What Makes the Best Social Media Campaigns Great?

Everyone is looking for a comprehensive recipe for the perfect something or other. That’s what we do these days: the easiest path to success is in replicating proven successful models. The video below is a 2005 commercial providing a checklist (with tongue firmly in cheek) for creating the best possible Super Bowl ad.

Plenty of businesses have used social media with great success, but many more are still seeking the elusive formula. Though the following ingredients do not guarantee success, neglecting them will likely doom any campaign.


4 Elements of the Best Social Media Campaigns


Target and Scope

Know your target market (how many times have you heard that one?). It applies to the best social media campaigns just as in any other business endeavor. The most immaculate tweets ever tweeted will do you no good if your audience isn’t on Twitter… so know your audience and where to find them. Easier said than done, but if you’re thinking seriously about launching a campaign, this is must-have information.

Knowing which platforms to use simplifies your workflow. Here are some other things to keep in mind that will help you hone and manage the scope of your campaign:

  • What is the duration of this campaign? Will it be seasonal or ongoing?
  • How frequently will you post content?
  • What will you post? To what degree will you use multimedia (videos, photos, games, surveys, etc.)?
  • Do your prizes or giveaways keep you on message? Are you giving away an iPad when you should be introducing folks to your services instead?


Call to Action

Request a specific action from your followers (Like, Follow, Comment, Sign Up, Enter to Win!, etc.). A call to action (CTA) improves a campaign’s engagement and interactivity. Also, this type of content is likely to be approved by Facebook which has cracked down on pure promotional content and “transactional liking” or “like-gating” (requiring users to like a page before granting them access to content).

Don’t ask too much of your audience. Think about CTAs you’ve actually participated in. There probably wasn’t much investment on your part. Perhaps you shared an excellent piece of content or signed up for a newsletter from one of your favorite sites. These actions were simple, fun, and they worked seamlessly within your user experience.

If you are gathering contact information with a survey or some type of sign-up feature, try not to require too many fields fields of information. Social Media Examiner estimates that opt-in rate for such activities drops 10% for every required field. First name, email, and in some cases, a location are probably all you need anyway.

Every once in a while we get a novel, semi high-minded concept like last year’s “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” that sets the Internet ablaze. These smash hits are the Holy Grail of CTAs. They start with a single organization and then take on a life of their own. When good causes catch on like this, they tend to perpetuate themselves through public awareness and even peer pressure. It turns out that word of mouth is often still the best form of advertising.



Empathy is not commonly thought to go hand-in-hand with social media. The ‘Net holds countless think pieces on how social media is effectively eradicating empathy from younger generations of Internet users. So you are forgiven for finding it ironic that one of the secret ingredients for the best social media campaigns is… empathy.

Internalizing that drive for empathy will set you on the proper path. As an exercise, try searching for some of your interests. Take note of which search terms you use, which links you tend to favor, and who the authorities are in the field. Use this information as a starting point for delivering social media content that aligns with how web users are interacting with your brand. People don’t necessarily trust what they are told anymore; they want to find the sources that work best for them. It’s no longer only about delivering the message you want to send, but about tailoring your message to what your target audience is looking for. With infinite consumption channels, anything that is disingenuously authoritative will be tuned out.

Ultimately, you want to catch people who are just naturally going about their business. Be there for these people; don’t alienate them by telling them what they want. Be inviting and be positive – social media is supposed to be fun!



Seneca, the Roman philosopher, is noted for saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Great timing is difficult to attain. Practice helps, but the trick is having an organized and nimble process that allows you to take action when those highly sought-after opportunities arise.


As we saw with Oreo’s (@Oreo) tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl, having your creative message in place allows you to spring at the opportune moment. When the stadium’s lights went out as the game’s second half was set to begin, Oreo’s tweet reminded us that we don’t need lights to enjoy Oreo. A simple message, but delivered in a moment with just about the highest potential reach imaginable. That’s how 15K+ retweets happens – the stuff dreams are made of.

Remember, even the wittiest tweets can go unseen if posted carelessly, and any halfway decent tweet can blow up if the timing is right.

Keeping Seneca’s astute observation in mind is great advice for any business. Preparation — especially in these four areas — is probably the best path to joining the company of some of the best social media campaigns around.

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