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social media how to

Do you need to set up a social media campaign?

Do you know how to get started?

Establishing a strong team and a day-to-day plan are important for any successful social media campaign.

In this article I’ll show you the five core elements you need to build a social media marketing campaign that works.

social media campaign essentials

Read more to discover what you need for a strong social media campaign.

A Social Media Campaign Example

Throughout this article I include examples from a campaign Whole Foods Market used when they launched a new larger store in Memphis, Tennessee to replace an existing smaller one.

whole foods store opening image

The Whole Foods Poplar store opening makes the news.

The campaign’s goal was to keep the Memphis community informed about overall progress, when the old store would close, when the new one would open, new offerings and opening-day activities.

#1: Assemble a Capable Team

Early iterations of social media community management often included a laissez-faire approach: Give it to the younger staff members—they’re on social, right?

Businesses quickly found out that just because someone is on Facebook in their personal life doesn’t mean they intuitively know how to communicate on behalf of a brand.

Bernie Borges‘ article on staffing strategies points out the importance of assessing the people on your team and determining who is best-suited to contribute to your social media strategy.

Social media marketing requires specific skills (e.g., writing and editing, photo editing, a little tech know-how and being able to respond in real time).

Whole Foods Market’s Experience

“Our social media is staffed during regular business hours, which for us [Whole Foods Poplar] is 8am–10pm, 7 days per week. There are several different MKTG Team Members who are assigned to monitor throughout the day. During the store opening, we had social media staffed for 24 hours the week prior and week of. There was a lot of energy and engagement. It was awesome to be able to interact with customers in real time (or we tried to make it real time) and share our mutual excitement.”

whole foods twitter mentions

Whole Foods Poplar fans tweeting about their experience taking a tour of the new store.

Establish a social community management team with members who can take ownership and responsibility for carrying out day-to-day updates in addition to long-term campaigns.

#2: Plan Your Campaign

Whether you’re launching a new product or location or bringing in new business partners, social media campaigns work wonderfully with pivotal moments in a company’s life. Any time you need to communicate goals or generate buzz, social media is the cornerstone of your success.

As you and your community management team begin to plan the campaign, a tactical social media plan is essential. Use it to organize your campaign’s short-term objectives for each of the social channels you’re using, team assignments, general content ideas you can build on and how you’ll use features of specific platforms (e.g., lists on Twitter or hangouts on Google+).

Whole Foods Market’s Experience

“We started planning the strategy for our [Whole Foods Poplar] campaign seven months before the new store opened. We had store opening milestones set and different team members assigned to make the announcements and handle comments and questions.”

social networking goal sheet

Create short- and long-term goals and objectives for your social marketing campaign.

A planned campaign is a successful campaign. Your plan keeps you focused on the number of steps you’ll need to take along the way, while also helping build momentum, curiosity and excitement among your audience.

#3: Choose the Most Effective Platforms

No matter what you hear from different sources, there is no one perfect social media platform to use. What works well for one business may not work well for another.

To choose your primary and secondary networks, think about where your target audience is more likely to spend time online and look at industry benchmarks.

Social Barrel designed an infographic that shows specifics to consider: suitable media types, objectives, potential reach, demographics, target profile and the types of skills your team needs to be successful.

Whole Foods Market’s Experience

“We [Whole Foods Poplar] communicated via Twitter and Facebook. Right now they are our most engaged social media channels. We had to train a few team members who were not used to doing social. If they were not comfortable posting, we made sure they were comfortable addressing comments/messages.”

whole foods twitter engagement

Whole Foods Poplar responded to followers on Twitter.

It may sound obvious to be where your customers are, but for some businesses that’s easier said than done. If you’re not sure where your audience is, set up social interaction reporting on Google Analytics to see which channels send visitors to your site.

Take the time to discover where your target audience hangs out online. When you have the right mix of platforms, your campaign has a better chance at success.

#4: Establish an Editorial Calendar

Print publishers have used editorial calendars for centuries and their usefulness has never waned. They help you leverage content across media, streamline resources, drive internal teamwork and stay focused on the needs of your audience.

If you already have an editorial system in place, you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t, this free customizable Excel template can help you get started. If you want to share your calendar with your team, consider a Google Drive spreadsheet or WordPress’ editorial calendar plugin.

editorial calendar

Editorial calendars help keep your content delivery on track. Image from WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin.

As you create your editorial calendar, include columns or tabs for:

  • Category
  • Keywords
  • Article type
  • Promotion
  • Content format (text, image, video, audio, presentation or other)
  • Related marketing
  • Additional tracking dates (due dates, other signoffs)

You may also want to include a place for written updates (exactly what you’ll post for easy cutting and pasting), where and when you’ll post each update and which team member is responsible for the update.

Whole Foods Market’s Experience

“We do/did use an editorial calendar. We use HootSuite to plan posts and Spredfast to provide the analytics. We find each program has its strengths and weaknesses, but a combination of the two provides us the information we need.”

#5: Be True to Your Company Voice

When your audience reads and listens to the content you produce, they’re not only hearing your message, they’re hearing the voice of your company—your tone, language and delivery (i.e., formal vs. conversational).

Each time they hear your brand voice, it’s a good bet they’re subconsciously sizing you up. They’re deciding whether you’re a company they can rely on, and more importantly, do business with.

Whole Foods Market’s Experience

“We try to keep the voice of our social media pages friendly, relevant and educational. (In that order too.) We are careful how/when we promote sales using these channels.”

brand voice graphic

Create a voice for your company, image created by Stephanie Schwab.

Stephanie Schwab writes, “Your brand voice in social media will evolve over time… If you’ve already been engaging in social media and feel like your voice needs refinement, take the time to work on it now… If you can more closely match your voice to their [your customers’] needs, you may attract even more customers and develop greater engagement and loyalty than you ever have before.”

Establish an online company voice that reflects your business values and matches your customers’ expectations and you’ll go a long way in building overall trust.

Over to You

Whether you’re a small startup or a major company, successful long-term social media campaigns aren’t built in a day. They require a capable team that can drive the project, careful planning and execution and, as you’re well aware, quite a bit of work.

Thank-you to Emily Lux, marketing team leader at Whole Foods Market on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, who graciously agreed to share information about their campaign with Social Media Examiner.

What do you think? What other steps do you use when planning a social media campaign? What have been some of your challenges while planning? Share your comments and thoughts in the space below.

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