Social media marketing changes as fast as the weather from one day to the next. Although new techniques are introduced and fresh ways to reach audiences come to light, some things remain the same from year to year. Certain elements must be included in a successful social media marketing campaign.

In a recent survey of social media usage, researchers discovered about 73 percent of adults in the United States frequent YouTube, 68 percent are on Facebook and around 35 percent use Instagram. Social media use continues to grow, so reaching almost any target audience requires a strong social media campaign. 

Some tactics stand the test of time and help campaigns for nearly any industry stand out from the competition. Here are 11 ways you can embrace the best traits for your next campaign.

1. Set Clear Objectives

To move toward success, you must know the end goal first. Campaigns need a clear set of objectives. Is the purpose of the campaign to drive traffic to your site or increase name recognition for your brand? Once you know the objectives of your social media campaign, figuring out which platforms to utilize and the types of content you'll post becomes easier.


Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana does a number of themed events to spread the word about the hope it brings terminally ill children and their families. In the campaign shown above, it teams up with a local state cattle ranchers association to raise money for the organization. The social media post highlights the event by taking a group shot of the kids involved.

The post is part of a more extensive fundraising campaign where it shares what it's raising money for and teams up with local groups.

2. Show Authenticity

Whether you're raising money for a nonprofit or trying to sell a product, people know if you're genuine or not. A recent study revealed that 90 percent of consumers expect brands to be authentic at all times and show integrity, and will reward companies by recommending them to others.

Run any campaign through the filter of transparency. Are the claims you make true and not exaggerated? If you make a mistake in a campaign, own up to it immediately and make amends. Consumers tend to forgive more readily if you're honest about errors than if you try to hide them.

3. Use Hashtags at Events

Utilize hashtags to create buzz around a live public event. For example, if you have a trade show booth at an industry conference, ask those who stop by to take a photo and share it on social media with a specific hashtag. You should also take video and pictures of your staff going to different conference activities and upload those with the hashtag.

The hashtag should tie into the event but not be confused with official posts about it. Give updates throughout attendance and even plug the event itself, and use its hashtag alongside your own. Piggybacking off the hashtags of others expands your audience reach.

4. Find a Consistent Voice

Your brand has a unique personality. Once you understand your personality, it's essential to create a consistent look and voice for your social media accounts. If a user visits your Facebook page, they should get the same feel as if they visit you on Instagram. The two accounts shouldn't be so different that they are barely recognizable as from the same company.

Create consistency through the types of images used, the colors on your pages and even the emotions behind your posts. Choose a fun, serious or educational tone and stick with that personality for the life of your campaigns.

      
Sweetgreen manages to keep a consistent look across its different social media pages. In the screenshots above, note how the logo, similar colors and matching images complete the look. While the posts are customized to each specific platform, they are similar enough to be recognizable as the brand's personality.

5. Understand Your Audience

The success of every social media marketing campaign boils down to how well you understand what your audience wants. Develop detailed user personas that include the major pain points your customers face. Once you know what pains your customers, you can offer solutions and fill a need.

Getting to know your audience better also means you'll understand their reaction to humor, somber topics, and even special offers. History is a good indicator of how a similar audience might respond to a new campaign.

6. Know Each Platform

Just as important as figuring out your target audience is figuring out the platform you should promote on. Each social media channel has unique features and different primary audiences. Figure out which social media platforms benefit your company most by studying the demographics on each channel and comparing them to your target audience.

Most brands find they do best when reaching out across several platforms. Study the best times to post, read competitors' posts on those platforms and come up with a strategy guaranteed to draw in new followers.

7. Use Popular Culture

Stay up on the latest trends and figure out ways to tap into popular culture in unique ways. You might share a thought about a major event, chime in and help during a disaster or create a list that ties into a trending celebrity. There are so many ways to tap into what's trending.

Find out what's trending by looking in the sidebar on Twitter or checking "trending now" on Facebook. On Instagram, you have to follow the right people to find out what's trending in your industry, so seek influencers in your niche.


Taco Bell tapped into a trendy thing by utilizing the immediacy of Snapchat filters to tie into Cinco de Mayo a couple of years ago. It offered the taco filter for a single day — the fifth of May — and wound up with more than 224 million views in those 24 hours. Social media has a sense of immediacy and limited-time campaigns tie in perfectly.

8. Entertain Your Followers

People follower your brand because they value the content you share. They're looking for quick, ongoing entertainment. Think about the type of information your followers need and provide videos, blog posts and quick tips for your fans.

Think outside the box. Find new ways of presenting information and offer what no one else has before.

9. Keep the Message Simple

Don't try to write a 500-page novel about 15 different aspects of your business. The idea behind social media is quick, short spurts of information users absorb quickly. Keep your message simple and focused.

Videos should remain fairly short, as people have limited time. The word count of posts falls within the guidelines of each platform, but that doesn't mean you have to use every single character available. Look for ways of simplifying the message or change one post to several across a lengthier campaign.

10. Connect With Your Audience

Persuading your audience to take any action requires connecting with them on a personal level. You must know who your audience is and what their needs are, so finding a way of touching them emotionally is the next logical step. Think about their need and the emotion tied to it.

For example, if you sell home security, your target audience is people worried about break-ins. The emotions behind that pain point include fear and love of family and wanting to keep them safe. If you tap into those emotions, you connect with your audience.

Coca-Cola created its #ShareACoke campaign and it took wings. Part of the campaign includes releasing limited-edition bottles of Coke, bottles with familiar names and even customized bottles on its online store. People from all over the globe began taking photos with the bottles and using the hashtag to mention Coca-Cola. In the screenshot above, a mom shares a Valentine's customized bottle of soda. All her friends and followers see the post, making the entire campaign one that reaches across barriers for the company.

11. Collaborate with Others

The best social media campaigns utilize a mix of current followers and influencers in the industry to get the word out about the product. Keep in mind that influencers require you to invest time in developing a relationship with them. However, the effort pays off by putting your name in front of all of their followers if they agree to work with you.

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More Than Social Media

Successful marketing goes far deeper than social media campaigns. While you gain a lot of traction by developing some of the traits mentioned above, you'll also want campaigns tied to real-world promotions. Knowing your customer base is the key to every type of advertising you do, whether on social media or any other kind of marketing.