Social campaigns on Facebook or Twitter such as contests, games or exclusive offers can be an incredibly effective way to drive engagement and generate word-of-mouth.  They can also be a smart way to test messages or to support a larger campaign or launch, such as Skype did with its Twitter promotion in advanced of the Skype for Mac 5.0 beta launch back in November.

But what causes viewers to connect with a campaign, and identify so strongly with the message or creative that they not only want to take you up on your offer – but also want to tell all their friends?  And how can you ‘engineer’ your social or digital campaigns to achieve this type of impact?

Here are a few strategies I have captured from watching dozens of  clients that have run social campaigns over the past year.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but has proven to be a pretty good foundation across different industries and types of campaigns.

  1. Find your audience’s passion. This could be fashion, or books, or travel, or even the goal of gaining control of your personal finances – like the “Shred Your Credit Card’ campaign from perkstreet,  featured in Piehead’s Most Engaging Campaign contest.  Campaigns that tap these shared experiences, and provide an outlet for joining in (and venting!) and sharing not only are more likely to resonate with your audience, they are also more likely to form ‘viral loops’ where each interaction helps to further spread the word.
  2. Use the right channel – at the right time. Twitter is great for private sales, ‘follow and tweet’ contests, viral coupons and group deals (kinda like email, with a self-building list and WOM built-in).  Facebook tends to be better for games, interactive polls and photo or video contests.  Especially those that align with the most common activities among Facebook users: Commenting, Liking something, or sending Messages (top 3 most frequent activities).  YouTube can add even more interactivity, especially when combined with clever approaches like BIC’s excellent Tipp-Ex Takeover campaign.
  3. Create an ongoing dialog. Are you starting a discussion, and then walking away?  Engaging campaigns participate in a dialog, introduce new challenges, and motivate viewers to check back for the next installment.  I think Old Spice guy did this brilliantly – across multiple channels, with just the right dose of dramatic pause along the way.  We’ve seen this on a smaller scale in some of the Twitter promotions we power in the online retail space such as ModCloth’s “FundayMonday” promotions that run each week.  Remember, it’s still about reach and frequency!

By the way, have you checked out Piehead’s Most Engaging Campaign of 2010 contest?  Be sure to cast your vote, scope out the competition or even enter your own campaign right here.

Ping me at @abonde or @offerpop with your thoughts anytime.