What makes a Successful Marketing Campaign on Social Networks?

Many brands are considering it, some have done it. Done what? Marketed on social networks (Facebook, Myspace, or private label social networks).

Why? Social Networks are attractive because consumers are connecting with other consumers and the trust tends to be higher. Secondly, there’s a tremendous amount of buzz from the media for this newest form of marketing. Lastly, there’s lots of folks using social networks (about 2/3rds of all North American youth use it daily, and about 1/3rd of NA adults use it as least once a month –data From Forrester Research, Q4, 2007)

[What “Makes or Breaks” a social networking campaign? Is there an attribute(s) that makes social networking marketing campaigns a success?]

Sadly, many brand are going to do it wrong, by wasting resources, or embarrassing their brand with a campaign that doesn’t fit the needs of a community. To help marketers do it right, and to save users from dealing with more bad campaigns, I’m going to do some research on the topic.

I’m a laaaazy (or is it efficient?) analyst, I use social media (what I cover) to help me with my research. Besides, the social collective is far smarter than some big headed analyst.

The following attributes are what I think are often found in successful social networking campaigns, but don’t let me be the judge, I want your input.

Marketing Campaigns on Social Networks share the following attributes:

Meets a business objective: First and foremost, any marketing campaign or activity should match with a business objective, regardless of the tools being used.

Supports Community Goals: Every community is different, and each has unique goals (from supporting products, to each other, or to just be entertained) the campaign focus should therefore meet the needs of the community, before the needs of the marketer. Effective campaigns will first understand the core drivers, interests, and rituals of the community and learn how to meet those desires. (Expanded by Laurel Papworth)

Encourage Member Interaction: The most successful social networking campaigns and efforts involve the audience.

Quickly scale: Social networks are designed for information to quickly move from member to member, so campaigns that lean on these capabilities perform the best. These attributes known as Velocity, Viralness, and Spread are key.

Utilize Media: In some campaigns, the best way to get members to return is to offer them media. Depending on demographics and community needs, this could be audio, videos, or demos

Foster self-expression or communication: Members in social networks like to communicate with each other, or self-express. As a result, campaigns should satisfy these needs with the appropriate tools

Offer a satisfying User Experience: This encompasses the overall experience of the campaign, the content and navigation items should be where expected, the language familiar to the audience, and overall look and feel of the site appeasing.

Provide longer term utility: Successful campaigns have a longer term value, rather than a short term ‘disposble campaign”. These campaigns add value by being a useful application to the members, rather than just quick dose of entertainment.

Enhance Value as Community participants: As more people contribute or interact with the campaign, the value is increased. This can be in the form of content that is created by the community, contests, voting, or games.

Integration with other marketing activities: Successful marketing campaigns aren’t single channel, in fact they utilizie multiple channels and mediums to enhance the overall activity. The same thing applies to marketing campaigns on social networks, those that are promoted from other locations such as (corporate websites, email newsletter, blogs, podcasts) outside fo the social network have a great chance for success.

Maintain agility during the campaign: Social networks are living, breathing organisms made up of real people connecting with each other. Marketing campaigns also should share these attributes and show be flexible to change in-flight, yield to legitimate requests or complaints of the community. Those campaigns that reflect the same dynamic behavior as human interaction have a higher chance to be interacted –and accepted –by the community. (Submitted by Graham)

Company Participation: In some cases, companies that participate in the discussions or conversations will yield to a more successful marketing campaign. Activities can range from recognition, company interaction, or attention to members perhaps from a community manager (Submitted by Whitney McNamara, Esther Lim, Crimson Consulting, Warren Sukernek)

You add your attribute: Please leave a comment below, I welcome and respect your opinion. If you’re from a vendor in this space, feel free to leave your company name or email so I can properly credit you.

If you contribute something that I end up using the report, I’ll cite you in the research report as a source (and you’ll get a copy), so leave your name and company in the comments, besides this is a great way to demonstrate you ability –with real practical knowledge. In a recent report I referenced Shel Israel on my recent report on online communities, who helped me sort out a definition of online communities)

Update Feb 21st: I’ve thoroughly read the many responses in here, wow this who social media/crowd sourcing thing actually works! I’ve credited those that have added new attributes that I didn’t have, or those who have added additional thoughts to my attributes. For those that made it by providing something I didn’t already have, they’ll get a copy of the report (as a thank you) and I appreciate everyone’s dialog into this topic. I find that crowdsourcing is great for finding the initial ideas (or those that have them) but the real work begins as I head into the research phase and take a deep dive into each of these attributes.