Monday, October 25, 2010

A Call To Action!

So you have a social media campaign.  You're online every day, updating your Facebook posts, Tweeting regularly, blogging every other day.  You're doing everything you should be, but for some reason, your network isn't growing, hits to your website or blog remain low, your business isn't picking up like you think it should.

On the other side of the coin, you've been pitching stories to your local media outlets, you haven't been getting much attention from the newsrooms, and when you do, the response hasn't been nearly as big as you'd hoped it would be.

And now you're asking yourself, "What am I doing wrong?"  There might be a few culprits, but chances are, your biggest mistake could be something so simple, you'll kick yourself when you find out what the answer is.

Different Kinds of Campaigns:

Before we go forward, let's take a moment to go over a couple of things.  First, take a look at your message.  Is it clear?  Is it concise?  Is it memorable?  Second, and this is important, ask yourself what kind of goals are you communicating to your readers, viewers, friends and followers?

There are really two kinds of  social media and PR campaigns:

1.  An Awareness Campaign
2.  A Call To Action Campaign

If you own a small business or non-profit, one of the most important decision you'll make as you create and plan your efforts is to decide what kind of campaign you want to run.  Do you want to simply raise awareness of your organization or of a your cause?  Or do you want to motivate potential customers or donors to frequent your business or donate to your charity?

Depending on what your goals are, you'll end up running completely different types of campaigns.  If you want to motivate people, then running an awareness campaign is going to net you very disappointing results.  Let's take a look at how the two efforts differ.

Raising Awareness:

If you're simply running an awareness campaign, then your work is relatively simple.  Like a call to action effort, one of the first things you want to do with an awareness campaign is to get your platforms up and begin linking to as many groups, friends and followers as possible.  By doing this, you immediately have the ability to expose your organization to hundreds, thousands, potentially tens of thousands of new sets of eyes.

Once you've done this, your biggest goal is to continually grow your network as much as possible.  In order to do this, you have to provide content that is both interesting and shareable.  Your links, your posts, your photos and videos must be appealing to the audience you're trying to reach.  If they are, your links will be shared and, hopefully, your efforts will begin to draw attention from others that have received a shared link from one of your followers.

If you're trying to raise awareness, much of your content will contain information that is crucial to your efforts.  We'll get into some of the best ways to run an awareness campaign in our next post, but if all you want to do is raise awareness of your organization or cause, then most of your work will deal with constantly posting information that is both entertaining and informative.  Kind of like news.  You want sets of eyes to see your material and log into your platforms.  In order to do this you have to focus on the content.  Do this, and your awareness effort will have a great chance to succeed.

This is why non-profits do so well in the social media realm.  If your major goal is to simply get folks to see you, to become aware of a cause, then all you really need to do is put something online and then work to distribute your content to as many sets of eyes as possible.  You're trying to educate.  Your biggest hurdle is getting it in front of folks and then making the content as interesting as possible so they take the time to read what you posted.  If you can get others involved in your cause you can build your network, and your non-profit awareness campaign will take off.  But what if you need to actually get others to DO something other than just read your material?  Then what you need is something a little extra.  

Motivate, Motivate, Motivate:

But let's assume for a moment that you don't just want to let people know that you exist, or tell folks about a particular cause you're interested, but you really, truly want or NEED to motivate the public to begin buying your wares, using your service or donating to your cause.  What kind of campaign do you need to run then?  Simply put, you need a "Call To Action" campaign.  And while there are some similarities to an awareness campaign, there is one primary difference; and that difference is right in the name.

A "call to action" campaign implies exactly what it say, you give people a REASON for actually getting out of their house and down to your doorstep.  But in order to do this, you have to offer more than cute phrases, interesting information, funny videos or catchy slogans.

Whether you're involved in a social media campaign or a PR effort, you have to make people want to participate in your venture, whether it's a small business or a non-profit.  One of the most common questions I get is "how do I motivate people online?"  Surprisingly, there's a pretty common answer.

If you own a small business, think about how you normally motivate customers and potential customers to frequent your business.  You run specials, you offer sales, you organize contests.  No matter how much technology changes how we do business, the fact is, people want to feel like they're getting a bargain.  This has been true since folks began trading beads for food millennia ago, and it holds true today.

