Hold that thumb right there! It’s time to learn how to really make an impact.

Whether you’ve been perusing social media for a while already today, or you’re just beginning your average 12 hours of scrolling, stop for a second and ponder this: how’s your thumb feeling?

Is that digit of yours not quite keeping up? Do you find your brain running away as your exhausted thumb frantically tries to keep up? Perhaps? Well, we wouldn’t be surprised if your thumb is feeling a little fatigued, especially given that 47% of Facebook users only access the site through mobile – and those mobile users consume content 41% faster than on desktop. That’s some rapid tapping and scrolling.

But, does it really make a difference which direction your thumb moves? Zuckerberg seems to think so. He’s long preached the gospel of Stories, and how tapping will becoming the new scrolling, even in-feed.

He even put this change into action over the holiday period, with Instagram briefly using a ‘tap through’ mechanic, much to the chagrin of users. This resulted in Instagram withdrawing the change, and stating that it was only meant to be a small test – not a full roll out.

We Built These Platforms on Tap ‘n’ Scroll

The Instagram Update backlash shows that users are above the tapping vs. scrolling debate, and their main concern is a variety of functionality. Stories are inherently popular, with 500 million using Instagram Stories daily, but there is still a fervent love for scrolling through newsfeeds.

As marketers, while we too love the variety that tapping and scrolling functions offer, changes will come, and we’ll have to adapt to fit the mediums – as marketers have done for decades. But the real importance doesn’t lie in how users move through content, it’s what makes them stop.

Stop in the Name of Great Creative

It’s essential to make sure we’re halting audiences in their tracks with disruptive, thumb-stopping creative, no matter whether they’re tappers or scrollers.

This month, we attended a talk on Thumb-Stopping Creative at Facebook headquarters. They reiterated the importance of mobile-first, and with good reason. Videos on Facebook with closed captions (i.e. optimised for sound-off viewing) see a viewing time increase of 12%.

As expected, they reiterated their love of 3 second rule – something which we have questioned in the past. But our ears really pricked up at some tips and tricks that we’re familiar with from the Zero Degrees West playbook. We’ve cherry-picked the most inspiring points to share with you so that your social campaigns will be sure-fire thumb-stoppers.

1. Use a mixture of static and video

While this takes on new meaning in the digital age, where both formats can live in harmony on a variety of platforms, the use of static and video in a campaign is really the bread and butter of ad campaigns. If we’re talking traditional media, it’s your print and TV ad. The two compliment each other, and can be used to convey different messages from your one overarching campaign.

We know that video drives high engagement, but ensuring that you have strong statics in your arsenal means you’re engaging time-poor audiences, and grabbing attention in newsfeeds. Our Justice League campaign packed a punch with action-fuelled video assets, but it was our static character illustrations that proved to be the standout hero of the campaign – with fans recreating their own versions inspired by the work.

2. Play with formats

Facebook’s lesson of “create more, learn more, play more” encourages marketers to make the most of the spaces available to them. With all social platforms – not just Facebook and Instagram – constantly introducing new features, formats and functions, those who play, prosper. Steal the show left, right and centre with a campaign made up of statics, videos, carousels, Stories, collections, Instant Experiences (previously Canvases) and whatever the next big ad product to come out of Silicon Valley may be. Add layers of creative play with polls, stickers and gameification that are sure to get audiences thinking, “Hey, wait, what was that? Oooh!”

Working with Sony Music, we helped launch the latest album from Ward Thomas. Our announce video hit remix on how videos work in-feed by playing with the format, and allowing a mobile audience to interact with the content in a new way. The nuances of each format can also lend themselves to your marketing message, so don’t be afraid to have tailored creative for each platform.

3. The pitch, play, plunge technique

Facebook’s pitch, play, plunge mantra is something we’ve been putting to work in our campaigns long before Facebook gave it some snazzy alliteration. At Zero Degress West, we know this gold standard strategy as ‘Inform, engage, entertain’ – which we think speaks for itself.

‘Pitch’ informs, with straight-to-the-point, short form content that delivers the crux of your sales message. ‘Play’ lures the curious a little deeper, encouraging engagement and interactivity. ‘Plunge’ takes audiences down the rabbit hole, immersing  and entertaining them with long-form, informative content that they can explore at will.

Facebook’s other tips of using a mixture of video and static, and playing with formats are important co-exist with, and contribute to campaigns which employ the pitch, play, plunge strategy.

We put this strategy into play for our Game Night campaign, using a mixture of impactful countdowns and stylised competition statics to ‘pitch’, tap-to-spin character Stories to ‘play’ and follow the action videos to ‘plunge’ fans into scenes.

By keeping a finger on the pulse of social, we’re able to create thumb-stopping assets that boost engagement digits for our clients (Okay, we’ll stop with the handy puns now.)

If you want to see how we can help supercharge your campaign to attention-stealing status, get in touch with one of our brilliant account directors – rosie@zerodegreeswest.com (UK) or noelle@zerodegreeswest.com (US).

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