Creating goals and evaluating the success of our social marketing campaigns tends to elicit the same types of questions:
- What can we expect from this campaign?
- How do these results measure up to other campaigns?
While these types of questions help provide context (in setting expectations and evaluating whether or not a campaign did well), they force us to group and compare campaigns that often have very different objectives.
So, is it really fair to average or compare results from campaigns? In other words, can we really compare a campaign that asks people to participate in a 3-day walk to cure breast cancer with one that encourages adults to adopt a pet?
You would think that if you had enough social advertising campaigns you could eventually calculate some averages (e.g. ad recognition or web visits) that might help you understand how your campaign is doing. But, even with data from the Ad Council’s 53 campaigns, there are still too many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a campaign. Among them, consider the following:
– Target audience type (e.g. General Market, Hispanic, African American, Teens, Kids, etc.)
– Length of campaign
– Whether or not you message/social issue is a hot topic in the news
– Call-to-action type (e.g. self-contained message in an advertisement vs. need to learn more by calling or visiting a website)
– Type and amount of media distributions
– Level of media support (online and traditional)
– Fulfillment type (Hotline vs. Web)
– The public’s familiarity with your organization
– Type and amount of online activities used to promote the campaign
As these factors represent a drop in the bucket of all the things we should consider when establishing goals and evaluating a campaign, my recommendation is to avoid the comparisons. Instead, we need to invest in the time and resources to establish best practices and share them (across industry) so that each of us can shape stronger social advertising campaigns.