There’s a lot that goes into a successful social media campaign, much more than just creating great content or asking some friends for votes. Here’s a look at 10 different factors that will influence your success.
1. The Purpose
In order to run a successful social media campaign you have to have a clear understanding of what your purpose is. Yes, this sounds obvious, but many website owners and bloggers set out to gain huge amounts of traffic with social media without a definitive purpose. Unless you are producing advertising income based on traffic volume, you will not really gain anything just by getting tons of visitors (although it may make you feel good).
For a social media campaign to truly be effective you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish as a result of the traffic. Are you hoping to draw inbound links, gain subscribers, etc. Without specific goals you won’t be able to measure your accomplishments.
2. A Multi-Part Plan
Once you have a purpose for your campaign you need to have a plan to go about accomplishing your purpose. If you’re hoping to draw inbound links, part of the plan will involve developing an idea of something that others will want to link to. Another part of the plan will involve how you will go about getting your content “popular” with social media.
In many cases your strategy may involve more than one phase. Simply getting a page or a blog post to the front page of Digg isn’t necessarily a strategy. Maybe your plan involves using multiple blog posts at different times to follow up on each other or to test different social media websites. Whatever the case, your plan needs to lead you to achieving your goals.
3. Studying of Targeted Networks
Each social media site has its own users with different preferences. An article may do very well on one social media site and not on another. An effective campaign will involve studying the sites that you want to use to see what types of content do well. Obviously, you can then use this knowledge to your advantage by creating something that users are likely to appreciate.
If you are already very familiar with the social media sites that you want to use, this step may not be necessary. However, don’t limit yourself to social media sites that you have used in the past. Keep an open mind towards smaller sites or newer ones that you haven’t tried yet. Their audiences may just be a better fit for what you want to accomplish.
4. Leveraging of Existing Strengths
Do you already have a significant number of readers? If so, take advantage of them by encouraging them to vote for your submissions. You can do this by placing a voting button on your pages or by directly asking some of them to vote for you.
Do you have strong contacts with other bloggers and social media users? If so, see if they can be of some help to you. You may have a friend who has a strong profile on Digg that would be willing to submit one of your blog posts.
Your social media campaign should tie in with your other activities as a website owner or blogger to allow you to take advantage of your existing strengths.
5. Relevant Content
Of course, success with social media is highly dependant on the content. You may be able to get your submission to the front page based on a strong profile or a lot of connections, but what will ultimately determine your level of success is the content itself.
In order to create the strongest long-term results your content that is created for social media should be as relevant to your site as possible. It’s not that uncommon for people to create something specifically targeting social media users that doesn’t really relate to the primary subjects of the website or blog. In many cases this is done to create inbound links for a website that covers a topic not normally associated with social media. However, you should always make it a priority to find an idea that is as relevant as possible. This way the visitors that you attract through social media will be highly-targeted for your site.
6. Measurable Goals
The first point we looked at was having a purpose. In addition to having a purpose you should also establish some basic goals to help you determine if you’ve achieved your purpose. These goals should be directly related to that purpose. If you want to gain inbound links, your goals should involve a specific number of links that you want to attract, whereas having goal of 1000 diggs (or something similar) is really not an effective goal since the number of diggs do not directly relate to the number of inbound links.
7. Visitors Are Led to Take Action
Unless your purpose is just to gain high traffic volume, you will want your visitors to do something. Maybe you want them to subscribe to your RSS feed . If this is the case, you will need to lead them to take that action. Place your feed subscription link in a prominent place and even remind them to subscribe somewhere else on the page. Make it clear to your visitors what you want them to do.
Ideally you’ll want to have success with social media on a number of occasions. An effective plan will allow you to duplicate the success of one campaign at another time. Many of the websites and blogs you see on the front page of Digg and Del.icio.us are there over and over again. They know what it takes to get there and they have a plan that allows them to duplicate their success.
9. With Each Step, Success Builds On Itself
One thing that you will learn with social media marketing is that it will become easier with time. For example, the more you use specific social media sites, the strong profiles you will develop and the more influence you will have. Over time, you will be more capable of promoting your content because of your improved connections. Plus, as your blog gains readers it will essentially promote itself and you’ll be able to focus more on just creating the content (for more see Social Media Marketing: Success Breeds More Success ).
10. Reliable Hosting
All of the things we’ve looked at here are meaningless if your site goes down the moment it hits the front page of Digg. I’ve been in this situation myself and it has quickly shown me the importance of reliable hosting. If you are planning on marketing your site using social media, don’t be cheap when it comes to hosting or you will be wasting your time.