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Tips for creating a strong social media campaign

Is your non-profit’s dream to create a social media campaign that goes viral? Are you hoping social media will help you raise the next $1 million to further your cause? While I’d never say give up your dreams (we all need them—even the unrealistic ones!) I do want to say creating a successful social media campaign takes more hard work, planning, creativity and innovation than it might seem.

There are some brilliant social media campaigns around. Some appear to be more entertainment than marketing. Who could forget the Ice Bucket Challenge? A novel idea to raise funds for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the campaign went viral in July 2014. Recently it was reported that the $300 million raised contributed to a research breakthrough. The 2013 Who Gives a Crap campaign raised enough funds to not only launch a business for which 50 per cent of profits go to building toilets in the developing world, but it also provided us with a new way of looking at toilet paper.

These two ideas ooze creativity and are both highly innovative. They might even fool us into thinking that all we need to do is to create a viral campaign and fame, fortune and funding awaits …

Sadly, it’s far from that easy. Leading North American social media expert Peg Fitzpatrick calls it the ‘v word’ and I don’t blame her.

For every video that goes viral there are millions that don’t. We don’t actually know exactly what causes a video (or tweet) to go viral. What we do know is that it involves creativity, innovation and often a high level of engagement. There’s also an element of ‘luck’.

So, do we want to pin all our hard work on luck? I think most of us would say no.

What does make a strong social media campaign?

A good creative campaign goes a long way to achieving success. But a successful campaign also takes the ‘p’ words—planning and preparation.

  1. Know your target audience – Work out who they are and learn as much as you can about them.
  1. Decide on your message – Is it relevant to your target audience? Will it interest them? People like to share stories that have an impact on them in some way or that inspire them.
  1. Find a creative way to get your message across – It certainly helps to have a catchy, memorable hook that’s easy to share. It’s worth noting that Who Gives a Crap used the services of a reputable advertising agency. Coming up with innovative campaigns is not easy and investing in professional support can reap dividends.
  1. Plan a social media schedule and stick to it! – Think about how it relates to your overall marketing strategy and make sure the two work synergistically.
  1. Evaluate it – Work out what worked, what didn’t and why. How did your target audience respond? Use this knowledge to develop your next campaign.

So, while a (very small) minority of social media campaigns go viral and bring success to the non-profit that created them, for the rest of us, a strong foundation is the best bet for our social media marketing.

Joanna Henryks, Senior Consultant, Alice Springs


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