Focus on content and ideas first, then think about technology
It’s critical that social marketing campaigns start with ideas, rather than a focus on a particular technology or social media platform. All too often marketers think about a “Facebook idea” or a “Twitter idea,” leading to campaigns that do not reach their full potential because they are contingent upon a single platform rather than an idea. Social marketing campaigns that start with a bigger idea can be integrated and customized; and ideas deployed appropriately through multiple social media platforms typically have the greatest rate of success.
Balance functional and emotional content
Simply put, people are much more likely to share feelings than facts. Thus brands that are striving to create social discussion must do so in a manner that evokes an emotional response. Brands that simply deliver content that’s rationale/functional cannot expect to generate much social momentum. A content strategy that balances both rationale and emotional content enables delivery of brand information with enough content to result in pass along and social engagement. However, the lack of emotional content can be a fatal flaw.
Create appeal beyond brand advocates
All too often, marketers make the mistake of creating content to live on social platforms that is so specific to their brand, only the most loyal brand advocates will engage. This may be a smart tactic to engage a niche segment of a brand’s audience, but it is unlikely to create social discussion amongst a broader segment. To truly create a social campaign, marketers must think about a much larger universe of customers and motivate them to engage in order to create a social movement. In short, if the content is overly specific, it is unlikely to have large-scale social relevance.
Deliver a consistent stream of “light weight” interactions
Given the highly cluttered nature of social media, marketers must think about social campaign content delivery in bite-sized pieces. Social media users scan thousands of pieces of content on a daily basis on fast moving platforms (think about the Facebook Newsfeed) so a brand’s social campaign must fit into this context. Thus, the most successful social campaigns are delivered to consumers primarily through simple experiences (Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, short-form videos, etc) delivered on a consistent basis. Social campaigns that require high levels of engagement and time commitment tend to see limited success because they are at odds with the manner in which consumers experience social media content.
When activating a social campaign, fish where the fish are
Given that many social media platforms have established critical mass it is most efficient to utilize existing platforms, vs. creating a social environments unique to a brand. We’ve found that attempting to create a social community around a specific brand (i.e. new microsite) requires much more work/investment than engaging those customers on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. The successful social campaign does not require consumers to change their social media usage patterns, a potential barrier to success (consumers are always hesitant to try new platforms unless they offer a completely new experience/utility).
Create a “value exchange” with consumers
It’s important that brands understand that if they want consumers to do something through a social marketing campaign, there must be reciprocity. Brands cannot expect consumers to engage, participate, create content, etc. etc. without something in return. This “value exchange” can take many forms – financial incentives, exclusive content, etc. but it needs to be consistent with the magnitude of the brand request. As an example, if we are asking consumers to create content, upload, vote, etc. over an extended period of time, the incentive must be significant. If we are just asking for a view/click, the incentive can be relatively modest.
Make it personal
It’s important for brands to recognize that social media is owned by consumers…it does not belong to brands/marketers. With that in mind, social marketing campaigns must put the consumer at the forefront of the idea/concept. Marketers should look for ways to have a social campaign customizable on an individual level. Social campaigns that allow consumers to “make it their own” are much more likely to create social momentum, as consumers will have a vested interest in distributing the content. Social campaigns that are not-consumer centric and have no elements of customization are typically less successful.