Today’s blog post focuses on Brands that run strong Paid Social activity. So, I’ve been combing through creatives, getting myself on retargeting lists and exploring how brands both big and small make the best use of their social budget.
Huel are a poster child for Paid Social activity. Founded in 2015, by 2019 they were one of the top 10 biggest spenders on Facebook in the UK. Since then, their presence on social platforms has continued to dominate news feeds across the country, leaving a lot of users asking; “why am I always seeing Huel ads?”. Huel aren’t just trying to create short term revenue through Paid Social, they are setting out to change the way people live, how they eat, how they speak about nutrition and health. To do this they need to be more than a one-time view.
Currently, the brand has at least 38 different creatives live on Facebook alone, all jam packed full of customer testimonials, nutritional information and engaging videos. Extra points for their videos using subtitles and having strong branding from the start.
Huel are also not afraid to be reactive with their paid content, whilst Reddit exploded with investment talk in early February, Huel jumped on the bandwagon and created simple yet effective ads specifically for Reddit.
Nike might be the GOAT when it comes to sports clothing but the reason for their continued success will always come back round to their strong marketing campaigns, and their efforts with Paid Social are no exception. As with Huel, Nike aren’t just selling a product, they are selling a lifestyle. Which is why their Paid activity is a beautiful mixture of inspirational messages, product showcases and calls to download their training apps.
Nike has separate pages on the social platforms to differentiate its organic messages depending on a user’s interest or needs. But the bulk of Nike’s Paid Media comes from their main accounts. This allows Nike to keep their approach uniformed and cut down on the wasted ad spend of two pages pushing slightly different messages to the same user base. A trap many companies with multiple brands fail to avoid.
Historically, Nike could focus the bulk of their attention on upper funnel, brand-building marketing, letting stockists focus on the direct sales. However, in recent years there has been a surge in direct-to-consumer sales for the brand, now making up 30% of their revenue for 2020. Social channels are the battle ground in the move towards D2C, and lower funnel Paid Social campaigns are paramount for brands like Nike looking to drive direct traffic and cut out the middlemen.
Full disclosure, Summit have been working with Joules for several years now. Whilst their social activity is managed in house, we have played a role in shaping the channel for them.
Joules, the country living brand, started as a stand at a country show in Leicestershire in 1989. Tom Joule knew his customers well, a lot of them by name. Tom knew what they wanted, and he knew what mattered most to them. So, Tom set about reinventing traditional British clothing with an added twist.
Fast forward to 2021 and Joules’ Paid Social approach remains true to Tom’s vision. Joules’ are customer centric, which is why their copy and creative changes depending on the user and their relationship to the brand (without giving away too much and ruining their magic!). Joules run Paid Social activity specifically for each stage in the customer journey, feeding potential customers down the marketing funnel. Which is why as you become more aware of the brand, the ad types you are shown change and the messaging becomes more relevant.
For example, over the winter period Joules released a brand video in collaboration with the Woodland Trust. Users who viewed the video were then shown a boosted organic post explaining the partnership a little more and driving users to view the ‘Woodland Edit’ collection. Users who went on to site but didn’t purchase were then served a DPA with relevant products and copy.
A lot of retail brands run every campaign as if the only measure of success is direct sales. A few conversion focused campaigns with every ad type, placement, and audience possible does not make for a successful Paid Social strategy. Joules on the other hand have used Paid Social to drive store visits, gain followers on Instagram, promote competitions. Hell, they even promoted a collaboration teaching their fans how to set the perfect Christmas table. Paid Social is so much more than just peppering site visitors and hitting short term revenue targets and Joules know it.
For every big retailer doing Paid Social well there are thousands of small businesses trying to slice off their own share of the pie. To talk about brands doing Paid Social well and only mention the global, well known brands would be doing both small businesses and the channel an injustice. Even without a Nike budget, Paid Social can be done well and Snag Tights are a great example of this.
In the last 3 years Snag tights have grown their Facebook following from nothing to nearly a quarter of a million fans. Their mantra is simple, well fitted tights for everyone. This philosophy feeds into their approach to Paid Social, Snag incentivises recent purchasers to send in pictures of themselves wearing their new tights. These pictures are then used in both organic and paid marketing campaigns.
Without getting too off topic around why using real customers in fashion should be seen as a positive… Snag’s approach means that potential customers are clear of the Brand’s message from their first impression. Shoppers see real customers recommending the product and feel more confident about a first time purchase. And Snag get to stand out in a channel that is often criticised for pushing unreal expectations on body image.
Sticking with the fashion theme, Princess Polly, an Australian based fashion brand has been making waves on TikTok recently. Understanding the right channel for your brand is key to Paid Social success so for brands like Princess Polly, who align with youth culture, real beauty and ethical fashion, TikTok is the perfect channel.
Princess Polly used a unique voucher code to test the capabilities of TikTok, a clever approach when trying to find the true impact paid activity has for a Brand. Their plan was simple, reach Gen Z and Millennials with in-feed ads that included the TIKTOK20 code. TikTok have been kind enough to build a case study from the campaign so we are able to see some of the juicy metrics. From 9 million impressions Princess Polly got a 1.05% Click Through Rate and a 15X return on ad spend.
This example jumped out at me straight away, the brand clearly knows their audience and what platforms they use, the test was simple but effective and the results speak for themselves.
I’ve probably waffled on far too long now, but for a very good reason. There’s no one true fix for a brand to be successful on Paid Social. If there was, everyone would be doing it. Great Paid Social takes many forms but the brands I’ve mentioned today all have a few things in common; they are consistent and on-brand. They are willing to test and push boundaries. They know their business but more importantly they know their audience.
From juggernauts of the industry to little one-person operations based in someone’s garage, putting your customers at the heart of your activity is always the first step to great Paid Social.