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There ARE campaigns in Social Media


Paul Dunay says there are NO campaigns in Social Media. I say there ARE. ARE TOO! ARE TOO! ARE… hmm. Well I tried to say there ARE, but moderation is turned on in his comments.

Paul, please turn moderation off, turn CAPTCHA on, and then just delete the handful of spam comments that come through. Otherwise it looks like you want to control the conversation. Anyone wonder why I don’t like blogs and think they are an old media one-to-many channel? 😛

There Is No “Campaign” in Social Media

When marketers use the word “campaign,” it tends to suggest an initiative to get a message out to a targeted group of constituents. It also implies there will be a beginning and, somewhere down the road, an ending.
This kind of thinking creates a danger zone for marketers when it comes to social media. Let me explain …

When starting a blog, podcast series or even a community, marketers have to think in longer terms than a standard campaign. A podcast series may not catch on for several months, heck, for even a year! I have been writing this blog for two years now, and it recently earned distinction as a Top 50 Blog to Watch in 08! (ok, shameless plug, yes, but it’s hard work!) (more)

Anyway, in good ol’ Web 2.0 fashion, I’m taking the discussion here, in case my comments don’t get printed:

Sorry, totally disagree.

Social Networks have a number of fundamental features that lend themselves very well to short term campaigns. One is Events (viral spiked time limited, such as competitions, fundraising days) and the other is Rituals (birthdays, Valentines). Social networks online are no different from communities offline. We use Events and Rituals offline for campaigns why not online?

Also (I realise I am being a little brief here, sorry) campaigns are used to experiment. And my goodness, we need companies to experiment in social media more! Fun Run for Breast Cancer awareness day in Second Life is a great ‘babystep’ introduction for sponsoring and being involved with a community over a ‘short’ period of time.

Forrester’s made the same mistake – assuming marketing is the same now the consumer has a voice as it was when they were just eyeballs. i.e. that marketeers can try something, look at the statistics and feedback and then adjust. This is uncharted territory. What didn’t work last year, may well work next week. Ongoing engagement may well mean throwing out a bunch of campaigns and having fun with it.

And Foresters of all people should understand that – they assessed GM’s ongoing campaigns and Ford and Proctor and Gamble. All of whom jumped in, made mistakes, tried again with no clear direction other than they wanted to be engaged.

The Dialogue is the Content – the content won’t run out, the opposite: tracking it all is gonna be difficult.

Heh. At least it’s another point of view. 🙂

I probably should’ve added that making it to the top of a mainstream list (the most eyeballs) is still an old media view. We measure success by what is important to us. Not necessarily stickability or unique page views – quality is as important as quantity.

Deborah Schultz is another one who hasn’t made the next step on social media campaigns and social media channels:

Wrong Question

There is no such thing as a Social Media Campaign. Social Media is not a campaign – you cannot view it through an outdated advertising lens.

If you are an individual it is about creativity and expression and connection. If you are a company it is an attitude, behavioral and cultural shift. It should be about persistence and dialogue and being in it for the long-haul. It is strategic.

Again, campaigns were always about shifting perceptions, and part of a long haul, persistent strategy. If anything the new campaigns shouldn’t be about that -they should be about trying things, failing forward. We still love our brands when they muck up. Honest we do. Of course the statement from Deborah is correct, but it’s waaaay too mediasnacky for me. How about this for a strategy – jump in, try some things, see what makes sense for your brand and don’t worry too much about a perfect image and succeeding every time?

Every time a company is advised to have a social media strategy instead of a brief campaign, they are sold something bigger than Ben Hur, with forums and blogs and wikis on their site and widgets and gadgets and user generated ads and … when parts of it fail (as it will) the whole “social media strategy” failed. And they give up. Nah, let them have their babysteps campaigns, (running a blog carnival or sponsoring the Second Life Fun Run) and keep a much more open ended strategy… scary huh?

I wrote it in pink, it looks less feisty then.

So what was the next step that was missing? Ah yes, the consumer uses the social media channel to push their own campaigns around your brand, in their own time. Coke/Mentos anyone?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

7 thoughts on “There ARE campaigns in Social Media

  1. Laurel – here ya go – I totally agree with you. I tend to be a bit pedantic on my blog and “snacky” – heck it’s a blog!

    I hate the word campaign because it is OLD skool and I try to get marketers to understand that this is NOT about telling and selling but about being in the fray and MOST importantly in it for the long haul. Anyone who tries to sell wikis and blogs toa company is MISSING the point – this is NOT about technology but about a cultural shift in thinking about what kind of communication and connection you are attempting to create for the long haul with your customers – not just throwing up an ‘interactive ad’ or a starting a wiki and not feeding it.

    I say – yes – start small – but the social web is SO much more than a viral video. Companies dont yet have the skill sets or job functions internally to really feed the beast – but they are indeed learning and I say “here here” fail forward.

    [and i like the pink]

  2. Hi Debs, I do understand that you and Paul are talking about not treating the audience as eyeballs to be manipulated, I just want to be careful with how we position things.

    And I use as many old-media words as possible. For example collaborative knowledge management (wiki), or customer communities (social networks). They feel more comfortable then – and after all, nothing is new, just mashuped a little 🙂

    I wanted a pink blog but got talked out of it *goes off to think about it again* 😀

  3. I think the first step is to divorce ourselves from the notion that the customer is not part of the product development process.

    The second step is to rid ourselves of the notion that the product development process is separate from the sales process.

    When we do these things, and see everything as part of an overall wish fulfillment process – social media transforms.

    It’s all communication – internal and external to a company. Blogs, wiki, video, voting and all that is just talking. Just communicating.

    Now … how to we get something said by a user in Bangalore in a forum quickly back to the dev team in Berlin? How quickly can the dev team respond, both in terms of words and in deeds?

    How much of the development cycle can we shortcut here, still have a coherent product, but constantly be refactoring and keeping customers not just happy, but freakishly happy?

    This is what I would call a social media strategy.

  4. Aye Jim, that’s a strategy. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a campaign.

    I don’t believe that everything around social media needs to be a strategy. Nor does it need to be directly linked to sales.

    For example (and the one I gave on Paul’s site) Oh it works for B2B too. I was also thinking of 6-9month campaigns – a Telco blogging to educate/prepare resellers for a change in the telecomms act. It wasn’t really plugging into their longterm strategy but they suddenly had a message and needed to get companies on side, up to speed, and vocal about an issue. Particularly as the press backlash was going to be great. Ads wouldn’t have done the job. But nor would waiting to develop a “long term strategy of engagement and conversation”. Sometimes just doing a campaign leads to a strategy that really works.

    For some companies, they need an “in case of emergency, break glass” blog. Is it as effective as ongoing engagement in the blogosphere? No of course not. But if it means that or nothing, then a not-oft used blog is better than nothing. Eventually they wake up to needing ongoing commitment.

    Strategy comes when we have a vision of the future, and we can’t have a vision from reading a few books and seeing what a competitor did. A campaign can give the company babysteps into the future and they will wake up and say “omg we need to do this more, in an organised way”.

    Incidentally this is what we did with Web 1.0. Stealth tactics 🙂

  5. Laurel

    Thanks for the comments and the advice for comments on my blog.
    I went ahead and turned moderation off and captcha on

  6. Oh goody, Paul. If you do pick up a bad guy, you can always turn moderation back on temporarily : they will usually give up for a while.

    Just don’t come after me with a sharp implement if someone says bad words in comments 🙂

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