Social media marketing encompasses many different strategies intended to promote a product, service or brand. Among these strategies are campaigns. Social media campaigns are coordinated marketing efforts designed to achieve a business goal using one or many online platforms. They differ from other online marketing strategies in that they typically have an increased focus and only last for a limited time.

Social media campaigns have transitioned from traditional strategies that include brand-made content to campaigns that center around influencers and user-generated posts. Companies who haven’t jumped on this train are falling behind- and quick. Joining forces with established influencers who have a trusted and respected voice among their followers can drastically increase a brand’s reach and engagement.

Running a social media campaign isn’t rocket science but its effectiveness can certainly be amped by making the right moves. Following these proven steps is key to optimizing your campaign and reaching your marketing goals.

1. Find awesome influencers who will give you a ROI

Just like with dating, you’re going to kiss a lot of frogs before finding your influencer prince(ss). While there are a ton to choose from, finding the right fit for you and you brand takes time and research. This includes heavily creeping their social media accounts, confirming they don’t have a bad rep, and making sure they don’t stand for things that go against your brand values.

Making your choice based on their follower count alone is foolish. An influencer can have a million followers but if they’re only getting 10 likes, they’re useless to you. Basically, they’re posers. Their followers are likely bought and their engagement is probably close to nothing.

The goal is to get the best return on your investment. Consider collaborating with several smaller influencers with high engagement rather than with big names that’ll have your business on Ramen noodles for a year. Working with the smaller fish will allow you to create lengthier campaigns with possibly several different influencers at once.

2. Invite audience to create and share

Creating campaigns that invite users to generate their own content is a gold mine. Starbucks is a great example. For 20 years, Starbucks came out with their own red cups for the Christm- holiday season. In 2015, they began a campaign where customers could submit their holiday cup artwork on Instagram with the #RedCupArt hashtag. In just eight days, the campaign generated over 1,200 submissions from around the world. Launching this campaign not only got Starbucks some kick-ass artwork for their seasonal cups, it got thousands of people posting about their brand on their Instagram feeds.

Take it to the next level by not only inviting your audience to co-create with you but thanking them by featuring their content on your brand’s social media.

3. Engage, engage, engage!

Engaging with your audience is one of the easiest ways to gain followers and build relationships. While this is true in general social media marketing, it’s especially important to get the most out of your campaigns. Whether you’re posting on behalf of your brand or collaborating with an influencer, creating a call-to-action will boost the visibility of your content.

This can be done several ways. Most simply, you can include a question in your caption. For example, a travel brand may say “What’s YOUR favourite destination?” or “Tag your favourite travel buddy”.  Alternatively, you can create a hashtag associated to your campaign. This will not only allow you to spread the word, it’ll let you track who’s participating. That’s #MarketingGoals.

4. Timing is everything

When creating a campaign, try and align it with relevant events or occasions that your audience may be interested in. For example, if your brand is fashion-centered, consider creating seasonal campaigns or ones that revolve around events like fashion week. If your brand is geared toward athletes, create campaigns around March Madness or the Super Bowl.

5. Let your followers see what you’re up to

In this crazy digital climate, we’re all online shameless detectives who just want to know what’s up. You call it stalking, I call it browsing. Tomato, tom-ah-to. The point is, your followers want to be let in on the going’s on of your brand.

For this reason, create opportunities for your followers to creep you. Whether you’re doing a photoshoot, collaborating with an influencer or having an awesome staff party, let them in on it. Using features like Instagram Live or Instagram Stories is a great way to include them without inundating them. It gives them the option to delve deeper into your brand without overloading their feeds with too much content.

6. Stay trendy

Social media has really leveled the playing field when it comes to marketing. While you used to need crazy amounts of money to market your brand, you now have access to millions of eyeballs all over the world with the tap of a button. The only downfall to this type of open market is that there are a lot of players and the competition is fierce. For this reason, it’s imperative that you stay trendy. Whether it’s building content around trending topics or using trending hashtags, staying relevant and current will keep your brand fresh and “in the know”.