Social media campaigns are like traditional advertising campaigns, but more FUN!

You might not relate a social media campaign to a traditional ad campaign, but the two are more similar than you know. Think of routine content and engagement as brand awareness: great for pulling new audience members into the community. However, a continuous stream of company info and press releases will quickly bore your audience. A social media campaign, much like a traditional advertising print campaign introduces an exciting and new ad message that is on-brand and part of a larger strategy. 

Due to the social and fun atmosphere of social media, social networking platforms are well-poised to be a part of a campaign strategy. We at The Cyphers Agency love social media campaigns and have found them to be extremely effective, but only when used strategically and part of a larger plan. We run campaigns for many of our clients, including one just recently launched for  Better Than Bouillon. We’ve built their social media presence from the ground up and campaigns are a big part of our strategy for the brand.

For this particular campaign, we listened to our audience. They had described Better Than Bouillon as the secret ingredient of their cooking — more than just a product for soups, broths and gravies. Our audience members use it for so much more and are proud of the recipes they’ve developed around our product. We wanted to capitalize on that idea and the concept of a “secret ingredient”. The “Secret Ingredient” campaign invites audience members to tell us their secret tip for using Better Than Bouillon and enter for a chance to win one of several prizes we are offering.

The concept is fairly simple, but it builds the idea that Better Than Bouillon is an essential part of any cook’s arsenal, the ace in the hole to make any dish taste good. Asking users for how they use Better than Bouillon gets our fans thinking creatively and provides us user-generated content that we can share to inspire different uses of the product. It’s on brand, thoughtful, part of a larger strategy and will keep our audience engaged.

The art of running a social media campaign is that it must be a part of a larger strategy with its own ad message. Doing giveaways, promotions and offers are great incentives to get your audience interested. However, you must have a strong foundation to build the campaign upon. It’s also a pretty good idea to hire professionals to do the strategizing, creative thinking and management for you. I think I know the name of an agency with a good AMAZING social media team somewhere around here…..

The Social Media Mistake: Forgetting Your Brand Strategy

Believe it or not, people besides us write things worth reading (just kidding). I came across a blog post the other day, and a great little snippet of it really stuck out.

The first question any company must ask itself is, what does our brand stand for? Unfortunately, that question rarely gets asked. Instead, the focus is on what social media can we get into? Too many companies get PR, social media or advertising campaign all wrong. They forget that the brand strategy should come first and the execution should follow. Doing it in reverse doesn’t work.

This quote got me thinking about the need for strategy when approaching word of mouth marketing. We’ve talked about this on our blog before, and it is something we truly believe in our good ol’ marketing bones. As WOM gets less trendy and more ubiquitous, it’s time for a refresher course. Every company now feels like they need some kind of WOM and social media, but simply diving in won’t suffice as a smart marketing move. You’ve got to ask yourself some questions first:

  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do we want to say?
  • Why are we saying it?
  • Where is the best place to spread our message?
  • What platforms should we be using?

Any agency worth their salt will bring these questions up when you work with them (if they don’t, get another one), but asking some of these questions yourself can be a huge eye opener (and time saver). Imagine you wanted to buy a car, but you did no research and just picked one. You might get in your new, shiny car only to discover it has no engine. In the same way, companies that dive into social media without planning on how it is going to fit into their overall brand strategy can find themselves confused and talking to no one. Word of Mouth can have endless benefits to a brand, but be careful about how you approach it. Put in the due diligence to figure out what you think it will do for you and be ready to explain your reasons to your agency. Then be ready to listen to them as they tell you what’s next because they know better than you how to execute. It’s what we’re good at, you know?

Sighting: Promoted Tweets

I saw this the other day when I logged in to Twitter: a promoted trending topic. I knew that Twitter had rolled out a promoted tweet platform, but didn’t expect it to come in this form. I grabbed a screenshot and tucked the occurrence in my mind for deep thought.

More than anything, I think I was surprised to see a promoted tweet as a trending topic. Will companies be able to purchase trending topics? How did that work? As an agency who works with a variety of clients, purchasing “ads” on Twitter would seem like a great option.

But I had to ask myself… What are the bigger implications of promoted tweets? Does it take the power away from the voice that Twitter users have?  Does it change the dynamic of the unique online community? Does it disable companies from having real conversations with their customers? If a topic is promoted, is it really “trending”?

I’m curious to see how promoted tweets or trending topics become integrated in the overall system. But I’m also curious to see how it going to affect the community. What do you think?

Cut the Crap – No More Lofty Social Media Terms

So we’ve been just as guilty as the next for using those lofty and abstract social media terms that drive everyone mad: transparency, engagement, content generation, conversation monitoring, blah blah blah. I think it is time we all shut up.

