Good social media campaigns resemble the sound of a guitar being strummed: it starts strong, radiating out in multiple directions, and then gradually fades as it moves across the social graph from friend to friend.
Because of the interconnectedness and gradual decay in engagement, getting the most from the social graph means regularly "strumming" it so that various types of engagement are continually working themselves through the target audience. This way a brand's entire base is continually engaged at different levels. (Try that with traditional PR or advertising.)
According to Adam Sarner of Gartner, while 75 percent of the Fortune 1000 have undertaken some kind of online social-networking initiative, fully half of those campaigns are failures. Despite phenomenal growth of social media platforms such as Facebook and MySpace, the current advertising mindset is failing to harness the potential of social media. The odd successes seem to owe more to luck than planning, as most social media campaigns resemble traditional advertising rather than playing to the "always on" potential of social media.
Brands and agencies thinking that three-month planning windows make them nimble must either adapt or die in a world where even yesterday is of little interest. Social media operates in real-time. Success is more than just a matter of being fast and nimble as most agencies lack the tools, know-how, and understanding to effectively design and deploy successful social media campaigns.
Social media campaigns are more than just the latest way to get the news out. Social media campaigns require that you know who you want to influence, and the emotional hooks best suited for causing engagement with a given target audience. Social media works when you are engaging with other people in ways that they carry on and spread the conversation without you.
What is needed is a clear set of best practices for social media campaigns that allow brands and agencies to effectively combine a growing understanding of how to engage with people via social media by adopting a set of new rules for designing and deploying campaigns.
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