How does a social media campaign work?

So what is the difference between a social media campaign and a strategy?

A social media campaign is a short-term burst of activity. It builds on the insight and goals in the social media strategy in order to deliver specific targeted actions, such as signing up to a newsletter, clicking on a video or participating in a poll. It could last for anything between a few days and a couple of months.

Confusingly, campaigns can be quite strategic in focus. They also have outcomes which can be measured and they can influence their audience, either to do, feel or be aware of something.

Social media campaigns can support a variety of objectives:

  • Raising awareness of brand or product, but also of a specific issue, for example in the case of charities
  • Calling for action by asking the audience to do something, including: fundraising, asking for input to reach a particular target or threshold
  • Boosting traffic by increasing the number of people visiting or using services, such as downloads, which might also include sales on or offline
  • Developing a connection with the audience through engagement.

What does a social media strategy look like?

Here is an example for a pet food company:

In 2020 we will use various platforms and work towards several objectives. In the first quarter of the year, we’ll be running a social media campaign to help with the launch of a special edition of our best-selling cat food, this time inspired by popular British snacks. This includes:

  • short daily videos on Instagram
  • co-ordinated activity on Twitter across several brand accounts around a particular theme
  • a competition run across platforms where users will submit name ideas using a hashtag
  • tie ins with other marketing activity happening in press, TV and outdoor advertising.

We want to:

  • increase new brand awareness
  • gain 10,000 new followers on our social media accounts
  • gain 3,000 customers providing details to send them a free sample through the post
  • get over 50,000 mentions for the #FatCatSnacks hashtag across platforms.

Which platforms should I use?

Different social media platforms can be used for different elements of a campaign, and to connect with audiences in a variety of ways. For example:

  • Twitter is a good platform for short form, real-time, fast-moving conversational content with high interactivity.
  • Instagram is a more visual platform, but can be effective for storytelling and connecting people with ideas, brands and opportunities in attractive ways.
  • Facebook is good for content sharing of various types, especially viral short form content. It can also be effective for connecting with communities of interest and location.

You can find more information about the opportunities and challenges of each of these social media platforms, and others, in our course Create a professional online presence.

The core elements to any social media campaign are:

  • Research: You should understand the current context, strategy, competitors
  • Audience targeting: Who is this for? Are they already connected to the company somehow, including via social media? Is this a new audience specific to this campaign?
  • Content type and format: Are there any platforms, formats, details of content which can be adapted from other marketing activity? Will you need to generate new content for social media?
  • Determine the key message(s): Stick to one consistent message and associated hashtag(s) to avoid diluting impact.
  • Measurement: Determine the metrics and benchmark, if needed. Set up campaign-specific measurement tracking.
  • Promotion: Think about how to remain visible to your audience in the crowded social media space.
  • Content scheduling and calendar: Think about when, where, and what will be released. Balance promotional activity with other activity happening within your social media strategy.
  • Engage with audience: Listen to feedback, answer questions and engage in other ways as appropriate.

Monitor and refine throughout the campaign.

Have your say:

Think about one of the case studies in Step 1.3:

  • Which types of objectives are most appropriate for the case study?
  • Which platform do you think would best help to achieve those objectives?
    Summarise your ideas in the Comments section.

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This article is from the free online course:

Create a Social Media Marketing Campaign

University of Leeds