Perception of social advertising has mostly stagnated or declined in the past year, according to a study commissioned by social media management platform Sprout Social. Two-fifths (39%) of survey respondents said recent political events have decreased their trust in social ads.
The biggest complaints among consumers whose opinion of social advertising declined are uninteresting content (31%) and irrelevance (26%). On platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, a majority of consumers aren’t finding much to stop them from scrolling past ads, Sprout said.
One-third of people are more likely to engage with social ads that are educational, with 65% of consumers saying they will click through to learn more. The most popular features in ads are entertaining content (41%) and discounts (37%), the survey of 1,000 Americans found.
The promise of social media is in delivering marketers to the happy hunting grounds of high ROIs, CTRs, conversions and every other ad metric that gets a boost from effective audience targeting. But the in-depth data that social media platforms collect about their users don’t necessarily translate into compelling ads that halt mobile users from quickly scrolling by, as Sprout Social’s study suggests.
Entertainment is the best way to stop scrolling with 41% of people reporting that entertaining content makes them more likely to engage with a social ad. That doesn’t mean marketers need to hire celebrity spokespeople, seek the endorsement of social influencers or create stylized imagery to grab viewers. Video is favored among 83% of survey respondents, and GIFs are viewed favorably among 58% of social media users (or 70% among millennials). People are more interested in seeing ads from brands (57%) than from influencers (43%), with a key emphasis on transparency and authenticity.
While entertaining social media users is important in grabbing their attention, educating them about a product or service is perhaps more important. Consumers who make personal connections with a brand — by appreciating its differences from competitors, sharing its values or learning a new skill – are more likely to be loyal customers. About two-thirds (65%) of consumers that click on social media ads aren’t necessarily looking to make a purchase, but are more interested in learning more about a product, subject or an adjacent topic, per Sprout Social.
If all else fails, social media ads that offer ways to save money are also popular, with 37% of survey respondents saying they respond to discounts or special offers. Baby boomers, many of whom are at retirement age and may depend on a fixed income, are most responsive to discounts, followed by education and entertainment. Sprout compiled its findings from Survata, an independent research firm that interviewed 1,004 online respondents March 5-6.
Suspicion of Facebook has grown since news reports claimed the social network shared personal information about millions of users with a third-party app that fed the data to a consulting firm working for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook yesterday said the data of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, the firm connected to the Trump campaign.
Among Facebook users who were aware of the news about Cambridge Analytica, 67% percent trust the social media network less than they did before learning about its handling of personal data, per a survey by marketing firm MGH. When asked if they trust Facebook to keep their personal information safe, more than 70% disagreed, with 38% completely disagreeing and 33% somewhat disagreeing. Most of those surveyed said they’re very unlikely to delete their Facebook account, though 22% said they are somewhat unlikely, 26% said they weren't sure, 12% were somewhat likely and 5% were very likely to leave the social network.
Fewer than half of Americans (41%) trust Facebook to obey U.S. privacy laws, per a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week. Americans are more likely to trust other tech companies with their data, including Amazon (66%), Google (62%), Microsoft (60%) and Yahoo (47%). About two-thirds of people (63%) said they would like to see “less targeted advertising” in the future, and almost half of survey respondents (46%) said they want more government regulation on the social media industry. As Facebook faces more investigations and a barrage of lawsuits, marketers should expect to see more fallout from the social network's data scandal.