With some planning and preparation, your next social media campaign can run without any hiccups.

There is no right way of executing a marketing campaign. As the industry has evolved in the last few years, campaigns have changed from TV-only spots to multi-tiered to even solely on social media. Brands of all sizes now incorporate social media into their campaigns, and are seeing massive success. According to Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 92% of marketers indicate social media has increased exposure for their brand.

At their core, campaigns can be dialed down into the same basics as formulating a news story. Planning a campaign involves taking in the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How into account. In this article, we’ll examine how to formulate your next social media campaign.

Who Is Your Audience?

It’s a fantasy to think that your campaign will appeal to everyone who sees it. When you spread your net too wide, the message becomes generic and passed over. It’s okay to segment your current audience for a campaign.

When you start planning your next social media campaign, you’ll need to figure out who you want to target in the campaign and how much you may have to pay to boost to that segment. The campaign would look vastly different if you’re targeting most of your current social media audience instead of trying to find new fans.

audience demographics report sprout social

Once you’ve decided on your audience, start creating personas that you want to target in the campaign. Personas can be as detailed as you want but you want to have a few in mind. For example, a new chips flavor campaign could target mid–30s women with corporate jobs and an interest in travel, while simultaneously targeting single millennial men. The overarching audience here would be people in their 20s and 30s with a preference for trying new foods.

Creating personas will help you center your messaging and keep you on track during your planning process.

If you need some data for your personas, take a look at the Audience section of reports like ours. For further research, Twitter’s advertising platform also breaks down your current audience’s preferences for you.

twitter audience metrics

What Is the Social Media Campaign About?

Are you launching a campaign because you think it’s about time that you have another one? What is the ultimate goal of the campaign? For some companies, a campaign is initiated for every new product with the goal being to increase sales. For others, it’s about obtaining new customers into the business.

Clearly outline your goals for the campaign with primary and secondary goals. With each goal, match a few metrics that you can measure your success with. While you may want to increase your revenue, the campaign may also include content that your audience will enjoy, which ultimately increases your brand value.

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is an ongoing message from the brand. It has gone through many platforms from TV ads to special photoshoots for Instagram. The core of the campaign is about showcasing real women–their ideal audience. Each new piece of content created with part of the campaign included further enforces the brand’s values to their fans.

When Is the Social Media Campaign?

Timing is an important factor for setting up your campaign. Will it be influenced by holidays? If it’s an international campaign, have you taken into account other countries’ important dates and customs? New product campaigns often have a lifespan. There are the days leading up to the launch, the launch itself and then the standard marketing messages that follow. Then repeat for the next new product.

Some campaigns are ongoing. These are often on branded hashtags and reused consistently. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is an excellent example of this. While each segment of the campaign may have a start and end date, the idea itself has spread out over years.

For Disneyland, their Summer of Heroes campaign is all about Guardians of the Galaxy and new superhero experiences. The campaign name even includes the time frame, letting their fans know that some of these events are around only for a limited time.

Where Is the Campaign Taking Place?

Don’t be afraid to limit the platforms that your campaign is taking place. The benefit of focusing in on only one or two social networks is that you’re able to concentrate on your audience and message. If your visual campaign will be most effective on Instagram, then limit it to that platform.

On the other hand, spreading the word on various platforms can also increase its reach. But the more platforms you incorporate, the more planning you’ll need.

Due to the limited space in social media messages, many campaigns include a landing page on their website. It’s an easy way of keeping track of analytics and gives you more real estate for detailing your campaign.

Before your campaign begins, map out the ideal pathways a fan would take. Would they see a Tweet and be enticed to learn more through a link? Or do they see a Facebook ad tempting them to sign up for a 20% discount?

In April 2017, Starbucks launched a limited edition Unicorn Frappuccino that exploded in popularity across social media. The drink was so visually enticing that the image alone made customers rush to the stores to take their own photos of it.

starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino facebook post

Why Should Anyone Care About Your Campaign?

One of the more difficult questions to answer is why your audience should even care about your message. What sets your new product or service so far apart from everyone else that people need to stop and pay attention to you?

A 2014 Media Dynamics study noted the daily average number of advertising and brand exposures was more than 5,000 per person. How are you going to cut through the noise?

One strategy for a successful campaign includes serving up information or content that your audience cares about. Nike is often cited as one of the top storytelling companies. Instead of in-your-face marketing, the company uses emotion and compelling content to deliver their marketing messages.

How Is the Social Media Campaign Being Executed?

Once you have the five Ws in place, it’s time to pull out your social media calendar and start mapping out your posts. Organize your assets, hire photographers and videographers if that’s part of your plan and begin setting a timeline of posts.

Ideally, your campaign will be seamlessly incorporated into your standard social media marketing posts. Your audience shouldn’t be bombarded with marketing messages. But they also shouldn’t be oblivious to the campaign taking place.

sprout social tagged messages report

In fact, Sprout Social’s Tagged Messages report allows you to categorize published messages and showcase data around engagement with the content. Review network data from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or all channels together with this critical tool for social media campaign marketers.

There are various things to track within each campaign. And some of the key elements that should be apart of your execution, include:

  • Slogan, hashtag and/or words you want to consistently use.
  • Graphic or branded elements that are similar for all the graphics that you’ll use.
  • Style and voice of campaign messages should be similar.

AirBNB’s We Accept campaign was launched earlier this year across their social media platforms. During it, they’ve shared portraits and quotes from people that tie into their campaign’s message.

Anticipate Barriers & Be Flexible

Part of your planning process needs to involve anticipating customer responses and adjusting accordingly. You wouldn’t launch a new product without thoroughly testing it. Your campaign about the new product should include ready responses to anticipated questions.

Monitor your campaign using hashtag reports or by creating a saved search.

instagram hashtag reporting

As the campaign progresses, you may find that you missed something in your preparation. Or unanticipated events like tropical storms may happen that you’ll have to adjust to.

For events that are out of your control, you can prepare backup content or fall back to your company’s social media strategy for addressing them.

Analyze & Review for the Next Campaign

Once your campaign is finished, take time to note down what went well and what failed. Maybe you thought that working with influencers would help get the word out but your screening process wasn’t robust enough. Write down what you would do next time to improve on the process.

stats by tag in sprout social tagged messages report

Easily sort your campaigns and match it with the initial goals you had set for it. Did the uptick in followers and engagement rates match with the increase in sales? Did the number of referrals from Facebook to your website also increase during this time?

The more campaigns you execute, the more you’ll learn about what works for your company. Your next social media campaign is only a few planning steps away from success.

We’d like to know what you’ve seen to be successful campaigns. Which companies have you admired?