Programmatic: A Growing Part of Social Media Strategy

Previously I wrote about “Paid Social Media: Why You Need It And What Is Available.” In that post I discuss declining organic reach, the importance of adding native advertising to social media strategy and provide a guide to the current paid social media options. In this post I will discuss programmatic – a growing way to buy native ads or paid social media.

You may have heard about programmatic in terms of advertising media buying. Now 72% of U.S. online and mobile display spending is programmatic and it is moving into other media such as online video, TV, radio and even digital outdoor. So it should be no surprise that programmatic is also in social media like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn. MediaPost reports that social advertising is the fastest growing programmatic channel ahead of display and mobile.

Programmatic Ad Buying In Social Media, Content And Influencer Marketing Strategy

What is programmatic exactly? IAB says programmatic is automated buying and selling of media being sold by “one machine talking to another machine.” Marking Land says programmatic automates the decision process of media buying targeting specific audiences and demographics placed with artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB). Programmatic media buying is in online display, mobile display, online video, social media advertising, and is expanding to digital outdoor, radio and TV.

Monica Lay of Adobe Social Advertising Solutions further clarifies that programmatic advertising has two distinct methods:

  1. Real Time Bidding (RTB): Auction-based ad transactions based on real-time impressions in open and private marketplaces.
  2. Programmatic Direct: Ads purchased via a publisher-owned application program interface (API) like Facebook and Twitter or an existing demand-side platform (DSP) like DoubleClick Ad Exchange or MediaMath.

What difference can programmatic make? More precise targeting and more efficient spending. Dean Jayson in The Huffington Post explains that Programmatic media buying can use online data (like browsing activity) and offline data (like loyalty card data) to laser target the placement of ads. Data brokers match offline data with online data and license data management platforms (DMP) to organize the data and use demand side platforms (DSP) to automate the execution of media buys.

This targeting based on data profile is different than targeting based on content. Jayson gives the example of a dog food brand buying ads on a cute puppy site. Many visitors just like looking at cute puppies, but may not have a dog to feed The marketer pays for impressions to the wrong target and the consumer sees an ad that is irrelevant. Programmatic is more precise by targeting consumers with a history of purchasing dog food (online or in-store).

Programmatic automation also saves marketers time. They set their target audience and forget it. The DSP finds the audience freeing up marketers’ time to focus on creating valuable and relevant content. Jayson says that programmatic data based targeting costs roughly half of content based targeting.

Programmatic brings these same benefits to social media channels. Ben Plomion, CMO of GumGum recommends programmatic in social because he says “to compete in today’s hyper-competitive online media world, you can’t sit back and wait for the traffic to come to you.” Social media marketers run more effective campaigns through automated buying and by reaching a precise audience with highly relevant messages. Plomion gives the example of Red Bull targeting videos to Twitter feeds of people who have viewed extreme sports sites.

Yet programmatic isn’t limited to buying ads and promoted posts on social media networks. Programmatic native advertising enables brands to place sponsored articles and videos directly through publishers like BuzzFeed, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Additionally a recent survey indicates native programmatic budgets are going to programmatic native platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, Sharethrough, Nativo and Bidtellect that place sponsored content across the web. These platforms boost brand content serving up links to sponsored articles with messages below publisher content saying, “you may also be interested in…”

Still programmatic social goes even further. Beyond social network ads and paid content marketing, influencer marketing offers programmatic ad buying. Adweek reports that ROI Influencer Media (representing 10,0000 influencers from celebrities to social media all stars) has partnered with programmatic platforms like Rubicon Project, PubMatic, OpenX, MediaMath and Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange. When buying programmatic ad packages, bundles of influencers appear as options where marketers pay for viewable impressions on influencers’ social media sites and walls. Authenticity is preserved through influencers still having final approval and control over their feeds.

Startups like Fanbytes are offering a programmatic Snapchat influencer marketing platform. Their dashboard enables marketers to bid on influencer ads programmatically buying branded content on influencer’ social media pages, blog pages, and websites. Not all influencers have to be mega celebrities. The startup Gnack offers programmatic buying of user-generated content from Snapchat and Instagram micro-influencers with less than 10,000 followers. These micro influencers can be very effective at reaching niche audiences based on campaign objectives, target demographics and preferred hashtags.

With increased content clutter and declining organic reach attracting an audience in social media can be problematic. But programmatic is an attractive way to boost reach and relevancy. How can programmatic improve your social media efforts?

