2020 has presented some unique changes to the way brands engage both organically and through paid social. With shifting budgets, content changes, and messaging rifts, marketers have had to embrace agility. And while many budgets have been shifted online, paid social has remained an interesting indicator of the state of marketing. These statistics on the state of paid social in 2020 help shed light on trends that are impacting brands, consumers, and the state of the world as we know it.
1. Social Ad Spending is Increasing Overall – but has Taken a Hit
Although people are spending more time online in 2020, marketers social budgets are changing. And Facebook is expecting to see a loss from advertising in the coming months. In fact, the cost per impression on Facebook has decreased by 50% compared with before the pandemic. Although the industry is bracing for a loss, overall projections indicate a lift in paid social. According to eMarketer, social ad spending is predicted to increase to $43 billion this year — an increase of 20%. Social video ads will count for roughly one-third of US digital video ad spending in 2020. While the rate of growth has actually slowed since 2017, this could be a good sign for brands as competition for ad views may be slightly less fierce.
2. Public Social Feeds Matter Now More than Ever
Hootsuite reports that more than half (52%) of all online brand discovery is occurring in public social feeds. This includes both paid and organic posts. The key for brands is to create “like”-worthy content or to share user-generated content that appeals to the brand’s target audience. The more likes and engagement a brand page or post has, the more it is favored by the algorithms these social sites use to promote content. With content shortages caused by lockdown measures, brands are relying much more heavily on user-generated content to engage. As it turns out, that strategy is working very well for brands like Kirkland’s, who have seen tremendous growth on their social channels since lockdown occurred.
3. The Brands Using Paid Social Have Changed
Many social advertisers were comprised of travel, fashion and event-based brands – all of which have been hit disproportionately hard right now. But many brands who have been able to pivot their messaging, positioning, and even product offering in 2020 have seen increased success with social advertising. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, almost three-quarters (72%) of B2B marketers who are using online paid channels are also using paid social. In fact, the top B2B performers are more likely to use non-owned channels when distributing content and 84% use paid distribution channels.
4. Online Shopping is Thriving Overall – Regardless of Advertising Spend
As consumers comply with social distancing regulations, many have shifted most of their shopping online. According to data from Bluecore, every category has seen a lift in online purchases in April 2020. And while many brands are pulling budget as physical retail locations remain closed, those who have been able to successfully pivot to online operations are performing exceptionally well.
5. Instagram Remains Strong, but Other Channels are Emerging as Challengers
Hootsuite reports that the bulk of Instagram’s more than 1 billion monthly active users (928.5 million, to be specific) can be reached by ads on the platform. The bulk of that roughly 928 million people are between the ages of 13 and 34, which is the target market for many brands. In fact, Instagram reaches 15% of everyone over the age of 13 globally and its ad reach is up 5.7%.
Adding more credibility to its value as a platform, a great majority (92%) of users say they have engaged with a brand (followed the brand, clicked on the brand’s website, or made a purchase) after seeing a product or service on Instagram. Smaller brands are able to get in on this action too; 84% of Instagram users say they are open to discovering local, small, or new brands and their products.
But as younger generations mature, platforms like TikTok are starting to attract marketers en masse. While advertising on TikTok has been notoriously pricey, it’s incredible engagement and huge fanbase have drawn attention. Until advertising becomes more accessible to all marketers, brands are succeeding with TikTok challenges and other tactics to make the most of this channel without launching into a huge investment.
6. User-Generated Content is Emerging as a Key Player in Paid Social
With content shortages and difficult-to-navigate customer-sentiment, brands are shifting away from heavily branded content in their ads. And for good reason, too. Content created and shared by users on social media channels enjoys a 28% higher engagement rate than traditional company posts. In fact, the majority (93%) of customers think user-generated content is very helpful when they are making a purchasing decision. This is especially true for millennial buyers, where user-generated content is 20% more influential than traditional forms of media. These brands are using user-generated content to see incredible results on paid social and through other channels as well.
Although each month of 2020 differs significantly from the one before it, it’s important for marketers to remains tuned in to their shifting customer sentiment, and keep a healthy pulse on their communities. If nothing else, 2020 is proving to be a pivotal year for social, both paid and organic. As we move into the latter half of the year, we can expect many interesting data points to arise. As brands struggle to stay connected to their customers’ changing needs, budgets, and sentiment, one thing will ring true: authenticity and approachability will shine through – no matter the channel.
Chris Madden is the Co-Founder of Matchnode, an ROI-focused internet marketing company that serves its clients with a specific focus on paid social (Facebook and Instagram ads) for great B2C brands.