TikTok, Twitch, Oh My! Determining Whether to Advertise With Emerging Social Platforms


Many retailers are accustomed to developing ad campaigns for long-standing social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. But crafting campaigns for emerging platforms like TikTok and Twitch can be overwhelming, most notably because new platforms have had less time to develop advertising strategies and tools. 

However, younger users are driving the future of social as they engage with up-and-coming platforms, with 41% of TikTok’s users, for example, between the ages of 16 and 24. 

Organic vs. Paid

As new platforms continue to identify long-term advertising offerings, retailers may find that, in the beginning, it is best to test the platforms through organic posts or social listening. Once they’ve established a presence, they can take advantage of paid placements, keeping in mind that the approach should differ from their organic strategy.

Typically, organic social media posts are less sales-focused, using fewer calls-to-actions. Organic posts tend to boost brand voice through content that is inspirational, tangentially related to a brand, or simply visually engaging. Paid, on the other hand, consistently focuses on a specific call-to-action with resulting KPIs, such as a video view or a click. 

See also: Social Media Deep Dive: Understanding & Influencing Consumer Buying Habits

Take Pinterest as an example: When it comes to organic, a home brand may pin recipes and tablescapes, either sharing original photos or user images. Pinners have the option to save (a.k.a. pin), like or comment. Paid content, on the other hand, may showcase specific products, featuring the name, the price, and a link to an ecommerce product page.

Social Listening

As platforms like TikTok and Twitch identify ad strategies for the long-term, social listening allows retailers to learn valuable insights before advertising.

For example, a retailer may find its product included in a TikTok influencer’s video because they really loved the product, not because they were incentivized in any way. This is a great chance for the retailer to understand the resulting earned media, how people are using products and reactions to the product in comments. These learnings can inspire a new paid strategy, a product update or an improved relationship with an influencer.

Identifying Whether to Advertise

As companies evaluate emerging social platforms from an advertising perspective, they should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Is my audience on this platform? If so, what audience targeting options are available to ensure I reach the right people?
  • Can this platform help me achieve my goals (increasing brand awareness, driving sales or encouraging a store visit)? If so, do I have the resources to create the necessary assets for this channel to meet my goals?
  • How can I advertise differently on this platform compared to other platforms? 
  • How will I measure the success of this channel, and what are our KPIs?

Testing a small budget is worthwhile on an emerging platform if a retailer is certain its target market has a presence there. For example, Snapchat attracts a specific young, niche user group that enjoys lighthearted content. Therefore, it may be the right social platform for a bookstore promoting a book signing with a custom Snapchat Filter.

View Emerging Platforms Through a Lens of Experimentation

As retailers evaluate emerging social platforms, they should remember to view them as a test. New social media platforms can be extremely useful for organic customer interaction and social listening, and some retailers will find great success advertising on these new platforms. 

However, older social media platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest) should continue to receive the bulk of ad investments because of their wealth of data, consistently upgraded ad settings and larger audiences. 

Laura Russell is director of strategy at Adlucent.

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