Social Media Marketing: How to Plan a Social Media Campaign

Social Media Marketing 101

Ever wonder How to Plan A Social Media Campaign? Eric Snelz of Phoenix-based marketing agency Defero discusses Facebook promotions.


EnLIGHTenment Magazine:  Tell us about a campaign that worked especially well.
Eric Snelz: One of our clients is an award-winning builder of energy-efficient single-family homes. With 70,000+ homes built nationwide, Meritage Homes has continually ranked highly in Forbes’ Platinum 400 Best Big Companies of America. Early in 2011, they held a large-scale home giveaway sweepstakes utilizing Facebook and other online media as a key channel for consumers to learn more and enter to win.

This effort was hugely successful, and once the sweepstakes was over, they wanted to make sure their online presence did not fade away with that first digital campaign. To keep Meritage top-of-mind with consumers, we created a Facebook campaign called “Bad Bill Face” which ran from August 2011 to mid-September to promote and boost awareness of their Net Zero Homes. These homes go above and beyond standard energy efficiency, with the capability of producing as much energy as you consume. That means homeowners could possibly pay $0 each month for their utilities.

EM: What is a “Bad Bill Face?”
ES:  First of all, we targeted the Facebook campaign to reach non-Meritage homeowners. Then we asked those consumers to submit photos of themselves reacting to their worst summer utility bill in keeping with the message “If you don’t own a Meritage home, you’re probably feeling the heat with high energy bills.” The top five favorite photos were selected and each winner received a Visa gift card up to $2,000 given to the grand prize winner.

EM: How did Defero form the framework?
ES:  The main objectives for this campaign were to generate awareness of Meritage Homes’ energy-efficient homes in general, plus the Zero homes in particular. We also wanted to increase engagement on the client’s Facebook page.

As for the concept behind the campaign: because a Net Zero home is so unique and serves as one of Meritage Homes’ key competitive advantages, Defero wanted to push this offering to the fullest. The biggest benefit of having a Net Zero home is the lack of (or at the least noticeably lower) energy bills. We wanted to make sure each participant in the contest would acknowledge and think about the contrast of a bad/high energy bill and the possibility of not having a bill at all. With that in mind, we chose to take a pathos appeal by having participants capture the emotional side of the high cost of energy consumption in a light-hearted way.

EM: How did you decide on a target audience?
ES:  Defero targeted non-Meritage consumers, who would qualify as prospective homebuyers. More specifically, we sought out young families living in single-family homes that experience the high utility bills. These families might also be having growing pains, job relocation, or other uprooting stimulators common in the “warmer” states of Arizona and Nevada where summer utility bills are the highest and also where these Net Zero communities are located.

Timing was also important. We launched the campaign in August, one of the hottest months of the year. This is the time when families are undergoing months of growing utility bills and their frustration is at its peak. These emotions helped drive people’s willingness to participate.

EM: How did you go about promoting it?
ES: Defero promoted the campaign on the following platforms: Meritage Homes’ Twitter and Facebook pages, targeted online media, Facebook ads, and on

EM: How did the campaign do?
ES:  This was Meritage Homes’ first small consumer campaign and they were pleased with the success and strategy.  Throughout the August and September months, the Meritage Homes Facebook fan totals increased by more than 16 percent. Additionally, Defero’s strategic media efforts in maximizing a limited budget led to more than 12,000 views to the Bad Bill Face tab alone, more than 450,000 post views, and nearly doubled the active user totals for Meritage Homes during the August and September months.

EM: What is your advice to companies or stores wanting to do something similar?
ES: Generally speaking, you want to cast a wide net when you are talking about home furnishings, décor, lighting etc. Facebook advertising is relatively inexpensive compared to other methods and certainly more trackable. Part of what Defero does in the inception phase of our process is to do a deep dive into the business, the area, and any marketing intelligence they may have regarding their customer base. Then we formulate a plan specific to them. The personalization to the client and their target market is the beauty of emerging media.  Keywords can be very specific and you can be very targeted by a number of parameters with Facebook. Everyone is different, based on the company’s product, so there is no one way to look at it. Some might care about reaching families versus single status, others connect hobbies to lifestyle, some specific zip codes could be based on income stats, and even age or a combination of characteristics would work best.

EM: Can you give an example?
ES: Sure. For a golf course client, we could pinpoint how many people had the word “golf” in their Facebook profile by zip code and then we could research average income, family size, home ownership property value etc. and that would help them determine who they wanted to target for private club membership. You can pick more than one parameter to really dial in to who you are looking to approach. Of course the more parameters there are, the higher the cost is of the campaign.

All of that is part of the stew we prepare when it comes to creating a specific plan for a specific client in a specific vertical. That is the primary benefit of emerging media, but at the same time difficult for more traditional marketers to sometimes appreciate or get their heads around. It isn’t miracle working but it is more efficient and more trackable.

And it’s important to note that if you send potential customers to a poorly done Web site, microsite, or Facebook page, you have probably just wasted your money.

EM: For a sweepstakes on Facebook, how often should a prize be awarded?
ES:  If you want daily participation, it behooves you to reward something each day – it can be a gift card or maybe something relevant to the store or manufacturer (i.e. credit towards a purchase). Gift cards don’t need to be in large denominations to get traction.

EM:  Is there an ideal length of time to run a contest?
EN: We ran the Meritage promotion for five weeks and had small daily prizes. We announced a finalist prize each week. Then, the five finalists were voted on by the Facebook fans to determine who had the best Bad Bill face to win the grand prize. By the way, all of the prizes were gift cards.

The length of time for a contest depends on what you are trying to achieve. For example, we did a promotion for Right Guard (deodorant) that spanned a couple of months, however, the prize was an all-expense-paid trip to the NBA finals, with hotel, car, and a spending allowance included. That’s worth hanging in for if you are a basketball fan. Having said that, unless you have a huge prize or special event (i.e. NBA finals) four to five weeks is about the maximum when it comes to holding people’s attention. While a shorter timeframe risks people missing it, if it’s too long they will get bored unless the prize warrants extended participation.

EM: How about the time of year?
ES:  At Defero, the timing is based on the client and their goals. There is no particular “best time.” They can highlight a holiday, the company’s anniversary date, or create a theme that is clever or funny.

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