With almost 2bn social network users worldwide, social media campaigns are fast becoming the number one marketing strategy. There is no set formula to identifying, planning and executing a successful social media campaign, but there are common elements to all effective ones that can be broken down into three stages: before, during and after.
The first thing that needs to be done is to identify a target audience. This ensures that all your campaign assets cater specifically to their profile, and have a voice and tone that speaks directly to them. Audiences can be targeted based on interests, age bracket, region and beyond. Casting a net that’s too wide will be a waste of both money and energy.
The next step is to plan your campaign. This involves setting out measurable goals that tie in to your broader business objectives and then outlining the ways in which you plan to meet them. For example, you might want to increase brand awareness, or drive more website traffic. You should be constantly returning to and realigning yourself with these goals throughout the campaign, and have a clear timeline for when each should be completed by.
Next, you need to decide which social networks you’re going to use for your promotion. Different social networks exist for different purposes and appeal to different audiences. For example, Instagram and Snapchat are good networks to target Millennials — but you won’t find many Gen Xers or Baby Boomers there. Research will help you to understand where your target audience spends the most time, and if there are any recent trends in your industry that you can leverage.
The most important thing you can do at this stage of the process is to actively monitor and engage participants.
Set up search streams in order to track the conversations around your campaign. These will play a fundamental role in alerting you to its success or failure. By monitoring your channels tenaciously you can make sure that any broken links or typos are resolved as soon as they arise (and before any major damage is done to your campaign). Regular monitoring will also give you an insight into your campaign’s popularity. So if you’re only getting a handful of retweets or mentions, you know it’s time to reassess your strategy. Using analytics tools you can also see if certain regions or demographics are responding less than others, and then target them with social advertising to boost your campaign.
Finally, throughout the campaign you should be actively engaging all participants. The recent success of Groupon’s ‘Banana Bunker’ campaign demonstrates the power of monitoring and engaging with comments. Expecting an influx of comments over the suggestively shaped fruit protector, Groupon mobilised a team of customer service personnel to respond amusingly to everyone who made a sex joke. The result was mass engagement and the post went viral.
Of course, don’t only engage with the positive comments. Swiftly acknowledging, apologising for and then fixing a problem can help to maintain your brand image.
A simple way to spread goodwill after a campaign, as well as a reasonable excuse to again touch base with users/prospects, is to send a thank you using any contact information they provided you.
Every campaign should end with a retrospective. This means gathering together your final metrics for the entire campaign and measuring them against the targets you initially set out.
Go over the entire campaign from start to finish with a fine-toothed comb and see what worked and what didn’t, making a list of issues that would need to be addressed before the next campaign. Was the tone wrong? Was the incentive not powerful enough? You should also highlight the elements that worked well, so you know what to repeat next time around.
Great social media campaigns should affect more than your follower count. Including these elements as tenets of your next social media campaign will help to extend your social reach, gain a better understanding of your target audience and achieve your long-term business goals.