How The “Stop Hate For Profit” Campaign Is Dramatically Impacting Social Media

As brands have become more vocal about speaking out on Black Lives Matter related conversations and with many of them pausing their Facebook related ad spends for the month of July, as part of the “Stop Hate For Profit” boycott, ListenFirst continues to monitor how these efforts are affecting the social media ecosystem.

Here are our top findings for the week of July 6-12, 2020:

1. Advertisers Continue to Stay Away from Facebook Platforms for Paid Ads

Between July 6-12, 2020 there were -76% less new Facebook and Instagram ads compared to the average amount of new Facebook and Instagram ads during those 7 days between 2018-2019. That’s pretty consistent with what happened during the first 5 days of the month, when there were -83% less new Facebook and Instagram ads compared to the average amount of new Facebook and Instagram ads during July 1-5 between 2018-2019. (Source: ListenFirst Data Co-op)

2. Boycott is Being Talked About Less on Social

There were 62K Tweets mentioning the hashtag #StopHateForProfit between July 1-12, 2020. That’s -57% less than the 146K Tweets that mentioned the #StopHateForProfit hashtag in the previous time period of June 19-30, 2020. That said, while people are talking about it less, the boycott campaign continues with ads down significantly year over year proving that actions speak louder than words.

3. Advertisers’ Organic Posting Is Down Significantly

So far in July compared to the last two years, 485 Top Advertisers brands are posting significantly less organically on all major social networks compared to the past two years. Looking at July 1-12, 2020 compared to the average amount of posts shared on those days during 2018-2019, Top Advertisers posted -41% less Tweets, -25% less posts on Instagram, and -11% less posts on Facebook. That’s consistent with a long term trend that predates the pandemic. 

For instance, during every month between January – June 2020, the volume of posts that Top Advertisers brands shared on social media was down -4.47% to -27.83% compared to the corresponding month in 2019. That’s also true in 2019 when between January – June, the volume of posts Top Advertiser brands shared was down between -5.35% to -18.64% from the amount of posts they shared during the same month in 2018.   

As top brands become more purposeful and targeted in their social media strategy, they’re shifting away from the mentality where posting more of everything is thought of as the only way to improve performance.

4. Black Lives Matter Protests Made a Bigger Impact on Volume of Posts than the Coronavirus

The biggest decrease in the number of new posts Top Advertisers have shared this year occurred in June when, during the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Top Advertiser brands shared 45K new posts on social media, a decrease of -28% from June 2019. By comparison, in March 2020 when the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic and brands were still unsure how to respond, they shared 59K new posts on social media, -14% less than the number of new posts they shared in March 2019. July appears to be a continuation of the Black Lives Matter related slowdown of new posts, as between July 1-12, Top Advertisers shared 19K new posts on social media; a -22% decrease from the number of new posts they shared during July 1-12, 2019.     

5. Advertisers See Success While Cutting Back Organic Posting on Twitter

Though Twitter may be the platform where Top Advertisers have cut back the most in terms of sharing new posts in July, engagement is actually up. From July 1-12, 2020, Top Advertiser brands generated +12% more social engagement on Twitter than they averaged during those days during 2018-2019. In the same time period, Top Advertisers saw a -9% decrease in the amount of social engagement on Instagram, and -3% less engagement on Facebook.

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What The Pandemic Changed AND Reinforces About The Need For Social Media Analytics

This is a guest post by Jason Klein, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, ListenFirst

So far, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years we’ve seen in many of our lifetimes. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and the social justice crisis, the world at large has been forced to take a step back to truly focus on what matters—professionally, personally, and societally.

Since March, we have seen brands hunker down on highlighting, celebrating, and supporting their communities, using these unprecedented times to foster and build brand equity by showing their human side. As consumer behaviors have shifted, so too has the need for brands to adjust their strategies to reach these audiences.

Additionally, now more than ever, brand marketers’ budgets are being scrutinized and picked apart to truly hone in on data-driven strategies that drive ROI and foster brand loyalty. With that all in mind, here are three key areas that are vital for brand marketers to shift their focus to as they adjust to this new, fragile world we live in.

Digital Transformation

Quarantine and stay-at-home orders have driven consumers to behave in ways the markets have never seen before. While “digital transformation” has been a buzzword and consumer-facing brands’ end goal for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to e-commerce and other digital and social tactics for many brands in a matter of months, if not weeks.

The silver lining is that it has led to more efficient and better positioned companies. For brands, the goal of digital transformation, which had been put off or dragged out for years, has now become mission critical forcing brands to change their business forever. For example, traditional grocery stores like Kroger have turned some of their locations into ‘dark stores’, only allowing customers to place their order online and pick up curbside. With the absence of bars, alcoholic beverage brands have also had to shift over to a digital-first approach to keep and grow their audiences, employing tactics like by partnering with delivery brands like Drizzly or hosting virtual events ranging from wine and beer tastings to happy hours to concerts and more.

Consolidation of Tools

In an uncertain environment, it is critical for brand marketers to make their spend more efficient, and tech-stacks are often the first budget line items to be scrutinized. In Gartner’s Marketing Technology 2019 Survey, marketing leaders reported utilizing only 58% of their martech stack’s potential. At a time like this, that is not going to cut it, as brands are moving away from having several various point solutions and consolidating down to less tools that do more.

Beyond the obvious benefit of cost-savings, by consolidating down to more comprehensive analytics and insights tools, they are also fulfilling their need of consistent reporting, data sources, and nomenclature. As we’ve seen in the past, some of the greatest innovation comes from having resources constrained and cross-company teams rallying behind centralized reporting and insights. 

Social Media Data Is More Valuable Than Ever

Social media analytics and insights has gone from nice-to-have to need-to-have in marketers’ arsenals. Social media is the most active channel of consumer engagement and feedback across all sectors, and marketers who have not tapped into this treasure trove of data are falling behind.

While many of the traditional ways that brands were getting insights have been disrupted (i.e. Nielsen ratings, ad sales, in-store sales, POS purchases, market research, etc.), social media has remained consistent. And, there are more people on social media than ever before—Kantar found that 61% of people are spending more time on social media during the pandemic. Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn have all also reported significant usage increases during the pandemic. Furthermore, consumers are turning to social media en masse to make their shopping decisions—an Absolunet study found that 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision. 

When enterprises truly embrace social data, the applications can be valuable well beyond just the marketing suite. Social media insights can be utilized to justify and power product development and innovation, supply chain insights, communications and community strategies, sales, and more.

Closing Thoughts – Data in Action

At a time when marketers need to demonstrate clear ROI from their efforts to retain budgets and keep their brand afloat, social media offers one of the only environment-proof data sources that brands can rely on. Here are some ways we’ve seen social analytics quantifiably improve performance: 

  • Saving creative budgets: a luxury fashion brand that typically created 6 tiles for their Instagram Stories, saw that audiences were consistently dropping off after the third tile, allowing them to adjust their strategy and save half of their creative budget for that initiative.
  • Understanding audience intent: If an Instagram user saves a post, it signifies that they find the content engaging enough to return to—a far stronger indicator of purchase intent for a product than say impressions or likes. Michael Kors honed in on this metric and found that their most-saved posts had clear messaging showing a single product, providing them with a content template optimized to drive sales. 
  • Gauging viewer interest: As TV and film audiences exhausted their must-watch lists during quarantine, they went on the hunt for new series and movies to discover. By focusing on a metric like organic search (measured by Wikipedia Page Views), media brands can understand which of their content offerings (whether new or catalog) are spiking early consumer interest ahead of larger trends.