A smart social media campaign has a solid business goal

When I first started in social media way back in the dinosaur ages of 2008, we were pretty shy on good KPIs.  In the absence of widespread business intelligence and theory, and armed with the knowledge that we were really in the Wild West of this new marketing discipline, my first social media department initially stuck to efforts that would grow the metrics that the native apps would give us: followers & fans.

Here’s the problem with that approach: growing your Twitter followers list is not a business goal.  That’s not to say that it’s not a worthy endeavor or a worthy marketing goal, but measuring Twitter followers and Facebook fans is only as good as the business purpose behind the social effort.

A business goal is not just a desired end result: it is a filter that helps you evaluate whether your tactics will arrive at a measurable business result.  In my case, this meant that we had to take a hard look at what these fans and followers were doing for us and, more to the point, what we wanted to do with them.

Yikes.  Suddenly, this social media marketing sounded an awful lot like traditional marketing, goals and KPIs and ROI and all.  And so it is, once you consider the social media campaign point of view.

A coordinated social media marketing effort that integrates community, conversation and channel toward a measurable business goal is what makes up a social media campaign.  A good campaign is conceived with the discipline of mapping your tactic back to the business goal, and asking yourself whether your efforts smooths the pathway to that goal.  (For more on how to apply traditional marketing principles to the new social dialogue marketing model, download our social media how-to, The 4 C’s of Social Media Marketing.)

Your marketing goal should service the best business result

Of course, one man’s goal is another man’s tactic or objective.  Interim social marketing goals like “Earn 500+ retweets” are indeed benchmarks by which to measure the success of a social effort, but before you set them, you must ensure that you understand what that engagement is doing for you and how you’re going to capitalize on it.

If you don’t know what RT’s do for you, you haven’t set

the business goal for your social campaign. 

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Are you looking for new users?  Customer advocacy?  Sales conversion?  In social media, achieving word-of-mouth marketing is your number one goal, but that brass ring needs to be providing some sort of measurable business result for you.

This might look like:

Get people to like my page —>  Expose these people to engaging content —>  These people share my content with their communities —>  Some of their community members become my fans —>  A percentage of these fans click on an offer —>  I have new customers —>  Some of these customers become my advocates —> (Yay!)

If you look at a typical customer path, this happy journey starts to look very familiar:

Awareness —> Consideration —> Preference —> Purchase —> Loyalty

Perhaps you’re setting up landing pages that have gated content for lead capture; perhaps you’re running a sale.  Whatever you’re doing, hold yourself accountable to understand what sort of action (typically a click) gives you the best business result, and understand what the next logical step for your target community is once they’ve acted.

Move through the 3 C’s to flesh out your social media campaign

So, you’ve decided that you need new customers, and you’re looking to find them through social channels.  Now what?

Use sound traditional marketing principles to focus your social media campaign goal.  

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Just like a traditional ad campaign, a good social media campaign has a target audience (community), message (conversation), and media outlet (channel).  The social media campaign is more than the aggregation of the other 3 C’s.  Aligning all three C’s around a focused business goal is what makes up a solid social media campaign, and it’s how you choose which metrics are best to measure progress.

A good dialogue marketing campaign starts with social listening.  Find the social conversations that relate to your initiative, and think about your point of view and message.  Examine the social communities that you find, and consider building and cultivating your own.   Lastly, craft your social channel strategy across the social channels you’ve identified as valuable.

Try to choose KPIs that are as close to your effort as possible.  Metrics such as shares and followers are valid in that they measure your steps toward a larger business goal.  You should also understand how that earned engagement maps back to ROI.

Example: As part of an intiative designed to attract new T-shirt buyers and designers, I ran t-shirt giveaway contests on Twitter around a certain vampire-themed worldwide blockbuster movie.  With social listening we realized that our target community was on Twitter, and with historical sales and customer data we also knew that a good percentage of people who were afforded free T-shirts would become repeat buyers, designers, or both.  These business assumptions helped us target – and achieve – a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) that, in the long run, was lower than that of paid search.  The added bonus was the social buzz that our winners created: follower and impression numbers were the cherry on our werewolf-vampire word-of-mouth sundae.

A social media campaign is only as good as its execution

Sometimes, being a social media marketer is like being at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The possibilities are endless!  We can try loads of different things!  Every day, someone is doing something interesting!  Whee, a new technology!  At the end of the day, though, your resources are your resources.  Not every marketing initiative needs a full-blown, cross-channel social media campaign – and not every marketing department has the human bandwidth to manage one.  Good social media campaigns, like any other business initiative worth doing, are work to plan and execute.

The key to running a smooth campaign with seamless execution, engagement and reporting has a lot to do with your toolkit.  Your role as social media manager makes you an air traffic controller of content, and with the sheer volume of data out there your job becomes much more effective when you’re equipped with the instruments to make sense out of that data.  This is the Big Data challenge, and endeavors like social monitoring and social community management, for example, are much easier to undertake with good tools.  When you’re planning, take a look at your resources (both digital and human) to ensure that you have what you need to run your social media campaign as effectively as possible.

Remember, you are the catalyst that ignites your social media campaign.  So onward, brave social media soldiers, into a world of Big Data and small snippets of content.