With the explosion of social media, companies have been scrambling to get into the game, oftentimes without strategic thought, planning, and preparation. Not only is this a risky move but it is also not an efficient use of valuable time and resources. Unfortunately, even large scale corporations who are no stranger to social media initiatives can also get caught in the web of failure. The Social Axis blog has a great recap of some notable trailblazing blunders of 2012.
The 2012 London Summer Olympics is currently at the centre of explosive social media activity. This infographic by ExactTarget offers a snapshot of all the action. Instead of simply being a passive TV audience, everyone can now become a part of the Olympic experience. As a result, many companies have been trying to capitalize on this phenomenon by running Olympics-focused social media campaigns. Case in point: Visa’s Go World project, where the public can support Team Visa athletes via the credit card giant’s various social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Specific activities on each of these mediums translate into “cheers” for the athletes. According to The Street, the campaign has already rustled up 28 million cheers. In terms of numbers, this campaign certainly is a shining star in the sea of social media campaigns. Although this is increasing Visa’s public exposure, only Visa itself, however, will be able to determine whether this campaign has encouraged long-term engagement with its audience and whether the company will reap long-term benefits from this expensive venture.
Regardless, other companies will no doubt look to this campaign for learning points. If a company were to plan a campaign of a similar sort (but of a smaller magnitude), spending some time on testing the waters is one way to safeguard against crashing and burning. Using the Go World campaign as an example, Visa could have kicked things off with a “soft opening” for each of its various campaign components. For instance, the company could have invited a group of folks to be the first to test drive the Olympic cheering app on its Facebook account as well as invite them to be the first to view the company’s Olympic videos on the Visa YouTube channel. To generate a sample audience, Visa could have randomly sampled from its Facebook and YouTube followers and distributed invitations to these people. So as to increase participation rates, the company could have offered Visa gift cards in small denominations as a reward to all participants. The reason why I did not include Twitter in this example is because it would be incredibly difficult to try an exclusive test run. The nature of Twitter is that information is shared at an extremely rapid pace and this could hamper the test-and-adapt process.
I want to emphasize, however, that testing is not a one-time venture; rather, it should be an ongoing activity throughout the entire marketing campaign. Social media is ever changing and things could go from success to pear-shaped, all within a short span of time. If you want to benefit from your social media campaign, you should view your campaign as being one big test so that you will be better prepared to adapt to sudden changes.
After all, survival of the fittest is the name of the game in the world of marketing.