Written by Rose Souders
You’ve been told time and time again that you need to use social media to promote your business, but it feels like every time you do it, you’re just shooting in the dark or wasting time and money. You’re not alone. This is one of the most common complaints we hear when clients come to us frustrated with social media. It doesn’t have to be that way. Remember, social media is a tool, not a magic money maker. If you don’t know how to use it, then, of course, it feels like it’s just a bunch of guesswork. In this blog, you’ll learn about what a social media campaign is, how to create a social media campaign, and how to track a social media campaign’s results. Let’s begin.
What is a social media campaign?
A social media campaign is different from your day-to-day social media efforts. It has a start and end date, a specific purpose, and can be as big or small as you see fit. Think of it as something you would want to do on top of your regular social media management to drive more sales, visibility, or whatever you’re trying to accomplish. They require more work, so you’ll need to think through a few things to make sure a campaign makes sense before you decide to put in the time and ”hit go”.
Why should I do a social media campaign?
Make sure you have a reason for running a campaign. If you don’t have something new and exciting, then you likely won’t get any bites and it won’t be worth the investment of time and money.
Here are some reasons why you might consider putting in the extra work for a social media campaign:
- You’re offering a sale – a sale on your products or services are an exciting opportunity for customers who love your brand. Running a campaign will ensure that they see that the sale is happening and have the opportunity to act on it.
- You have a new product or service to launch – whether it’s discounted or not, this is something that will certainly get your loyal customers excited and ready to act if relevant to them.
- You have an upcoming event – butts in seats, as the saying goes. When you’re running an event, you can’t expect that if you build it, they will come. If people don’t get the opportunity to see that you “built it”, they won’t even know to come even if they wanted to. A campaign can provide that extra visibility you need to fight against the algorithms and competition in feeds.
- You have a company announcement – like a new product, loyal customers want to know when your company has big changes. It’s exciting and by informing them, you’re allowing them to be part of it.
If you’ve decided that you have something exciting that warrants a social media campaign, you now need to figure out your goals. Without defining your goals, it’s impossible to define what a successful social media campaign looks like.
Setting goals for a social media campaign
Grab a cup of coffee and take five minutes to sit down and decide what you want out of the campaign. Be as specific as possible, then translate these into metrics that you’ll track in your campaign. You’ll need to quantify your goals to track success. Figure out what would be worth it to you, then set a number that brings you a return.
If you need a refresher on what the metrics are or what they mean, take a look at our handy Social Media Glossary.
Social Media Campaigns for a Sale
If you’re doing a campaign because you’re having a sale, then you’re probably going to be looking for an increase in sales (duh, right?). You’ll want to consider setting goals for:
- Adds to Cart – how many people added your product to their cart on your website. This metric helps you track intent to buy. This metric is useful because even if someone doesn’t go through the process and purchase, you know that there was at least interest (and to get real fancy, if you have a Facebook Pixel set up, you can send them a retargeting ad to try and finish the sale).
- Purchases – the ultimate metric. A purchase happens when someone completes a sale on your website.
Social Media Campaigns for a New Product or Service Launch
If you’re doing a campaign because you’re launching a new product or service, then you’re probably going to be looking for an increase in sales, brand visibility, or even email subscribers. You’ll want to consider settings goals for:
- Adds to Cart & Purchases – same as above.
- Reach – If you’re announcing the product or service, you can use the reach metric to track how many people are seeing your content. Set a goal that is ambitious, yet realistic.
- Landing Page Views – If you’re trying to drive web traffic to the new product page or your services page, you can track the users or sessions on those specific landing pages in Google Analytics.
- New Email Subscribers – if you have a B2B business, then building your email list is going to be essential. Potential clients generally need to build trust with you before hiring and email marketing can be a great way to start the digital relationship.
Social Media Campaigns for an Event
If you’re doing a campaign because you’re hosting an event, then you’re probably going to be looking for an increase in ticket sales, website traffic, and brand visibility. You’ll want to consider settings goals for:
- Tickets Sales – the obvious choice. Butts in seats.
- Landing Page Views – with your conversion rate in mind, an increase in targeted web traffic will likely lead to an increase in sales.
