous by people like Ron. Popeil, Suzanne Somers, Billy Mays (not to be confused with Willie Mays).
Break down any successful infomercial and they will usually contain five key parts:
- First, they’ll identify a problem you’re having right now.
- They will make a promise, usually that this product solves the problem you are having better or easier or cheaper than the way you are currently solving that problem. Or they promise that their offer makes it easier to fix that problem you are having that you are not currently solving – think of the weight loss ads.
- Often times, they will include some sort of before / after comparison. Think of a case study ad. While not necessarily a before and after comparison, it serves the same purpose.
- There will be a limited time to purchase. This is the Closer Ad of Travis’ study.
- They will sweeten the pot with some sort of bonus offer when you buy. This is another aspect of the Closer ad listed above.
So what Travis’s research tells us is that the most effective advertising format on social media is… wait… AN INFOMERCIAL!
Why do social media users prefer infomercials?
Reading through Travis’ research, I realized that this made perfect sense when you consider his triangulated data with a few other perspectives:
First of all, I looked at his data through a purely anecdotal lens. What do people do when they browse social media and what state of mind are they in when they surf their social media? You may disagree with me, but my guess is that most of the time people scroll on social media when they are bored or in need of a distraction. This makes them open to discovery. The reason you check out your friends’ social posts is to LEARN what’s going on in their life, or maybe because you have a bad case of FOMO and are looking to see what you missed or missed. haven’t been invited to 😉. Either way, the idea of running an ad that gives you the chance to learn something new or find a solution makes sense to me.
Second, there is recent data to support my above hypothesis. Hootsuite just released its 2021 Global Report, and the US portion of the report has some pretty interesting data. While TV ads ranked # 1 for new brand discovery (37.6%), social media ranked # 6 with 25.7% of respondents indicating they used the platform as their primary way to discover new brands.
This same report showed that even when consumers were in the active news search mode, social media was ranked fourth (31.7% said it was a primary search platform) against the winner – search engines (duh) at 58.1%.
Third, additional data from GWI’s February 2020 Zeitgeist study of US and UK internet users showed that across all age groups, “give me product info” was the number one thing people wanted in online advertising with 40% of Gen Z, 45% of Gen Y, 52% of Gen X and 57% of Baby Boomers agree with the statement.
Fourth, and finally, Clutch Advertising Research found that 51% of users disliked “non-informative ads”. But perhaps the most interesting data point of this ad was that respondents believed the least reliable ad media to be “online” (41%) and “social media” (38%). Hmmmm… people questioned therefore do not trust these media as much as they do radio, television or the written press. Perhaps this is another reason why Travis’ research found that ads that follow an infomercial format work better: because they’re demonstrative, and therefore consumers are more comfortable with them. trust than a traditional “branded ad” that just says “trust me because I, the brand, you say.
Why is this important?
That same clutch report showed that consumers make purchases after seeing or hearing an advertisement on social media (42%). And Hootsuite research seems to confirm the same. According to the Hootsuite study, US Facebook users were just as likely to click an ad each month (19 times) as they were to like, comment, and share COMBINED posts (20 times).
Consumers today have been trained to accept advertising in their social media feeds. And research shows they’re okay as long as the ads are relevant, informative, and for products and services that solve a problem or meet a need they’re currently having.