If you spend any time on the Internet whatsoever, and you happen to run a website, service or ecommerce business of any time, you have heard the cries for social media campaigning. Marketers these days will practically strangle you through your computer screen in their eagerness to tell you how incredible social media campaigns are.
Social media, according to the world of PR gurus, is more awesome than a bear riding a unicorn in a Chuck Norris tshirt, while he flashes a peace sign at an entire colony of baby Nyan cats. So it has been decreed, so it always will be.
To their credit, they do have one thing right: social media is an amazing tool for promotion. If you aren’t using it, you should be. In fact, if it is at all possible you should go back in time so you can start your social media campaign back in 2010, you slowpoke.
But if that isn’t an option, here are five things you should be aware of before you start your campaign.
1. Do NOT Spam Your Social Media Users
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I shouldn’t even have to mention this one, but based of the annoying habit being continued through every social media site on the web, it deserves a quick reminder. There is a difference between hosting an effective social media campaign, and annoying the hell out of those who are unlucky enough to have clicked the like or follow button. Not to mention the problem of the site itself seeing it as spam, even if it isn’t. I found a great chart by SEOSmarty on this topic, which shows most of the major media sites (Pinterest is missing), and tells you what is and isn’t considered spamming by the site. It looks at actions such as unsolicited emails, self promotion and aggressive sharing. Heed the chart!
2. Run Contests, Not Lotteries
Unless you have a large collection of lawyers at your disposal, you should stay away from any contest that relies on chance to make you a winner. It is illegal in most states (and several countries) to run a lottery without many government approvals and a whole mess of conditions. Which is why when you see a contest on Facebook or Google+, they require the user to do something to qualify. Don’t leave it up to chance, and require a small effort to be a part of it.
3. Don’t Patronize The User
Have you ever seen a social media status update from a company asking an inane question to their followers? Sure, they get a number of responses, but most people who view it will roll their eyes in vague annoyance. Your target demographic through your campaign is usually going to be adults, or at least teens. Asking them an unrelated and stupid question without any need for an answer comes off as patronizing and filler. If you can find a fun way to present a question relevant to your product, all the better.
4. Work Your Way To Multiple Accounts
I have been reading a lot of blogs by people who claim you should just launch yourself head first into social media campaigning by opening an account everywhere. I don’t agree with that. A good PR blueprint of any kind requires time and effort, otherwise it won’t pay off properly. You have to be prepared to work to get it off the ground. Opening multiple accounts will quickly overwhelm you. The only time this is not true is if you have developed an actual team of people to run your social media accounts. In which case, you still have to be careful to coordinate them all properly. Especially when you are using multiple forms of media (always a good idea).
There’s an intersting point from Mary at Webhosting Directory: “The best part about creating a decision grid is that it helps you focus purely on the business aspects of your various websites. ”
5. Be Prepared To Cause Offense
If you find a social media campaign that has plenty of followers, and never offends a single person, you go ahead and let me know. I would like to contact them and ask how they have managed to achieve the impossible. No matter how careful you are, you will make someone mad at some point. Sometimes a great many people, whether you did something or not. Maybe this will be caused by saying something unwise or a status being taken out of context. Maybe you link an image that was safe for work on a NSFW website. Or maybe you do what Dr Pepper did and dare to post an ad that doesn’t adhere to the sensibilities of certain people’s religious beliefs, like happened this week to a hilarious uproar. Whatever the case, just be prepared for it.
Having a social media campaign is always a good idea. It will allow you to directly engage with potential customers, appeal to a specific demographic and increase your visibility. But you should always keep the five above elements of the process in mind.