5 questions to ask yourself before starting any social media campaign

Questions from everyone

With so many social media choices, putting a plan together can be a little mind boggling. Our five-question approach will help you narrow down a strategy in no time.

When social media really began exploding some years back, I remember talking to a fellow mad man (actually a mad woman) about it. We were reflecting on all the articles at the time that were trying to decipher the mystery of social—like it was Stonehenge or the pyramids or something. I had lots of questions myself, until the mad lady looked up at me—as many mad hatters do—and brought complete clarity to it:

“It’s just media,” she said, “another vehicle to reach people. What’s the big deal?”

“Of course,” I thought. “Duh…”

Marketers have come a long way on the social media front. Some brands are doing amazing things these days, others, not so much. Social has become like any other medium… it has plenty of people producing junk in it, too.

I think because folks use social media every day, they assume it’s more spontaneous and not something you have to plan like traditional media. And it mostly is that way for us humans with our faces invisibly tethered to our iPhones. But what if you’re a marketer, looking to launch a social media campaign about your company or a product?

Many of the elite marketers among us say that you need to think of social like any other media plan. You have to be strategic, know where your audience is, and the best avenues to reach them. Having eyeball-grabbing messages and visuals doesn’t hurt, either. But once you launch, then the spontaneity really kicks in.

In light of that, I’ve been working on revising our agency’s social media brief. I wanted something that wasn’t as cumbersome as the old brief—written when social media was a little more Area-51 mysterious. My goal was to create a one-pager (max) that got you thinking in the right direction with just a few questions. I think I’ve got it down to five:

1. What do my audience and (I, or my brand) have in common? What can we talk about? To me, this is the foundation of all social media, personal or professional. Even if you connect with a high school friend on Facebook, you have your background… other friends… your town… reminiscing… catching up on old acquaintances and more to talk about.

For marketers, this is really about knowing your audience and what interests them, especially as it relates to your brand or space. The right content, mixed with creativity, is social media gold. You can start by coming to the table (or in this case, the platform) with some good, relevant stuff to share.

2. What are the best social media platforms for (me, the brand) to reach them? Again, this is knowing your audience and what screens occupy their time. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn likely makes sense, but many B2Bs use Twitter effectively, too.

Once you know the platform(s), the most important thing is being native to that platform. We’ve all seen cretins who post still shots with a soundtrack on YouTube (don’t you HATE those?!?)… or type so many characters in their tweets that they’re always cut off. So use each individual platform and its tools to the fullest. If you please the platform gods, they will smile kindly upon you and your message.

3. What will (I or my brand) look and sound like? This is a cardinal rule of great branding, period, and it applies just as strongly to social media. Every brand has a personality… a voice… an identity. Think of Oreos vs. Mercedes Benz. You know exactly what those brands look and sound like.

Here’s a good tip: When we advise brands on using social media, we recommend they personify themselves. (Remember that term from high school English? It was in the same lesson as onomatopoeia and hyperbole.) Imagine your brand has turned into a person, and that person is using Facebook, Pinterest or whatever platform to connect with a customer. What would he or she post, write, and sound like? How would that person respond to others? Reflect that person.

4. Are we giving away anything? People expect free stuff from brands online, particularly younger consumers. That could take the form of a special offer, coupons, content, exclusive info, sneak peeks, entertainment or a number of other techniques. Again, audience is paramount here. Knowing what they crave—and giving it to them—will keep them engaged.

In social media, many marketers tend to focus on content creation and how often to post. These are important, of course. But other areas to really be creative are the giveaways or offers. Is there something you can give to people that’s different or will get them pumped?

5. How (am I or the brand) going to respond to feedback? Remember, it’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. It’s meant to be a back-and-forth, with conversations and sharing.

To me, the same rules apply to social media that would apply to any other social gathering. Don’t ignore people when they talk to you. Respond appropriately. Be polite and accommodating. Make them want to hang around with you.

These five questions aren’t the end-all, be-all, of course. You can dive deeper into any aspect of any of them. They are, however, the right, basic questions to get you started… no matter if you’re a small B2B or a household name brand just looking to join the party.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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