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Your Paid Social Creative Isn’t Working And Here’s Why

Paaula Baxi
Paaula Baxi

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A year is a long old time in the marketing landscape, especially us lucky lot that get to call social home. In the last year alone we’ve seen Metaverse’s come and go, new platforms (hi Threads 👋), entire name changes (I’m still not over typing “formerly Twitter'' to every conversation X is mentioned), and new features galore.

But the most impactful of these changes to brands is the advancement of AI to power media platforms algorithms. Paid social media buyers usually see extremes on either end of the spectrum when it comes to creative output - brands investing into big campaign ideas and moments, with social being one of many battlegrounds, and brands neglecting creative entirely, focussed instead on growth driving paid media tactics. But with this change in how social algorithms operate, being on either end of this spectrum will be leaving you exposed to plummeting performance.

The very nature of how creative is used on social media advertising has changed. It’s not about turning up in the right place, at the right time with outstanding creative that wins hearts and minds. Today the creative asset itself determines where, who and how you show up at all. And because so much of a good paid social strategy is dependent on the content itself, your approach has to be formulaic enough to measure its performance, without compromising on that creative edge that makes a user actually care to stop from scrolling. Content is hard to measure, but paid social is built to be measured, so identifying a way of combining the two can drive real, insightful learnings that unlock incredible potential. 

A formulaic framework:
For brands that are starting out on this journey, step one is to apply a formulaic framework for creative testing to establish a foundation of learnings to build from. When working with video, applying a modular approach to creation can yield great analysis on paid media creative. Slicing the components of your overall messaging down into segments - whether it’s pain points/desires, social proofing, the proposition as the solution, scarcity - and then building multiple asset variations with each section's orders mixed up.

Measuring their performance from your primary KPIs, and additional storytelling metrics like hook and hold rates help you learn about messaging hierarchy, who your ideal customer is and what motivates them. The same theory can be applied to other ad formats, although storytelling metrics are less rich, so isolating each testing variable is doubly important for learnings. (There’s even ways to give your catalogues a boost through creative learning taken from your strategy, but stay tuned for part 2 to learn more on that…)

Creative diversity: 
Step 2 involves applying the knowledge you gain in step 1 about your community and their behaviours a level further. Using the insights gained to inform new creative styles, formats and innovations that unlock and engage new audiences, without needing to change anything else in your media strategies. Remembering that ad content signals the algorithm and determines how it’s used, so neglecting step 2 and leaning too far into formula and rules and data, i.e. “statics talking about pain point 1 worked well, let’s brief more of those” can actually lead to negative results, shrink your audience pool down and stop you from being able to effectively scale performance. Ultimately, creative has to be creative in order to retain relevance, authenticity and excitement to the human on the other end. That shouldn’t be compromised in the endeavour to gather data and influence performance. 

In summary, creative is not just the key; but the entire vehicle to success. Marketers who fail to embrace this idea, and continue to rely too heavily on their strategic media buying smarts, risk being left behind in a rapidly evolving landscape. So too do marketers and brands who fail to approach creative strategically, with a long term and dynamic lens. Paid social is a unique medium that can teach us so much about our customers; how to capture their attention, engage them, convert them, retain them and make them lifelong fans, on and offline. When used correctly, the opportunity for brands to succeed is endless. 

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Your Paid Social Creative Isn’t Working And Here’s Why

A year is a long old time in the marketing landscape, especially us lucky lot that get to call social home. In the last year alone we’ve seen Metaverse’s come and go, new platforms (hi Threads 👋), entire name changes (I’m still not over typing “formerly Twitter'' to every conversation X is mentioned), and new features galore.

But the most impactful of these changes to brands is the advancement of AI to power media platforms algorithms. Paid social media buyers usually see extremes on either end of the spectrum when it comes to creative output - brands investing into big campaign ideas and moments, with social being one of many battlegrounds, and brands neglecting creative entirely, focussed instead on growth driving paid media tactics. But with this change in how social algorithms operate, being on either end of this spectrum will be leaving you exposed to plummeting performance.

The very nature of how creative is used on social media advertising has changed. It’s not about turning up in the right place, at the right time with outstanding creative that wins hearts and minds. Today the creative asset itself determines where, who and how you show up at all. And because so much of a good paid social strategy is dependent on the content itself, your approach has to be formulaic enough to measure its performance, without compromising on that creative edge that makes a user actually care to stop from scrolling. Content is hard to measure, but paid social is built to be measured, so identifying a way of combining the two can drive real, insightful learnings that unlock incredible potential. 

A formulaic framework:
For brands that are starting out on this journey, step one is to apply a formulaic framework for creative testing to establish a foundation of learnings to build from. When working with video, applying a modular approach to creation can yield great analysis on paid media creative. Slicing the components of your overall messaging down into segments - whether it’s pain points/desires, social proofing, the proposition as the solution, scarcity - and then building multiple asset variations with each section's orders mixed up.

