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How To Create a Successful Social Media Campaign

March 2 2016

Social media marketing
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So You Want to Win the Internets

Businesses are constantly trying to use the internet to their advantage. It is, after all, a medium where information can be freely disseminated throughout the world. The internet connects everyone regardless of geographic distance, and social media allows interesting or entertaining information to ‘trend’ within a short space of time, being shared and commented on until it becomes a social phenomenon in itself, a meme. But capturing internet users’ attention in the right way can be difficult. There are countless examples of social media campaigns backfiring spectacularly, becoming infamous amongst the general public for all the wrong reasons.

Take, for example, British Gas’ #AskBG, a call for customers to post questions on the company’s twitter page. Unfortunately, this campaign was poorly timed, having been launched on the same day as they decided to increase residential energy prices by almost 10%. The result was an angry stampede of questions such as “Have you considered changing your slogan [Looking after your world] to something more honest?” and “Have you found a way to channel angry customer feedback into electricity?”

This demonstrates the importance of having clear goals and a plan when developing a social media campaign. Start by considering how long the campaign will last, and what the desired outcome will be. Are you judging your success by number of likes, shares or comments? Are you hoping that people will flood to your website, or that people will tell their friends about the campaign, thereby generating discussion about it? Is the campaign centered around a product, activity or social movement?


Laying out the expected timeline of your campaign, with particular events as landmarks, can help you to plan your methods for growing the campaign and making it successful. You should also determine which social media platforms you will be utilising. Different platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have different constraints on what content you can convey. There are different character limits, as well as different rules regarding the posting of images, videos and use of hashtags or content targeted to particular people or groups. This means that you need to tailor your campaign to the social media platforms you use. You can schedule posts based on your campaign timeline, but beware that if something related to your campaign happens which calls your message into question (See #AskBG), then it might cause a backlash. You can also use multiple platforms and integrate them, by for example directing people to read an article on your blog by linking to it from Facebook.

Beyond using platforms and media techniques to increase the visibility of your campaign, you need a catchy, creative idea that people will want to share with others. The beauty of using social media to promote a campaign is that if it’s popular, social media viewers will promote it themselves. It can be based on communication between the company and its customers and supporters, as the #AskBG campaign was supposed to, or on a new product or service available, or a general idea or movement that will be relevant to the company’s brand and customers’ interests. While there is no formula for an idea that catches on, it can be broadly said that activities which involve a lot of people, are out of the ordinary, offer people free services or content that they want, or present a new or unique perspective are more likely to catch on. Here are a few examples of successful past campaigns to give you some ideas.

Examples of Successful Past Campaigns

Hewlett-Packard: Bend The Rules

To promote their Pavilion x360 convertible laptop, which bends back to turn into a tablet device, HP worked with social influencers on Vine to produce entertaining videos of people trying to bend the laptops of HP’s competitors, with humorous results. The videos, with the hashtag #bendtherules caught on, with a large number of people sharing the videos, commenting on them and spreading the news that the Pavilion x360 was out.

WWF: The Last Selfie



The World Wildlife Federation pulled at animal lovers’ heartstrings by showing images of endangered animals including tigers, pandas and orangutans with the captions “Don’t let this be my #lastselfie”. It was a poignant and attention grabbing way of connecting the preservation of endangered species to the social phenomenon of taking ‘selfies’.

Groupon: The Banana Bunker


This last example is a masterclass in how to win people back and turn a social media flop into a triumph. The product which Groupon advertised on Facebook, a clear plastic banana container designed to keep the healthy snack bruise-free, was derided by commenters for looking ridiculous. But Groupon’s social media controllers won the Facebook community’s respect by giving straight faced answers to every question asked, questions including “Can I share one with my roommate, or should I get one for each of us?” and “Does the banana bunker have WiFi I can connect to while I eat my banana?”. The outcome was hilarious, and probably facilitated the sale of a few banana bunkers in the process.