How To Avoid A Social Media Brand Identity Crisis (Social Brand ID Template)

Many organizations have brand identity guidelines for designers, art directors and writers in traditional media. Yet social media professionals operate in a less static more personal medium. They need an extension of these standards that recognizes the more personal, conversational, social aspect of marketing in social media. In this new medium brands are acting like and interacting with people. Because of this I have created a model for social media brand identity with elements drawn from the concept of personal identify in psychology and social identity theory. You can use the template below to develop your Brand Social ID that will help to guide the visual and written brand narrative told through brand social media channels. Click here to download a PDF of the template.

Free Social Media Brand Identity Guidelines TemplateIn psychology, Identity (ID) is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make a person or group. In this case, your Brand is acting as a person so you first want to assign it a Personal Identity made up of these elements. Then identify the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make up your Buyer’s Identity (ID). Obviously these should be compatible. They don’t have to be an exact match, but there should be enough connections to form an attraction like in a real personal relationship – the social aspect. Psychologists describe personal identity as the things that make a person unique while, sociologists describe social identity as the collection of group memberships that help define the individual. Brands that become communities can become one of the memberships that help define their audience or buyers.

When social media strategist and content marketing creators understand these two Personal IDs they can form a bond through consistent visual and written story told in the social media channels where their buyers are active. Psychologists believe stories are fundamental to social interaction so these meeting places and exchanges will begin to form connections. Micro connections through the narratives customized to each social channel overtime establishes a group Social Identity built around brand community. When you connect and co-develop stories with your buyers in this way the Group Social ID can build strong brand loyalty. Perhaps this connection could grow to become “loyalty beyond reason” as Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi calls brands that are Lovemarks. It seems that we keep rediscovering and have to remind ourselves of the power of stories in a business context.

This Brand Social ID model follows a three-step process explained in social identity theory (illustrated at the bottom of the template). Social Identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group memberships. The groups people belong to are an important source of pride and self-esteem giving them a feeling of belonging. To increase self-image people are motivated to enhance the status of the group. To do this they Categorize groups, Identify with one and then Compare and favor that group over others in the same category. This can happen in many ways including abilities (artistic versus scientific), design preference (contemporary versus country), team loyalty (Eagles versus Cowboys), and brands (Apple versus Microsoft).

A Brand’s Social ID should be informed by the organization’s vision, mission and goals to make up the personal identity of the brand. What are the distinctive characteristics or attributes of the brand? These make up a brand’s Qualities. What are the opinions or convictions of the organization that instill confidence, faith and trust in employees, investors and customers? These are brand Beliefs. What organized pattern of behavior would best convey the character of the brand? This is brand Personality. Are there important visual elements of the brand such as colors, logos, fonts, image style? These are visual components that make up brand Look. How would you describe brand voice or manner and form of words and phrases in written communication? This is brand Expression. Finally, capture main offerings as explicit proposals to specified people. These are brand Offers.

The Buyer Social ID is similar, yet from a slightly different perspective. This is informed by the target audience’s personal vision, values, mission and goals in a business to consumer context (B2C) or informed by their organization’s vision, values, mission and goals in a business to business context (B2B). Describe the distinctive characteristics and attributes of the person (Qualities), the things they feel are good, right or valuable (Beliefs), signs of their character or patterns of behavior (Personality), favored qualities in style and appearance (Look), and preferred manner or form of communication (Expression). Capture the clear requirements that are necessary or very important to this buyer (Needs). Often needs come out of complications, obstacles or pain points that cause tension. Building your brand narrative around these and positioning your products and services as a solution to release that tension can be very powerful. I suggest following a Five Act formula that my colleague and I have found to be effective in Super Bowl Ads and Viral Marketing Videos. If you have a completed a buyer persona this could be helpful in completing the Buyer Social ID.

Does your Brand Social ID match your Buyer Social ID? If these are significantly off in key areas you many have to adjust the personality elements of the brand. Or perhaps you need to realign your target market to buyer’s who have more elements in common with the brand. As brand social media strategist and content creators follow this Social Media Brand ID they will help the consumer move through the three-step socialization process. The brand narrative in social media will lead potential customers into Categorizing the brand personality and offering, Identify as belonging to the brand community, and as a member of that social group start to compare the brand favorably over competitors. Having a Brand Social ID will help to guide all social media content creation and buyer engagements setting a standard of authentic brand communication. It should serve as guardrails in keeping social talk “on brand” and out of social media identity crisis.

Have you thought about brand social media identities or translating your current brand identify guidelines into brand social media standards? Do you find this template helpful? How else could brands approach this?

For more insights into the big picture in social media strategy consider Social Media BookLogoStrategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. Free Preview: bit.ly/QuesenberryFreeSample EBook: bit.ly/QuesenberryEBook Instructor Exam Copy: bit.ly/Quesenberry