The social media sphere is riddled with stories of marvellous good fortune and timing. Communicators are wise to dismiss such fringe occurrences and, instead, concentrate on making their own luck.
There are knots in my back so big that they have spawned their own knots. Every single one seems to relate to the social/digital campaigns the people at our agency toil over. Sometimes we make it all happen and feel pretty good about ourselves. Other times, we get the Scotch and self-medicate. In a look back at some of our recent campaigns, I’ve noticed a few common threads relating to both failure and success.
Keep your eyes on one prize
Clients often ask their agencies to add another thing, and another, and another, to the list of campaign objectives. It’s all too easy to say yes to such requests. Doing so is tantamount to placing a lit stick of dynamite up the ass of your campaign. (After it goes off, you’re left with little more than a mess.) So, push back and ensure agreement on a single, achievable campaign objective. This can align all parties and prepare you for success.
Ask if you’d do it
Most of us create campaigns for almost anyone but ourselves. This can be a huge problem. It may make us look upon our audience as a bunch of hapless saps that will do anything we tell them, no matter how meaningless or absurd. As a result, companies often put big bucks into campaigns, only to have them yield few, if any, results. This is a damned shame, given that within each of us exists a solid barometer for what might work. Before pressing “go” on a social campaign, ask yourself how you’d respond to it. Would you Like, Share or Enter because it was actually interesting or good? (If not, go back to square one.)
Offer something that can’t be had anywhere else
I often hear: “Everyone wants something for free. Can’t we just run a contest?” The answer is yes … yes, you can give something away in exchange for a little attention. If you do, though, think long and hard about the number of people who are doing exactly the same thing. Then ask yourself what you could offer that would be absolutely remarkable. Giving away an iPad isn’t worth any attention. Offering up the chance to jam, and drink, with Metallica is. (If you manage to make the latter happen, I’ll make my way past any obscene contest rules you may dream up.)
This is the next big part of the equation. While a few of us may do almost anything for your prize, a great many couldn’t be bothered whatsoever. (Particularly given the knowledge they’ll probably have the shit spammed out of them once they enter said contest.) The answer, make it slippery smooth for semi-interested folks to get involved. This means fewer signup fields; or, tying into the Facebook API to make it easy to participate; or reducing entry requirements to almost zero. Think of every obstacle standing between your customer and the conversion as a landmine.
Give your campaign a running start
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the founders of Reddit apparently created an army of fake users to build activity in their fledgling social news community. Some might look upon this as unethical. I’d argue that they just made their own luck. A quiet community, campaign or initiative is a dead one. So, get out there and do the legwork to ensure that this doesn’t happen. In one recent photo contest, we found great images on Flickr, and then went to their creators, encouraging them to enter. This kick-started the campaign, and we soon found these folks spreading the word for us.
Learn the lingo; act on the data
Impressions, clickthroughs, bounces, CPC, CPM, CTA, conversions … oh, the web is bubbling over with words you probably don’t want to know—but need to. In order to produce any work of value in the digital space, you have to measure your efforts and compare them to past ones. You also need interpret and act on all this information. If traffic is low, A/B test your ads, or vary your post times, messages and networks to see what works. If traffic is up but conversions suck, test new landing page layouts and augment on the fly. What about devices? Are mobile numbers higher than desktop? How does this relate to conversions? Keep examining, asking questions, testing and tweaking. Doing so can turn the tides in your favour.
There’s no one formula for success when it comes to campaigns and social media. You can plan all you want, and still come up with nothing. Alternately, you can do something on a lark and have it spark interest. The smart money, however, is on those who know what they want to achieve, are hypercritical of their actions, collect and examine the data, and are ready to quickly change direction when need be.
This article originally appeared in Applied Arts Magazine.