But it turned out a lot of what brands and their agencies thought was wrong. It's not enough to get eyeballs and likes. To grow sales or increase awareness, brands and their agency partners need to understand their intended audience, and what they really want from the brand. Then they need to engage with them in a two-way conversation that will increase organic reach.
The way humans interact with brands on platforms should be the same way they interact with friends and acquaintances. Therefore, when you define your key performance indicators, don't select "impressions" as Step 1.
First, understand who your audience is and what they want to see and hear from you. Second, understand how your audience behaves on social platforms. You want to reach them in a way that will feel native to them on social. Here are two stellar examples:
Understand what your audience wants
It goes without saying that marketers need to immerse themselves in the same cultural landscape where their brands will engage. How do people there talk to one another, and who's having fun?
The Dollar Shave Club understands the culture of its customers and fans. The brand's big debut was "Our Blades are F****** Great" on YouTube, a bit of funny storytelling in the tone of voice of the target audience. You'd have a hard time finding a man – or woman, for that matter – between the ages of 18 and 35 who isn't familiar with the brand today. It has about 3.6 million fans on its Facebook page.
Those fans aren't just sitting out there – they are engaged. Shaving products and talking about shaving is boring. Dollar Shave Club keeps reinforcing its message with a constant stream of content for its target market, using user-generated unboxing images, and "Mirch Madness," a prank campaign tied to March Madness. It could have been be a razor manufacturer – instead, it's a lifestyle brand.
Understand how your audience behaves
You don't have to be a young company to kill it when it comes to understanding your audience and how they want to interact with your social media. Nike as a brand has been a marketing powerhouse long before social media. Today, it has a deep understanding of how its fans use social. Sure, Nike's exquisite video ads played on television during the Olympics. Much more engaging: The videos are on its Facebook page, where more than 30 million can see them every day – and thousands upon thousands share them.
Nike also understands how its fans use hashtags, and builds its own communities around them. It understands what its customers like about Pinterest – fashion and influencers – and capitalizes on that. It's one reason Nike is the dominant sportswear brand on social.
The success of your social media campaign will rely – as always – on KPIs that align with your business goals. Maybe you're trying to launch a new menu or a single-day promo for your restaurant. Maybe your e-commerce site wants more sales. Maybe your new clothing brand needs to build awareness.
Those numbers will ultimately define the success of your social media marketing. But before you can settle on those goals, you need to understand your audience and how they want to be reached on social. That understanding will boost your KPIs, and build the relationships needed for future success.