Two of the hotly debated topics around social media engagement for businesses are 1) ROI metrics and 2) what makes up a successful plan. In this post, we focus on the “recipe” to create a guaranteed successful campaign in social media. Unfortunately, what we discovered is that there isn’t one. Certainly there are tactics and elements a business can take to mitigate the potential damage. Again, unfortunately however, many businesses don’t take those steps.
How We Arrived At Our Findings
We took two approaches to answering this question around a perfect recipe. First we looked at over 120 of our over 260 research projects for clients in the private sector. Then we looked at some famous flops (i.e. MacDonald’s and Motrin.) We looked for commonalities in both successful campaigns and failures. We discussed how several of our clients approached the planning, design and implementation phase as well, to gain additional perspective on the concept development of social media campaigns.
There is No Recipe for Success
Our conclusion: there is no recipe or methodology. None. There is no guarantee. The best a company can do when planning to execute a marketing campaign in social media is take some certain steps that will mitigate any failure and certainly help for possible success.
What is The Tipping Factor for Success or Failure?
We found that success or failure boiled down to two things. One can be controlled, the other can’t. The first reason for success/failure is human beings. Because people can decide if they “buy in” to your pitch and in “buying in” they can share what they think of a campaign – if they like it or hate it, they will share it and discuss it. There is nothing a company can do to make people like or hate something. The second factor was advanced research and we estimate that only about 15% of companies do any advanced research into audience preferences, types of content preferred and even potential issues that could cause trouble. Motrin Mom’s is a classic case of failure to do an initial campaign litmus test or research the audience – they ended up alienating moms as an audience and dealing with a PR crisis. The same happened with MacDonald’s asking on Twitter for peoples favourite experience…instead people told them their worst experiences.
Mitigating The Risk of Failure
There are some actions a business can take to mitigate failure and boost the chances for success. These include first and foremost doing some research. Know your audience, the channels they prefer, hot topics, things that make them happy and things that make them mad. Then, do some A/B testing with a small, controlled audience, just like might be done with an adwords campaign or similar. Have a plan on how you’d respond if things go wonky. Be prepared to spend time during and after the campaign engaging in and monitoring the conversation. Too many companies dive in for a quick campaign hit and then pull out…only later to discover their audience is mad at them and feels abandoned or neglected.
So while there is no recipe or guaranteed methodology for success, not engaging at all leaves lots of space for your competitor to edge in and build their brand. So you need to engage for competitive reasons as well.