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5 Dos and Don'ts of Social Media Marketing
Social Ad Summit '10: Is your marketing team really prepared to launch a social media campaign?
Posted Oct 18, 2010
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NEW YORK — When it comes to social media, you're not as ready as you think you are — or at least your marketing team isn't.

That was the message at the keynote of Social Ad Summit '10, which recently convened at The New Yorker Hotel to "uncover the secrets behind top social media marketing campaigns," according to Mediabistro.com, which cosponsored the event with SocialTimes.

Several hundred people crammed into a dimly lit ballroom to hear the opening speaker, Aaron Shapiro, partner at strategic design organization Huge, Inc., deliver on that mission, offering five concrete "dos and don'ts" for companies hoping to harness social media to build brand loyalty.  

"Why do some social media campaigns succeed while most fail?" Shapiro asked at the start of his address. The five most-pressing items for marketers to examine before launching a social initiative, according to Shapiro, are as follows:

  1. Campaign Authenticity;
  2. If Something In Your Campaign Can Go Wrong, It Will;
  3. Campaign Speed;
  4. Your Campaign's Social Currency; and
  5. Campaign Giveaways.

Campaign Authenticity

Shapiro praised Old Spice's use of social media in its "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" video campaigns. Extending the reach of its initial effort, which became one of the most-successful viral videos of recent years, Old Spice had Isaiah Mustafa, the handsome shirtless actor from the original commercial make personalized videos for fans, bloggers, and celebrities. (One such video had Mustafa convey a marriage proposal that was promptly accepted.)

While Shapiro acknowledged that some of the videos were quite ridiculous, he commended Old Spice for running with the idea and not shying away from any obvious flaws.

"You can't trick the public," Shapiro warned the audience. "Don't try."

One way that brands have tried to trick the public is by using celebrity tweets to promote their products, a tactic that Shapiro notes are "less successful with clickthrough than banner ads." The celebrity with the highest clickthrough rate on Twitter, according to DanZarella.com, is reality-television star Khloe Kardashian, whose @KhloeKardashian account still only manages a meager 1.6 percent clickthrough rate. Actor and author Stephen Fry's account (@stephenfry), second on the list, receives a clickthrough rate of less than a 1.2 percent.

If Something In Your Campaign Can Go Wrong, It Will

Shapiro stressed the importance of thinking through the pitfalls of a social media campaign before launching one — in part, to avoid public relations disasters. He referenced Dr. Pepper's status-update campaign, which gave British fans of the brand a chance to win £1,000 if they allowed their Facebook status updates to be filled with randomly generated phrases. The campaign led to a publicity backlash when one of the phrases, appearing on the profile of a teenage girl, referenced a pornographic video. 

Campaign Speed

Response speed is also a key element of a good social campaign, Shapiro said — and that speed applies to nonmarketing activities as well. As a prime example of why brands need to respond in real time to negative publicity on social networks, Shapiro cited the Southwest Airlines/Kevin Smith debacle from February 2010.

Smith, the director of films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, felt he had been treated badly when he was seated on a Southwest flight as a standby passenger and then removed, allegedly because he was too overweight to fit in a single seat. Smith contended — loudly, from his popular Twitter account — that the airline had unfairly (and inaccurately) branded him "Too Fat To Fly." Southwest not only responded quickly to the tweets Smith sent from his popular Twitter account, but also blogged over the course of several days to explain its stance on the controversial issue. In the end, Smith and Southwest never quite saw eye to eye on the resolution, but Southwest at least dove in to address a situation that had been rapidly spiraling out of control. 

Your Campaign's Social Currency

A brand's value in the eyes of its fans, Shapiro said, is a key element of any well-run campaign. But, he added, most important on the social scene is the ability to create a brand-consistent message that fans will want to share with their friends.

"Does [your campaign] pass the ‘I gotta share this' test?" Shapiro asked. "If people want to share it, people will want to write about it, and the social message is amplified."

Campaign Giveaways

Perhaps the most obvious of Shapiro's lessons is: Free stuff excites people. If your campaign gives consumers something for nothing, they're a lot more likely to spread word to their friends. 

Shapiro said that the inability to meet these five criteria hasn't stopped companies from launching campaigns. But, he asked the audience, in the absence of these inherently social aspects of a social media campaign, how could anyone be surprised when those campaigns fail?

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