The key thing to work out before you start your social media campaign (or any campaign in fact) is what your goal is. Probably, if it’s a commercial campaign, your fundamental goal will be to drive sales.

Once you have your aim firmly in mind the next question is how to achieve it? What steps to you need to take to attain your goal.

The below iterative process can be helpful in managing your campaign:
Facebook's Alex Schultz

Step 1. Understand

Understand the problem, what are your business goals, who do you want to reach?

Step 2. Identify

Identify strategies to achieve your goals and reach your audience.

Step 3. Execute

Execute your strategy, analyse your results, see if your plan is working/can be improved (it probably can). 

Go back to Step 1

Channels

Identifying your target audience can help you choose which social channels to concentrate on/include in your mix. For example, if you’re producing homeware or bridal products you might want to look at Pinterest. Think about who you want to reach and where you might find them.

Every social media channel can be used for business, you just need to work out how. In India WhatsApp is used by businesses to sell products directly. Look at what other organisations are doing, not just in the UK but worldwide, and see if there are approaches that you can adapt.

Conversions

When you’re judging the success of your campaigns the only thing that matters is what you’re trying to drive - probably sales. Don’t pay too much attention to traffic. If your traffic isn’t leading to conversions then it’s not much use. Make sure you have tools in place to track the conversions on your campaign, in as much detail as possible, so you can see which tactics are working best.

YouTube and Facebook both have excellent analytics packages, get to know them. Traffic sources is a good place to start on the YouTube reports, and reach by day is helpful on Facebook – there’s plenty more information in both though. Dig into it and understand your customers.

Content

The most important aspect of your campaign is your content. Produce compelling content and the rest will follow. Facebook in particular rewards content that generates interactions, showing it more often. If you’re buying advertising you will pay less for your conversions if you promote content that is already performing well. If something you’ve posted is attracting a lot of likes and comments you might want to think about promoting it – you’ve done the hard work already, take advantage of its success.

The basis of a lot of campaigns that have gone viral is humour. If it makes people laugh, they’ll want to share it. Another frequently used approach is being provocative in some way, think of the Dove real beauty campaign.

When you’re planning your content it can pay to have a look at what’s working for other people and consider whether you could use similar techniques.

A few brief case studies are below:

Bonobos: The US based clothing brand used adverts targeted at fans of sporting teams to promote trousers in that team’s colour - so Chicago Cubs fans saw ads for royal blue trousers. They sold out. The key take away from this is the innovative use of targeting – if you can think of a niche market for your product you can use social media ads to get straight to them.

Warby Parker: Warby Parker sell spectacles, with a free returns policy. Key to their marketing strategy is suggesting to customers that they post pictures of themselves wearing their new glasses and get the verdict from their friends – if nobody thinks they look good you can send them back. Cue lots of free advertising for Warby Parker. If you can think of a way to get people to post about your brand and make them feel like you’re doing them a favour then you’re on to a winner.

Dollar Shave Club: One of the best known marketing videos on YouTube isDollar Shave Club. It cost $4,500 to make and produced 12,000 paying customers within 12 hours. The founder of Dollar Shave Club had the advantage of having gone to drama school, so he had good connections to get the film made. Think how you can use your experience and connections to your advantage.

Chubbies: Shorts manufacturer Chubbies combine techniques used by Bonobos and Warby Parker, producing US flag and US state flag shorts to appeal to a particular section of the market, and then encouraging people to post pictures of themselves wearing the shorts, using hashtags like #skysoutthighsout.

Top tips

Have a clear goal

The most important thing to remember – know what you want before you start. Without clearly defined goals you won’t get far.

Have a plan to measure your impact

Make sure you build in effective tracking from the start, that way you’ll be able to judge and measure your success, and make improvements.

Create conversions to drive that impact

Make sure you’re focussed on conversions, and not just traffic.

Be authentic

If you speak in your own voice it will ring true.

About Alex Schultz

Alex Schultz is VP, growth at Facebook, where he leads online direct response marketing, analytics and internationalisation. He is really proud to be openly gay and hopes that he can inspire young LGBT people to see they can reach the top of their chosen profession. He studied Natural Sciences at Magdalene, Cambridge and paid for college doing online marketing including running: www.paperairplanes.co.uk.

After three years at eBay he moved to Facebook where he has been for seven years and helped grow Facebook from a few thousand advertisers in 2007 to over 1.5 million today and from around 50 million users to over 1.3 billion users today. He speaks at The Prince’s Trust on online marketing whenever he can, although he lives in California. The content above is a condensed version of a seminar he delivered to young entrepreneurs on the Enterprise programme.