5 things to consider before putting together a social media campaign

When it comes to creating a successful social media campaign, there are some important dos and don'ts to keep in mind. The Call of Duty twitter campaign that took place in Singapore is a prime example of an idea that didn't quite work out the way they expected it to. Faking reports of a terrorist attack was distasteful and quite disturbing.

Here are five things to consider before putting together a social media campaign, to ensure it’s successful and achieves the results you want.

1. Create content that is audience appropriate

Every successful campaign begins with understanding your target audience: their demographics, socioeconomic profile, tastes and preferences. Then, focus on creating content that caters to that profile, using the right tone and language. Remember that social media is a platform for broadcasting your company's brand and values. The key is, be sure that every post or tweet is appropriate to your target audience and is working to build the right image.

2. Make sure images aren't offensive

Nothing says ‘social media fail’ faster than an offensive image. Take, for example, the infamous US Airways tweet featuring a pornographic image in response to a disgruntled customer. Although the image was said to be posted by accident, it remained online for an hour – long enough for it to make the rounds of social media. The irony is that the entire incident could have been prevented with the proper checks in place. The lesson? Develop formal procedures around posting, and never send anything out unless it's been approved.

3. Risk factor – is it worth it?

While there are numerous examples of companies going out on a limb and succeeding brilliantly, there are just as many times where taking a risk has flopped. So, the question is, should you take a risk? The answer is: it depends. While being humorous and provocative has its rightful place in advertising, having fun at the expense of others never does. If a campaign pokes fun at race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual preference or handicap, leave it out.

4. Avoid bad timing

When you post can be just as important as what you post. Thanks to a proliferation of automated social media marketing tools that let you schedule posts in advance, timing can have unintended consequences. As a case in point, when the American NRA (National Rifle Association) sent out a pre-scheduled “Good morning shooters” tweet in 2012, what they didn't know was that a tragic shooting had just taken place in Colorado earlier that day. If you plan on scheduling your posts, it's a good idea to also have some human checks and balances in place.

5. Make sure references are correct

Cyberspace is an unforgiving place, so it's always better to catch your mistakes before you post, not after. This includes double-checking (and double-checking again) to make sure your references are 100 per cent correct. If you can't verify a reference, don't include the material in your campaign.

Creating a great campaign isn't rocket science, but it does require foresight and planning. By carefully considering every aspect of your social media campaign, you'll go a long way in creating the type of successful campaign that produces the results you want.