How Marketers Can Be Smarter Than The Social Media Platforms


By Tom Olivieri

Creative (content) has always been king. Think back to the characters in Mad Men who were depicted as imaginative souls yearning to make meaning in the mercenary arts, agonizing endlessly over what image to put in a print ad or what jingle should play in a detergent commercial in order to best appeal to viewers. Those were the three-TV channel and three-martini lunch days!

Modern advertisers rely on digital. Today’s social platforms—with wide reach and low cost—promise better performance for fewer dollars. Now, with added privacy restrictions limiting audience-targeting tactics, marketers are increasingly focusing on Facebook and other social platforms to extract value and turn ads into sales.

Creative assets are just as important now as they were in the days of Mad Men—and the trick is to be agile and nimble. Learning what is working to increase a campaign creative’s performance is the name of the game. So here are a few ways to do just that:

Turn insight into action

Facebook has a prescriptive way to ensure successful creative campaigns by leaning into learnings across all categories. Facebook data helps marketers identify what works and what doesn’t, but the key to harnessing the power of performance is to extract actionable insights at the speed of real-time optimization. So, pretty much instantly.

You must learn quickly, which is what happens when you focus on single variable testing built into a modular creative framework.

Take a fashion advertisement that pushes product features as callouts—the quality of the stitching, the softness of the fabric, etc. You then take that same ad and, instead of showcasing product features, you showcase testimonials from actual buyers. This type of test is great to see if your audience is more into the details or the social proof. It also allows you to make incremental improvements almost immediately. As with most platforms, the more you spend, the more you learn, and Facebook is no exception when it comes to pay-to-play in the testing world. 

Let’s not forget that learning isn’t always the small stuff, either. While many of the tests can create incremental gains—which call-to-action or color works best?—brands can also use testing to get exponential gains as well.

Through testing brand platforms, styles, value propositions and more, you can find even more ways to connect to your audience or even refine your overall brand position. Say you have a brand in the food delivery space—you can run one ad that plays up how easy it is to get the food you like whenever you like it. And then run another ad that focuses on the variety so the consumer is never bored. You’d be surprised how different audiences react to each value proposition. The key is using the insights to guide your creative, so you always finish a campaign at a higher level than when you started. 

Rather than blindly opening your wallet, do some simple A/B creative testing before going full throttle on the media to help find the golden nuggets.

Give AI a try

When it comes to finding the insights that move the needle, you should not depend solely on the platforms for campaign guidance. Instead, look at complementary tools such as or Genus Artificial Intelligence, which offer everything from creative insight dashboards that break down winners into fine details to language color palettes to image choices. So, if you’re running a lifestyle campaign, imagine knowing that having three people in the ad versus two will give you a boost in performance; that’s how powerful these tools can be.  

Others use AI for predictive analytics to help determine the winners without even running the media. So, if you want to know if blue background is a better choice than white without having to wait for results—these tools are for you. Of course, sometimes the cost of these can be more than the A/B test itself. So, you need to weigh the value of the insight versus the cost to get it. Is the juice worth the squeeze? If you’re running a promotional sale for 2 days and 10k spend, probably not. If you’re running evergreen campaigns that need to be refreshed monthly, you better have the winning formula picked out! 

Media and creative must love each other 

How do marketers navigate performance creative that must bridge media and creative worlds? It’s simple: Start with understanding that creative needs are both emotional and logical. It cannot simply be a series of tests without understanding if the concept resonates or the context is valid.

Facebook is not TikTok and shouldn’t be treated as such. So, build creative campaigns and tests using meaningful insights and work hardest in the place where the campaigns live. While the platforms and supplemental tools can help inform, and even perfect, an ad after launch, the real key is a creative framework that engages and teaches in the first place. Starting with a strategy that looks at the journey and removes as much friction from every stage as possible. Someone buying a mattress has a longer cycle than someone buying a belt, so ensure your creative speaks to where they are in the process and not just who they are as an audience.

Social platforms are affordable and enable marketers to observe performance, review insights and ultimately learn and improve campaign performance. Optimizing the creative that performs best is a step up from the spray-and-pray approach of yesteryear. But advertisers should not accept that the platforms know best. In fact, platforms let you know only what they want you to know. Trust yourself, your tech partners and your collective insights to implement strategies for improvement. 

 The best insights will be able to tell you what the content is, where the content lives, who the content is for and why or why not the content works. Ads that quickly adjust using those factors are sure to perform. So, maybe at the end of the workday, and after a successful campaign launch, an ad executive can once again (responsibly) enjoy a celebratory martini. 

Credit: Ad Age

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