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Planning your first social media campaign

Planning your first social media campaign

Struggling to get to grips with social media? Here’s what you need to know

Now that the average internet user spends over two hours a day on social networking and messaging sites, businesses are scrambling to get on social media. Increasingly, organisations must make connections with customers and build communities via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a range of other social platforms.

These channels may be low cost on the surface, but there’s no doubt that they are also time consuming and can be confusing. We attempt to cut through the noise with a step-by-step guide to show you why going back to the basics of traditional marketing is the best way to plan a social media campaign.

Step 1 – How can social media help my business?

Before you can plan a campaign, you need to establish where social media can deliver returns for your business. Many marketers will know the challenges of influencing internal stakeholders, which is particularly difficult when planning a campaign if your business doesn’t understand the value of social media.

Start your plan by identifying where you can make the gains you require for your business through social media channels. There are many ways to draw value from social, including:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Leveraging customer engagement
  • Generating leads

Knowing which of these is most important to your business will help you to establish your objectives. It’s not enough to know that social media is popular, it must apply to your business objectives, which inform your campaign outcomes. One way to keep on track with your objectives is to make sure they are specific; measurable; achievable; relevant; and time oriented (S.M.A.R.T.). This is no different to a traditional marketing plan.

However, these objectives can be slightly more varied than a traditional marketing plan, focussing on reach and engagement rather than profit. For example, your objective might be to increase traffic to homepage from social media in Q4 2019. We’ll come on to how you would measure this later.

Step 2 – How am I going to reach my objectives?

Just like in a traditional plan, now that you’ve determined your objectives, establishing the quantifiable element of these is key. Here, it is often a case of too many options, rather than too few. Social media has many practical applications that make it a great channel for businesses but keeping abreast of the latest tools and techniques can be a challenge, let alone applying them to your campaign tactics.

Before you get preoccupied with the tools at your disposal, choose your channels based on which is the best to support your campaign. Where do you see the most engagement? Where are you already established? A breakdown of the key channels and how they can be utilised might look something like this:

Ultimately, the platforms you use will be based largely on your quantifiable principle objective. Thinking back to your aim of increasing web traffic by in Q4, one way you might achieve this result is increase unique page visits by 15% in Q4 by raising the click-through rate on posts on Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ll come onto how you can achieve this shortly.

Step 3 – What do I need to know? 

Content powers social media, so having a clear content calendar that guides your campaign is crucial. Here is where it also becomes appropriate to audit your current situation; what has worked well for your business previously on social media, how established you are on the platform and what your competitors are doing, as this can aid your planning and give you fresh insight.

You can also research some of the newer methods of communication than social media has created. For example, are there any influencers it is worth your while to reach out to? What new forms of content can you test? Can you use user-generated content (UGC)?

Social listening tools, social media personas and behavioural data are all there to paint a portrait of the customer and what content will work for them. Remember, it’s unlikely you’ll have the exact same audience on Facebook as you do for LinkedIn.

It’s also important to research the rules of the platform you’re using. Facebook has become far stricter on rules of where you can run your promotions on timelines. Violating these regulations can have very strict consequences.

Step 4 – How will I execute it?

By now you have decided who to target, which channels to use and the campaign message – so it’s just a simple case of execution, right?

Execution will always be the litmus test for how your social media campaign pans out and, yes, there are more things to consider at this point:

  • Is your tone of voice consistent with your brand values or is your social media voice distinct?
  • What analytics tools will you use and how frequently will you monitor them and report back?
  • How will you deal with comments, questions and any potential criticism throughout the campaign?

These are all important questions that need to be answered before your campaign launches, and potentially be adapted throughout its duration.

Step 5 – How will I know if I’ve been successful? 

In the first instance, social media can return a lot of data, both qualitative and quantitative. Likes and retweets exist alongside genuine customer opinions that can range from vitriolic to ecstatic; and it is a warning that the medium will throw out extreme opinions on either end, but very rarely will people tweet about a middling experience.

Remember, this data alone might not have the answers you need. If a post has a lot of engagement, do you know why people are engaging? If it’s a video, what was the average view time? How many people clicked through to the site? Do you have the data to see if you’re reaching your intended audience, or someone else entirely?

