One would hope that by now all businesses had mastered the basics of social marketing, but clearly that isn’t the case, particularly for small companies. 

So to give a helping hand for any businesses with a fledgling or non-existent social presence, I’ve come up with a few basic rules that need to be in place for a social media campaign to work.

You may well be thinking that all marketing campaigns should involve some element of social media in this day and age, and you’d be right. 

But the aim of this article is to provide some food for thought on the things that marketers should consider when creating a campaign that predominately uses social.

Furthermore, I haven’t addressed the tricky issue of coming up with shareable content, largely because that will be the subject of its own post at a later date.

So for now, read on to discover some handy tips on the basics of running a social campaign, or for more inspiration check out our post looking at the best social campaigns so far from 2014

Plan ahead

Let’s start with an obvious point. In order to be successful in business, one must plan ahead, which is presumably why some of you are reading this post in the first place.

For starters marketers have to work out their goals, target audience, budgetary restraints, KPIs, timeframe, what content is available, and which networks to focus on.

Goals are one of the most important aspects as that dictates everything that follows. For example, you may want to increase site traffic, promote an event, build excitement around a product launch, or host a Q&A with a prominent member of staff or brand ambassador.

Each of these goals will involve different timescales, content and deliverables, which you’ll need to map out upfront.

Use analytics

The likes of Facebook and Twitter offer their own analytics products which are generally simple to use and provide useful information.

However it’s also good to use third-party tools to extract additional insights and also to crosscheck the data from the networks.

Only then can you measure the campaign’s success against your KPIs and justify the ROI.

Listen for feedback

This ties in with analytics, but in order to properly engage with fans and followers it’s necessary to listen to what they’re saying.

At Econsultancy we mainly rely on Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, but a more thorough list can be found in our Social Listening Buyer’s Guide, or in Christopher Ratcliff’s post looking at great social media tools.

This will enable you to efficiently respond to other users, monitor the campaign’s success or modify it in response to audience feedback.

Plan for agility

Agility is all the rage these days, but that doesn’t mean marketing teams should just make knee-jerk, impulsive decisions.

Businesses should plan ahead so there is a framework in place that then allows for a degree of flexibility to react to unforeseen situations.

Marketers have to remember what they are setting out to achieve, the brand values and existing tone of voice, otherwise agile marketing can appear cheesy and clichéd, or even crude and insulting.

It would also help to have a content library prepared so that you have images or videos available to select from at short notice. Adidas has mastered the art of publishing tweets that look reactive but are clearly pre-planned.

Which channel to use?

Much of this will depend on the campaign aims and on which social networks your brand has already established a presence.

Each network has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. For example, Twitter might be most effective for short-term campaign that requires fast, responsive answers from other users, or for a campaign that relies on newsjacking a particular topic or hashtag.

In contrast, Pinterest can be effective for competitions aimed at sharing product images, Instagram is good for user-generated content, and Google+ is great if you don’t want anyone to see your content.

Ultimately though, it will depend on which networks a brand is already using. This often comes down to straight fight between Facebook and Twitter – unless of course the aim of the campaign is to build an audience on a new platform…


Social media shouldn’t act in isolation so marketers should be using other channels to promote social campaigns.

This could be as simple as using Facebook to cross-reference a Twitter campaign, or else using email or in-store displays to inform users of a new social competition or event.

For example, Urban Outfitters used email to promote this Twitter competition that required people to tweet the last lie they told alongside a specific hashtag.

Stick to the T&Cs

Make sure you’re up-to-date with each network’s T&Cs, otherwise you may fall foul of their compliance teams.

The punishment is unlikely to be harsh, but it means you’ll have to go back and re-think your approach which will cost valuable time and money.

Invest in social ads

It would be nice to think that your content is so awesome that it will gain huge popularity through organic reach alone. However in all likelihood it will need a helping hand, so be prepared to invest in some social ads.

At Econsultancy’s Festival of Marketing last year, Cadbury’s Jerry Daykin revealed that the brand buys social ads once content has proven to be popular with its existing fans and followers, as it then knows that it is potentially onto a winner.

This makes sense as there’s no point in paying to promote a bad creative idea.

Facebook and Twitter ads can still be relatively inexpensive and yield good results, so you shouldn’t have a problem justifying the ROI.