Everyone is on social media, including your competitors, your customers and your target audience. Many large companies have invested significant sums of money to create social media departments and establish their presence across multiple platforms. Fortunately, unlike other forms of advertising, you don't need a large budget to create a successful social media campaign.
Importance of a social media campaign
A social media campaign is a coordinated marketing effort that establishes or builds upon your business goals on one or more social media platforms. It is more than the occasional social media post; it involves achieving a singular business goal, such as:
- Driving sales for your company
- Building an email marketing list
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Improving brand engagement with prospects
- Acquiring feedback from your products' users
A social media campaign summarizes your plan for what you will do and hope to achieve on your social media channels. It guides your activities and enables you to track and measure the results of your social media campaign. Without a detailed plan, you cannot know for certain whether your social media efforts are working or how much return you are getting on your investment.
Creating and running a social media campaign
Follow these eight steps in running an effective social media campaign:
- Match your social media campaign goals to your business goals.
- Develop a thorough understanding of your audience.
- Research your competition.
- Conduct a social media audit.
- Set up new social media accounts and refine your profiles.
- Find ideas for what works best on different social media platforms.
- Set up a social media content calendar.
- Track and measure your results, and adjust your campaign accordingly.
1. Match your social media campaign goals to your business goals.
Set SMART goals
Setting goals is essential for determining whether your social media campaign will succeed, as well as measuring your return on investment.
Following the SMART goal framework will help to guide your planning and support the achievement of real business results. SMART goals are:
For example, if LinkedIn is part of your social media strategy, a SMART goal would be "We will use LinkedIn to establish ourselves as thought leaders in the use of AI chatbots and increase our newsletter readership by 5% each quarter."
Measure meaningful metrics
Each social network has different purposes and audiences; as such, you should set different goals, and measure different metrics on each network. For example, on LinkedIn, you might want to measure click-throughs on your LinkedIn posts, while on Instagram you would want to track the number of views of your Instagram Stories. Match your social media goals to your marketing objectives to demonstrate the value of your social media campaign and ensure buy-in from management. However, avoid tracking "vanity" metrics alone, such as the number of followers and likes, as they are difficult to measure for value.
|If your goal is to…||Measure…|
|Generate new leads and sales||Conversion metrics that show the effectiveness of your social media campaign (e.g., conversion rate, click-through rate, cost per click)|
|Retain more customers||Customer metrics that show how current clients feel about your brand (e.g., customer testimonials, Customer Satisfaction Score, Net Promoter Score)|
|Create customer advocates||Engagement metrics that show how people interact with your content (e.g., average engagement rate, amplification rate, virality rate)|
|Grow your brand||Awareness metrics that highlight your current and potential audience (e.g., potential reach, post reach, social shares of followers)|
2. Develop a thorough understanding of your audience.
Create buyer personas
Knowing the makeup of your audience and what they want to see on social media guides you in creating content that they will want to consume, comment on, and share with their followers. Knowing your audience is also essential for turning prospects into social media followers – and eventually consumers.
To create a buyer persona, you need to know certain things about your target audience, including:
- Geographic location
- Job title
- Income level
You might think you know what your customers and social media followers want from your products or think about your business. However, it's best to rely on actual data to guide how you direct your social media campaigns.
Every social media platform collects analytics on its users. You can use this data to better understand your social media followers, including their demographics and how they interact with your brand. You can then adapt your social media campaigns and strategies to better target different groups of followers.
Remember to support social media data with your company's existing data on current customers. Your sales and marketing teams already have key information about your customer demographics and preferences, which will help to refine your social media strategy.
3. Research your competition.
Perform a SWOT analysis
Performing a competitive analysis of your competitors and their social media activities helps identify what works and does not work in your industry. I can also help you set targets for your social media campaign.
For example, a SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats – could tell you that a competitor is more established on one social media platform and weaker on another. This might encourage you to target the latter platform with more time and resources to establish a dominant position and gain more traction with your audience.
Conduct social listening
Social listening enables you to track, evaluate, and respond to conversations about your company and brand on social media. You can also use social listening to find out what people are saying about your competitors and their social media posts.
Set up social media listening tools to search specific competitors' company names, social media handles and relevant keywords. This will also enable you to see how different social media posts and campaigns perform so that you can react accordingly. For example, if a competitor posts something that gets a lot of negative attention or does poorly, you can avoid that topic or react with something that shows you are on top of the issue.
4. Conduct a social media audit.
Evaluate your performance
Your company is probably doing something already on social media. It's important to evaluate how you are doing so far before making any major changes to your social media strategy.
To evaluate the performance of your social media campaign, do the following:
- Make a list of all your social media accounts and evaluate each one to ensure that it's complete and on brand.
- Identify the posts for each account that had the best results according to various measurement metrics (e.g., engagement).
- Look at the overall performance of each social media channel.
- Track the results of your various social media channels over time.
- Calculate the return on investment.
Using what you've gathered so far, answer the following questions to find ways to improve your social media efforts:
- What is currently working in your social media efforts? What's not working?
