With colossal audience sizes, regular interaction and a wealth of user profiling, social media is almost the perfect advertising space. However, the subtle differences in how each of the three main platforms, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, integrate advertising into their apps - not to mention the ways in which users actually engage with each one - mean that a deeper understanding will give a far greater chance of getting the most out of your promotional and boosted activity. Below we have broken down the three platforms and explored what their advertising framework looks like, how it is integrated and what it offers brands.
Twitter Moments is a section within the platform that showcases curated stories of the exciting stories being shared virally by other Twitter users. Moments are customised to show you current topics that are popular or relevant to you as a user to allow you to discover what’s happening throughout the day; whether that be a breaking news story or a funny anecdote that someone has posted.
Anyone with a Twitter account can create a moment, allowing you to curate longer-form content to tell interesting stories. A recent example would be this tweet created by Hattie Gladwell where she simply asked her followers to share a story of the first time they knew they loved their partner. It received a positive, heart-warming response with hundreds of people sharing their romantic gestures over the Twitter timeline. That this tweet was created as a moment widened the audience, resulting in more positive engagement across the board:
Quote this tweet with the first time you knew you were in love with your partner— hattie gladwell (@hatttiegladwell) August 5, 2018
I live for cute love stories
Currently, there are no advertisements in the Twitter Moments section. It is solely for informative and entertainment purposes, with different categories, for example:
Your moments page will be catered to you and the type of content and accounts you engage with on Twitter.
However, sponsored tweets by brands are extensively promoted on the homepage, blending in with normal tweets with the use of a bright, eye-catching image or GIF and usually a call to action.
Instagram stories is a feature in the app that allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The content shared on your Instagram story does not appear on your profile grid or the main Instagram feed. However, there is now a ‘highlights’ section you can have on your profile which allows you to save your favourite stories in categorised permanent areas rather than expiring after one day.
Instagram stories has its own features to help increase engagement across your profile. Examples of these include:
Instagram Stories offers a full-screen, vertical format for your brand to share photos and videos that grasp the attention of your followers. Similar to Facebook, you can target your ads through reach, views, traffic, conversions, app installs and general brand awareness. Instagram story ads make it easy to drive business results because they offer a feature where you can insert a link and ask followers to simply “swipe up” to take them to a website to learn more about a product, make a sale or sign up to something.
Snapchat is very different to most social media platforms, being primarily used to send photos and videos to your friends that disappear of the screen after 10 seconds. The latest software update introduced Snapchat Discover which has a variety of different features, including:
In Discover, publishers distribute branded content within the Snapchat ads that now run in their Publisher Stories. Snapchat ads blend in well with the news and entertainment outlets and are more compelling than, say, a promoted Twitter or Facebook ad. They are in a similar format to an Instagram story ad where an engaging video will play, usually with a soundtrack and will give you the opportunity to swipe up, directing you to a website with a call to action.
Snapchat ads are actually shown in the content on the Discover page and are usually linked to the article. For example, Cosmopolitan Magazine might have a story called ‘Top 10 skincare tips’ and an ad for the latest face mask will appear after the article, but they’re also shown on the general Discover page, hidden amongst celebrity stories and publisher stories which offers very natural integration.
In summary, each platform uses advertising in different ways and depending on your brand and audience, you will get different things out of each platform. For example, Instagram is an ideal platform if you're a clothing or perfume brand because many people use Instagram to engage with influencers and the aspirational lifestyles they seek to emulate, making the the "swipe up to shop" option useful for reeling customers in. However, Twitter would be a better platform to advertise on if you're a business selling a subscription service such as Grammarly because Twitter ads show a direct link to a website and there isn't as much space to be as creative with the ad. Chances are that a video ad designed for Instagram and Snapchat is likely to get lost in the Twitter timeline as people usually scroll down their feed of tweets at a higher pace. Finally, Snapchat ads offer much of the same look and feel as Instagram yet are much more likley to gain impressions with a younger audience. Added to this, their Discover area allows for natural blending-in for users who go to the app for their news and content.
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