Businesses large and small have had to make many changes this year, especially when it comes to their approach on paid social. With the holiday season coming up and with COVID-19 still affecting customers around the world, many small business owners might be wondering how they should approach social media marketing this year.

In order to see the best return on investment with their paid ads, small businesses need to be strategic about the type of ad content they create, the platforms they advertise on and the days they choose to advertise.

Paid ads on social media this year need to stand out, offer value and demand engagement, which is why video ads are a must for small businesses looking for the best ROI during the pandemic holiday season.

Why Video Content Still Offers Small Businesses The Best ROI

With the rise in popularity of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, it’s obvious that consumers today love short-form video content. In fact, a study predicted that by 2019, global consumer’s video traffic would account for more than 80% of ALL consumer traffic on the Internet.

So where are customers watching all of these videos? On Facebook alone, there are 500 million people watching over 100 million hours of video content every day. And on Instagram, it’s been predicted that the network would reach 117.2 million users in just the U.S. by 2021, and is quickly growing across the world.

Not only are customers today watching a ton of video content, but small businesses who invest in video content for their social media ads are seeing the best ROI. Seasoned marketers agree—70 percent of marketers reported more conversions with marketing videos than any other type of content.

Luckily, investing in video content doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming anymore. 8.2 million small businesses have downloaded do-it-yourself video marketing apps like Boosted and Canva to easily create their own marketing videos to promote on social media —and at little-to-no cost.

How Small Businesses Should Amplify Video Content During The Pandemic Holiday Season

COVID-19 might have forced a lot of in-person closures, but customers are still excited about celebrating the holiday season virtually, and in-person when needed. Many people are still spending a lot more time at home which means they’ve also been spending a lot more time on their phones than usual. This means small businesses have even greater opportunities to reach new customers, drive more traffic and generate more sales during the holiday season.

However, for small businesses to generate the best ROI with their paid social media ads this year, they shouldn’t advertise the specific day of the holiday. Many larger companies (with much larger ad spends!) promote their holiday sales on the actual holidays, which means a much higher cost per view. Instead, small businesses should increase their ad spend before and after the holidays, and pause or lower their ad spend on days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday to see a higher return on investment.

The Social Media Platforms That SMBs Should Invest In

Now that we’ve covered why small businesses should invest in video ads and how to spend their ad spend this year, which social media platforms should they focus on? If you guessed Facebook and Instagram, you are (still) correct. Aside from total users and content watched on these platforms, small businesses should have a baseline knowledge on how to approach paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to meet the discovery commerce trend.

For Facebook, small businesses should increase the amount of native videos (or video content they post directly onto their feed vs sharing a URL). Why? Facebook’s user behavior studies discovered that customers find videos way more interesting than other kinds of posts, with users looking 5X longer at video content than at static posts on Facebook. Not only will this help increase engagement on their posts, but this will make it easier (and more cost-effective!) to boost these videos for paid ads.

As for Instagram, small businesses should consider placing video ads in Instagram Stories instead of the newsfeed. There can be a lot more competition for ad space in the newsfeed and customers today are super engaged with Instagram Stories. Sixty-two percent of customers even said that they’ve become more interested in a brand or a product after seeing it in Stories.

Best Practices For Video Ads During COVID-19 And The Holiday Season

Last but not least, we have a few final words of advice to remember for small businesses as they carry out their social media ad spend for the holidays this year during COVID-19.

After about a year of the pandemic, customers today are becoming fatigued about COVID-19, especially when it comes to brands and messaging. Small businesses can help customers escape the pandemic (even just for a few minutes) and look forward to the future by incorporating optimistic yet relevant messaging and visuals.

With the year everyone has had, friends and families are looking to save anywhere they can. Any shipping discounts or virtual accessibility will be even more of a selling point to customers this year, with many customers opting to do most or all of their holiday shopping online. Small businesses should also take into account that these shoppers may likely also ship presents directly to their loved ones (due to limited in-person celebrations), so companies that go the extra step to customize their online shopping experience may see greater interest.

Although the pandemic might still be affecting  consumers around the world, small business owners can and should still invest in paid social ads during the holidays this year. Putting these tips into action will help even more small businesses see the best return on investment—and help cultivate new potential stans for their brands.

Cori Widen is the Product Marketing Lead at Lightricks.

Video stock photo by Golubovy/Shutterstock