- Who is engaging with your posts on different social media platforms?
- What social media networks are your target customers using?
- How do your social media efforts compare to what your competitors are doing?
If a specific social media account or element of your strategy is not reaching your target customers or helping you to achieve your goals, either amend the strategy or drop the account.
Search for imposter accounts
While conducting a social media audit, you might discover other accounts that are falsely representing your brand, company or products. Imposter accounts can harm your brand. Do a regular search on your company name across different social media platforms. When you discover an imposter account, report it to the appropriate social media network so it can be shut down or removed.
5. Set up new social media accounts and refine your profiles.
Choose your networks
Determine which social media networks you plan to use, as well as how and why you will set up a profile on that network. To focus your thinking and strategy, create a simple mission statement for your profile on each social media network. If you cannot state a legitimate business reason to be on a particular social network, then consider not creating a social media profile.
For example, your mission statement for LinkedIn could be, "We will use LinkedIn to establish ourselves as thought leaders in our industry and engage CEOs at companies in our target market."
Set up a social media profile
After you choose a social media network, create a new social media profile or improve an existing one so that it fits with your social media strategy. Every platform has different requirements and strategies for creating effective social media profiles; follow the guidelines when making or improving your profile.
Remember: You don't have to have a profile on every social media platform. Spend your time on making your social media presence the best it can be, even if it means limiting what platforms you will be on.
Follow these strategies to create an effective social media profile:
- Use consistent branding on all social media profiles, including logos, imagery, wording, etc.
- Complete all fields in your social media profile. (Don't leave blanks if you can help it.)
- Use keywords in the headings and descriptions that prospects and customers would use to find your business.
- Use professional, high-quality photos and images in all parts of your profile and account.
6. Find ideas for what works best on different social media platforms.
You don't have to come up with innovative ideas to post great content and make an impression on social media.
Some sources of effective and interesting social media posts and campaigns include:
- Social media success stories and case studies (specific to each social media network)
- Individual brands' award-winning social media campaigns and accounts
- Favorite brands' social media accounts
- Industry and social media newsletters
- Social listening (see above)
- Webinars on industry topics
- Forums and other sources of online conversations
- Sales and marketing teams – determine what they have learned about or from customers
- Customers and social media followers – find out what they're talking about, or ask them what they're interested in
7. Set up a social media calendar.
Create a posting schedule
A schedule is an essential part of any social media campaign, as it will help you to create and organize content in advance and post it when it will have the greatest impact.
Your schedule lists the dates and times when you will publish specific posts and content on different social media channels. It enables you to coordinate the different types of social media activities (e.g., blog posts, videos, links, images) across all the networks. The schedule identifies the specific items and topics that will be covered on a day-to-day basis, and the types of content to be used for different campaigns. It also ensures content is properly spaced out for maximum impact.
Use a scheduling tool to prepare your content in advance and automatically update your social media profiles at specific times.
Balance your content mix
You've already created a mission statement for each social media profile, so your content should support your goals. Different posts will have different goals (e.g., driving traffic, supporting lead generation, reinforcing your company culture), so you have to determine the balance that works for achieving your overall goal. Use your social media calendar to organize your posts and maintain the proper balance.
There are different strategies you can use for finding the right balance for your content. Consider these two options:
- 80:20 mix: 80% of your content informs, educates or entertains your followers; 20% promotes your company's products and brand.
- Rule of thirds: One-third of your content shares content from thought leaders in your industry, one-third promotes your business and generates profit, one-third engages personally with your followers.
8. Track and measure your results and adjust your campaign accordingly.
Use performance metrics to evaluate results
Once you start your social media campaign, track your results, and evaluate how the campaign is performing.
Use the metrics identified above to evaluate your social media campaign on each network. You can also use UTM parameters to track your social media visitors to see where they go on your website and which posts are producing the best results. UTM parameters are short text codes added to a URL that let you accumulate data on:
- Campaign sources (e.g., social network, search engine, newsletter source)
- Campaign medium (e.g., organic social, paid social, email)
- Campaign name (e.g., product name, contest name, sale code)
- Campaign term for paid keywords and phrases
- Campaign content for tracking different ads
Review, test and repeat
Use your metrics and data to evaluate your social media strategy regularly. You can compare different social media strategies, campaigns and posts against each other. Repeated testing and measurement of results lets you see what works and doesn't on different social media platforms so that you can update and amend your strategy in real time.
One way to evaluate the effectiveness of your social media campaign is to conduct surveys. Ask your website visitors, email subscribers, social media followers, and customers about the effectiveness of your social media posts, whether they are meeting their needs and expectations, and what they would like to see more of (or less of) on your social media platforms. Use your findings to make any necessary changes to posts and strategies.
Social media changes quickly, so pay attention to what is trending, what new social media platforms emerge and which ones seem to be losing traction. Try to keep up with what is happening, and adjust your social media campaigns and strategy as needed. Keep your teams informed as well so that your social media, business, marketing and sales goals stay aligned.