Social Selling Lacks Creativity - Here’s How to Fix It

Social media platforms are trying to convince us that social commerce is the new storefront. And from what we can see from China where it has grown 36% in the last year, and even from Walmart's attempt to buy a piece of Bytedance, it likely is. But before we're all shopping through social channels, there are billions of dollars being spent in social advertising. And there's a giant creative gap between the content people want to see, and the millions of social ads we all thumb and tap through daily. Throw in a pandemic and both brands and shoppers had to pivot to digital sales, driving quantum leaps in e-commerce. In fact, according to a study commissioned by the IAB, digital ad revenue grew by over 12% in 2020 despite the global crisis. With evolving shopper behavior (think generations who never shopped online before lockdown) and the skyrocketing growth of paid social touchpoints (looking at you, Tiktok), brands are set to spend an incredible $154 million on social media advertising this year.


The Gap Between Social Ad Spend and Creative Production 


With media spend on the rise, creative production needs are following. But there isn’t always additional money for ideation and production. Increased social media spend, with associated targeting and messaging goals, means there’s more to make. Faster turnaround times are also in demand - because the ability to change promotions or react to cultural moments means social requires creative at the speed of media. These are tall asks because manual creative workflows were never built to handle the kinds of volumes social campaigns require. While the brief-debrief-approval-production cycle, conducted mostly manually, was great for dreaming up Superbowl spots and brilliant billboards, it’s terrible for social advertising. When teams are struggling to meet the ever-growing demands of personalization, full-funnel campaign assets, and seasonal promotions, they can only deliver the bare minimum. Brands are suffering from a creative gap where their social content demands have far outpaced their production capacity and budgets. This creates enormous pressure within marketing organizations where teams can’t provide enough content to keep media and growth teams happy, leading to missed opportunities in social selling. Let’s break down what people expect from brands creatively and how creative automation can help brands maximize the impact of social campaigns.


How Creative Automation Transforms Content Quality and Effectiveness


If your creative output is low on social, audiences are seeing the same assets over and over again. Shoppers don’t like that. In a Holiday creative survey conducted by Dynata for Celtra, 61% find holiday creative to be repetitive. Ultimately, exhausting the assets will lead to ad fatigue and an inevitable decline in performance.


Your growth teams are eager for fresh content so how can you dramatically increase social content variety?


It’s not about optimizing existing production workflows but introducing new ones. 51% of marketers said they’re already adopting automation to help with Q4 content (and beyond). In short, creative automation is software that transforms creative workflows, cultivates an environment of testing and learning, and differentiates creative messaging. Imagine it as a machine you can feed LEGOs into to see 1000s of creative combinations.


When automating ads and other content for social, the core concept is to plan for modular production where you separate design from content variants. Designers will set the rules of how the content should look by setting up design templates with dynamic layers. Those layers map directly into a content feed that houses all the variant information, such as product images, CTAs, prices, and so on. By connecting the two, creatives can let machines version the assets required by different media plans and social platforms without having to painstakingly create and render each asset in design or video-editing tools.


Creativity takes time, so does production. By automating content scaling, creative teams will cut out up to 80% of the time needed to execute manual versioning. This frees up time to make social campaigns more interesting at scale. Instead of running one key visual, you can test ten versions of it or even make unique concepts and scale them with automation.


Design Excellence Helps Drive Holiday Success


Design excellence in full-funnel social marketing is another critical but often overlooked element for driving success. Many brands can run engaging content and videos in the awareness phase but turn to a product shot on white background visuals in lower-funnel marketing. At Celtra, early tests showed that advertisers could increase their social ROAS by as much as 50% when they introduced rich branding in performance marketing. In practice, this means creating carefully designed creative automation templates that connect to product feeds for branding that catches the eye. Another reason to invest in full-funnel design excellence is consistency: according to a Dynata Study on design quality, 74% of shoppers are more likely to be loyal to a company with consistent branding.


Social media may move fast but for marketers, there are solutions such as creative automation available that help them move even faster with their creative. As we are rounding the corner to Q4, it's the brands with automation in their workflows that will have the time and money to deliver pixel-perfect creative assets and who will wolf up a lion’s share of the coveted holiday dollars on social media.