Over the course of the last three months, Awareness has monitored socially engaged companies in top industries to gauge week-over-week social media performance. We shared a series of report cards that defined who won the weekly social media battle. What we have learned through the last 12 weeks of analysis is that social success isn't random - it's achieved through strategy and creative tactics, smartly executed and optimized continuously for better results. After months of monitoring the Facebook and Twitter likes of leading brands like Oreo, JetBlue, DC Shoes, Nike, Marvel Comics, McDonald's, Pepsi, Skittles, Nintendo and X-box, we noticed a number of best practices emerging. We'll share these hard-won lessons, so you can shape up your social marketing programs going forward.
Social Best Practices:
1. Develop and execute dedicated campaigns to grow following: Your brand will likely get some organic lift through basic management and routine posting, but if you want to turn up the volume of fan growth, you may need something extra. Newsworthy announcements, like when DC Comics revealed a major character was gay, exciting product announcements, or successful fan contests like Monster Energy's intern search, are more likely to drive weekly growth greater than 1 percent.
2. Get your fan-base involved: Whether it's through posting all content with a supporting image, always asking for feedback as Converse and Subway do, or running contests like Wendy's who recently donated money to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption on behalf of users who checked in via a mobile device or tweeted #treatitforward, getting your fans involved will drive brand followers and engagement.
3. Celebrities are hard to beat: If you don't have a celebrity spokesperson, you may want to invest in one to move the needle on fan growth. Over the course of our analysis, celebrities were the most successful social media category. It gained over 2 million fans, which was four times more than the next closest category during the period. Social channels increase celebrities' brand success and following.
4. Stick with a Campaign: For the first three weeks of the Social Scorecard compilation, Pepsi was the only company who had a decrease in the number of Twitter followers. But through their commitment to their #LiveforNow Twitter campaign, they were able to bend the trend. Pepsi.com displays user-generated #LiveforNow tweets on their website, sweetening the deal for users.
While not all brands can afford expensive ad campaigns or costly marketing initiatives, like having a celebrity spokesperson, there are lessons to be learned from each. Consider recruiting a rock star in your industry to strengthen credibility for your brand. Contests don't have to break the bank - align a giveaway with your customer's passions. Consumers expect to be courted and invited to participate; find a way to give them what they want.
Tracking week-over-week performance of some of the most socially connected brands provides a great learning opportunity as you are watching the best brands succeed (or fail) in real time. We invite marketers to take a peek at our scorecards, implement some of these best practices and let us know how performance improves at @awarenessinc.