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Adapting paid social strategies in uncertain times

On the 23rd March 2020 it was announced that the UK was going into lockdown to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This thrust us into unprecedented times. We had to react pretty quickly and think about how we, as an agency, could best adapt our paid social media strategies and manage our clients’ paid social media budgets.


Our first instinct was that we were going to see a more competitive and expensive marketplace. With the sudden stop of sport and a country in lockdown, we anticipated that every brand, agency, rights holder and team was going to be upping their paid media spend to help drive maintain and grow their social channels during these troubling times. It was a vital window into people’s world away from the usual visibility of a live match or live race.


Initially, we trialled two strategies to maximise data and real-time feedback through our Fifty Insight team, to answer the two main unknowns – was this a time to robustly focus on reach and push budgets to our prospective audiences in order to grow our targeting pool? Or were we better suited to just focus on our warm audiences and keep them engaged with powerful yet timely content?


Well, the data showed a bit of both. Therefore, we adopted a dual strategy to reflect a reactive yet proactive approach.


Firstly, we looked at our media plans and pushed budget towards awareness messaging and a reach objective, which helped us grow our audience pool. CPMs (cost-per-thousands) were actually down compared to earlier in the year. We noticed this across a variety of clients and social platforms, so we reacted. With our quality audiences established, we retargeted them with unique and engaging ads that drove website traffic, generated high quality leads and increased page likes and following.

This is not a brand spanking new strategy, nor one that is highly innovative, but it is effective and sustainable. This is how we would usually look to grow our clients’ reach, web traffic, engagement rates and CRM database. However, the key was to remain flexible to enable us to react with the ever-changing times throughout the campaigns.


Did it work? Yes! We have seen some great results across our client-base, from the World Athletics ‘Ultimate Garden Championships’ live event to Pure Storage’s Pure//Accelerate digital event with keynote speaker James Corden.


This adaptation to COVID-19 and the worldwide lockdown has seen our CPMs drop 20%, CPCs (cost-per-click) drop 6% and our CTRs (click-through rate)increase a whopping 35%. These results are testament to the hard work of the team during a challenging period.