9 ways to guarantee a winning social campaign

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Is social marketing success different from any other business success? When it comes down to it, you have to make more from your social marketing efforts than you spend generating them, correct? SROI can be masked with lots of fancy terms and charts, but social efforts will be axed like any other business effort if it doesn't help the bottom line. What can companies do to insure social marketing success when "success" means, "we made more money from social marketing than we spent on social marketing?"

9 ways to guarantee a winning social campaign

NextStage was commissioned in 2009 to monitor the social efforts of more than 400 companies in the U.S. and Canada for three years. Many of the companies are known brands; some are local and regional businesses. We monitored companies as diverse as Alberto-Culver, Boston Scientific, Gucci America, Pioneer North America, and Walgreens. The goal was to determine if social success could be predicted and to learn what social strategies work.

20-20 hindsight

The study revealed that companies can run successful social campaigns by mixing good business-school savvy with an understanding of anthropology and sociology.

Companies were throwing spaghetti on walls and seeing what stuck regarding social strategies back in 2009. Whenever you have that kind of experimentation in that short a timeframe, patterns will emerge. You learn exactly what you need to do to get spaghetti to stick. And (surprise!) it has little to do with the spaghetti or the wall. You can stop reading now if you're looking for a "step one, step two, step three" solution. There are strategies that win, but not universal methods. But if there are no universal methods, what strategies insure success?

Nine strategies emerged over the three years and more than 400 companies. All top performers had at least one and usually more of these strategies in place as part of their social business plan. These nine strategies -- four are pure business, three are pure anthro-social, and one is mixed -- always led to successful social campaigns, increased social sales, grew brand networks, and so on.

Here they are, rated last to best and with the percentage of top performers that used the strategy.