Five tips for a great digital campaign

Digital campaigns are interesting because they’re so instantly measurable – and yet so unmeasurable. Moreso when you enter the social space. You can drown in data, but how much of it is actually meaningful? Sure you can get 10,000 people ‘talking about’ you on Facebook – but what does that mean, and does it even matter?

The following are five topline tips to keep in mind when planning a digital campaign.

1. Know your end goal and work backwards
Look at where you want the campaign to go, then add milestones from the end back to the start. You want users to be positively contributing to your website? It’s not as simple as displaying a call to action and then sitting back and waiting for the compliments to roll in.

2. Research your target audience
Learn about your audience. Which digital platforms do they prefer and why? What are they using those platforms for?

If your Facey page is getting a lot of viral action, but it’s happening amongst 50-year-olds in Texas, and you’re a children’s dentist in New Zealand, it’s not really doing the trick. You will focus on the wrong things if you’re looking at the wrong metric.

3. Keep it flexible
You can plan, plan, plan as much as you like, but digital media is about context. Social media even more. If everyone is talking about a tragic event, and you bulldoze your brand in there, you’re going to cause some damage.

This is also a key when researching campaigns from outside your culture. You can’t roll out a plan from overseas and expect the same results in the local market.

Always have a plan B. And C. And D. If something doesn’t work with your audience, don’t force it. Change tact.

4. Think about the environment
With digital marketing, you can buy great reach for very small cost. The temptation is to stick your ad in every available cheap space, but you need to think about it in terms of partnerships. Just as a TVC can add weight and legitimacy to your campaign, so can digital ads in various spaces.

Also if you’re putting video advertising into a space people are likely to be accessing via mobile or while at work – tread with caution. No one wants to use their expensive 4G data on your ad, trust me. And if they’re sneaking around when they should be at work, having your ad blaring at them is probably not what they were hoping for either. But later on, at home and on wifi, you can go for your life.

5. Help your fans become advocates
Advertising is like a baby. You think yours is the best, the cutest, the smartest. It’s probably not. You need to give your fans a better reason than that to share it, or to get involved. And you need to keep it simple!

An easy way to help pave the path is to demonstrate the behaviour or action you want fans to take by showing someone else doing it – better still if that someone can be a community leader, celebrity, or aspirational person from the demographic.

All of this, though, comes down to one basic principle: Know your audience. Take your marketing eyeballs out and really think like a person in the demographic you’re trying to reach. Don’t bullshit about the state of the market, your ad, or get caught up in the Next Big Shiny thing. Audience first and center.

One simple diagram for getting your brand’s social content right

So you have a branded social media account, and you’re following the first rule of social: Don’t be a dick. Good, but now what?

There’s lots of advice floating around about what content works well on which platforms – making sure your Facebook status is “likeable”, joining in on a Twitter conversation, hashtagging your Instagrams up the ying – but for me, it boils down to this wee venn diagram:


The red circle is about finding out what your audience likes – seems straightforward, but are you sure you know what they like, and not what you think they like? What is it about your audience that is unique?

The blue circle is about being on brand. It’s about promotions and marketing. It’s about the look and feel of updates. It’s about getting the core message of your company across.

The yellow circle is about what works best online. What topics are going off at the moment? Where is the conversation – what is it about? What are today’s memes?

A lot of companies stay in one content type. They may even cross over with another circle, but spend a lot of time delivering one sort of update, to the detriment of the community or their brand. Your brand should never just live in one of those circles. If your marketing push doesn’t exist for the community, it’s not right for social. If your viral content is totally off brand, you’re wasting your time.

Doing updates from sections 1, 2, or 3 is a slightly better option.

Living in section 1 means the content they’re using is engaging, and their fans like it, but it doesn’t reflect the brand. Generic status updates like this are fine, but often your brand can get lost, or there may even be a conflict between the values of your brand, and the content you’re posting.

Section 2 is where you’ve found the niche in terms of what works for your brand, and your audience, but the content isn’t necessarily viral. This is a good place to be in terms of brand hygiene, but not so much in terms of outreach, and fan endorsement.

If your updates are in section 3, you’re producing on-brand content that ticks the box in terms of being viral or engaging in nature, but that doesn’t resonate with your fans. It could be that you’re using the meme too late (remember all those brands that put out Harlem Shake videos the week after everyone declared it dead? Yeah, that.)

The golden space is section 4. You’ve found content that fits with your brand, your audience loves it, and it’s positioned well to go off. And it does! Well done, you. Hope your boss recognises how hard it is to find that sweet spot!

So… How did that happen?

  • You know your brand – it has a clear voice and take on the world, and you’ve stamped it onto your update.
  • You’ve identified what it is about your brand that your fans love and delivered it to them.
  • You’ve reflected the sentiment of your community in a timely manner, or rarked them up in a good way.
  • The community can take ownership – you just got the ball rolling!

Yes, it’s simplistic, but it works.

Best drink driving ad… ever?


I’m really enjoying this ad, newly released by the New Zealand Transport Authority. It’s a departure from their usual shock value ads – and other attempts into this territory have fallen flat (Google “mantrol” and “manis”) – but they seem to have struck it right with this one.

“Bro, Monique says you’re dumb”

“Puzzle time!”

“You know I can’t grab your ghost chips”

“I’ve been internalising a really complicated situation in my head”

Music is by Franklin Road Studios, especially for the ad. The main actor is Darcey-Ray Flavell (who you may recognise him from Boy). The agencies are Sweet Shop and Clemenger BBDO – you bloody legends.

UPDATE: There’s now a Ghost Chips song – it’s by The Cuzzies and here’s the official video:

Before you ask where you’ve seen that guy before, it’s Jermaine Leefe, who used to be a VJ on C4.