Why change what works?  The biggest difference in social media and PR isn't what you're offering, it's the method of communication that has changed.  Before mass media, you would depend on word of mouth.  As times changed, businesses began using newspapers and billboards and eventually moved to radio and TV ads.

As you know, advertising can be expensive, and often small businesses and non-profits can't afford to buy quality advertising to raise awareness or motivate the public.  This is why social media and PR has been such a boon for small businesses and non-profits.  It allows you to spread the word, raise awareness and motivate without having to spend thousands of dollars on advertising.

But even though the venue might have changed, the basic tactics of motivating the public remains, essentially, the same.

Give 'Em A Reason:

It doesn't matter if it's a Faceook post or a TV interview, if you're running a call to action campaign, one of your primary messages needs to be that by going to your store, they're getting something special.  Here are a few tips to appeal to potential customers or donors:
1.  Offer a bargain - This could be a sale, a two-for-one deal, a discount offer.  Something that will make them feel like they are getting a deal they can't find anywhere else.

2.  Make them feel special - One of the most effective techniques to motivating others is to make them feel like they are getting something totally unique to your business, something they can't find at other stores.

3.  Make it time sensitive - Let's face it, if you know you can go to Wall-Mart at any time to buy that cheap video game, then you're less likely to get up off your couch to run down and get that game.  But if that game is only for sale for three days, then you know you HAVE to run down and buy it while it's on sale.  Consumers need to know that if they wait too long, they'll miss out on a great deal.  Only then will they be motivated enough to actually beat down your door.

4.  Be transparent - This is primarily for non-profits.  When folks donate to a cause, they want to know exactly what their money is going for.  Is most of it being eaten up by adminstrative costs?  By telling folks what their money goes to, the public will feel better about donating.

5.  Tell a story - Again, this is primarily for non-profits.  Tell a story that pertains to the cause the pulls on the heartstrings and really clarifies the need of those involved with the cause.  Those late night commercials featuring suffering African children is a great example.  There is a sense of urgency that kids are dying while you wait, and it lets you know exactly what your money is going to do to help.
Not A Commercial:

Oddly, one of the things that really irritates a lot of folks is being sold online.  In other words, you don't want your Facebook, Twitter or Blog postings to be simple advertisements.  You still want to post interesting and informative content.  But at the same time, you want to let them know that you're having a sale and that the sale is for a limited time only.

How to do this without turning people off?  It can be tricky, for sure. But without a call to action, your posts will simply become informative and, essentially, an extension of an awareness campaign. 

Here are some examples of some great call to action posts as part of a social media campaign:
"Wouldn't your wife love a night of passion?  Why wait until Valentines Day to give her flowers.  Say 'I love you' just because.  Gerry's Flowers is offering half off on all rose bouquets and arrangements this weekend only!"

"Protect your family this winter.  Make sure your car is ready for that first snowfall.  All month long Frank's Auto is offering $30 winterizing for you car..."
Do you see a pattern?  You're giving people a reason to get down to your business.  And it's not just because of the sale or special, you're appealing to something more personal, something that impacts their daily lives.  Simply posting something on Facebook that says, "Half off all bouquets" won't be as effective as letting them know WHY they need to buy that half-off bouquet.

Just like an awareness campaign, you still need to grow your network and raise awareness of your organization.  But in order to motivate your friends or followers, you'll need that extra call to action aspect that will actually get feet in the door.

The PR side of a call to action campaign is a little trickier, primarily because newsrooms don't want to be seen as advertisers for a particular business.  Non-profits have more success in this arena since generally your call to action is getting folks to donate, attend an event or become involved in a cause.  You're not selling anything, so your call to action during an interview can be much more effective, yet you still need to create urgency, tell a story and let folks know that their money is going to be impactful for a good cause.

In the end, if your efforts aren't as successful as you'd hoped they'd be, chances are you're not running the right kind of campaign for the goals you have set.  Go back and take a look at the kinds of posts your putting up on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog.

If you don't have a call to action, you're not motivating.  If you're not motivating, you're not going to grow your business or network.  And that is always going to be frustrating and disappointing to any small business or non-profit.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Chris, super post! This article does a great job covering both for profit and nonprofit campaigns. I will reference this over and over.

    Joe Mascia