According to Statista, the portion of people who have access to social media reached 45 percent in 2019, led by North America and East Asia at 70 percent, followed by Northern Europe at 67 percent.
This has led to an explosion of businesses and marketers launching their own social media campaigns.
Unfortunately, there’s a big difference between what companies believe is great social media marketing and what customers are getting.
Research by Smart Insights shows that 80 percent of businesses think they’re providing exceptional service on social media. Only 8 percent of customers agree.
This problem is further proven in Buffer’s State Of Social 2019 Report, which surveyed 1,842 marketing professionals.
Among the report’s notable findings is how many businesses still struggle to create successful social media campaigns.
According to Buffer, the majority (43.4 percent) of businesses feel their campaigns were only somewhat successful while only 29.6 percent said their campaigns were very effective.
One reason is that these companies still don’t have a documented strategy behind their social media campaigns.
In fact, Buffer’s research shows that about half of their respondents don’t have a clear strategy or plan.
Why is this a big deal, you might ask? With nearly every brand out there jumping on the social media bandwagon, there’s a good chance that your company is a very competitive industry.
Viral content and great visuals may get you some short-term mileage with your audience, but if you want consistent, long-term success, you need a cohesive social media marketing campaign.
Lessons learned from our social media campaigns
This is a lesson we had to learn the hard way. When Piktochart was founded in 2011, one of our initial marketing goals was to improve brand awareness.
We were a new company operating out of Malaysia and we knew that social media was the fastest and cheapest way to extend our research to a global user base.
We succeeded in maintaining an active social media presence, but our actual campaigns were sporadic and didn’t generate the results we expected. They were put together with no overarching strategy.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, as Buffer’s research shows, this is a common mistake made by marketing professionals around the world.
Suffice it to say we’ve learned quite a bit since then, allowing us to create social media campaigns tick off the following elements:
- A SMART goal
- Aligned with the rules of each platform
- A clearly defined audience
- Use of proper tools
- Appropriate metrics to measure campaign success
You can jump straight to each section by clicking on the links.
Keep reading as we go through these components of effective social media marketing campaigns.
Essential elements of great social media campaigns
1. A SMART goal
Before you begin planning any social media campaign, you first need to ask yourself what your campaign intends to accomplish, and, more importantly, why.
But before you say the goal is to generate sales, hold that thought because that’s already a given.
All marketing is about bringing in more customers and generating revenue, so be more specific about how you intend to use social media to get there.
For example, at Piktochart, our social media campaign goals revolved around building trust and strengthening our relationship with our customers.
That’s just one example. Hootsuite’s latest version of its Social Media Barometer provides an overview of the 10 most common social media marketing goals.
However, it’s not enough to simply choose a goal. To ensure your goal is reasonable and strategic, you can use the SMART framework, a system for setting goals that are:
The SMART system ensures that any goal (or goals) you set is practical and leads to something. To further explain, here’s an example of a non-SMART goal:
- “I want to increase my social media followers.”
On the surface, it looks like a perfectly acceptable goal. However, it begs questions such as:
- How many followers constitute an acceptable increase?
- Which social media network are you aiming for?
- How long do you expect to see results?
Using the SMART system, we can elevate this goal to something like:
- I want to increase my Instagram followers by at least 1,000 users in Q1 of 2020. To do this, I am going to launch an Instagram contest that incentivizes follows and shares.
This goal is SMART because:
- It identifies the Specific goal of increasing Instagram followers
- The target of 1,000 more users means it’s Measurable
- It identifies an Actionable tactic: a content that incentivizes follows and shares
- Assuming that Instagram is an important platform for the company, we can say that it’s Relevant
- It identifies a timeline, Q1 of 2020, making it Time-bound
Bottom line? A well-defined goal set using the SMART system goes a long way towards setting your campaign up for success.
If you are clear about the results you wish to achieve with your campaign, it’ll be easier to choose tactics that will get you there.
2. Awareness of each platform’s rules
Social media is a broad term that encompasses multiple platforms, some of which are similar, while others have a unique user interface and user flow.
It’s generally agreed that the top five largest social media platforms (not including messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger) are:
Buffer has a more comprehensive list that ranks social media platforms by monthly unique visitors and includes networks that are popular in specific regions in Asia and Europe.
In any case, there are best practices that apply to all of these platforms, such as:
- Brands are encouraged to share content.
