Social media is growing up. Technologies and platforms are changing rapidly. Measurement has moved beyond the vanity metrics of Likes and Followers. And the online environment is noisy, with audiences both smarter and more skeptical than ever. For people or organizations looking to drive an advocacy campaign on social media, new strategies, talent and creative are needed to “break-through” and activate supporters when it matters most. Here are five fundamentals that should play into your social media advocacy campaign and team: 

1. Map Your Digital Ecosystem 

Successful advocacy programs begin with an understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish and how social media can deliver against policy or campaign goals. Social media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Smart strategic planning maps a campaign’s digital ecosystem and how all the pieces interact: the policy debate, relationships between your goals and influential voices, audience needs, and all of your channels - social, website, email and paid media. Developing that map requires a strategic planner who can marry audience research with a broad knowledge of digital platforms to craft cross-channel engagement strategies. 

2. Invest In, and Empower, Creative 

Creative opportunities in social media are exploding. Four years ago photo posts were the exception, and no one had heard of Facebook’s twenty percent rule (which governs the amount of text that can cover a photo used as advertising). Today photo posts are outshined by auto-play videos, carousel ads and motion graphics. Interactive design is no longer a “nice to have,” it is a key pillar of any campaign, and a role that needs a seat at the table beside strategists and editorial planners. 

3. Embrace Paid Media 

The days of organic-only reach are gone, which can sometimes come as a surprise to the communications department when a budget for paid media accompanies the PR budget. Paid media provides for a more targeted and effective campaign than organic posts alone. A paid strategy will help content break through and drive supporters through the ecosystem. But it doesn’t require a massive budget. A smart media plan can leverage great creative and audience intelligence to generate results without breaking the budget. 

4. Utilize Actionable Intelligence, Not Report Cards 

Measurement isn’t about generating a report card. Moving supporters is a deliberate, living, breathing process, and successful campaigns leverage measurement and analytics to generate actionable intelligence that make the process more efficient over time. Invest in staff who understand data and can surface those insights on a rolling basis – whether that’s through sophisticated analytics tools or a bootstrapped solution in Excel. 

5. Hire the right team 

The ideal make-up of a digital campaign team has changed, and assigning social media to a junior staffer alone is no longer an option. Organizations need to rethink their staffing and their structure to make sure the right skill sets – strategic planning, creative development, interactive design, paid media and data analysis – are all working together. Organizations that can execute on that vision will find themselves ahead of their peers, driving the conversation and realizing tangible, winning results.

Michael Connery is a Vice President of Digital Communications with Powell Tate.
Follow him @MikeConnery