I’ve talked a lot about social marketing in the past. I’ve gone over, in rather extensive detail, all the do’s and dont’s of advertising a brand on a social network. Today, I’m going to take a bit of time to talk about what might be one of the most important things to consider when designing a campaign. It isn’t knowing your demographic, nor is it knowing the networks on which you’re advertising, nor is it even knowing what, specifically, you’re going to do for your campaign. These are all elementary facets of campaign design – and we’ve already exhaustively catalogued them, anyway. What we’re going to talk about today is the concept of control. Namely, how much control you plan to give your users.
See, the thing about advertising campaigns on the ‘net is that they allow for user participation on a previously unprecedented level, particularly where social media is concerned. The key to a successful campaign thus lies not simply with making it witty, entertaining, or memorable; it lies with giving your users just the right amount of control over how the campaign plays out. Too much control, and you end up with something like the #mcdstories debacle.
For those of you just tuning in (and those of you who haven’t yet heard the sad, rather pathetic tale), some time ago, McDonalds decided that it wanted to get into the social media game. Unfortunately, their marketing division didn’t quite understand what, exactly, that meant. They simply decided to leave things in the hands of their customers (and everybody else on Twitter). “Share with us your stories about Mcdonalds! Tell us about your experiences with our product!”
Whoever was in charge of that campaign understood neither the demographic they were marketing to, nor the platform on which they were marketing. As a result, their efforts inevitably ended in disaster.
It’s no coincidence that to determine the right amount of control, you must know your users, your product, and the network you’re advertising on rather intimately, nor is it entirely surprising that those who don’t fully understand social media (fast food companies seem to be particularly bad for this) will simply release their campaign into the stratosphere and let consumers run completely wild with it.
Rather than allowing their users complete freedom, some organizations take things in the opposite direction, and give their users no control (and, consequently, almost no interaction) at all. Users will feel they’re simply being sold to, not talked to, and things will, ultimately, fall completely flat. Just look at what happened with Skittles, who decided that, rather than interact with any of their users, they’d simply pay celebrities to act like idiots, and spout the “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan in turn.
Ultimately, the trick lies with finding the perfect happy medium. You want to engage your users, but ensure that they don’t run wild with your campaign. It’s all about finding the right level of control.
Image Credits: [Johnhaydon]