The online experience is ever-evolving. To be successful in the digital world you have to consider how your brand will act online. At Dooley Social Change we’ve refined our digital strategy over the years by learning from psychology, visual advertising, and most recently design thinking. We’re constantly looking to improve, update and refine how the brands we work with look, interact and engage with their end users. So, when asked to present about ways to plan and implement a social media campaign for the Social Marketing Association of North America - a membership organization serving the professional needs of behavior change agents in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and the United States - we reflected back over the years about what makes a truly impactful social media campaign. Here are our lessons learned.
1) Change the research rules
The true inspiration for any campaign comes from forming theories about why. Research is still one of the best ways to understand what people are up to and focus groups are a common method for achieving this. But, why not consider ways to re-invent the traditional focus group? For example, instead of taking traditional advertising concept boards into a focus group discussion, why not ask participants to engage with your proposed campaign ... "in-the-moment"? Get them to bring out their mobile devices and show you the type of content they are currently liking and engaging with! We promise the insights you will get will lead to social media campaign strategies that resonate with the hearts and minds of your end-user.
2) Ask your target audience the right questions
Getting to know your customer helps to create an engaging and authentic online brand experience: one they are truly looking for. It’s about asking specific questions and really digging deep - What inspires them about their job? What’s their outfit of choice? What is that one nagging concern that they can’t seem to resolve? How do they feel about their health? What music do they like to listen to? How do they spend their holidays? What do they love about the community they live in? Get specific! The more answers you can get, the better you’ll be able to understand and engage with the people that really matter.
3) Want to work with online influencers? Choose the right ones!
Let’s say your strategy and research point to a campaign which uses online influencers to encourage brand engagement. Now what? Influencer marketing continues to trend, but it’s important to choose the right influencer for your brand - someone who truly lives and breathes your brand in an authentic way. These days, everyone is labeling themselves as an online "influencer". Before you choose to work with someone, take time to critically analyze their posts, their personal and professional values, and their followers to make sure they align with your own brand goals and values. Ask yourself if the content they are posting is truly interesting and valuable to your customers? And don’t forget about logistics once you have found the ideal influencer to work with. You’ll need to set out an agreement ahead of time outlining the number of posts and scope of coverage up front.
4) Determine the ROI of online partnerships
Get clear on the purpose of your online partnerships and define your goals, whether that’s building brand awareness, engaging and creating an online community of like-minded followers, garnering more site traffic, or achieving product conversions. Be clear about your purpose from the start and have clear metrics in mind to measure success. Use a mix of data - both insights analytics and social listening can be used to see how engaged people truly are online: they may be “liking” posts but are they taking their actions further and sharing or creating content that tells the untold stories of your brand? Look back to your initial campaign goals to measure the return on investment for each online partnership. Then test, rinse, and repeat to ensure that the most impactful strategies are used.
Final thoughts: social media is about connecting with the right community and offering actionable solutions.
Don’t just use social media solely to promote yourself. Find balance in your content by addressing your audience needs and making sure you are connecting, building relationships and engaging in discussion. Offer your audience solutions to problems they are actually dealing with. Instead of focusing all your content on promoting your business, create helpful content such as tips and tricks, seasonal or life stage content, and curated articles that will add real value to your audience's lives.