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How to integrate social media into marketing campaigns

Author's avatar By Gavin Llewellyn 11 Jul, 2013
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Ideas on integrating social media into a marketing campaign

While a campaign focused on social media can add a new dimension to a campaign, large "big bang" investments in social media within a campaign may not always be possible.

But if you build in social media from the outset there will always be opportunities to integrate smaller elements of social media marketing into the framework of an existing marketing campaign that has already been approved and underway. ‘Socialising’ a marketing campaign can be an effective way of reaching new audiences and generating conversation around your brand on the back of larger-scale paid media activity.

Why use social media?

One of the first questions to ask at the outset is why social media marketing would be relevant or necessary for the campaign and how it could add value. What could social media achieve that other aspects of the campaign (advertising, PR, experiential) couldn't?

Some of the advantages of using social media include:

  • Reach out to new audiences who may be more open to engagement on social channels
  • Stand out from the competition by doing something different from everyone else in the industry
  • Grow influence and authority across a range of social channels
  • Benefit from the growing impact of social search by sharing campaign content socially
  • Tap into your own - and external - communities across multiple social networks
  • Generate targeted website traffic from new sources

However, regardless of the benefits social media can offer, remember that social media cannot be used effectively solely as an outbound, push marketing tactic. Be honest up front about whether your business or brand is compatible and/ or ready to embrace social media and its potential. Are you willing to engage in a two-way conversation with customers? Would you be comfortable receiving negative comments and feedback? Do you have the capability to measure social media using Google Analytics?

What are you looking to achieve?

Once a decision has been made to integrate social media into an existing marketing campaign, start considering what you’re looking to achieve as a result of this.

As part of the overarching campaign, the main goals and objectives are likely to have already been set so use these as a guide to the type of social media marketing that is likely to be most effective in achieving the campaign’s goals.

In addition to these, also think about any new goals or objectives that social media specifically could achieve. Whilst leads and sales may be a primary objective, social media could also be used to generate engagement and conversation around the brand and build interest and a following/ community that could be nurtured beyond a fixed marketing campaign period.

Who is your target audience?

As with the goals for the campaign, a set of target audiences should have already been established and this will give you a good insight into the type of social activity that might be most suitable to reach your target audience.

It’s important to remember that different social media channels and tactics will work better for different audience groups. For example, whilst Facebook might be an effective tool for hosting a competition mechanic targeting young adults for one type of campaign, LinkedIn or Google+ might be better suited for targeting a broader audience within the professional sector.

Establish a theme for the campaign activity

Sometimes a theme for the overall campaign may have already been established. If it has, then this will give you the basis on which to focus your social media activities. If not, or if it has still to be fully agreed, then a social media angle could influence the overall direction the campaign may take.

Much will depend on the campaign's goals, objectives and target audiences, however it’s certainly worth considering the degree to which social media could play as part of the campaign and the overall influence it may have.

Social media channels and tactics

Once the target audience, goals, objectives and theme for the campaign have been decided, the next step is to start thinking about the different channels and tactics that could be used for social media.

When brainstorming ideas at this stage, consider the following:

  • What social media channels is the business already using?
  • Are you looking to set up a presence on new social networks/ channels. Or will you look to leverage your existing presence on social networks?
  • Are the social media channels and tactics you’re considering the most suitable for conveying the campaign’s key messages?
  • What is the level of risk and/or innovation you’re prepared to take?
  • How will social media integrate and work with your paid (e.g. advertising) and owned (e.g. website) media?

During the brainstorming process, always consider how social media activity will drive prospects back to your website. While it’s all very well building the number of Likes on your Facebook page or conversations within the Twittersphere, a common question from the business’s leadership team may be ‘so what’?

It’s therefore key to drive visitors from social media through to your website (your ‘homebase’), where you can further control the user experience, track and measure the visits and drive people through to the point of conversion, whether that be an enquiry, sale or some other action.

Create a content plan

Not all content is created equal and when planning content creation for the social media element of the campaign consider what is likely to work best on each of the social channels you’re planning to use.

Each social channel with have their own set of standards and idiosyncrasies and it’s important to acknowledge these. Something that might work really well on Facebook may not be as effective Google+, Twitter or Pinterest.

Whilst formulating the content plan, also consider how social media will work alongside the paid and owned media elements of the campaign.

Case study: Dumb Ways To Die

‘Dumb Ways To Die’ is a campaign from the public transport authority in Melbourne, Australia, which aims to raise awareness of preventable train-related deaths. It recently won many Cannes Lions awards and has gained 50 million views on YouTube since its release in Novembers 2012.

Although the campaign featured prominently in offline media, including newspapers, outdoor advertising and local radio, what really stood out was the use of online media, especially social media via YouTube and the excellent video and song.

The ‘Dumb Ways To Die’ campaign is a great example of how paid (newspaper, outdoor advertising), owned (website, mobile app) and earned (Tumblr, YouTube video, song) media can be used together in an integrated way to engage consumers and spread a key message across a number of different channels.

The campaign also played to the strengths of the media it used. For example, in order to maximise the value of YouTube and the social media element, the campaign producers understood that the video needed to have a ‘hook’ that captured viewers’ attention and got them to click ‘like’ and share the content with their social networks. This viral effect not only increased the earned media attention across social media but also within search.

What to measure

Before the campaign gets underway, it’s important to consider how the success of the social media activity will be tracked and measured. Remember that each social channel and tactic can be measured in different ways.

'Success' will mean something different to everybody so think about what is most important for you and your campaign. For example, whilst measuring Facebook likes is good for tracking the engagement people may have with the campaign's social content, in isolation this metric will not provide a rounded view of the effectiveness of the campaign.

Some of the social media metrics to consider include:

  • Likes, +1s, shares, retweets and comments of content
  • Conversations and mentions around content
  • Reach and virality
  • Click-through rate from social content
  • Traffic through to target (landing) campaign pages within your website
  • Conversion rate - enquiries, leads, sales/revenue as a result of social content

For more social media measurement methods check out these two excellent Smart Insights posts: Measuring your Social Media with Return on Effort (ROE) and An introduction to getting started with marketing on social networks.

Based on the metrics above, set a target against what you want to achieve and use this as your 'baseline' on which to measure performance.

I hope my post gives you some ideas to facilitate integration, the main approach is not to treat social media as an afterthought!

Author's avatar

By Gavin Llewellyn

Gavin Llewellyn (LinkedIn) is an independent consultant. He is a Chartered Marketer who specialises in digital marketing, specifically in social media, SEO and online strategy. Gavin blogs at One Too Many Mornings where he offers advice, guidance and ideas on how individuals and companies can use digital marketing effectively to get found online, build engagement and generate conversion. You can Follow Gavin on Twitter.

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