Emotions and Data Are a Winning Combo for Great Social Ad Campaigns

Opinion: Great advertising goes beyond branding and speaks to the heart of people’s needs, fears, hopes and dreams

Human connection will always drive the most engaging, memorable ads
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Great advertising goes beyond branding and speaks to the heart of people’s needs, fears, hopes and dreams.

Procter & Gamble’s most recent spot in its “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign served as a reminder to brands everywhere that our job is to reassure customers that we’re on their side. The two-minute #TalkAboutBias commercial called on consumers to discuss and end racial bias. Throughout the emotional clip, we see African-American mothers teaching their children to believe in themselves despite prejudice.

P&G’s campaign worked because it spoke to an ongoing concern in American society by empathizing with the afflicted and reaching for viewers’ heartstrings.

In today’s data-driven marketing environment, social advertisers often become so fixated on the numbers and analytics that they forget they’re talking to fellow humans.

However, emotions drive 80 percent of people’s decisions. Stats alone will not help brands reach their audiences in meaningful ways.

We need a Mad Men-style renaissance that makes advertising personal again. But that doesn’t mean there’s no place for analytics. In fact, the combination of people-centric messaging with consumer analytics has the potential to drive a new era of emotionally resonant, high-performing ads.

The social solution

There’s no better litmus test for an ad campaign than social media. If people are talking about your brand on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve hit a great spot—or, at least, touched a nerve.

P&G’s #TalkAboutBias spot has garnered nearly 1 million views, 16,000 reactions, 19,000 shares and 4,000 comments since its Facebook debut in late July. On YouTube, the commercial spawned a number of reaction videos, and the #TalkAboutBias hashtag trended on Twitter. That’s one well-executed campaign.

But many marketers become so consumed with the functionality of social platforms that they forget that social is simply an enabler. Analytics features help them share in targeted, automated ways. However, social tools are only as effective as the content you create.

Before you can launch an emotionally compelling campaign, you need to understand your audience members. What matters to them? Are they preparing to start a new chapter in their lives? If so, what are the hopes and fears surrounding those decisions? The deeper you go into their psyches, the more directly you can address their needs.

U.K.-based Lloyds Bank took such an approach with its #ForYourNextStep social campaign. It provided useful advice to consumers considering milestones such as home ownership and marriage, and the results were through the roof—more than 4 million video views and 244,000 engagements on Twitter.

Such is the potential when you combine a keen understanding of your audience with the right social strategies.

Data in the mix

Oracle chief marketing officer Cory Treffiletti put it best when he said, “As a creative, you can choose to ignore the data and put the big idea out there. Or you can choose to follow the data and develop the insights and follow that path toward the big idea.”

Data provides real-time insights into your customers’ behaviors, and you can use those trends to build personalized, responsive campaigns. If you observe that the majority of your target audience members are posting worried content about a natural disaster or sharing excited predictions about their favorite TV show’s upcoming finale, get in on the conversation. The novelty of having your brand weigh in with cheeky or reassuring messaging will nurture your connection with them.

Tools such as Facebook’s custom audiences enable you to go even deeper into data-driven advertising. The platform lets you target individuals based on their interests and behaviors, going well beyond generic demographics to reach existing and prospective audience members.

Facebook Audience Insights provide a powerful complement to custom audiences, as they allow you to track different forms of engagement. How many likes versus shares did your most recent video attract? Which audience segments responded to that infographic you posted last week? These insights provide guidance for future advertising initiatives because they tell you what resonates with your audience and how to tailor your content more effectively.