Social media campaign structure

Ian Lurie

smcseattle education
I’m on a panel tomorrow night at SMC Seattle. I’ll be talking super-specifics about using social media as a business. So, I’ve been doing a ton of thinking on how social media really works for small-medium businesses. I’ve tried to boil down the steps involved, and ended up with this cycle:

  1. Selection: You figure out where you’re going to go to find your audience. Twitter? Facebook? Reddit?
  2. Creative: First, someone’s gotta write, photograph and otherwise create stuff that’ll attract attention. This can mean a set of blog posts, or something else.
  3. Outreach: Then you use the creative to draw in and grow your audience. The bigger your audience, the more chances of success in the next step, assuming that you’ve attracted a quality audience. If you use an auto-follower to spam 40,000 people, you’ll fail.
  4. Offer: Then you make your pitch to that audience. I don’t mean a literal sales pitch – nothing turns off an audience faster. Instead, reward them for being your audience. Give them an exclusive 10% off coupon if they join your fan page on Facebook. ‘Leak’ special info to them before it goes public. Even saying ‘thanks’ can work. It all depends on your audience.
  5. Observe and respond: When you make that offer, that’s not the end of the cycle. Some folks will jump on the offer. Others will have questions or comments. Respond to them. Even if they’re just saying “You rock!” Tell them ‘thanks’. Whether this is on your blog, on Twitter or somewhere else, always respond.
  6. Measure as best you can, of course, and learn from what you see.
  7. Restart.

That cycle repeats monthly or daily (sometimes hourly) in social media. It’s very fast. And it’s one that can often happen out of order. But the steps remain the same.
The best thing you can do is have a very loose plan in place that allows for workload and workflow. Then you move through these steps and adjust constantly.
What you can’t do is set a six-month plan in stone. Your customers aren’t statues.
So, what steps would you add or subtract from this? Leave comments, as always, below.


Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. Maybe I missed it in the fine print but I tend to find clients are taken aback by the fact that ‘outreach’ far exceeds the work in generating content.
    For instance:-
    – in Twitter setting up standard searches on related keywords or tags and following people contributing on them, or following back people who follow you
    – in say Stumbleupon or Digg favouriting other people
    – in blog outreach commenting on related posts on other sites.

  2. Excellent post Ian. I always love when somebody can take a topic that has been written about so much and narrow it down to 7 bullet points. I’m jealous that you’ll be in Seattle. You’re the second person that I’ve heard of that will be in attendance and you’re actually speaking! Well done. Enjoy your trip.

  3. Thanks, Ian. I would add “Double down on what works”. For businesses new to social media, the process is a little experimental. Therefore as you iterate, its important to replicate what works and deemphasize channels that may not be a fit. Awesome post.

  4. Excellent advice and definitely a way to strategize your social media. I’m glad you added the focus on interaction because it’s the most important thing out there. Instead of making it one-sided, response is half the battle! Good luck at your event 🙂

  5. Another great post Ian,
    There is an enormous amount of talk about social media on throughout the internet today. Much of the information out there can be rather confusing, but you have done a really nice job of explaining the general cycle of social media and how it works, so thanks for doing that.
    I think the observe and respond part of social media is particularly important. You want to build a customer and fan base, so you need to show your human side and the best way to do this is by making short and simple responses.

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