Every so often, my team and I will sit down and brainstorm ideas on how to deploy a successful social media campaign. Thinking up and creating a campaign is actually an enjoyable experience, maybe not picnic-at-the-park enjoyable (since there is a lot of day-to-day work: tweeting, posting, commenting, writing, sharing etc.) but it’s fun because it affords us the space to get imaginative.
Let me reveal a secret about social media: if you want to generate a sizeable amount of exposure and engagement, you must get CREATIVE. One thought-provoking and engaging Facebook post can easily trump the effectiveness of a week’s worth of lackluster tweets. Researching for our own social media campaigns, I’ve found some very innovative and consequently successful examples that I have studied and tried to learn from.
Here are my three best picks:
When a local library in Troy, Michigan no longer had the funds to remain open and faced defeat as an anti-tax group fought against increasing taxes to maintain the library by posting “Vote No” signs around the neighborhood, defenders of the library decided to get creative and teamed up with advertising agency Leo Burnett Detroit to concoct an alarming "Book Burning Party” campaign.
The campaign which promoted invitations to the “party” via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and even with street flyers first attracted an overwhelming amount of negative attention. Community residents were outraged at the ugly prospect of burning books but were immediately impressed by the creative tactic behind the campaign when they realized that this was an effort to save books, not destroy them. The result of this awareness-raising controversy? When it came time for the town to vote on increasing taxes to keep the library open, a number of people- 342% greater than expected- showed up and voted “yes.” I don’t normally recommend using hoaxes and controversy to gain attention but in this case, the point that the library’s proponents were trying to make was that their defeat would be equal in effect to a book burning party. Stirring up controversy the right way, in a smart method and for a good cause takes guts and creativity.
2. Directly Engage Them: Healthy Choice’s “Growing” Coupon
The frozen meals company Healthy Choice promoted a month long coupon where if more people “liked” them on their Facebook page then the value of the coupon offered would proportionally go up. The coupon began as a $0.75 off promotion but then developed into a “Buy one get one free” deal as their fan numbers grew from 7,000 to 60,000 and their Facebook ads had a count of 11 million impressions! It’s clear that promotions and freebies are an effective social media tool. The ingenious way that Healthy Choice’s campaign employed this strategy was that they gave their fans a way to directly control (and therefore engage) how much value they could get for free.
3. Realize Your Medium & Work With It, Not Around It: TweetPie
Last year, UK-based social media firm Umpf published “TweetPie,” a cookbook consisting only of tweet length recipes crowdsourced from the realm of the 140-characters-or-less to raise proceeds for the charity FoodCycle. To get their content, they launched a campaign with the hashtag #Tweetpie where Twitter users could pitch their short and sweet recipe ideas. The agency won a CIPR award of excellence for their creativity in “dishing” out engagement with foodies. The beautiful thing about the Tweetpie campaign is that the creators refused to see the cap on the number of characters allowed as a burden and instead tackled such a limit with the kind of innovative thinking that gets people to notice.