The Zombie of Public Awareness Campaigns

According to the National Institutes of Health, 20 percent of Americans sleep less than six hours each night.  This can lead to mistakes in the workplaces, costing American businesses billions of dollars each year.

That’s why the Better Sleep Council (BSC), a trade association representing the mattress industry, declared May as national “Stop Zombieitis!” awareness month.

The BSC sought to use social networks to identify and educate those who complain of the symptoms of “zombieitis” – feeling like death, exhaustion, irritability, and a slow gait.

“Linking sleep deprivation to zombies is a clever idea, especially for a social media campaign,” said Sparklight President Joseph LaMountain.  “Millions are sleep deprived and zombies are a popular online meme, so this was a great opportunity for BSC to reach a wide audience with its messages.”

But that hasn’t really happened.  The campaign website was not intuitive and took several visits to understand.  Their three YouTube videos were seen fewer than 700 times while the “Stop Zombieitis” Facebook group counted fewer than 600 friends and hardly any engagement with members.

“What the BSC discovered is that it takes more than just a clever idea for an awareness campaign to work,” LaMountain said.  “Putting a couple videos online, creating a Facebook page, and hoping that your video goes viral is not the best strategy.”

As representatives of the mattress industry, the BSC could have aggressively reached consumers through retail outlets, manufacturers lists of customers and delivery trucks.  They could have used targeted online advertising (Facebook and Google AdWords) and reached out to niche “horror” blogs to gain traction.

“Social media is a great tool for reaching people,” LaMountain said, “but it’s not enough to simply post your content online and wait for the masses to arrive.  It has to be part of a comprehensive marketing and communications plan if it’s going to work.”

5 Fast Ways to Make Facebook Work for You

If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of time on Facebook and accomplish very little.  You begin with the best of intentions, and before you know it you’re on your cousin’s page, clicking through to her new boyfriend’s profile, and reading about their  weekend activities.

Stop. If you’re on the clock, limit your FB time to strategically marketing yourself and your work.  Meandering aimlessly is a waste of valuable time.  Instead, by focusing on the five things below, you will be doing something good for yourself, your company and your FB friends.

1. Post Something Helpful – I like to post on education since that’s related to my client work and the school board.  But I also post things that are relevant for my friends. For example, I recently posted about a new documentary film for which I am planning a group viewing.  Once it’s organized, I will add it to my FB “Events” tab.

2. Ask for Input and Feedback – I was monitoring blogs for a client and asked my FB friends “What are the best economic blogs?” I received at least ten really good responses and the client was impressed with the list I developed. So not only did I get the information I needed, I was able to tell people what I am working on.

3. Be Interesting – Share what you’re doing each day, and with whom you are talking.  For example, “Analyzing social media for the Epilepsy Foundation and meeting with @Joseph LaMountain.”  Tagging your FB friends in your status update (with an @), places your post on their wall, doubling your exposure by sharing it with their friends.  Now twice as many people know what you do.

4.  It’s Someone’s Birthday – Check your birthdays list every day and give everyone a HBTY on their wall. This is just a great way to make their day and is quick and easy and keeps you top of mind.

5. Reply to Your Friends Posts – What are your FB friends talking about or commenting on?  If it’s related to your line of work, or even if it’s not, add your two cents to the mix.  Again, this is super fast, keeps you top of mind, exposes you to other people, and lets them know what you’re interested in and what you do.

Lately I’ve been reading two good books about Facebook and social media.  One is The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani and the other is Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign by Justin R. Levy. Both of these are excellent and I cannot recommend them highly enough if Facebook is part of your marketing and communications plan.

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