For my first article in ClickZ Asia I thought I would kick off with some advice gleaned from a fair few years running social media campaigns for various clients across Europe and Asia. There are lots of reasons that campaigns fail; below are five common pitfalls to avoid:
Inadequate/Missing Promotional Strategy
It’s very easy to get caught up in the big campaign idea and mechanics but all too often the promotional strategy tends to be tacked onto the end of this planning phase (if indeed it is considered at all).
Big ideas are all well and good, but those that don’t require promotion come along very infrequently. So don’t rely on the idea to promote itself.
Ensure that there is a very clear promotional strategy section included in your campaign planning preparation that includes online and offline paid, owned, and earned media.
Paid Media Not Included
There’s a very real tendency to consider social media as simply earned media (read “free”), especially in the PR space. It is (or can be), but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t buy social reach too to give your campaign a kick-start. Unless you already have a large and engaged audience on your social platforms, neglect paid media at your peril.
Asking for Too Big a Commitment From the Participants
“So I was thinking, why don’t we ask people to submit a five minute video on why they should be considered to become the brand ambassador for our new line of home insurance products?”
Please be realistic about the value-exchange you are offering in your campaign to the audience you want to engage with. Don’t ask for a big time and effort commitment in return for a low chance of winning/low value return/low involvement product category. You get paid for making content for your brand, your audience doesn’t!
Relying on ‘Viral’
“We don’t have any media budget, so can you just make us a video that will go ‘viral’?”
No. We can’t. Firstly, find some promotional budget. Once you’ve found some budget, consider whether your brand or organization can really pull off a “viral” video. (<rant>There is no such thing as a ‘viral video.’ There are videos that go viral. But no ‘viral videos.'</rant>) Look at the videos on YouTube or YouKu that have gone viral and ask yourself, seriously, are we going to be able to do that type of content?
Can we get Justin Bieber as our brand ambassador? Or PSY? Can we put together a film of cats playing the piano (with our logo on the end)? Or crashing their cars into walls? Or whatever is going viral this week?
Mostly, the answer is “No.” Do an online video by all means; produce great content that’s entertaining, interesting, informative, but please promote it.
Getting Your Timing Wrong
This is PR101, but don’t be a slave to your marketing plan. If your airline has just stranded thousands of passengers across the globe, don’t start your special offer flight promotion on social media the same day just because that is when you said it would be launched on the spreadsheet. The CEO will understand, believe me.
Be willing to make last-minute changes and move your timing. Social media is fluid and real time and issues and crises can occur with no warning and explode in hours. Keeping a very close eye on what’s happening on your and your competitor’s social presences and picking your moment to launch will maximize the positive impact of your campaign while minimizing the risk that it’ll be negatively hijacked.