8 Characteristics of Effective Social Media Campaigns

by Jan Willis September 28th, 2011 

To ensure your social media campaign is an unqualified success in every sense of the word, here are eight characteristics of effective social media campaigns.

So youre thinking about running a social media campaign. Good for you!

Social media can be a great way of increasing brand awareness, customer engagement and long term loyalty and generating a short term boost in sales, but its also a potential minefield and in the worst case, a bottomless pit into which you endlessly shovel money with nothing much to show for it.

1. Targeted

target

Social media campaigns come in all shapes and sizes and every campaign is unique. But what all successful social media campaigns have in common is a set of clear objectives and success criteria and laser targeting.

If you havent taken the time and effort to think through what youre trying to achieve, the audience you want to engage with and what success looks like not your chances of success are going to be slim to zero.

  • Is your main aim to increase brand awareness by reaching out to a new target audience or is it more about educating, informing and engaging existing customers?
  • Do you want to activate key influencers and thought leaders?
  • Is your aim to generate buzz about a new product launch or event or to increase sales of an underperforming product line?
  • What actions do you want your target audience to take?
  • How are you going to monetise all that additional engagement and traffic?

2. Focused

focus

Its truism in marketing that campaigns aimed at raising brand awareness are best left to the big boys who can afford to burn through enormous marketing budgets; this applies just as much to social media as to any other genre of marketing.

Weve all seen the big budget social media campaigns that attract critical acclaim and generate acres of media coverage but leave the question so what? hanging in the air.

Take Gap, for example, who recently blew $25million on a US wide Groupon deal to generate an additional $11 million in revenue in the short term.  The jury is still out on whether all they have done is generate additional word of mouth awareness which they didnt need and cannibalized their existing customer base or whether that engagement will eventually translate into increased bottom line profits.

There are very few small businesses that can afford to take such a long term and, some might say, wildly optimistic, view of the potential of social media.

Instead of throwing money at your campaign in the hope that it finds its way back to you in the fullness of time, ensure that your campaign is of the direct response variety and focused on a specific issue, customer pain point or a competitor.

It will be much easier to develop the right content and messaging and identify the specific actions you want your visitors to take, all of which will greatly assist in ensuring that you have something tangible to show for your efforts.

3. Measurable

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As with all successful marketing initiatives, setting appropriate metrics so that you have a basis for measuring the success of your campaign is a must.

If youve set clear objectives and defined the actions you want your audience to take this should be pretty straightforward but do bear in mind that one of the great (and slightly scary) things about social media is that once you put your message out there you have very little control over what happens to it. That means your campaign may end up having completely different outcomes from the ones youre expecting.

If youre not hitting your targets dont be too quick to write the campaign off as a failure.

Look closely at all your metrics to see if youre driving value somewhere else.

For example, you may not have as many micro-conversions (email opt-ins, Twitter followers, Facebook fans and RSS subscribers) as youd hoped for but the engagement levels for those you do have may be much higher or you may find that youre seeing an increase in off-line sales.

Of course, if it looks like a turkey, walks like a turkey and sounds like a turkey, it probably is " in which case you need to hit the kill button pretty darn quick. But without the right metrics, how will you ever know?

4. Great Content

great-content

Back in the day when social media was the new kid on the digital marketing block you could pretty much guarantee that any reasonably creative and original campaign was going to get lots of eyeballs and create an enormous amount of buzz.

In todays crowded marketplace its not quite so easy. Which means that if you want your campaign to stand out, youre going to have to work that little bit harder to get the attention of your users.

One thing still holds true, however: the cornerstone of any effective social media campaign is great content presented in an interesting and engaging way.

If youve done your homework on your audience, if you know what they are passionate about, their pain points, the type of content they readily share and what they respond to youll have pretty good idea of what is going to get them excited. Finding a different and intriguing way to deliver your content is then your secret sauce.

5. Simple

simple

As social media campaigns become ever more complex its worth reflecting on whether this what users really want.

keep it
simple
and immediate
Creativity is a wonderful thing, but if you ask too much of your audience they will quickly get bored and move on.

Instead, keep it simple and immediate and offer something your users are going to value as a reward for their engagement. This doesnt have to be anything expensive or even anything tangible, so long as your campaign is relevant, fun and engaging. Think Evians Roller Babies, the most watched online ad ever which generated over 60 million views and 54,000 comments or Johnsons Facebook baby photo contest which generated more than 1 million visits, half a million votes and tripled the companys fan base.

6. The Right Medium For The Message

stone-tablet

Having a great message is one of the things that makes great campaigns stand out from the rest.

But just having a great message isnt enough " you also have to communicate it via the right channels. It can be tempting to just focus your efforts on the big 3 " Facebook, Twitter and Youtube " but if thats not where your target audience hangs out it isnt going to do you much good.

It also pays to remember that people tend to behave differently on different networks so think about the actions you want your users to take and match the medium to the message.

Example: if you want an immediate response youd probably want to use Twitter, whereas Facebook is more suited to opinion sharing.

Finally, make sure that your social media campaign is fully integrated with all your other marketing, advertising and PR activities, both online and offline.

This will not only increase your campaigns impact but also ensure that you arent putting out contradictory messages that will confuse your audience.

7. Memorable

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The most successful social media campaigns forge an emotional connection between the brand and the audience by providing not just great content but an experience.

Make your campaign memorable by telling stories that have an emotional resonance for your audience and they can immediately identify with.

Engage your users in an ongoing conversation, make it personal and show that you care about them and their custom and you will engender a powerful sense of belonging that will translate into long term loyalty.

8. Profitable

profitable

For any small business, a positive return on investment is going to be a key campaign success measure.

There are plenty of siren voices that will say you cant put a price on customer engagement. Ignore them.

If youre a small business and you cant demonstrate that your social media campaign is directly contributing to your bottom line its time to go back to the drawing board. 

Of course measuring the long term impact of social media campaigns is an art not a science, but that doesnt mean that you wont need a plan for monetizing all that additional traffic and engagement and converting it to cold hard cash.

Jan Willis

Jan is a digital marketing coach and founding Director of WOW Consulting, anEssex online marketing and website design company. Jan's speciality is demystifying digital marketing and show small businesses how to integrate web, mobile and social media into their marketing strategies to create sustainable competitive advantage and profitable growth.

Essex online marketing and website design>

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2 Responses to “8 Characteristics of Effective Social Media Campaigns”

  1. [...] as you can see while it may SEEM that social media marketing campaigns today would look like science fiction to admen of the 50s, the truth is the more things change the [...]

  2. Thank you so much for this article! I'm putting together a social media campaign for my friend's retail store and this is my first professional experience aside from my personal blog. I found a lot of the information very helpful, thanks so much for your insights!