Creating and executing a social media marketing (SMM) campaign is complex business – with a number of variants along the way. You have to think about what networks you’re wanting to include, what your end goals are, and how you think current and prospective fans will respond.
Nothing really ever guarantees campaign success, but one of the best ways to swing the odds in your favor is to actively involve your fans, somehow. The options are practically limitless, but you’ll of course need to factor in your niche, budget, and other considerations before you determine the best way to do it.
Do Your Fans Have Reasons to be a Fan?
Social media is clearly all about engagement and interaction. Many brands out there are using it to promote their products and services, without considering the fact that social is a two-way street. Before you launch any kind of SMM campaign, especially one you hope fans will be involved in, you must be sure your fans have a real reason to be a fan.
Your fans will not become brand advocates unless they believe in what you have to offer, and the mission behind your company. It’s when they promote your brand without even thinking about it that they become advocates. They love what you’re offering so much they’ve integrated your products or services into their lives.
You can give them reason by providing a quality product, doing something that adds real value to their lives, and encouraging them to share their story with you. The key is to find a problem your target audience is dealing with – and use your product or service to solve it.
Don’t Know What to Do?
If you don’t know where to start with your SMM campaign, take a deep breath. Look into your social media analytics on all the channels you want to involve – to find out as much as you can about the existing fan base.
Facebook Insights will tell you all about the reach of your posts, the engagement on the posts, the demographic breakdown of your fans, the number of page likes you have and where those likes came from, the number of people who are talking about your page, and check-in data if you have a physical location people can check-in to.
You can get more detailed data by exporting it. From the data export screen, choose “page data”, then your date range. You’ll get a seemingly overwhelming amount of data that contains key metrics, daily like sources, and more.
Twitter Analytics will tell you everything from high level statistics to metrics for each tweet. You’ll see how many people have seen, retweeted, and replied to each of them. Beyond that, you’ll get audience insights to help you see more about the people who follow you on Twitter, including growth over time, demographics, and interests.
But beyond the analytics data from your social platforms, you can also make use of surveys and polls to get feedback directly from your fans. Use that feedback to shape your campaign in a way they’ll enjoy.
Make it Fun
Dominos, in an effort to be different from the other pizza chains, while also actively involving their fans in social media, allows customers to order pizza through Twitter with an emoji. The tweet-to-order features is only available in the United States, but aims to be a convenience factor for customers. It links the customers’ Twitter handle to their easy order profile, and automatically sends the easy order to the customer for confirmation.
Dominos says nearly 50% of their orders are coming in digitally, and they have no plans to stop using social media to connect with their customers. They plan to explore other social platforms where they know their customers are, including Facebook and Instagram.
Outside of social media, the Dominos app allows you to voice order pizza. You can also order pizza from your Samsung SmartTV, certain smartphones, and Ford’s SYNC applink. The brand is ahead of the competition – where you can only order by phone, online, or with an app. It’s about keeping it fun and engaging for their customers.
Help a Cause
Cause marketing, also known as cause-related marketing, combines the efforts of a non-profit organization with a for-profit company, for mutual benefit. And considering a 2011 study showed 94% of people would switch brands to support a cause, it’s good business.
But, it can’t just be any cause. To be effective at helping your business grow, it must be a cause that aligns with your company’s goals. If you’re a tobacco company, supporting a charity against childhood smoking isn’t a good idea, because consumers aren’t going to buy it. If you’re an “unhealthy” food brand, don’t support causes related to fighting childhood obesity.
Lush, a mostly natural and mostly vegan, handmade cosmetics company, sources their ingredients ethically, and supports causes related to environmental and human rights. Those causes are important to people, but also align with the company’s brand values of taking care of the planet and the people who inhabit it.
In May 2015, TOMS launched their #withoutshoes Instagram campaign. They donated a pair of shoes for every person who took a picture of their bare feet and shared it on Instagram. It gave customers a chance to show their philanthropic side, and help spread the word about the TOMS brand – which is known for donating a pair of shoes to someone in need, for each pair purchased. The campaign has received so much response, it’s become an annual Day Without Shoes – and will launch again in May 2017.
Even if your brand cannot afford to give away free product on behalf of everyone who posts about you on a social media channel, you can still make an effort to tie your products and services to the greater good.
Given the current political climate, we see brands stepping up to help a number of causes. For instance, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg has donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood, in support of women. Lyft and Google are making donations to the ACLU.
Even though these donations aren’t directly part of a social media campaign, you can bet they’re going to affect fan relationships. People are watching and listening all the time. They are paying attention to what companies do in response to various situations. They want to engage with brands that support the same causes they do.
Invite users to share their stories – about their connection to the cause, about their experience with your company, whatever they feel compelled to share. This helps build your relationship with them, and gives insight about your audience you can use in future campaigns.
Let Them Contribute
User-generated content, authentic media, earned media – regardless of the name it goes by, is a powerful force in marketing. When a customer becomes so invested in your brand they’re sharing it with their networks – they are your best marketer. And what better way to get them invested than by asking them to help make something for your brand?
According a study cited by eConsultancy, conducted by Reevoo, 70% of consumers place recommendations and reviews from peers above professional written content. You’ll of course always need professionally written content because you can’t depend on your customers to say everything that needs to be said.
Since 1997, Starbucks has used the iconic red cup to celebrate the holidays. After seeing customers doodle on their cups – red and white alike – they launched an Instagram contest in 2015. Customers were invited to share their designs on Instagram. That year, winners were presented in an online gallery.
In 2016, the contest rose again, this time with a twist. Of 1,200 submissions, a small group of customers were asked to mail in the cup for an evaluation for production. 13 customer designs were selected, and cups were presented for sale in more than 25,000 stores across 75 countries.
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor is becoming an annual contest where customers can submit their own ideas for flavors. In years past, the campaign allowed users to pitch their ideas directly on Facebook. And though users can still post their ideas there, they must be officially pitched at the Lay’s website for the 2017 contest. The winner gets $1 million and their flavor goes to production.
For 10 years, ending in 2016 with Super bowl 50, Doritos ran a Crash the Superbowl contest. Entrants submitted videos and the top three were chosen for voting. The winner was aired during the big game, and the person who submitted the idea won $1 million. The campaign evolved alongside social media, with the most visited website at the time of original creation being MySpace. Now, Doritos says a change in demographic means there will need to be a different approach. However, they still plan on allowing fans to create content for them throughout the year. Considering a 30-second ad spot during the super bowl has reached an all-time high of an estimated $5 million, it’s easy to see why Doritos is changing their approach a bit.
Word-of-mouth remains important. Even though it’s not limited to phone and face-to-face conversation anymore, you must still rely on it to spread your message. If you want your fans to talk about your brand, you must first build a relationship with them. Build that relationship by taking the time to answer questions, educate them, and ultimately, entertain them with your content. This helps you pull in more fans who are interesting in joining the conversation.
When your fans get to contribute something to your brand – whether it’s a cup design, a chip flavor, a commercial idea, or something else entirely, they’re going to be excited about it, and talk about it.
Quality SMM Campaigns Take Time
It can be tempting to push content at your customers, but building an online community – which you should be aiming to do – won’t happen overnight. Your campaigns will fail again and again if you don’t take the time to build useful content and build relationships with fan engagement.
Implementing these tips will make it easier for you to plan a fan-centric campaign. While you definitely want to promote whatever it is your company is offering, you’ll get far better results if you focus on the people – that’s the real reason your business will be successful.
How are you working to get your fans actively involved in your marketing campaigns? I’d love to hear your ideas.