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So you’re working on an awareness and engagement campaign for your organization, and you know that it has to include a strong social media component. You want to reach your audiences where they are, whether that’s scrolling through Instagram, looking for some #MondayMotivation on LinkedIn, or sharing videos on TikTok. How do you ensure that your campaign is strategic, relevant, and successful—and that your budget is put to good use?

We’ve been running social media campaigns for our clients for years. Along the way, we’ve gathered valuable insights and updated and refined our strategies as platforms and tools evolved. Now we want to share some of what we’ve learned. These are Be the Change Group’s 5 best practices for turning a “just OK” social media campaign into a campaign that gets results.  

1. Keep your strategic goals in sight 

In most cases, a social media campaign is led by a larger communications and marketing strategy. For example, your organization could have a communications goal of raising awareness about a specific health concern such as antibiotic misuse. Social media may be just one of many tactics you’ll use to accomplish this goal. When you start running a social media campaign, you must tie your desired outcomes and goals from the campaign closely to your communication goals. 

The goals you set for your social campaign should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals at the start is key to determining if your campaign was a success when it wraps up. 

If your communication goal was to raise awareness about antibiotic misuse, your SMART goal could be to increase traffic to your website by 20% by the end of the campaign period. Here’s a breakdown of why this is a SMART goal:

  • Specific: You’re setting  a target for website traffic growth and attaching a specific number to it. This will give your campaign clear direction and focus. It will also help you communicate your results and progress to stakeholders.
  • Measurable: You’re using a quantifiable metric and you know that you can use platforms such as Google Analytics to measure your results.
  • Achievable: You’re setting this target based on campaigns you’ve run before or trends that you’ve noticed in website traffic prior to starting this campaign.
  • Relevant: By making it your goal to increase website traffic through the campaign, you are increasing the online visibility of the topic, making this goal relevant to your overall communication goal of raising awareness. 
  • Time-bound: You have a clear deadline. You know that you’ll be measuring the website traffic at the end of the campaign.

2. Determine your KPIs

SMART goals help you determine the outcome you want to achieve with your campaign while key performance indicators or KPIs are metrics that you measure to track your progress towards that goal. 

In a social media marketing campaign, you’ll come across many different metrics. Your ad reports will tell you how many impressions your ad received, how many clicks, the number of comments… and the list goes on. You’ll need a way to cut out the unnecessary data points. Social media KPIs will help you avoid getting lost in the data.

Let’s refer back to the previous SMART goal example for your social media campaign. Your goal is to increase traffic to your website by 20% at the end of the campaign period. The key performance indicators you would measure should be directly related to that goal. They can include:

  • The number of visitors who came to the website through social media 
  • The total number of link clicks your social campaign received
  • The overall link click-through rate (the number of times your links were clicked compared to the number of times your ads were viewed)

When it’s time to evaluate the results of your campaign, these are the metrics that you’ll review to determine how well your campaign performed.

3. Don’t launch it and leave it 

It’s important to monitor your social media campaign throughout its run. While it might be tempting to just launch it and leave it, you could run into issues if you’re not keeping an eye on it. For example, your ad might unexpectedly stop running, or you might get to the end of your campaign only to find that you didn’t get the results that you wanted. If only you’d checked on your campaign! Remember, there’s always an opportunity to adjust it as long as it’s still running. Make sure to monitor your campaign closely to mitigate any issues and look for opportunities to improve it.

A successful social media campaign will invite engagement from the public, so don’t forget to pay attention to the comments. Ignoring or missing opportunities to engage with the people commenting could harm your brand’s credibility. Set clearly defined rules for responding to comments (and when NOT to respond). Stay proactive and seize chances to foster dialogue and build a strong brand reputation. 

4. Choose the right platform for your audience

The social media platform you choose can have a significant impact on the results of your campaign. To choose the right platform, start by identifying the basic characteristics of your target audience. How old are they? Where do they live, and what are their interests? With this information in hand, you can make an informed choice. 

For example, if you want to run a public health campaign targeting adults aged 25-45, the best place to reach this audience may be Facebook or Instagram. According to a 2022 report on Statista, almost a quarter of Canadian Facebook users are 25–34 years old, and 18.7% of users are 35–44 years old. The statistics for Facebook and Instagram users in the United States are similar.

Know who your audience is and dive deeper into the demographics of each platform before you decide which one to launch your campaign from. 

5. Tailor your campaign to the platform(s) you choose

Each social media platform gives its users different ways to interact with others online, with some having a focus on specific elements over others. A great example of this is Instagram. It’s all about visual impact—whether in photos, Reels, or Stories—so make sure to use eye-catching visuals when creating posts for this platform.

If you wanted to launch your campaign on Twitter, now known as X, having strong visuals may not be as critical as having captivating and concise copy. That’s because X is a primarily text-based platform, and users interact with each other through quick updates and replies. When you launch ads on X, make sure that your lead copy is strong and compelling.

Whichever platform you choose, make the most out of the interactive features available and capitalize on each platform’s strengths.

Keep these practices handy

Social media is complex. There are always new trends, new features, and platform updates to keep up with. Not to mention the branding overhauls we’ve seen in the last few years, with the Facebook Company becoming Meta and Twitter rebranding as X (for the time being). It can be confusing to navigate. 

With these 5 best practices in your back pocket, you can create a strong social media campaign that will bring results, regardless of all of the changes coming your way. Keep them in mind when you plan your next campaign. You can always bookmark this page as a reference and come back to it when you need to. 

Social media in the bigger picture

Social media is only one of many channels that you may use to achieve your campaign goals. Discover how we used social media, together with other communications and marketing channels, to drive results for our clients. Browse through our case studies:

Championing antimicrobial stewardship – See how we drove an over 50% increase in website traffic for the Centre for Disease Control’s Community Antimicrobial Stewardship program.

Raising the profile of Canada’s environmental public health professionals – Explore how strategic communications enhanced our campaign tactics and social media strategy, effectively expanding our client’s brand reach and engagement.

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