You may think a single social network is enough for your campaigns. Perhaps all of your users flock to Twitter or the size of Facebook makes it the best place to target your social efforts.
However, restricting your efforts to a single network means you’re restricting your reach, too. Even if most of your customers are on a single social platform, it’s highly unlikely that all of them are. Plus, if you want to grow your business and reach out to new potential customers a new network can be a great idea to reach untapped markets.
Launching a social campaign across multiple networks has its pitfalls, though. To help you run your own multi-platform campaign, we’re going to look at a campaign that’s already been a success to see just what we can learn about what makes multi-platform strategies succeed.
Building a Dino-Sized Social Campaign
The Smithsonian Institution is a large organization, with 19 museums and over 137 million items, but the social team for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is quite small, with only two staffers. Earlier this year, the museum was set to receive its first Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the team was faced not only with the challenge of publicizing this new exhibit, but also educating its audience.
To this end, the museum had the T. rex himself take over its social presence on Twitter and Facebook during the month of April. During this time, the social team produced a huge amount of original content for the campaign, including:
- Memes, like this Jurassic Park reference to build excitement for the event and “Princess Rex” art that reimagined Disney princesses as dinosaurs.
- Live social coverage of the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s bones being packed and shipped cross-country, as well as their arrival in Washington, D.C. The trip was tracked on Twitter using the hashtag #TrexRoadTrip.
- Introducing the T. rex to its new home by showing it the sites around D.C. under the hashtag #TouristRex, featuring photos of the dino visiting the Washington Memorial and other tourist landmarks.
- Involving other museum staff to make videos, participate in online chats, and other activities to raise awareness of the new exhibit — all promoted across social channels.
- Cross-promoting the T. rex with the help of other organizations and celebrities, like the T. rex doing a Q&A with PBS Newshour and meeting Kid President.
As you can tell, this was a major social campaign and it generated a lot of positive buzz for the new exhibit, including over 77 million social impressions in the month of April.
Tweaking the Message to Suit the Medium
However, while it’s certainly a challenge to juggle that much content, tailoring it all to fit on both Twitter and Facebook is another challenge. While a lot of the same content was posted to both networks, the presentation had to be tweaked for each.
On Twitter, content was organized by hashtag. It primarily used #NationsTrex, but there were also hashtags referencing specific events, like the #TouristRex, #PresidentRex, and #PrincessRex ones mentioned above.
— Smithsonian’s NMNH (@NMNH) April 25, 2014
The Smithsonian also published many tweets in order to share campaign content, from facts to photos, within Twitter’s character limits. Content on Twitter was bite-sized, often featuring a single photo or message which made it easy for followers to read and share.
On Facebook, there were less stringent sharing restrictions, which meant fewer individual posts but more content in each of them. For example, the campaign’s dinosaur princess art was shared on Twitter over the course of nine tweets, each with its own image. But on Facebook, the images were shared as a single gallery where viewers could check out all of the art in one place. In this example, Facebook’s gallery generated more shares and comments than the individually-tweeted photos did on Twitter.
That’s not to say that Facebook was the superior platform for the campaign. It was by combining the strengths of both Facebook and Twitter that the NMNH managed to reach that impressive 77 million impression mark. Some audiences will prefer the lower volume and higher content of the campaign’s Facebook postings, while others will prefer the small, easy-to-digest Twitter updates. Utilizing both platforms allowed the campaign to pull in a larger audience with only minor tweaks to its content strategy.
Tips for Multi-Platform Success
Planning your own multi-platform campaign? Here are some lessons to take away from the Smithsonian’s success:
- Create original content with a strong visual element. No matter how many social networks you’re running your campaign on, good content is what will draw people to those campaigns. Striking visuals, like the NMNH’s cardboard T. rex posed in front of iconic landmarks, will help catch potential viewers’ attention.
- Tweak your message to suit the platform. Even the best content won’t perform its best if you just copy and paste it from one social network to another. Be sure how you’re communicating your content works for the medium you’re using. Though the tweaks the NMNH made from platform to platform were relatively minor, taking simple steps to fit your content to the social network will pay off.
- Leverage partnerships to expand your reach to even more people and platforms. The NMNH’s T. Rex made cameo appearances with other organizations and a few celebrities, who went on to share the message with their own audiences, on their own platforms.
- Clearly brand your campaign across networks. Hashtags and other consistent branding will help turn a series of isolated social messages into a major campaign. The NMNH used specific hashtags across platforms and, additionally, had a unified look (primarily in the form of their T. rex logo) that helped make the campaign easily identifiable, despite the fact that it was shared across networks and content types.