First, let’s get a few things straight…
You’ve created social media pages for your business for these reasons:
- Create a community: you want to create a community about your product/service/brand.
- Engage in conversations: your target audience is on the platforms you’ve picked and you want to reach out to them and to find out more about what they really want. You want to give them a place to talk about your brand. You also want to have a plans that your fans can link back to or reference if they think you’ve done something amazing.
- Branding: you’re creating a brand and you’re using social platforms to help you do it.
- Online reputation management: you want to monitor what others are saying about you and you want to join in on the conversation.
- Make yourself accessible: to give potential customers/clients an opportunity to find out more about who you really are before they decide to work with you. This makes you more trustworthy.
- Increase your reach: you want to make it easier for people to find you so that you do more business.
- Publicise and create ‘buzz’: what good are your awesome campaigns unless people can find out more.
- Establish yourself as an expert: you want people to see that you know what you’re talking about.
You have NOT created social media pages for your business for these reasons:
- You were told to: everyone else is doing it so you figure you should too. Apart from this, you don’t really have a good reason.
- You just like talking about you: you think everyone else cares as much about your brand as you do.
- You just want another place to advertise your stuff: You’ve ONLY signed up to advertise or sell, sell, sell.
- You have too many people twiddling thumbs: you’ve signed up to give all of the interns something to do.
- You like numbers: you want to add more stats to your inbound marketing spreadsheet.
Now that we’ve established you’re not on social media for any of the wrong reasons, we can move onto the next bit.
Being on social media ≠ a social campaign
If you think that you’re running a social media campaign just because you’re sharing stuff and managing your accounts, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Social media campaigns are incorporated into your overall social strategy, whatever that is – community creation, brand building, customer retention, etc. They are not your strategy but they fit within it. It’s probably easiest to think of them as micro strategies with a time limit/expiration date and a clearly defined goal.
To help you understand, here are a few examples of successful social media campaigns:
I have to admit that a good campaign almost always makes me want to cry…
Water is Life – ‘Hashtag Killer’
Water is Life is a charity that deals with real problems. This ‘hashtag killer’ campaign aimed to raise awareness of the world water crisis by hijacking the insensitive #firstworldproblems hashtag, changed the conversation from one focused about ‘complaining’, to one that drove donations that provided over a million days of clean water.
Lay’s Potato Chips – ‘Do us a Flavor’
Losing sway with millenials, Lays turned to social media to change things. Their ‘Do us a Flavor’ campaign invited users to submit their ideas via Facebook for a new flavour of crisps. Lays promised to sell the top 3 flavours in stores. Fans could then vote on their favourite in order to keep it on shelves permanently. This campaign got 3.8 million submissions, over a billion Facebook impressions and a 12% increase in sales. It was Lay’s most successful integrated marketing campaign in history.
Somersby Cider – ‘The Somersby Store’
The Somersby Store campaign was launched to promote the new Somersby Cider. The campaign parodied the excitement surrounding buying new tech/gadgets, bringing in digital terminology and a good dose of British humour to make this cider campaign a success. Initially launched during an England football match, The Somersby Store ad attracted over 1.5million views on YouTube and got people from all over the world talking about Somersby. I highly recommend taking a look at some of the tweets this campaign generated.
Prometheus’ Integrated Campaign by Ignition Interactive
This month-long integrated campaign incorporated social media, traditional media and transmedia storytelling aspects. The aim of the campaign was to bring the fictional Weyland Industries to life. The campaign began with a TEDTalk from the future – 2023, which led on to the Weyland Industries website where people were able to register. But, it didn’t end there. At Wondercon, fans were given ‘Weyland Industries’ business cards. Any of the fans that called the number on the card were texted a video of the company’s newest innovation. But the campaign didn’t end there. It took to sites like Mashable, continuing the story of Weyland Industries and its latest tech. Additional product pages and ads on the Weyland website furthered speculation around the Prometheus mission. The website continued to run interactive campaigns. And, the company broadened its reach, using LinkedIn InMails to target influencers, inviting them to apply for a position with Project Prometheus.
And all of this before the Prometheus film was even launched!
The results were staggering. The campaign got 3 billion media impressions, millions of video views and it was one of the top box office grosses of 2012.
Now that you’ve got a bit of an idea about what a social media campaign is, let’s move on to how you create your own.
How to create your own social media campaign
Step 1: Know what you want (or figure it out)
In the case of the Prometheus Campaign it was to engage fans and the media in order to create a box office hit. For the Lays ‘Do us a Flavor’ campaign, the goal was to reengage millenials. For Somersby Cider, it was to create buzz about a new product. And, for Water is Life, it was to kill off a hashtag and instead throw light on a ‘real’ world issue.
The first step toward creating a social media campaign is to identify your goal. What is it that you want to achieve? Who do you want to engage with? Envision an outcome. Before you begin is the time to imagine and to dream big.
Step 2: Identify the platforms that will help you achieve your goal
If you’re going to create a wide-reaching social media campaign, my bet is that you’ll be most successful if you take the ‘transmedia storytelling’ approach, simply because you’ll maximise your opportunities of getting found/seen.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Transmedia storytelling (also known as transmedia narrative or multiplatform storytelling) is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.”
A perfect example of transmedia in use is ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’, a web series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that uses multiple social platforms to bring the story to life. It’s well worth a look if you haven’t heard about it. Don’t be fooled by the pink, somewhat basic website. This series is an Emmy Award Winner.
