Five rules of thumb for social media advertising

Posted on July 16

carnet_williamsOver the course of the last few months, Sprout has had the opportunity to work with some amazing brands and agencies to create social engagement campaigns. Together with our clients, we’ve introduced consumers to a new video game and allowed musicians to showcase their best track for a chance to win a record deal. What we’ve learned from these projects is that social media success involves common sense, listening to peers and looking at things in a different light. Here’s my list of best practices for creating your own social media success story:

1. Appeal to what people love the most – themselves
When I get an email notification that I have been tagged in a photo, I immediately race to Facebook. It’s human nature. We love viewing photos of ourselves and seeing our names in print. That’s why some of the coolest social campaigns have seen such high engagement rates. When video game maker, NAMCO Bandai came to us to promote its Afro Samurai game, Afro Yourself was born. Close to 20 percent of end users who visited the Afro Yourself landing page added their own face to one of several Samurai bodies and shared the resulting image with their friends on Facebook. Most recently, we discovered that 40 percent of musicians who visited Toyota’s Rock the Space contest on MySpace submitted songs through an interface that allowed them to customize the look and feel of their demo-tape and upload pictures of the band. After more than 13,000 entries, finalists are scheduled to be announced at the end of July for voting.

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2. Measurement is very important, but don’t lose the forest for the trees
This is going to sound funny coming from a guy who made sure that the Sprout platform has the richest analytics in the industry (in my humble opinion), including custom tracking and Google analytics for Adobe Flash, but people are overly-obsessed with return on investment in social media. While brands drop millions of dollars every year on television, outdoor and out-of-home advertising, some of them become paralyzed when it comes to making campaigns social because they don’t know how to measure ROI. As a start, pick a couple of important metrics and measure your campaigns against them. For example, an entertainment company could measure how many people watch a 30-second trailer since they know how much they would spend on a 30 second TV spot and how many viewers they would expect to reach. A CPG (consumer packaged goods) brand might want to measure how many people share a branded advertisement with a friend, since they know that personal referrals make someone more likely to buy a product. Companies shouldn’t delay adding social media components of their campaigns while waiting for the perfect ROI scenario. Social media is about engagement and with 20 percent engagement rates, brands would be served well to find a good social media partner and take the leap.

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3. Plan for success, but know you won’t always hit homeruns
After having exceeded our clients’ goals on the first day of Toyota’s Rock the Space contest, Sprout and our partners were tasked with hustling to beef up the backend to support the surge of traffic. As one of those partners, Kaz Brecher at interactive ad agency Schematic said about the situation, “never underestimate the power of rabid fans.” Social media has the power to exceed your wildest goals because of the viral features of social networks. People love to share with their friends and if you hit on an idea that resonates, it will take off. But, if you don’t hit a homerun right away, try again. Social media is easy to tweak and optimize. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you get it right. Look at the Whopper Sacrifice campaign on Facebook – when it was pulled it down for violating privacy rules, Burger King rolled with the punches and found a way to turn a tough blow into a success (by getting an award at the Cannes).

rts_share4. What they are saying is true; Social media is about conversations
When is the last time you met a friend for a drink and showed up at the bar with a script? Hopefully, you wouldn’t think about scripting your conversations with your customers, either. Our friends at Rubicon Consulting have created a new model for engaging consumers that throws out the tradition funnel and puts LOVE in its place. The Lifetime Opportunity Value Equation (LOVE) focuses on interactions, not just transactions, and follows relationships as they evolve. The LOVE model requires that companies shift how they think about relating to customers and changes the role of marketing from that of a broadcaster to a partner in a bi-directional relationship where both parties are co-creating new forms of value.

5. Know thy customer
Another tenant of the LOVE model is to know your customers and how they relate to your company. Learn how to foster deeper and more balanced and committed relationships. Stop trying to bribe and manipulate people to get them to do what you want. This is transactional behavior. Be open to new forms of value. Properly engaged customers buy from a company not just because they like the product or service, but because they genuinely want the business to be successful.

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If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re already a believer in social media and have already adopted new forms of communicating with your customers. But if you have poo-poo’d me all the way through this article, I invite you to think about your last great experience with a company. Chances are they surprised and delighted you with a personal message or exceptional service or provided value when you least expected it. Now, imagine a platform that allows these experiences to be the norm, not the exception. That’s the power of social media.

Carnet Williams is the chief executive of Sprout.

Digital Venture BeatHere is the original: Digital Venture Beat

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