Key Ingredients for Cooking Up an Effective Social Media Campaign


To run a successful social media campaign (say, generate over a million page views and a few-hundred-thousand social mentions), all you have to do is take one wish-fulfilling techno-toy ripped from the script of a classic science fiction film, assure folks that it’s real, then add one celebrity athlete and one astronaut. Mix all elements together, splash some video across the Twitterverse, and…Presto! Bon appetit!

While this abbreviated recipe may sound preposterous, friends of Sterling Communications will know that it pretty much encapsulates the successful campaign we launched for the Hendo Hoverboard Kickstarter last October. Our client, Arx Pax, used the Hoverboard Kickstarter as a platform for coming out of stealth mode and introducing their core technology to the masses. We leveraged social media to amplify the launch using a two-phased process: first establishing credibility, then fostering enthusiast engagement. If you aren’t familiar with this campaign, here’s a quick recap of our overall media strategy.

To quickly summarize the results: The Kickstarter video we produced earned 1M+ views in the first 45 days, and Hendo Hoverboard earned 202,000+ social mentions in the first 30 days alone. Our team continued to atomize Arx Pax messaging across social channels, engaging with folks via Hendo Hover accounts, and building a strong community of followers. These initial social media efforts caught the attention of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, whose interest we leveraged to build further social media cachet.

A large spike in interest due to the celebrity visits helped us shepherd Arx Pax’s hover technology to the forefront of mainstream consciousness, achieving meme status when CNET commented on the virality of our client’s campaign in a cartoon satirizing Apple’s iPad Air 2 product launch (the comic strip shows Apple engineers questioning their strategy: “Maybe we should have made it a hoverboard?”)

Credit: Blake Stevenson/CNET

Credit: Blake Stevenson/CNET

We knew a major hurdle for our social campaign was going to be managing the onslaught of interest in real time, with all the mentions and coverage surging in waves in as word spread. We wanted to be able to stay up-to-date on important conversations and to engage influencers while their interest was piqued, without drowning in less pertinent opportunities. We utilized both NUVI and HootSuite to track influencers and target relevant conversations. NUVI’s data visualization timeline easily showed us how to spot the biggest influencers, track the spread of coverage URLs and conversations, and monitor which keywords were trending in our space. We also used HootSuite to schedule our posts and updates so we could simultaneously publish across various social media channels; this enabled us to focus our attention on engagement instead of the mechanics of broadcasting.

Arx Pax - Nuvi

This shows the spread of just one tweet (from YouTube) about our video for the Hendo Hover campaign.

The basic recipe we employed during this chaotic-yet-successful campaign didn’t just include celebrities and magical toys. We also added these four social media fundamentals to the mix:

  1. Strategy. Know who you want to target, the goals you want to achieve, and a have a timeline and system in place to get the job done. If we hadn’t decided in advance on a two-phase campaign (focusing on building credibility first, then spreading the joy), our social media efforts would have been scattershot and our account team undoubtedly overwhelmed with over 200,000 mentions in one month. Thanks to a clear vision and achievable goals, this particular social media advertising campaign seemed more like fun than work.
  1. Fish where the fish are. A lot of companies think that social media advertising consists of simply broadcasting your messages. But think of it this way: If a tweet falls in the forest and no one is there to retweet it, did your social media efforts make a sound? Use social media tools to find the right conversations, and do the keyword research before you begin composing your outreach to figure out which language will resonate and attract the attention of the best influencers for your audience. Social media marketing is set apart from traditional advertising because it’s all about engagement (not broadcasting)!
  1. Content worth sharing. Because engagement is at the core of any valuable social media campaign, it’s important to have content that your audience will want (duh) and will want to share. This may seem like an obvious bit of advice, but think about how many companies continually share only self-promotional, broadcasting messages on their social media accounts. Always put yourself in the shoes of your target audiences — what content would they find stimulating, helpful, interesting, amusing? Whatever comes to mind, create it.
  1. Tools that streamline your process and provide insight. A successful social media campaign is going to involve HUGE numbers and many moving parts: Use the right tools to control the chaos. Take the time to research and test tools that will help you automate as much of the work as possible, or provide you with actionable feedback so you can keep everything moving on track. Among the various tools we use, we love HootSuite for managing and scheduling posts across myriad client accounts, and NUVI for aggregating social media mentions of any keyword or profile we want to monitor, and providing visualizations of real-time sentiment, commentary, and spiking trends on selected topics.

Not every social media campaign will go viral, not even those with similarly amazing ingredients to the one we executed for Arx Pax’s Hendo Hoverboard Kickstarter. But the techniques for making your campaign an effective one remain tried and true. By starting with a solid strategy, fishing where the fish are, creating content that your audience will care about, and using sanity-saving tools, you’ll produce a social media campaign that’s more effective, organic, and delicious for all involved!

Rosie Brown can be reached at You can also follow her on Twitter at @lilmsrosieposie. Interested in learning how a social media campaign could help move the needle for your company? You can reach our team at