I don’t mean that we stop talking about social media or social influence marketing. I just think we need to re-evaluate the way we speak about it. We (as marketing professionals) need to move from the general to the specific and actionable. We need to move from “motivational speaker” to “business coach.”

Step back for a moment.

While we’ve got more and more people jumping at social media, we’ve also got some seriously bad lingo that follows. Let’s look away from jargon and look to stimulating specific, strategic social media dialogue. Saying that each client is different doesn’t cut it anymore. Let’s take these lofty ideas and break them down.

There are countless more ways to impact your audience: Need a flashmob? Don’t know how to pitch bloggers? Want to see how geo-location features can help your business? Need some social media resources? We try to give you resources to see how social media really works, and if you can’t do it yourself, well, that is what we are here for.

Setting Proper Expectations & Follow Your Plan

As an agency, its important to take a look at what is on our plate and strategize. Who is the client? What do they need? Are we working with a Business to Business (B2B) client? We can use social media tactics to locate key influencers in that company. Working with a Business to Consumer (B2C) client? We can locate their audience online by doing an in depth online audience scan and find their consumers, whether it be on blogs, forums, or Facebook, and leverage that community.

So can we please stop talking about lofty, abstract social media terms? Let’s cut to the chase and get working.

We Can See Right Through You

In social media (and pretty much any other type of business), transparency is pretty important. If you are a business that is trying to increase buzz or awareness of your products or services, being sneaky and shady definitely doesn’t help create a pretty picture. If you are open, it allows your consumers to give real feedback and engage in real conversations.

Take Tiger Woods as a real-life example. Yes, yes, we know that everyone everywhere is talking about him (hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em). When the scandal broke, Tiger remained hidden and unavailable. Had he responded immediately, even with a vague statement, media speculation would have not been as damaging or rampant. We do have to commend him though, because eventually he did release a statement. Most other celebs choose to just stay cooped up, waiting for the storm to blow over. Or they just go on an interview without ever actually talking to their fans. We may not respect Tiger Woods’ decisions, but at least he stepped up to the transparency plate.

On another, more social media oriented note, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s creator and golden boy) also recently practiced transparency. His recent letter, which first appeared on your Facebook home page and now on the Facebook blog, addressed changes that were being made on Facebook that would directly affect the users. He tells you exactly what you need to know: how these changes will be made, when, how, and why. And even though Facebook received some backlash for their changes in privacy settings, we commend Mr. Zuckerberg on his transparent letter in attempt to let everyone know what was up.

That being said, transparency helps. It just does. Having conversations on the web and engaging consumers is about having real, open discussions with people. You can’t have a meaningful conversation if you aren’t acting like a real person. Even more so, timing in your transparency goes a long way. The sooner, the better.

So take the time to make sure that you are being transparent. Reflect on the conversations you are having and make it a priority to be clear and fully open about who you are and what your purpose is.

Uh Oh, It’s the FTC!

It looks like the time has come for the government to have their say in the phenomenon that is social media, and they are doing it in a big way.

The Federal Trade Commission brought the whip down! For the first time since 1980, they revised the “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” by requiring bloggers and other word of mouth advertisers to disclose when they are being paid to review products. And by “other word of mouth marketers”, they mean Facebook and Twitter, too. Not including disclosure means more than just a warning or a slap on the wrist; it can mean a nice $11,000 fine. Ouch.

Luckily for us, we have always put an emphasis on honest and openness, following the WOMMA Ethics Code. From the get-go, it has always been our policy to ask bloggers to disclose their relationship with our clients. But for others who many not have been quite squeaky clean, the WOMMA code is no longer just a mere suggestion; it must be obeyed.

These new rules seem like pretty serious stuff if you ask me. But to be honest, we couldn’t be happier about this. It means that companies are actually relying on bloggers and tweeters to promote their products. Even more so, it means that people are listening to what these social media participants have to say, and taking it seriously. 

Ultimately, FTC’s recognition of the power of word of mouth as a legitimate means of advertising and communication moves social media above being just “trendy”. This is the real deal, people! And we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.

Earning Ambassadors of Our Own

Word of Mouth is best spread with slow, methodological strokes using a broad brush. We also reward our evangelists, with things as simple as sending a T-shirt and a nice message. Below, you can see a gift we presented to one of our clients. Sending a personalized message  and a Cyphers Agency T-shirt didn’t take much of our time, and it was an easy way to show someone that we value the relationship we have with them.

That’s what Word of Mouth is all about; creating relationships, fostering them and being genuine. People that think highly of your brand will spread the word. We call it earning some of our own brand ambassadors. And if they end up wearing the T-shirts we sent them, we’ll consider it WOM bonus points.