Adapting Your Paid Social Strategy During Lockdown

By Wolfenden
15th January 2021
By Matthew Palmer


It’s no secret that online retail has accelerated since the beginning of the first lockdown, with the intermittent closure of the high street meaning shoppers have relied on ecommerce, and retailers have had to move to or place greater focus on online commerce to continue doing business.

With much of the country working from home and many more unable to see each other in person, internet usage in the UK has hit record breaking levels.

With this, comes a rise in mobile usage, the average hours spent per day on mobile increased significantly worldwide during 2020, topping 3 hours per day for the UK.

Whilst advertising on social channels did take a hit in the first lockdown as uncertain brands were (rightly) cautious with their budget, now that the shift to shopping online has become more of a stable activity, it presents a good chance for brands to reach new audiences.

Here are our 3 key tips on identifying and capitalising on the opportunity of an increased social media audience:

1. Don’t be afraid to test widening the net

Obviously when times are uncertain you want to be careful with what you’re spending and focus any ad spend to those campaigns and audiences you know well and have a good chance of converting, but with a larger audience active on social media, now is a good time to try and reach new audiences if you can.

Try carefully testing different markets who might be slightly different to the usual demographic, but with some levels of overlap. For example, try a slightly different age range, or a slightly wider location radius – keep these audiences lists separate from your usual so you can really closely monitor how they perform.

It’s really important to only test these audiences rather than just widening your audience pool straight off the bat – you’ll gain a much clearer insight into which audiences are engaging and converting stronger than others and be able to begin to really focus down on the audiences that are performing better.

2. Explore new platforms

This could be the time to trial some new platforms that your audience are using. TikTok is the most downloaded app of the year, with over 3.7m active daily users in the UK, presenting an opportunity that many will have taken advantage of, particularly with the additional free time people have (these users spend 41mins on average per day in the app).

This is a particularly competitive platform for those wanting to target younger demographics, and brands wanting to try it should be prepared for a bold and creative approach to gain real cut-through.

It’s a good idea initially to install the TikTok pixel so you can explore retargeting campaigns, as well as helping you remove audiences that have already converted from your campaign targeting.

Bear in mind that advertising on TikTok is pricey – those with smaller budgets might want to wait to see if the cost of advertising here will decrease.

If this is too expensive for you, an influencer-lead approach could be a good alternative. By collaborating with the TikTok influencers that are most prevalent in your industry, you’re able to reach your audience with native content.

The other platform to consider if you haven’t already is Pinterest. Pinterest has seen a big spike in usage from April 2020 in the UK. In July, the platform topped 400 million monthly active users for the first time, with a large growth in male users and Gen Z.

Lockdown has seen an increased interest in DIY, home interiors, recipes, workouts, as well as positivity quotes.

If you can provide content around these trends in a way which is relevant to your brand and products, definitely consider advertising here, it’s also a low-cost option.

Ad formats include promoted video, shopping ads, carousels and single image slots. In May 2020, Pinterest partnered with Shopify, making it really simple for Shopify merchants to upload their catalogues into product pins.

3. Adapt your ad copy and messaging to the situation

Whilst this seems obvious, consumer behaviour and shopping trends are changing as quickly as the situation is. So, with that in mind, it’s imperative to continuously review and adapt messaging and creative as necessary to keep up with what your audience wants and needs.

What can your SEO team tell you about any trends in searches? What can your PR and social team tell you about topics of conversation online? Trends need to be monitored on a much closer basis than usual to feed into your campaigns.

This could be related to specific products, for example, we know that there’s been a spike in people buying loungewear as we all spend more time at home. We also know that products around walking and hiking have been popular. But also get to know your customer inside out, is there a big trend amongst your user base for watching a particular Netflix series for example?

All of this insight can be used to quickly adapt the creative and messaging you’re pushing out to make them more relatable and identifiable to your audience, and therefore lead to more engagement.

Another obvious point, but also bear in mind that people will likely be searching for products delivered to their door, so ensure any delivery information is included in your ad copy.

Need support?

If you’d like to chat through how you can adapt your own paid social campaigns over the next few months and what options would be relevant for you, get in touch for a chat with one of our experts, we’d be happy to support.

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