- Reach – see above.
Have your goals set and written down? Great. We’re making progress! Let’s get to the actual “doing the work” part.
What resources do you have?
Take stock of what you have. This will help you determine what you need and will help set realistic expectations.
When I say resources, I generally mean – what can you utilize to make your campaign reach the most people and be as successful as possible? You probably have some combination of these:
- Social Media Following – your engaged following is essential when you’re trying to keep to a budget and push out content to your audience. With an engaged social media following, your investment here is mostly your time creating the strategic content.
- Paid Ad Budget – for every campaign, you’re going to want a paid advertising budget. With the current algorithms making it difficult to reach a large number of people organically, paid advertising plays an essential role in getting seen throughout the noise and barriers. If you don’t have a paid budget, don’t stress out too much, but do realize that you’ll need to think creatively to come up with solutions to make up for this lack of visibility.
- Newsletter List – email marketing along with your social media campaign is a must. Social media can certainly be effective, but with it comes the algorithms and competition of other content in someone’s feed. With email, every person on your list has opted in and likely wants to receive your updates. By pairing emails strategically with your social media content, you can ensure that your online community receives your campaign and has the opportunity to open it and act.
- Partners for Social Sharing Support – this one is my favorite! If you’re running a longer campaign (more than a week), then you might want to think about asking your network to help you share your campaign with their social media followers. I recommend making a list of any non-competing businesses that you have a close connection with, then creating a very simple one-step ask. For example, you could send them a copy/paste social media post + image and link and ask them to share it at a certain time. You shouldn’t be scared to ask for support and when you do, keep it simple and be polite.
Now that you have your goals set and know the resources you have available, it’s time to identify what’s trackable in your social media campaign.
Determine what is trackable in your social media campaign
Most of the time, you cannot get (useful) retroactive data so you need to know what you can set up tracking for and isolate those factors before you hit go on your campaign. Think like a scientist! Here are some things you might consider to track the results of your social media campaign.
Bitly Tracking Links
When it comes to setting up tracking links, we like to use Bitly. Bitly allows you to take a full URL (for example: https://potluckconsulting.com) and shorten it to a link that looks smaller, but also tracks when and where clicks happen. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the setup of your campaign and are new to the analytics side of social media, using Bitly links are a great way to light-weight track your efforts.
When using Bitly links, you’ll want to make sure that you isolate links and note down what link goes to what element you’re tracking. For example, if you’ve decided to incorporate a partner strategy in your campaign, you’ll likely want to create one Bitly link for your own social media efforts and then another separate Bitly link to give to your partners. Bitly analytics will tell you the total number of clicks from each social media platform, but it won’t break it down into the different Facebook pages that the Facebook clicks came from. By using a separate link for your partner(s), you’ll be able to see how effective your partner strategy was in generating website traffic. If at the end of the campaign, you see that your partner link received significantly more clicks than your own, then you know that that was a useful strategy and you should include that element again in your next campaign.
A finished Bitly link looks something like this: http://bit.ly/PotluckNL
By default, the URL will have a series of letters and numbers after bit.ly, but you can customize the link to be something more engaging and enticing to click.
Have you ever clicked on a link from a promotional email and then noticed that when it opened, the link was really really really long with a bunch of gibberish at the end. These are tracking links with UTM parameters! If Bitly links feel pretty simple to you, then you might be ready to graduate on up to using these handy codes.
U-T-What? Interestingly enough, UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. It was built and then bought by Google at a later date. Now, these tracking modules (UTM Parameters) can be added onto the end of a link to allow you to see more information about the people who click through to your website and what they do when they’re there.
To build a tracking link with UTM parameters, you can use Google’s handy URL Builder Tool. With this tool, you can add in your original URL, the campaign parameters, and then copy the full tracking URL at the bottom of the page. Here are a few notes to help you fill out the builder with your information:
- Website URL – this is where you paste the original URL would want to use in your campaign content.
- Campaign Source – this is the location of where you plan to use this URL. For example, you might want one to track web traffic from your own organic social media content since Google Analytics by default just tracks the total traffic from the platform. If using Facebook as the Campaign source, you could write in “fb”.
