Social Media Campaign Strategy: What to do Before, After and During a Campaign

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A social media campaign doesn’t start when you send out your first Tweet, and it doesn’t end when you send out your last one. Depending on the scale of your campaign, you can spend days, even weeks planning a campaign and the same amount of time following up once it has ended.

Social media campaigns can be broken down into three stages: the before, during and after. Each of these periods is fundamental to the success of your campaign, and each contains a number of tasks that need to be addressed. We’ve identified the main elements of all three stages below. Take a look:

What to do before a social media campaign

Unsurprisingly, this is the most difficult part of your social media campaign. What you do before the campaign starts is largely responsible for its success or failure.

Let me be captain obvious for a second. What do you do before a social media campaign? You plan your social media campaign. You came here for guidance and that’s what I give you? Before you close the window, let me give you a little bit more insight.

Planning your social media campaign is not like creating your entire social media marketing plan. You need to decide on goals for your campaign, goals that tie back into your broader business and social media goals. They need to be measurable goals, so you can track the progress of your campaign and shift your focus if things aren’t going well. This means choosing your metrics or KPIs, as well as the social media management tool you’re going to use to track this data.

You should also have a clear timeline for your campaign, a start date and end date, as well as a schedule for when you will be sending each social media message.

Like with your social media strategy, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to focus your attention. You need to choose the social networks you’ll use for your promotion, and whether social advertising will be a component of the campaign.

You’ll need to identify your target audience, so that all your campaign assets really cater to their profile and preferences and have the right voice and tone. Audiences can be targeted based on vertical, interests, age bracket, region and beyond. This will be particularly valuable if you are using social media advertising, where targeting is far more effective.

Where social media campaign planning diverges from your broader social strategy is in the details. You need to get very specific with your campaign. Here are some of the details to hammer out in advance.

 A few examples of social media campaigns available within Hootsuite Campaigns.
A few examples of social media campaigns available within Hootsuite Campaigns.

You may also want to choose a dedicated social media campaigns platform. This will allow you to run sophisticated social media campaigns without having to build all the required pages and tools from scratch.

Choose a campaign hashtag that represents your content and brand, without necessarily including your brand name outright. You might not like hashtags, but they’re an effective way to create engagement and track the conversation around your campaign.

Consider changing the visuals on your various social media profiles to tie them to your campaign. If you’re having an online sale, putting your discount code in your header image might be a great way to bring users to your profile, and online store.

Set up search streams in order to track the conversations around your campaign. These shouldn’t just be streams for your hashtag either. You should have streams set up to track any landing page or blog post url tied to the campaign, and keyword streams for people who mention your campaign without using your hashtag or links.

What to do during a social media campaign

Social Media Campaigns - Small Business

The time during a social media campaign will be your most active, as you’ll spend the entire campaign monitoring and engaging participants.

The streams you set up in your social media management tool before the campaign will now play a fundamental role in alerting you to its success or failure. People will notify you if anything is wrong with the campaign, from landing pages not working to typos and broken links. If you monitor your social media mentions effectively, you can resolve these issues rapidly as they arise and avoid any long-term damages to the campaign. Take screenshots of anything that isn’t working (and of things that are working well). These will come in handy after the campaign is over.

Your monitoring efforts will also give you a general idea of your campaign’s popularity. If you’re only getting a handful of mentions or retweets every few hours, you know it’s time to reassess the campaign strategy. Using analytics tools you can also see if certain regions or demographics are responding less than others, and then target them with social advertising to boost your campaign.

Check and double check that all of your tracking is working. If you’re gathering leads, make sure they’re ending up in your bank. If you’re driving website traffic, check your traffic numbers every day. The entire campaign will be for naught if you’re not actually gathering all of this useful information.

Finally, throughout the campaign you should be actively engaging all participants. Reach out to people who fill out your form or share your link and thank them. Be colourful and personal—call them by their name and follow them from your business account. You can also share positive messages from your own social accounts to help boost the positive sentiment around the campaign. The more people see you engaging, the more likely they are to participate, if only to get your shout-out. You should also be tracking media mentions in a similar way, shouting out the journalists by name and sharing their stories on your accounts. Consider actually commenting within the stories themselves, as these journalists are giving you an extra channel on which to engage people.

Of course, don’t only engage with the positive comments. Respond to every negative comment as well, and don’t try and justify any hiccups. Acknowledge them, apologize if necessary, and then get to fixing them.

What to do after a social media campaign

The pressure is off, but what you do after a social media campaign is just as important as the campaign itself. You put in all this work for a reason.

If your reason was to gather leads, it’s time to push those leads into the funnel and start targeting your prospects. Add the leads to your customer relationship management (CRM) tool and tag them with the campaign name so you know what attracted them to your business. Many lead generating campaigns should be followed up with a ‘thank you’ campaign for all participants. Thank anyone who responded to your campaign, through their email address if you have that information. Your thanks creates goodwill and gives you a reasonable excuse for another touch point with these users/prospects.

If your purpose was to drive website traffic, social media mentions, or sales, gather your final metrics for the entire campaign period in each of those areas. Compare them to your targets and how much you invested in the campaign and try and come to a conclusion about whether it was a success or a failure.

 A snapshot of social media mentions for a campaign.
A snapshot of social media mentions for a campaign.

Every campaign should end with a retrospective (often called a post-mortem by marketers). Go over the entire campaign from start to finish with a fine-toothed comb and see what worked and what didn’t. Turn your learnings into a slide deck or presentation (this is where the screenshots you took come in handy). Sit down with your team or supervisor and explain each issue you had and how they could be addressed before the next campaign. Did the language not work? Was the landing page broken? Did you miss a certain market? Was the incentive not powerful enough? You should also highlight the elements that worked well, so you know what to repeat next time around. This retrospective will help you improve campaign after campaign.

A social media campaign checklist

Before

    ❑ Choose your goals
    ❑ Establish a timeline
    ❑ Have a clear promotion strategy
    ❑ Know your target audience
    ❑ Choose a campaign hashtag
    ❑ Set up monitoring streams
    ❑ Establish your campaigns platform

During

    ❑ Monitor streams for any issues, resolve them
    ❑ Track mentions to judge campaign popularity
    ❑ Use analytics to track your KPIs
    ❑ Adjust the campaign strategy if necessary
    ❑ Ensure all your tracking is functional
    ❑ Engage participants
    ❑ Engage the media

After

    ❑ Push leads into your CRM system
    ❑ Gather all your KPI metrics
    ❑ Conduct a campaign retrospective
    ❑ Present your retrospective to your team/superiors

Hootsuite Campaigns can help you tackle each stage of your next social media campaign. 

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