Measuring their performance from your primary KPIs, and additional storytelling metrics like hook and hold rates help you learn about messaging hierarchy, who your ideal customer is and what motivates them. The same theory can be applied to other ad formats, although storytelling metrics are less rich, so isolating each testing variable is doubly important for learnings. (There’s even ways to give your catalogues a boost through creative learning taken from your strategy, but stay tuned for part 2 to learn more on that…)

Creative diversity: 
Step 2 involves applying the knowledge you gain in step 1 about your community and their behaviours a level further. Using the insights gained to inform new creative styles, formats and innovations that unlock and engage new audiences, without needing to change anything else in your media strategies. Remembering that ad content signals the algorithm and determines how it’s used, so neglecting step 2 and leaning too far into formula and rules and data, i.e. “statics talking about pain point 1 worked well, let’s brief more of those” can actually lead to negative results, shrink your audience pool down and stop you from being able to effectively scale performance. Ultimately, creative has to be creative in order to retain relevance, authenticity and excitement to the human on the other end. That shouldn’t be compromised in the endeavour to gather data and influence performance. 

In summary, creative is not just the key; but the entire vehicle to success. Marketers who fail to embrace this idea, and continue to rely too heavily on their strategic media buying smarts, risk being left behind in a rapidly evolving landscape. So too do marketers and brands who fail to approach creative strategically, with a long term and dynamic lens. Paid social is a unique medium that can teach us so much about our customers; how to capture their attention, engage them, convert them, retain them and make them lifelong fans, on and offline. When used correctly, the opportunity for brands to succeed is endless. 

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10 Things We Learned At Cannes Lions 2024

Phew. 

So here we are, another Cannes down. The biggest one yet? Perhaps not, but for Spin, no doubt. 

We were fortunate enough to take down a big team to get stuck in and see what it’s all about. It was 5 days of an exhausting schedule, digging deep and fully immersing ourselves into everything Cannes has to offer. 

✅ All the clichés are truth. 

✅ Everyone wears linen. 

✅ There are a lot of events on yachts. 

✅ Rosé starts early (for a work event). 

✅ The activations are next level. Shout out Stagwell, Meta, Pinterest this year. 

✅ Getting into Spotify is harder than breaking into Fort Knox.

✅ Celebrities are around every corner and some very big ones. 

✅ At 4AM, it’s surprisingly busy out. 

But here are a couple of observations and new things we learned this year:

1️. Our industry is in a very good place. It is a hive of activity, so much is changing, but under all of it - there is an industry that is thriving with opportunities everywhere. 

2️. You can’t just look at ‘Trends’. You have to recognise the difference between Fast Trends, Short-Term Trends & Long-Term trends. 

3️. You need a combination of Best Practice, Experimentation & Creativity to succeed. As TikTok said, “Use best practice to raise the floor, use test & learn to find your ceiling”. 

4️. Things we’ve known and seen for years and now being discussed at the mainstream level, namely, how the shift to creator-led content leads to greater authenticity BUT it has to perform well. 

5️. We should all be asking ourselves, “how can I be creative, in a data-driven way”. 

6️. According to Meta, 50% of time on Instagram is now spent on Reels and 75% of those reels are with sound-on. 

7️. Some KPIs you may not be tracking that you should - Share-To-View Ratio, Saves, View-Through 30 Seconds. 

8️. As Toto Wolff said, “You don’t want to go from Great to Good. You have to be constantly asking yourself and your team, ‘Are you still the best you can be’”?

9️. As Gary Vee says, modern marketing is all about finding under-valued attention and then exploding it - a lot of that under-valued attention right now is in women’s sports. 

10. We should all be looking towards micro-communities within social to find insights that drive creative ideas. 

That’s a wrap for 2024. 

🇫🇷 Cannes, Merci. 

👫 Spin team, it was a pleasure. 

🫂 To new friends, see you soon. 

Au revoir. 

Blog
Spin Wins Global Social Media Award!

We're thrilled to announce that Spin has won the Best Charity/Non-Profit Campaign award at this year's Global Social Media Awards for work with UICC.

Our campaign was celebrated for its innovative use of video strategy, which the judges described as "exceptionally clever." By integrating creativity uniquely and effectively, we crafted a campaign that not only captivated audiences but also drove substantial engagement and support for a vital cause. The judges were particularly impressed by our approach to the brief, highlighting our "strong creative idea and insightful execution."

One of the key challenges we faced was operating within strict budget constraints. However, this limitation only fuelled our creativity, pushing us to think outside the box and maximise every resource at our disposal. The result was a campaign that not only achieved its goals but did so with flair and efficiency, proving that creativity thrives under pressure.

Max Whicher and Alex Bodini, co-founders of Spin, shared their excitement about the win: "We are immensely proud of our team for their hard work and creativity. This award reflects our commitment to supporting charitable causes through powerful social media storytelling. It's a privilege to see our efforts recognised on such a prestigious platform."

This victory at the Global Social Media Awards is not just a win for Spin but a win for creativity and social good. We look forward to continuing to break barriers and create impactful campaigns that resonate widely and deeply.

To learn more about our award-winning approach and how we can help your organisation make a significant impact, please get in touch with us below.

Thank you to the Global Social Media Awards for this incredible honour and to everyone who continues to support our journey. Here's to more creativity, more impact, and more wins in the future!

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