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7 Tips for Planning Your Social Media Campaign

WrapUp_blogWe’re constantly preaching it on this blog: you must look back to plan successfully going forward.

Social campaigns can be scary. There’s a lot to keep in mind. We recently ran a campaign profiling the finest social efforts of summer 2014 on our blog, from Ben & Jerry’s to Honda to the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. Covering each post with CTA’s galore, we asked readers to vote for their fave campaigns throughout the two-week period of blog posts.

This campaign reminded us of the key components to social strategy planning. Here are seven necessities to keep in mind when plotting out your own campaigns.

1. Make sure your goals are clear

How do you want to drive your campaign? Clarify your thoughts and find the answer to this question by writing an email draft to your boss or team explaining how your campaign idea will benefit your brand. For instance, I embarked upon this campaign to:

Increase brand awareness on social
Each autopopulated Tweet (the site visitor’s way of voting for a brand) went something like this: “I vote for @BenandJerrys in the #SimplySummerAwards.” Our hope was that this voting methodology would put us on both these brands’ radars, and on the radars of those looking at these brands competitively. We looked to our influencers and fans to spread the love.

Support demand generation
We sprinkled all blog posts and landing pages for the campaign with CTA’s to gated content, and asked viewers to subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the microsite.

Test for future campaigns
If we can make this way of voting and structuring a campaign work, we thought, we can replicate it for any season or event series: i.e. Superbowl, holiday season, etc. This could be a worthwhile and streamlined way to structure future campaigns.

2. Figure out which components you need

We looked at our goals for the campaign, and mapped out the best ways to make that happen. Thanks to our web developer, we were #blessed with a pretty incredible microsite for the Simply Summer Social Awards, designed to act as the campaign hub for all the different pieces of content we produced.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 1.24.09 PMYes, it looks pretty, but it also sports some cool backend stuff.

Votes were collected for each brand by adding up the Tweets that mentioned both the brand handle + our campaign hashtag, #SimplySummerAwards, since this was the formula used for the autopopulated Tweets that readers were invited to Tweet out at the end of each blog post:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 1.33.43 PMThe site even updated itself in real time so that people could keep track of the standings. All of these microsite features map back to increasing brand awareness, feeding our demand gen machine, and serving as fertile testing ground for future campaigns.

Blog posts were the second component of our Simply Summer Social Awards. The blog post for each campaign focused on how the campaign played out across all active social channels, what the social data tells us about the campaign as a whole, and why the campaign was successful.

Our Community Manager promoted each post on social, mostly on Twitter. Paid ads were another part of this equation, also mapping back to all three initial campaign goals. Our Paid Media Marketing Manager invested in Twitter cards to spread the word on the voting site and blog series.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.42.59 AMFinally, we publicized the Simply Summer Social Awards campaign in our weekly newsletter to customers and non-customers alike, hoping to spread awareness among folks who hadn’t seen or paid attention to our social efforts.

3. Make a calendar and stick to it

If you want people to know when they’ll receive your content and know what action to take, set a reliable publishing cadence and stick to it.

In the future, we’ll write all our content before the campaign begins — and publish it all in one day.

Here were the standings by the end of the campaign:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 2.01.23 PMThis also happens to be the order in which the blog posts were published. This shows us that the posts which published earlier had an unfair advantage vote-wise over the posts which came later.

In the future, we’ll publish all the posts at the same time so that every brand has the same kind of chance, with reminders on social media throughout the voting period including social stat teasers about each campaign.

This will also increase the amount of blog visitors we glean from the campaign.

4. Partner up

Having influencers on your side is vital to the virality of your social campaign. By asking influencers, including our CEO, to choose their favorite campaigns of summer and publicize the campaign on their own social channels, we were able to spread news of our campaign farther than it otherwise would go.

For instance, social influencer Lilach Bullock has almost 84,000 followers. She chose the Honda #Cheerance event as her favorite campaign of summer for us, and tweeted several times about our Awards.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.49.17 AMThis means that our Awards reached people who otherwise might have been ignorant of both our campaign and brand.

5. Be timely

Enacting our summer social awards in September had the advantage of giving us a full-spectrum view of summer’s social campaigns with the kind of perspective that writing the same posts in August couldn’t have, but it also meant that interest in the summer’s campaigns had already cooled to some extent.

Make sure there’s still serious buzz around your topic or theme before you dive in.

6. Make the value prop obvious

We made the mistake of titling each blog post Simply Summer Social Awards Contestant #insert number here. This didn’t give our readers, who we know love educational content about big brands, the opportunity to see what we were going to teach them in the post.

We weren’t enticing readers to click through on social by catering to their immediate desires, and that made our unique visits and visitor numbers weaker than normal for the Simply Summer posts.

7. Measurement

You should be measuring as you go along. Otherwise, how will you know which content to double down on, and which content needs to be put to bed?

Looking back at the campaign as a whole is also helpful, so that you can see goal completions and missed opportunities — and make better decisions next time.

For instance, we found measurement incredibly useful for determining whether our paid efforts for this campaign were driving substantial engagement.

What have you learned from your Twitter campaign wins and not-so-wins? 

How do you measure or benchmark the successes of your campaigns? Let me know in the comments below and download our eBook to learn more.

Screenshot 2014-09-26 10.24.52

Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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