However, you may do just as well by going with YouTube, Facebook or Twitter…
Step 2½ Decide the format your messages will take
This one falls between step 2 and 3 simply because you’re going to have to consider it in both steps. Are you going to run visual/text-driven competitions via Facebook? Create a new website? Post images or quotes to Twitter or Facebook? Reach out via LinkedIn to get influencers involved? Use videos on Vimeo or YouTube to spread the word and succinctly capture your message? Obviously you may want to continue considering this as you create your story. It’s likely going to change quite a bit between step 2 and 3.
Step 3: Create the story and refine your messages
This is probably the hardest part. This is the part that you absolutely have to get right. You’ve got to pick the right tone of voice, create the right characters and tell an interesting story, all the while keeping your audience in mind. Going back a step, you’re also going to have to consider the audiences that will be on the social platforms you’ve chosen to use. What age group do they fall within? What do they like doing on these platforms? When do they use them? How do they use them (posting links, sharing friends photos, sharing funny images, complaining…)?
If you want a quick overview of how people use Facebook (mind, it’s a slightly snarky overview), take a look at this link – ‘7 ways to be insufferable on Facebook’. I can quite honestly say that the information within also applies to other platforms and is a good way to get to grips with how people REALLY use social media.
Step 4: Create a calendar
Yes, your digital agency loves calendars – you’ve got a social calendar, a blog calendar, a content marketing calendar, a press release calendar…a calendar for every day of the year basically. BUT, take it from someone on the inside, there’s a reason for it. Calendars help to ensure things happen in a timely manner, something that’s especially tricky when you’re posting to multiple platforms and when you have to synchronise your messages. Calendars also make going back to check what worked/didn’t work easier, especially when you’re able to see which part of your plan began when.
For this step, you’ll need to create a ‘publishing schedule’. Which parts of the story will go out first? What order will your messages take? This is the bit where you join your message dots.
If you get this organised early, you can get everything ready and scheduled in advance.
Also, don’t forget to decide how long your campaign will run for. It can’t go on forever, if for no other reason than people will get bored.
Step 5: ‘Build it’
So, you’ve established that you’ll need a new microsite just for the campaign, or perhaps you’re revamping your current website to incorporate a twitter feed and a feed of Instagram photos from fans. You’ll also need some awesome visual assets, perhaps. Now is the time to get all of that setup. Get the site built, integrate the necessary feeds, create the competition page, create the branded content, create the rest of the content and…write the posts and the story. Obviously you may have to do some of this on the fly, especially if you’re relying on your audience to engage with you, but it’s still a good idea to do as much as possible before you get started.
Step 6: Choose the people who will manage the campaign
The best campaigns involve everyone in the organisation. By that I don’t mean that everyone has to tweet or engage, but that everyone has to be ‘down’ with the idea and believe in it. After all, they’ve got to help ‘sell it’.
Now, assign some astute employees to the campaign. They should at least be able to:
- Admit when they don’t know an answer (and be able to ask for help)
- Have a good understanding of the social platforms you’re using
- Be able to tell a good story and ideally be able to write
- Be able to write a post MINUS grammar and spelling errors
- A good sense of organisation
- Be able to complete tasks to a deadline
- Have a sense of humour and the ability to have fun!
Fun is important. Some of the craziest (and funniest) sounding campaigns are the ones that will have the biggest impact.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this B2B campaign created by Godfrey Q & Partners for Symantec.
Step 7: Publicise!
If you can do something amazing as the team at Ignition Creative did for Prometheus, when they sent out InMail invites via LinkedIn, you’re likely going to get into the media, if for nothing else than your creative approach to advertising. Regardless of where you get mentioned, it’s a step toward spreading the message.
If you’re wondering which other channels you can use to publicise the campaign, here are a few ideas:
- Social (obviously)!
- Events, tradeshows, fairs
- Publicity stunts
- Email campaigns
- Mailers and printed media
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- Online news websites
- Targeting influencers wherever you can find them
If your CEO is not ‘down’ with social media, it’s their loss. The campaign will suffer. It still frustrates me to see that many organisations (or the upper management within them) both fear and shun social media, largely because they don’t understand it, but also because they only choose to see the somewhat inane use of it by their children. Today, the very best advertising incorporates social.
Step 7¼: Write a Case Study
If you’ve done your job right, you’ll likely become a ‘case study’ that others can blog about time and time again. At the very least write your own case study!
Was your campaign successful?
AKA: Will your campaign BE successful?
We say yes if…
- It was targeted
- It was measurable
- It was easy to understand
- It was focused
- It ‘fitted’ the social platforms you used
- It gave you an excuse to create some great content
- It was memorable
- It was profitable (!!!)
- It got the results you set out to achieve
Words of Wisdom (at least I think so)
- Dare to be different. Out of the box thinking is the only thing that will get you noticed
- Don’t be afraid to make it an integrated marketing campaign. These are often the most successful campaigns as they increase the audience reached.
- Have fun. I really don’t want to explain this one.
- Crowdsource your content. That is, think of getting users involved in providing the information for you.
The Cartoonist: The cartoons are all used with permission from the amazing Tom Fishburne – Marketoonist extraordinaire. If you like them, don’t forget to reach out to him and let him know @tomfishburne