- Campaign Medium – going with the same example, you would write here “organic”.
- Campaign Name – if you’re going to use this UTM strategy again (you will!), then you’ll want to label your links with the campaign name (for example, “spring_sale”. You never know, sometimes an old post resurfaces and creates new traffic. It’s useful to know what’s what in your Google Analytics.
At the bottom of the form, you’ll see your full URL. You can copy it by clicking “Copy URL”. Voila! Now you’re ready to use it in your social media content. If you’re feeling really savvy, you can also paste the full URL (with your UTM Parameters) in Bitly to shorten it and make it look more enticing.
Finding Data from your UTM Parameter Links
When you use these links with UTM Parameters, the information gets collected and displayed in your Google Analytics account. You can find it by going to the “Acquisition” menu on the left, “All Traffic”, then “Source/Medium”. Ring a bell? Source. Medium. You just created those parameters in your URL Builder!
When you’re in this menu and if there have been clicks on your tracking link, you’ll be able to see all kinds of information about the users who clicked on that specific campaign link, like how many pages they viewed, were they new or returning visitors, did they buy something, how many dollars came from those online purchases, etc.
A Facebook Pixel is “a piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimize and build audiences for your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns.” If you have a B2C business, then this is a must for your paid ad strategy. It allows you to run retargeting ads to people who added to cart but didn’t buy, people who viewed certain pages on your website, and so much more.
If you’re not feeling really savvy or comfortable setting up the tracking links, discount codes might be a good option for you (if you have a B2C business with an eCommerce website). Similar to the Bitly links, you’ll want to use each discount code in a specific area, then note down the details. For example, you could use one discount code on all of your own social media efforts, then a separate discount code to share with your partners. This will help you identify where sales are coming. Not to mention, if you’re using Bitly tracking links or links with UTM parameters for your partners, you’ll be able to track the clicks from your partner, the sales from your partner, and therefore the conversion rate from that partner! Knowledge!
Secret Landing Pages
If you’re utilizing print in your campaign, you may want to create a new landing page that is hidden from your regular website menu. You can add this URL to your print materials, making sure not to use it anywhere else. After the materials have been mailed or given out, you’ll be able to track users on that specific landing page in Google Analytics and know that that traffic is likely from your print materials. See…print is totally trackable.
Do the work and hit go
You want the rewards of a social media campaign? Well, then it’s time to put in the work. Make a to-do list of the things you need to do, put in the work, schedule your content out, and hit go. Here are some things you might have on your own social media campaign to-do list:
- Create an Editorial Calendar – plan out your content in advance and make sure that it’s strategic and not repetitive.
- Set up your discount codes
- Set up your tracking links – Bitly, UTM parameters, both. You decide.
- Creating your hidden landing pages – if needed.
- Install your Facebook Pixel – you might need help from your web developer to do this, but if you’re pretty savvy with the backend of your website, then you should be able to do it yourself.
- Create any graphics that you might need for your campaign – Canva is a nice simple option for smaller budget campaigns. If you’re running a large campaign and have a budget, it’s always useful to hire a professional designer to get exactly what you need.
- Draft your posts and schedule them ahead of time – this is crucial. When you hit go on your campaign, your focus should be on responding to comments and inquiries, making sure that the checkout process is working, and monitoring analytics. You don’t want to draft your campaign content in real-time. By writing your content in advance, you’ll ensure that the content is more strategic and thought out, not to mention, you’ll give yourself the time you to need actually monitor the campaign while it’s running.
Stop wasting resources. Optimize.
See what works. Learn. Fine-tune. Reach your goals.
When you decide to run a social media campaign, make sure that you’re setting it up so that you can gather information to see what worked, if you reached your goals, and how you should adapt your strategy for your next campaign. You can do it!
If you run into any social media campaign challenges or have questions, leave us a comment below or shoot us a message and we can help. Good luck with your campaign!
This blog concept is from a workshop given by Rose Souders at the 2019 San Francisco Small Business Week called “How to Set Up & Track a Social Media Campaign.”
You can view the presentation in full here: