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25 WAYS

TO COME UP WITH MORE CREATIVE


SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS
INTRODUCTION
Are you experiencing a creative drought? Or are you bursting with creative ideas for social
campaigns, but stumped about ways to validate these ideas? We’re here to help! Here are 25
ways you can come up with more creative social campaigns to achieve your business goals.

1. SPEND TIME LISTENING.


Listening to your friends comes naturally. You want to hear what they have to say, and it’s easy:
they’re sitting across the table from you at brunch, or you’re texting up a storm, back and forth.
Because you are involved in this seamless interchange of information, and listening intently, you
know as much about many of your friends as you do about yourself. The same is not true of your
relationship with your social audience.

With our social audiences, we tend to push out information (owned content) and measure the
effect of that content. Sometimes we forget to begin by listening to our audiences and building
content around what they actually care about. We end up pushing out content that just isn’t quite
right. It’s like your friend telling you about a Golden Retriever puppy she wants to adopt and
asking for your advice, and you responding by listing out your favorite qualities of Labradoodles.
Tangentially related, but not quite right. We marketers fall into this trap an awful lot. Here’s how
you can begin to shift your thinking.

Build Your Empathy

Building empathy happens when you pay


attention and listen deeply. This tends
to come naturally in friendships: if your
friend is hurting, you’re hurting. You
wouldn’t scroll through your Instagram
feed while your friend shared the painful
news of his divorce, would you? The
same concept can be applied to your
relationship with your customers and/or
social audience. Don’t busy yourself This chart comes from Simply Measured’s very own Listening solution.

25 Ways to Come up with More Creative Social Media Campaigns 2


so much with your owned content (what your brand has to say) that you miss out on what your
audience is saying and feeling on social, forums, and blogs.

By building a solid foundation of empathy for your audience’s wants and needs–and how those
wants and needs evolve throughout the customer journey–you’re also building better content,
responses, and, ultimately, sentiment around your brand.

Know the History

One reason you’re able to so easily understand your closest friends is that you have a shared
history. You’ve heard the story about Johnny chipping his tooth on a parmesan rind back in college
a million times. You were there when Linda got to party with Snoop Dogg on her bachelorette trip.
The same level of historical knowledge is important when it comes to your customers.

This screenshot comes from Simply Measured’s very own Listening solution.

When has your brand experienced the greatest spikes in reach, engagement, and volume?
Which tactics and channels have historically worked for you (or your competition), and which
have been misses? This is another common mistake for marketers: we commit to a campaign,
regard it as a success or failure, and then move on too quickly to learn and document valuable
lessons that can help us do better in the future. Don’t fall into this trap! Continue adding to your
(separate) lists of customer knowledge and self-knowledge regularly as time passes and the data
keeps rolling in.

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Share a Common Language

You and your best friend have an endless assortment of inside jokes and maybe even made-up
words and phrases that only you two understand. It’s kind of annoying, TBH. But shared experience
= shared language. The same equation is true for listening to your customers on social.

If you understand the slang and solutions that your audience throws at one another without you
hovering in the room, you’ll eventually be able to learn their language
and use it to better reach them.

This screenshot comes from Simply Measured’s very own Listening solution.

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Prioritization

As you grow up, you stop making time for friends who don’t give you the same level of attention
as you give them. This can also be applied to your social media program. Understand how your
audience prioritizes you, and you’ll be able to adjust your brand’s behavior accordingly.

This screenshot comes from Simply Measured’s very own Listening solution.

This doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop targeting customers or potential customers who
like another brand over your brand. But it does mean that you might go more aggressively after
one customer segment and veer away from another, or that you might spend more time doing
competitive campaigning against one particular brand on social. The only way you’ll be able to
prioritize correctly is by understanding where you sit in relationship to competitors in your (target)
audience’s eyes.

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Go Deep

The best conversations with your friends happen after a glass of wine or two, when you go
deep into your fears and hopes and vulnerabilities. Don’t miss out on the most important, in-
depth information about your customers by staying on the surface.

Take the time to look at the most buzz-generating comments around your brand and/or
industry on social at least once a day. This will give you the level of depth you need to move
forward and make better choices.

2. CONSULT AN EXPERT.
Take a marketer you know and admire out to lunch, or approach him or her on social and
ask for a quick chat. Come prepared with a set of questions, as specific as possible. We
recommend choosing a particular campaign you were floored by, and digging deep to find out
what you can learn for your own brand.

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3. TALK TO A CUSTOMER.
This may take the form of jumping on a call or running a survey, depending on your business.
However you consume this feedback, know that it is one of the most important things you can
do to understand how people who give you money actually think and feel about not only your
product, but your industry at large.

4. LEARN FROM INNOVATIVE CMO’S AND MARKETERS.


Doing your research on how marketing executives (including your own!) think and operate
is essential. Read interviews with CMO’s from best-in-class brands, and pay attention to the
initiatives being emphasized on a broader level at your company. The strategies and messaging
set at a high level always impact what marching orders are departmentally--if not now, next
quarter. Understand bold, innovative visions and you’ll be able to come up with and execute
creative campaigns that accomplish business goals in your organization.

5. LEARN FROM NON-BUSINESS-FOCUSED INNOVATORS.


Some of the best creative ideas you’ll find for social media campaigns come from outside
business. Here are some of our favorite quotes from thinkers who focus on expanding creativity
and self-improvement. We recommend reading these books when your well has run dry.


“It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice,
you will improve at.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just ask yourself, ‘
What would make a better story?’ ”
– Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do


them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the
habits they’ve learned.”
– Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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6. GIVE YOUR CAMPAIGN A CHANCE.
Being able to pivot quickly according to data findings is important. No one believes this more
than us. But abandoning a campaign or messaging angle or visual approach because the data
doesn’t match your ambitious goals within the first week or month is not the smart way to go,
because it doesn’t give your message enough time to saturate the market, if it is going to
saturate the market.

By pivoting too quickly, you risk diluting your brand story and recognition with too many
different messages within too short a time span. This confuses your audience, and ultimately
gives your competitors an advantage. We recommend making no campaign less than three
months long, and breaking your campaign plan into multiple phases. At the end of each phase
should be a stopping point at which you formally evaluate the data, and come up with an
action plan for modifying your plan accordingly.

7. FACE THE LARGER CLIMATE HEAD-ON.


Both Cadillac and AirBnB have done an excellent job of addressing 2017’s divisive political
climate in a way that:

a) Faces the climate head-on


b) Reinforces their brand message

This is a tricky balance to strike, since by addressing political themes brands often experience
blowback. It’s not a good strategy for every brand. Before putting together a campaign around
this, do four things:

a) Run an audience analysis to understand whether your audience will be positive, neutral,
or negative around content of this nature
b) Remember to stay focused on general emotional connection and stay away from specific
political topics or personalities
c) Weigh the risk of negative feedback vs. a major awareness boost
d) Consider your resources. It’s not worth doing this unless you can do it well (and,
preferably, with video)

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8. BRING IN THE MUSIC.
Use Spotify to create a playlist that goes along with your campaign, and encourage followers to
share the playlist on social for a chance to win a prize.

9. COLLABORATE MORE CLOSELY WITH YOUR CONTENT TEAM.


Do your social and content teams work closely enough together, or do you run on parallel
tracks that rarely intersect? If the latter is true, you’re missing out.

When your content team is regularly informed about what’s performing well (or not) on social,
they can create better content for your social team. When your social team is regularly updated
about which content requires promotion to fit brand messaging, product offerings, and larger
marketing initiatives, they can be more strategic about how they post. Magic can really happen
in this intersection.

10. AND WITH YOUR EMAIL MARKETING PERSON/TEAM.


Once you have a clear campaign theme and message that your entire marketing team is driving
toward, your email marketing team begins planning sends. Make sure you’re aligned on these
sends so you can figure out how to best support the larger campaign by driving web visits
and content downloads. If you’re not involved in these meetings now, you should push to be.
Previously unexplored collaboration opportunities can make great ideas happen.

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11. MAKE CONVERSIONS A FOCUS.
What you do on social plays a role at every point in the buyer’s journey – all the way from
awareness to decision. Own that power fully this year, and fill the gap between awareness
and decision.

Content share and conversion tracking are useful for leveraging public and private social
sharing signals from real customers and prospects to provide you with the insights you need
to increase traffic, leads, and revenue by producing and distributing content that drives
conversion. This allows you to:

• Optimize your content production based on what consumers organically signal to be


most compelling through complete understanding of how consumers share your
content privately (dark social), leading to conversion and what other relevant topics your
target audience talks about most.
• Optimize your content distribution through social channels for full-funnel impact from
impressions, to engagement, to visits, to conversions, based on how content performs
through posts published by your owned brand social channels.
• Learn from competitors’ content strategies by analyzing how their audiences engage
with competing brand content on social, so you can target these audiences with relevant
messages and compelling offers.

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12. RUN COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS.
Regular competitive analysis helps you create benchmarks for your own brand. For instance,
what is the average engagement per day for the brand you see as your competition?
How often is their owned hashtag being used on a weekly basis? What does a successful
campaign look like for your primary competitor, in terms of engagement, follower growth, and
connection depth (i.e., comments and conversation vs. a simple Like).

Your competitive benchmarking and analysis can get even more specific, like in the chart below.

Remember that the brands you benchmark against don’t necessarily have to be competitors
for dollars in the bank, or even within your industry: they can be competitors for a certain
brand voice or visual association you are trying to foster with your target audience. Your target
audience only has so many hours in the day to interact with brands on their social feeds; you
want to make sure your brand is front and center, and, if it’s not, understand why.

Running competitive analysis on the brands you choose to benchmark against helps you
understand where you’re advanced and where you’re falling behind. It also expands your access
to data about your target customer, helping you understand what these folks react well to, what
they ignore, and what they straight-up dislike–so you can create better content and conversions
in the future.

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If your competitor is reusing a campaign, chances are that’s because it’s working, meaning it’s
hitting goals the social team has set.

Consider what this means on three levels.

• How your competitor is positioning itself


• How your competitor’s audience is reacting to this positioning (probably a big overlap
with your target audience here, so especially worth paying attention to)
• What it means for readjusting your brand’s content–or not

This is the kind of insight you’ll only get if you’re running competitive analysis. Otherwise,
you’re operating in a vacuum with no external point of reference, which can be very dangerous.

13. INVEST IN EPHEMERAL CONTENT STRATEGY.


I’m talking Snapchat and Instagram Stories here, people. Snapchat recently finished up 44%
on its first day as a publicly traded stock. There’s a reason for that. These platforms give you
creative freedom as a brand, and a chance to infuse your brand with personality in the public

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eye, increasing brand advocacy and conversions. Invest time and resources in Instagram
Stories (which can be great conversion points from Instagram), Snapchat, and/or Facebook
Live. Do your research on brands incorporating these platforms in their campaigns already,
and you’ll find inspiration.

14. IDENTIFY YOUR INFLUENCERS.


We all have a circle of influence, but we may only be influential about certain topics. The same
is true when it comes to social media, and identifying the people who hold esteem in specific
areas can be a challenging task. Influence boils down to three key factors:

a) Reach
b) Resonance
c) Relevance

The quickest place to start is by looking at the influential folks who are already engaging with
your content and talking about your brand.

Look at your most engaged and most followed users

Simply Measured’s Twitter Account Report surfaces the users who’ve engaged with your brand
the most regularly, and users who’ve engaged with your brand that have the most followers.

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If you want to focus your search around your brand or product hashtags, you can do that, as well.

Look at your most active posters:

In this Instagram Hashtag report, you can quickly see the users who are posting the most
often with your hashtag, the most-followed users, and those who are generating the most
engagement with their posts that use your hashtag. This is a great opportunity to identify folks
that are already your brand influencers.

Get outside the building

We have a mantra on the Simply Measured marketing team that “the answer isn’t in the building.”

This mantra pushes us to validate assumptions by listening to actual humans. This is good
advice for anyone looking to identify influencers on social media.

Don’t just look for the folks who are tagging your brand in every post and already engaging
with all of your content (although, as I mentioned above, you may find some valid
opportunities there as well). Look for folks who are driving value in conversations that are
relevant to your brand, but not ones that necessarily involve your brand.

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Dig into topics and categories:

With Simply Measured’s Social Listening, discover the most influential and engaged people
discussing any topic of your choosing.

Filter down to the most relevant people:

Drill down to the specific themes and demographic profiles that will be the most relevant to your
audience. This will help you get the clearest picture of the influencers you want to work with.

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15. PUT USER-GENERATED CONTENT AT THE HEART OF CREATIVE.
British Airways recently did this with panache. Their #Unforgettable campaign, devised
by Ogilvy & Mather, recruited a father and son after they wrote a review thanking British
Airways for their New York trip. The centerpiece of the campaign was a video, which was
complemented by a social media competition inviting people to share their #unforgettable
holiday moments, geniusly soliciting UGC from a content piece with its roots in UGC.

16. TEAM UP.


Can you think of any brands that would make good partners during your next social media
campaign? These should be brands that:

a) Have overlap with your brand when it comes to target audience


b) Don’t overlap with your brand when it comes to product offerings

Co-marketing is a great way to expand your awareness with people likely to buy your product.

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17. THINK CUSTOMER RETENTION VS. CUSTOMER ACQUISITION.
These should be two different tracks in your social media marketing strategy. On the one
hand, you’re trying to keep and engage with the customers you already have.

On the other hand, you want to, obviously, acquire more customers, AKA ROI, with your social
strategy. Some content might appeal to both customers and non-customers, but you should
also be creating unique strategies to target each of these categories. In your content calendar,
make sure you should have posts and mini-campaigns devoted to each of these categories.

18. INSPIRE ON SOCIAL, CLOSE THE DEAL IN-STORE.


This applies if your brand targets young folks, has a brick-and-mortar presence, a pop-up shop,
and/or is sponsoring a booth at a conference.

A recent study by Accenture examines the attitudes and expectations of 18- to 20-year-
old Gen Z consumers--those already with spending power--along the path to purchase and
compares them to Millennials. The study is based on a survey of nearly 10,000 consumers
across 13 countries, including 750 U.S. consumers.

While Gen Z is a very much a “digital native” group, 77% still prefer to purchase in-store. In
addition, 44% will go to a store to get more information before making an online purchase.

Here’s the takeaway: inspire and generate awareness on social, and make sure your brick-and-
mortar presence echoes the messaging people have consumed there to close the deal.

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19. THINK BIG, ZOOM IN.
For awareness-generating campaigns, your social strategy doesn’t have to be as micro-focused
on your value prop and brand as you think. Once you know who your audience is on social,
you can build campaigns which appeal to other aspects of their lives and perspectives.

For instance, you might be a hotel chain hyperfocused on medium-budget travelers between
the ages of 21-30. You could create a whole campaign around budgeting for travel. The most
important thing to remember here is that you need to provide value that is totally unrelated to
closing a deal: this is an engagement-generating campaign to push people further down the
path to purchase, not get them to book with you immediately. With a campaign of this nature,
if people feel they are being blatantly sold to, they will automatically distrust the content
you’re surfacing.

20. GAIN A DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF USER BEHAVIOR ON SOCIAL.


There are countless studies and stats being released about how social media affects the
human brain, and how different demographics engage on social. Read ‘em! These studies give
you insight into how people interact with social in general and, ultimately, your brand.

21. USE SEO TO INFORM YOUR CAMPAIGN THEMES.


Chances are, the words and terms you want to rank for as a brand on Google are the same
that you want to be associated with on social. Contact your SEO friend in your organization to
find out which words and terms you are focused on, and weave these into your social media
campaigns. This is especially important as Tweets are now included in Google search results
for certain words and terms.

22. JUMP IN ON EVENTS.


And create follow-up content to make the most of your efforts there. This follow-up content
should direct people towards your blog and/or website.

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23. BUT DON’T TRY TO BE PART OF A STORY THAT’S IRRELEVANT
TO YOUR BRAND.
Don’t jump on the #Oscars2017 hashtag if you’re a B2B analytics company. With such a
buzz-generating, business-irrelevant event, you’re not going to reap any tangible rewards
for your business.

24. UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR CONTENT IS SHARED ACROSS THE


CUSTOMER JOURNEY.
The customer journey is your new marketing funnel. The social media marketer’s job is to
move people through the customer journey via social media sharing: from awareness, to
consideration, to purchase, to the loyalty and advocacy stages. Make sure you know how your
content is being shared across this journey, and across all your active social channels.

25. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.


This is not a copout tip. Exercise:

• Spurs brain growth and boosts brain-building hormones


• Improves the brain’s executive function
• Fights depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social phobias

If you’re sitting at your desk, truly in a creative rut, go take a walk, a run, or a yoga class.
Shake it out. Then keep mulling our tips over and put together your Best. Campaign. Ever.

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ABOUT SIMPLY MEASURED
Simply Measured is the most complete social analytics solution, empowering marketers
with unmatched access to their social data to more clearly define their social strategy and to
optimize their tactics for maximum impact.

Our goal is to put the tools to understand business data in the hands of business users.
We think reporting should be simple, attractive, and accessible for everyone – not just data
scientists. Our software streamlines the process from data to deliverables and eliminates the
countless hours spent on everyday reporting tasks. We do this by putting cloud data sources
at your fingertips, providing a marketplace of best practice reports, and allowing you to
generate beautiful solutions on the web, in Excel, and in PowerPoint with a couple of clicks.

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