Marketing must increasingly be the link between data and performance, and combining hard data with customer opinion is a great benefit of the social media campaign. Still, there are multiple tools for measurement, both paid and free to use, for each platform and cutting through and determining which metrics are important is key.

Ultimately, this comes down to a reach vs engagement debate; do you prioritise more people seeing your campaign, or more people interacting with it? And, with data instantly available through social channels, at what point do you react? A campaign may involve adapting in response to the data, but it’s important, especially with social strategies, that you allow them time to work.

Only once you have considered all this, can you measure the success of your campaign – and plan your next. Remember though, though a social media campaign is uniquely complicated, traditional marketing skills are very much at the forefront of execution and results.

Make the most of attending an exhibition

Make the most of attending an exhibition

Attending an exhibition is much like attending a job interview or networking event where preparation could be key to maximising the benefits.

Highland Spotlight Business to Business Exhibition on the 25th September will serve as an ideal opportunity to network and make new business contacts. There is a varied programme of seminars throughout the day giving you an opportunity to expand your knowledge, as well as the opportunity to meet around 550 business men and woman, sell your products and find suppliers who can offer you a great local service. To ensure you make the most of your attendance at Highland Spotlight you can do just a few key things to walk away with more than a bag of goodies or raffle prize.

Before the event
Your preparation for attending an exhibition begins when you pre-register your attendance, this is great preparation meaning on the day you can pick up your name badge and walk straight in.

Now is the time to tell your own network that you’ll be attending – make sure you use the event # (#HighlandBizWk or #HighlandSpotlight) and tag the organisers (@HighlandBizWk or @InvernessChambr) as this will ensure it is retweeted and seen by anybody exhibiting or visiting that’s not already in your network.

Take a look at the published list of exhibitors, this will help you to identify key targets at the event, research the companies and identify a few who might benefit from your products or services – even if a company doesn’t look like they might be a buyer consider how access to their network of contacts may be beneficial to your business.

In the lead up to the event keep an eye out for event updates. As well as helping you to understand the best time of day to attend (you may wish to avoid the lunchtime rush, which may hamper meaningful conversations) you can decide if any seminars interest you and book in advance. Make sure you interact with other visitors, exhibitors and the event organisers on social media

Come armed with plenty of business cards and flyers/catalogues that you may wish to hand out to any contacts made on the day – last year Highland Spotlight saw 550 people taking part across the whole day, so a handful of business cards in your wallet will soon disappear.  
Why not take this opportunity to print something special or offer a discount to people who sign up with you on the day.

Check out photos from the previous events

Download the floor plan to help you navigate the various key stands you wish to visit.

On the day
Some people spend the whole day dipping in and out, attending seminars or arranging meetings on site. If the venue offers WIFI treat it as a satellite office and get some work done. Once you’ve identified when you will attend, figure out how to get there.

Is car parking likely to be limited at the venue? Can you walk from the city centre or park nearby? At Kingsmills Hotel where Highland Spotlight will take place, you can park in the nearby golf course car park and take a shuttle bus to the Kingsmills Hotel.

At the registration desk, you will be offered a show guide in your already overflowing goody bag. This includes the full list of exhibitors (with any last minute changes) and a map. Get your bearings and do a walk around, take your time speaking to every stand listen to the businesses and get an understanding of what they do. Take part in the games – it can be daunting to approach a stand, but making the first move can result in a great interaction. The person managing the stand might be just as nervous as you and dying to speak to speak to somebody. They paid to be there so that they could promote their offering and hear about yours.

Put your business card in all the fishbowls! Yes, it means you will be signed up to a plethora of newsletters but once you’ve seen each offering, you can unsubscribe if it’s early not helpful to you or your customers.
Share regular updates on social media, take pictures and share to get on the tweetwall leaderboard.

Network, not just with the exhibitors but if you see visitors milling about why not introduce yourself.

After the event
Follow up! It’s so important to ensure that a contact made is not wasted. Technology makes it easy – add them on LinkedIn, follow their company on facebook or twitter and if a contact seemed valuable and you got their business card why not email them to arrange a follow-up meeting