As safety guidelines and restrictions loosen, consumers are readying themselves for a newfound sense of freedom, changing the way they have behaved over the past year+ during the pandemic. With these changing behaviors in mind, brands are seeking ways to remain relevant. To do so, marketers need to be prepared for every possible scenario as they face varying stages of reopening across regions, as well as a range of new and shifting preferences from consumers.
In Q3 2020, we surveyed consumers globally to understand their preferences around social media ads during the pandemic. To see how things have changed or progressed, we conducted a new study earlier this month to capture the current pulse on how consumers are using social media to stay connected and make purchasing decisions.
Working with Dynata we surveyed 1,000 adult consumers located in the U.S., UK, Germany and Australia and found they are largely still relying heavily on social media to stay in touch. What’s interesting about this is 56% of respondents globally, and 64% of respondents in the UK, specifically, said they are using social media to connect with friends and family.
Looking specifically at the last 30 days, we uncovered that Facebook remains the most popular platform for this – 38% of respondents noted using Facebook the most during this time period. YouTube and Instagram also provide a common way to stay in touch, at 18% and 15%, respectively. Of particular note, global consumers seem to be most open to receiving video ads via social media channels, with 27% of those surveyed responding in the affirmative on this. Photo carousels (23%) and Stories (19%) are also preferred methods for receiving video ads.
So, What Does This Mean for Marketers?
Consumers are clearly anticipating a return to normalcy, and their eagerness to engage and spend reflects this. For brands, social media provides an opportunity to reach targeted audiences in an impactful way. But to be successful, marketing teams must balance their strategy to current consumer preferences across platforms, formats, and audiences. Relevant, localized, and timely content will be key to winning share in a competitive marketplace.
Even a year later, people aren’t feeling pandemic fatigue when it comes to the marketing messages they receive: over half (51%) say they still want brands to acknowledge the pandemic in their ads, including things like updated store hours and new/enhanced safety features.
On top of this, consumers are still buying. Findings showed that for 35% of respondents, they were spurred to make an online purchase by the social media ads they encountered in the last 30 days. This is up from 26% in August 2020 when we previously surveyed consumers. More specifically, 38% of global consumers said they would be most open to purchasing clothing and apparel via social media in the next 30 days.
It’s also worth noting that while consumers are ready to open their wallets, they are still largely motivated by deals and discounts. In fact, 45% of global respondents said they would like to see ads with deals and discounts from travel brands. This is particularly high in Australia, where 59% of respondents said they’re looking for deals and discounts when seeing advertisements from travel brands. Other areas where consumers are particularly looking for deals and discounts in advertising are from grocery stores (55%) and local retail stores (42%).
Brands have an opportunity today and in the coming months to engage consumers across social media. But to differentiate and deliver value, they’ll need to keep up with the consumers’ preferences, which seemingly change as quickly as global safety guidelines.
To view this latest research from Smartly.io, along with best practices for brands to engage consumers with social ads, click here!