Social Media Ad Creation is Meant to be Disposable

Most marketers sweat the content. We come up with an idea and, seeking absolute perfection, pass it around to colleagues for feedback. But with content serving as a key strategy to raise brand awareness, move buyers through each stage of the purchase journey, and drive lifetime value, it’s worth the effort, right?

Social media plays by its own set of rules. About a year ago, I wrote a 3-part series on how to launch a content marketing strategy. In the Video & Brand identity post I warned, “video has a short half-life; you can put a video on Instagram, enjoy great engagement rates, and the next day receive absolutely no views or clicks.” This short shelf life is why I say social media ads are meant to be disposable.

Google “lifespan of social media ads” and you’ll see a ton of sources that describe just how disposable these ads are. Here’s the data in summary:

Ad Lifespan
  • Facebook – 5 hours
  • Instagram – 48 hours
  • Twitter – 18 minutes
  • LinkedIn – 48 hours
  • Snapchat – 24 hours
  • TikTok – It’s complicated


●       Lifespan of Social Media Content
●       So You Know the Lifespan of Your Posts on Social Media


Pinterest is the great exception as pins are searchable, which gives them a longer half life. Consumers can always go back and find the great recipe or kitchen design pins they saw. TikTok ads can go viral at any time users begin to engage with them, so in a way they’re more like Pinterest.

Why You Should Still Advertise on Social Media

With such a short lifespan, it’s easy to see how advertising in these channels is, at least from a marcom standpoint, a real bummer. Why bother? Here are four reasons why you should.

First, there’s unprecedented scale. Today some 3.8 billion people worldwide are active social media users, according to the Digital 2020 Global Digital Overview by Hootsuite and We Are Social. That’s more people than there were on the entire planet in 1971! Chances are, the people you want to reach in order to expand your brand’s footprint are on one of the major social media platforms.

Second, social commerce is getting too big to ignore. According to Statista, social commerce sales in 2019 topped $22 billion in the US, and are likely to reach $84 billion in 2024. That’s about 7.8% percent of retail sales. Depending on what you sell and who your customers are, social commerce may be a key channel for your brand.

Third, social media can lead to brand loyalty. According to a Social Sprout Social Index survey, 89% of consumers say they’ll buy from a brand they follow on social media,  and 84% say they’ll favor that brand over a competitor.

Fourth, social media is still a dominant way for people to learn about new brands, trends and industry developments (social media is just as important for B2B companies). Tech companies use social media listening tools to get a sense of what their customers are talking about, and then leverage those insights to develop content, which is then posted in those same channels.

Given that billions of dollars flow through social commerce and a wide variety of B2C and B2B brands leverage social media to reach and engage consumers, the ads I call “disposable” are far from garbage. Disposable means short lived and not of lesser quality. Naturally this begs the question: how can a brand launch an effective, yet sustainable, social media content strategy?

Tips for Managing Social Media Content
  • Poll Users. Polls are a great way to solicit engagement. Not only will the engagement increase the relevancy of your posts to the social media platform’s algorithms, but it will give you a pool of users to target, and insight into topics of interest.

  • Share User-Generated Content. As I mentioned in my 3-part Content Marketing series, your customers know how to tell your brand story from a unique perspective. Sharing their content is an easy way to meet your social media quota for the day. It’s a strategy marketers have embraced, per Social Sprout Social Index survey mentioned above: “Half of the marketers surveyed in the Sprout Social Index noted that user-generated content would be among the top social media trends of 2020.”
  • Repurpose Content. It’s a social faux pas to repost the same ad, however great it may be, on the same platform multiple times. According to a SurveyMonkey survey, “63% of users say they only see a few things advertised, over and over again,” and they find it rather frustrating. But there’s nothing stopping you from repurposing that post on multiple platforms.
  • Go Native. Each platform offers platform-specific tools that when used give your content more lasting power (e.g. upload videos directly to Facebook rather than link them to YouTube).  As CopyPress’ Anna Sonnenberg writes, “Research has shown that native video can generate 10 times the reach that you can get from sharing a video link.”
  • Listen to Users. Relevance has a direct relationship to shelf life. The more relevant the post is to the people who see it, the more engagements it will receive, prompting the platform to keep it alive for a longer period of time. So how do you go about creating relevant content? When most marketers want to know what’s on their customers’ minds they create a survey, but surveys are inherently biased. People answer based on what they think the brand wants to hear. You can eliminate that bias, and get insight on topics, keywords, and influencers, by leveraging a social media listening tool. It’s a great way to build a social media editorial calendar.
  • Get Your Timing Right. Figure out when your users are most active and ensure you post at those times. A Twitter group for Microsoft Office Administrations isn’t likely to have a lot of conversations after hours, while one dedicated to fashion will.
  • Go Live. People love to watch live videos. There’s something thrilling about unscripted, and therefore unpredictable, video feeds (which is why live video feeds are watched 3x longer than edited videos). As Lyfe Media writes, “The real-time interaction of live video makes the experience more engaging for your followers. This can help you build a more personal connection with fans as you are able to answer their questions and respond to comments on the spot.”
  • Don’t Sweat It. Social media ads are disposable, so don’t sweat it. As I mentioned in my Video & Brand Identity piece, it’s never been easier to create a home-grown video using your phone. The important thing to remember is to just get started.

Phillip Jackson

A multi-instrumentalist, Phillip is an avid collector of vintage guitars, keyboards and amplifiers and has a home studio located in West Palm Beach.