Social Media Marketing
5 min

The New Creative: Paid Social Continues To Evolve During Coronavirus Crisis


The paid social landscape is changing all the time in response to COVID-19, and social teams are out there adapting and adjusting to those changes every day. We wanted to highlight and analyze the trends, campaign structures, and creative examples we’re seeing in Direct-To-Consumer paid social performance creative right now, as well as offer creative recommendations moving forward.

From Crisis Reactive to Recovery Proactive: Watch our latest virtual panel where we discuss adapting digital marketing goals and budgets in a crisis.

Current Trends in the DTC Creative Landscape

  • Promotional content: In general, both brands and customers have become more cautious with their spending. That’s why we’ve seen a lot of DTC brands running tests on promotions and middle- to bottom-funnel messaging (retargeting/retention).
  • Calls for charitable donations: Brands are developing creative that speaks to charitable giving, seeing strong engagement.
  • Shifts in brand narrative: Brands are tailoring their creative to showcase products that fit with the “work from home,” “wear for any occasion,” and “perfect for indoors or outdoors” narrative and theme.

What’s Working in Paid Social Performance Creative

Using Appropriate, Socially Conscious Imagery & Copy

  • Brands are beginning to share more educational content in efforts to build brand loyalty.
  • We are seeing a change in how messaging is crafted, seeing less emphasis on CTAs and more on authenticity and relatability. For example, Vuori adjusts their messaging to “in these strange times, have something to look forward to.”
  • Brands are using budget, services, and products to give back to people in need.

Leaning on Social-First Creative

We’re investing more of our efforts in creating mobile-first content, such as Instagram stories. Most of us — if not all of us — are seeing a rapid increase in screen time. Most of that screen time is spent browsing through socials. Enter: social-first creative. As a brand, you can continue to connect with your audience quickly and proactively through your social media. It is an extension of your brand’s personality, so why not use it while mobile conversions are at an all-time high?

  • According to Meltwater, you’ll want to utilize the channels that your audience is actually interacting on. “If you’re targeting a younger audience, go to Musically or Youtube since their audience skews younger. If you’re looking for a middle-aged demographic, consider going to Facebook,” says Karen Uyenco.
  • Post engaging stories or go live, and curate content around that makes sense for the channel you’re using.
  • Make a hard post that lives on your feed that is content-driven rather than sales-driven. Another point from Meltwater, “curate original audience content from your audience. Social audiences love when brands respond and most importantly share their user-generated content. But don’t forget to get their permission and give credit.”
  • Become a positive resource of information by sharing inspiring articles or brands you admire.
  • Utilize DMs to keep in contact with your audience and whatever you do, don’t stop posting or being active.

What We Recommend in Paid Social Performance Creative Going Forward

Focus on Relevant Messaging, Copy & Imagery

Something that has caught our eye is consumer sentiment. It’s crucial to pay attention to customer sentiment when adjusting your campaigns and strategy.

In an article from Boston Consulting Group, we learn that consumer sentiment has darkened a bit since the start of COVID-19. However, that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t spending, rather their priorities have shifted. “In general, consumers are planning to spend more on fresh and organic foods, preventive health care, household care products, vitamins and supplements, packaged foods and beverages, and pet supplies and services,” says Lara Koslow.

Whether you provide these types of products or services or not, a lot can be said about adjusting your campaign, strategy, and messaging to mirror customer’s sentiments during this time.

  • Develop visuals and copy around the new normal, like working from home, self-care, and staying indoors, and relate the client’s business/products to the current situation.
  • Prioritize efficiency over scale.
  • Highlight functionality over-usage occasions through ad creative. If the product is a travel/work bag, use images that showcase features (e.g. washable, materials) and not shots of people traveling and working
  • Test promotional creative. The longer we stay at home and move past buying only necessities, our buying habits will evolve; we have already seen a lift in purchases over the weekends for our DTC clients.

Direct More Spending Towards Retargeting Creative

In times of uncertainty, customers are less likely to try new brands they do not trust. Invest in retargeting creative in order to speak to an audience that will make purchase decisions more reliably– and efficiently.

Use Downtime Effectively

Just because there are holds on certain things does not mean the creative process has to stop.

  • Take advantage of opportunities to build out a larger ad library and post COVID-19 related creative strategy. What do you need to prioritize? For which assets do you need to begin building out treatments and shot lists?
  • Make use of what you have instead of trying to produce a new shoot right now. Creative teams can give new life to an existing photo and video assets by editing out multiple iterations, messages, and formats for deeper testing.
  • Leverage UGC content where appropriate. This is a great time to stay connected with your influencer network and community; produce stories through their lens at home.
Watch our latest Ask Me Anything, where B2C experts answer your pressing questions.

Looking for more insights? Head to our COVID-19 Resource Hub, a digital spot featuring the latest COVID-19 pandemic news and updates impacting digital marketers.

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