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How businesses can capitalize on the evolving digital landscape

LaToya Shambo, Black Girl Digital, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the future of digital advertising and marketing.

Video Transcript

- And moving on, this year's total social media ad spending by US companies is expected to top $44 billion. That is a 16% increase year over year. Here to discuss the impact of social media as a way to leverage business is LaToya Shambo, CEO and founder of Black Girl Digital, a marketing and influencer agency focusing on Black women. Thank you so much for being here.

The truth is, you can pick your poison, whatever social media you choose to use, your app of choice. Everyone is spending more time on social media. And we have a full screen that we can take a look at, hopefully, and pull up some of the numbers and see how much time people are spending on various apps.

I don't know if we have that. But the numbers are remarkable. We see that Facebook and YouTube, some of these are being outranked by the likes of TikTok. It's emerged as the highest-earning app globally with 41% year over year. So if I'm an advertiser, do I immediately try and jump onto the TikTok bandwagon to try and up my advertising budget and gain more eyeballs?

LATOYA SHAMBO: You know what, Corina, that's a really good question. I would actually say, before you spend your money and jump into every single platform, it would really help to first assess who your audience is. And then figure out where they are, on which app. And then move forward into spending on a particular platform.

Sure, TikTok has 1 billion users. But are they speaking directly to your target audience? That is what I would challenge these marketers to make sure they look at and think about before they just go spending all of their ad dollars on any particular platform.

JARED BLIKRE: So I want to ask you here, LaToya, when you're using these ad tools-- and for me, I've never used any of these. But I imagine the technology has improved over the years. Exactly how easy is it to start an ad campaign and then track it and then evaluate the results and maybe shift course a little bit?

LATOYA SHAMBO: Yeah, absolutely, Jared. So it is very easy to create an ad manager's account on Facebook, plop in your creative, select your target, put in your budget. It is very easy for anyone, actually, to go in and create an ad buy. But where it becomes a little challenging is when you start to have to target a little, get a little bit more granular in your target.

But I do think that this is the time for new entrepreneurs, small business owners to get in the marketplace where Facebook and even with Google SEM, just test it out. You can use small budgets, $50 here, $100 here to just test it out and see who your audience is, see what's working. And then you can easily optimize out of any campaign.

You're not stuck in a contract for over a year. You literally can just try, buy, and optimize. And that's what I really do appreciate these days about all of the ad platforms, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat. They all actually make it really easy for anyone to go on and run an ad campaign.

- At the end of the day, a lot of people go on. And there are a lot of impressions. But how does that translate into advertising dollars? Because a lot of the people that go on to these sites are really young kids. So are they sort of turning to their families, to mom and dad, and say, hey, here's this product, we need to buy it? How do these platforms retain their viewers? And then how do they monetize it at the end of the day?

LATOYA SHAMBO: Yeah, that's a really good question too. It really depends on the kind of conversion you're looking for. Some campaigns are run simply as brand awareness. And it's just about getting people to be aware of your brand. But if you're actually running a conversion campaign and you want that click and you want that click to turn into dollars, you want to make sure that you're running that ad campaign against the most appropriate audience.

Sure, you can run a campaign on TikTok. And sure, you might show the ad to my daughter. And sure, she might show me the ad and say, I want this. But sometimes I just brush it off. And I'm like, OK, onto the next. So it really just depends on what it is that you're actually trying to achieve.

Sometimes it is worth running a brand awareness campaign as well as a conversion campaign. But again, you really have to be mindful of your planning and spending and where and what you're trying to achieve at the end of the day.

JARED BLIKRE: Could you take us through your personal journey as an entrepreneur, as you dealt with COVID, your brand, Black Girl Digital? Did this emerge from the embers of the pandemic, or was it something before? And did you have to pivot at all, given the circumstances?

LATOYA SHAMBO: Jared, that's a really good question. We've actually been in business for six years now. It was not due to the pandemic. Our mission has always been to service the Black women in our community and get them paid to do the things that they love to do, which is being an influencer and a content creator.

Although we did start as managing Black female bloggers, but when the industry pivoted to social media, it was an easy pivot. It was seamless because all of our bloggers turned into influencers. And it was just easy to package their placements up to service our clients.

The pandemic, it slowed business down. But the beauty that came out of the pandemic for Black Girl Digital was it allowed us to really step back and zone into our genius of focus and rebranding, which is coming soon, and spending more time on cleaning up our systems and things of that nature.

But the pandemic, it was good, and it was bad. But for business, there wasn't a real negative effect, I'd say that, yeah, not a negative effect.

- And I want to ask you really quickly, not too much time left, but Facebook or Meta, as it's called now, has received so much negative backlash over Instagram and over the effects of social media on teens. Is there a risk to advertisers if they decide to advertise on these platforms? Is it something they've got to be wary about?

LATOYA SHAMBO: Yeah, there's always a risk. But again, the platforms do allow you to target by age. And brands should always exercise that targeting at the bare minimum. If your product is not geared towards kids, just target the older demographic instead of targeting the entire universe.

We have to do our due diligence. And we have to do our best to make sure that we are protecting the young generation and they're not being exposed to anything that's inappropriate. It's hard to dictate what the platform should be doing. We just have to, as marketers, as brand and business owners, do our part to make sure that we are targeting the most appropriate audience and protecting, again, the youth from anything that's inappropriate.

- Well, it looks like there is a lot more room to grow in this space. We'll have to leave it there. LaToya Shambo, Black Girl Digital, thank you so much for your time.