- It’s social media—get social. Engage your followers by replying to their comments and feedback. Get them involved in your brand.
- Follow the 80/20 rule of social media marketing. Use 80 percent of your time to entertain and inform your audience. Use 20 percent to sell to them.
- Don’t buy followers.
However, it’s also worth noting that each platform also has its own rules.
- Direct messages can feel intrusive on Twitter. Only DM people when the need arises, such as to resolve a customer complaint
- Brevity is the name of the game on Twitter. Try to be creative in saying more with less. While you’re at it, use visual content to provide more context to your tweets.
- Don’t stuff your tweets with hashtags
- Unless you’re a media company, avoid posting several times a day. Nobody likes to see a feed stuffed with content from the same account.
- Use hashtags sparingly and make sure they’re actually relevant to your brand.
- Don’t post user-generated content without the user’s permission
- Use Facebook’s arsenal of social media features: live streaming, My Day, and Groups.
- Don’t solicit Likes, Comments, and Shares, unless it’s part of a social media content
- Be professional. When sending connection requests, be sure to include a brief message explaining your request.
- Talk about the business side of your brand, including your innovations and research findings.
- Write content using a more formal tone.
3. A clearly defined audience
One of the most common reasons why many social media campaigns are set up for failure is because marketers and businesses aren’t clear on who their audience is.
As Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller explain, all marketing plans must start with the customer—that includes social media marketing.
Where many businesses and marketers stumble is by using guesswork instead of verifiable information when identifying their audience.
Some marketers make educated guesses while others simply go by what they think is right.
Either way, you don’t want to rely on guesswork, not when there’s a much more scientific approach: the buyer persona.
A buyer persona serves as a guide for marketers to remember who they’re marketing to on social media, ensuring that all content and marketing activities are aimed at a specific group of people who are most likely to become your customers.
Ideally, it should include information such as:
- Your customers’ demographic information
- Their personal and work challenges, as well as pain points
- Their unmet needs your brand can solve
- Their social media habits
- Their media consumption habits
The simplest way to get all this information is to simply talk to your customers. You can also host focus group discussions or conduct surveys to discover insights about your audience.
Here’s an example of a simple buyer persona.
4. Use of appropriate tools
With social media networks continually rolling out new features and new platforms gaining popularity, businesses and marketers have no choice but to keep up and adapt.
Social media marketing tools make this easier by taking care of the grunt work, allowing you to spend more time developing effective social media communications and refining existing messages.
Below are a few examples of tools you should consider adding to your arsenal.
Buffer is a social media campaign management tool that lets you schedule virtually any kind of social media posts on any platform you can think of.
The tool allows you to be meticulous with your scheduling, perfect if you need posts on Facebook to go up at a certain time of a day, and tweets to go up on Twitter at another hour.
Like Buffer, Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media campaign management tool, only this time it specializes in customer relationship management.
The platform’s analytics features are geared towards engagement tracking, making it particularly useful for fostering and nurturing relationships with your followers.
While Buffer and Sprout Social and great, don’t underestimate the tools built into any social media platform.
Facebook’s Audience Insights, for example, is a gold mine for user insights, helping you create more detailed and effective buyer personas.
5. Selection of proper metrics
Any social marketing campaign must include a system for measuring the results of all social media activities. This is the only way to know if your campaign is actually working.
If you follow the SMART framework, your goals should automatically be measurable; all you need to do is decide what metrics to use to measure your campaign results.
This sounds simple enough but many marketers actually make the mistake of choosing ‘vanity’ metrics’ that look good on paper but don’t really mean anything.
According to HubSpot:
“Vanity metrics include data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper but don’t move the needle for your business goals. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions – something actionable metrics can do.”
In other words, vanity metrics mean nothing to your bottom line. Getting tens of thousands of likes looks impressive, but how many of those people are actually paying customers?
What you should be focusing on are actionable social media metrics that align with your overall business goals.
Over to you
Although different organizations and marketers have their own approach to creating social media marketing campaigns, we find that the best social media campaigns tend to share these components.
Again, make sure your social media campaign checks off the following:
- A goal based on the SMART framework
- Built for the platform it’s on
- A clearly defined audience
- The right tools
- Appropriate metrics
Once you’re ready to develop a social media campaign of your own, use Piktochart to design beautiful visual posts, including infographics, posters, and banners. Check out some of our social media template