tacticsOver the last year we’ve seen some great innovations across the board in
social media, changing the way we interact with brands online and
streamlining campaign rollouts.

As trends and ideas rise and fall at an ever
quickening pace, we often find ourselves running to get on board the
next big thing. Signing up for new platforms and services, or utilising
ever more arcane sets of metrics to track campaigns.

Here are six quick tips and tactics that can help you get ahead…

In the rush to get ahead we often forget that playing catch-up to the competition will never lead to true success. There’s also a school of thought that explains the fast paced evolution of social and the wider digital sphere.

Both are still fairly young disciplines, and when there are no rules there’s a freedom to experiment and to throw leftfield ideas at the wall and see what sticks.

Some do and people have a great new tactic that spreads across the industry, but keep in mind that a huge number of ideas simply don’t work very well. This isn’t always anyone’s fault, as I’ve said, it’s a young discipline and most of us are still figuring things out as we go along.

Instead of worrying about the latest trends then, we need to realize there are a simple set of guidelines that work for digital, and will equally give you a much better shot at conducting a productive social campaign….

Forget tools, think problem

When talking about social campaigns, I still regularly hear people saying “I want more of a Facebook presence” or “We want to do more on Twitter.”

Why?

Stop and ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish before you even think about tools.

All strategists should take a leaf from the engineer’s book. Think about the problem you need to fix first and foremost.

Remember you’re building a bridge between brand and customer.

If you start by saying “I really want to paint this bridge red” then it’s not going to be a sound construction.

Keep it small

Everyone wants to succeed, to be the biggest and the best. Unfortunately, this leads us to attempt to run before we can walk.

Any
project in a new space should be kept small during its initial stages.
Huge projects and weeks of coding and set up massively increase the
chances that you’ll fail. Your initial forays into social should be as
modest as you can make them. Test the waters first and check that
customers are receptive.

By planning a small initial campaign you’ll
find that you increase performance, are better able to keep deadlines,
and any problems will be smaller and less likely to damage your online
reputation.

In short, until you really, really know what you are doing,
keep things manageable.

You may ultimately want a huge campaign that
runs for months or years, but you’ll be better equipped to provide this
by building out in small stages and developing based on customer
feedback.

Never stop testing

Take a good look at the major web players and you’ll soon start to
understand that in order to be so successful, they never stop
developing.

Products, interfaces, campaigns, are all fluid and
consistently tweaked and developed before, during and after rollout.

There’s often a tendency in marketing to roll a campaign out, and
consider it finished once it’s rolling along under its own steam.This
will work for a while, but eventually momentum will dwindle and you’ll
need to start again.

Instead, assume that every project is always in
beta,
consistently having different aspects checked, tested and
reconfigured ad infinitum.

On the flip side, don’t lose sight of what
made your initiative successful in the first place. Build a set of core
functions and add to them, rather than replacing them.

Keep it simple

One of the first principles of web design, and yet one that’s regularly ignored. However great your app, however clever your branded game, if it’s hard to use then people won’t go for it.

If you’re designing something that’s overly complicated or lacking in value for the regular user, then customers will go elsewhere.

Social media is called social for a reason. It’s based on interactions and conversations, which means centering your strategy around your customer.  Forget about being innovative or blazing a path in the industry. Neither of these things matter if no-one engages.

If you really want a good example pull out your phone and play some Tetris. Sure, it isn’t half as good looking as Kane & Lynch 2, but it’s still immersive and addictive. Don’t be tempted to wring the most out of something if you don’t need to, just concentrate on hitting the right notes.

Keep everyone in the loop

One of the largest problems faced by social media managers is a lack of understanding in other departments.

You cannot count on the support of others without clearly explaining how and why your campaign will benefit them, and the business as a whole.

If those supporting or above you don’t know what you are trying to achieve then you are fundamentally failing to address the needs of the business.

Again, centre on the problem.

If your campaign is designed to increase leads or conversions, then you need to know that Sales are informed and ready to handle the extra workload smoothly. Social media usually has a strong CRM focus, so you need the support and understanding of brand managers and PR.

Make a conscious and ongoing effort to engage other teams and incorporate their feedback into your future campaigns.

Keep calm and carry on

Above all remember that this is still a young industry sector, and sometimes things won’t work, but as long as you kept things controllable then it’s fine.

There’s a huge worry that anything said out of place on a social platform can bring your whole brand crashing down around your ears, but as long as you’ve applied a little common sense and kept everyone in the loop this shouldn’t happen.

At every stage make sure things are manageable, ensure that someone has ultimate responsibility and update them as things progress.

Remember, no-one knows everything yet, so make sure you deal with any mistakes that do crop up in an open, transparent fashion and ensure that the whole team learns from them.

There’s a long way to go, but by sticking to simple structural blocks like these you can ensure that you have a robust and flexible campaign that will grow along with your needs.