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I suspect no one will disagree with me when I say social media is a powerful tool for any brand or business. It is an increasingly popular medium that gives users the ability to reach out to millions with their self-published work at the click of a mouse.

Social media provides brands with a stage to showcase their personality, drive repeat business and attract new customers – it’s also a cost effective option, yet not free. Social media still takes time, which we all know means money, however it is becoming an essential medium which businesses, in my opinion, should be taking advantage of.

Whether it’s a website, blog or a social platform such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, they can all add value to a communications campaign or year-round strategy. Using these platforms to spread a message to consumers about your brand, new products and promotions is as important as ‘word of mouth’; I dare say it is the 21st Century version.

Why is a social media campaign so important?

Social media has changed the way we converse and share information, it gives users the ability to spread the word about anything and everything in real time. There is no need to wait around for a ‘water cooler conversation’ the following day anymore. Consumers can share news as and when it happens, whist backing it up with evidence in the form of web links and visuals.

A social media campaign is important for exactly that reason. By running a campaign across social media you are connecting directly with the consumer and giving them the news as you would like it to be told, by doing this you also give them the power to share that news and kick start the conversation.

How does social media fit in with my marketing?

A social media campaign has the potential to be incredibly successful as a standalone operation however, including social media within the theme of an existing campaign that features across TV, print and online will add bulk and allow brands to reach out to an extended audience.

Educating Yorkshire, the popular TV programme which aired on Channel 4 late last year, used Twitter to enhance the publicity of the show before each programme was aired by giving sneak previews of what viewers could expect to see. They also used the site as a platform for conversation during and after the programme ended using a dedicated hashtag.

Using the hashtag #EducatingYorkshire, which was shown on screens before and after each ad break, viewers conversed amongst themselves, with teachers and celebrities, such as Dynamo and Mylene Klass to name a few, each giving their views and keeping the buzz about the programme going, long after the series finished and the newspapers stopped reporting.

What makes a good social media campaign?

Choose a platform that’s right for you. Sometimes using every tool in the box isn’t the right way to go; you need to know your audience, showing you recognise what interests them and engaging directly with them to build brand loyalty. In addition if you use the tools that your audience are engaging with you will be investing your time wisely, otherwise you may as well shout in an empty room!

Twitter is a tool that is very popular with teens and great for showcasing your message and generating quick conversation amongst consumers; Pinterest is better used for sharing images of consumer focused products such as arts, crafts and food, while Facebook can allow you to do both.

 It’s important to remember just because a site ticks all the right boxes for you it doesn’t always mean it ticks the right boxes for your audience.

Tell a good story, if you keep your campaign interesting it will generate more interest and carry on the conversation. People are more likely to share something that entertains them, engages with them and makes them laugh as opposed to a series of general announcements.

If you are expecting an audience to listen to you, you must first show you are listening to them, and keep listening, interaction with the audience is key to ensuring they return to your page or profile. If they reach out to you with a tweet, tweet back.

There are many examples of successful media campaigns floating around the web, some are clever, some are entertaining, others are engaging and there are a few that are downright strange. The one thing they have in common is they have all created conversation and as such, arguably, they have all worked.

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