With our largest campaign of the year coming to a close, I’m finally getting breathing space to pen down some thoughts. In a startup environment, things move very quickly. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it simply requires us to be more disciplined in recording our reflections and takeaways. This provides us an anchor of sorts, so we can learn from what we’ve done and be better as we progress, as opposed to just running through the motions and stowing valuable information away.
It’s important to have a log book of sorts somewhere – to celebrate successes and learn from mistakes. For me, LinkedIn works best as it helps me timestamp my professional growth according to the companies I’m with. Simultaneously, my first-hand experiences may become useful to someone hoping to be more closely acquainted with what I do or the companies I’m working with. In this case, it’s the back-end of Employer Branding social media campaigns at Shopee.
About the campaign
To give everyone some context, this is what our 9.9 campaign was about. Fundamentally, we wanted to create a stronger social media presence on LinkedIn for employer branding purposes. In the same vein, our objectives were to nurture online participation amongst our existing follower community, gain new followers, broaden public awareness about our company’s youthful environment, and draw in good candidates from around the region. We focused mainly on countries where we have offices planted (Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, China), although the actual scope reached people from farther locations.
Besides common trivia questions, we attempted Spot-The-Difference quizzes and problem-based scenarios involving math/programming solutions (we’re a data and Python-centric company, after all). The former allowed us to showcase welfare events organised by employees for employees, and the latter provided us a peek into the work that our Software Engineering colleagues do (thanks, Kelvin!). The actual campaign was held over a period of 5 work days, with pre-hype and post-hype activities bringing the total up to 10 work days (we’re currently at Day 8).
Within a span of 5 work days, our average comments per post (quizzes only) went from about 5 to an all-time high of 88. Our highest engagement percentage nearly reached 50%, which is far from the 1-18% we typically get. That’s 1660% and 426% (using the median of 1-18%) in percentage increase respectively, pointing to the engagement potential in our growing community just waiting to be uncovered.
A total of 3,500 new followers were added to our account during the campaign season, and that’s excluding weekends (where follower additions have been historically low) and the final 2 days of our 10-day window. That’s 3,500 new faces who have seen and responded to our Employer Branding efforts, and 3,500 more LinkedIn users captivated by our #lifeatShopee.
So… was it a “whoohoo!” or “boohoo”?
Every campaign involves money, and hence, returns per dollar (as well as year-on-year comparisons) are often included as a metric in the measuring of a successful campaign. Logging expenditures for this 9.9 campaign, our biggest purchase was a Go-Pro, followed by Shopee merchandises and vouchers, other products, packaging and delivery costs. We didn’t spend a cent on advertising or buying ads; instead, we relied on relatively low-cost incentives, gamification and organic exposure based on LinkedIn’s algorithm.
Granted, the 12-month historical record of new followers seems slightly fluffy, since it doesn’t give full representation to the qualitative variables between September 2017 and August 2018 (e.g. the changing behaviours of our follower community, my employment as a dedicated social media/content specialist, the consistency of our content influencing our followers, the increased publicity efforts at university career fairs). In fact, it doesn’t doesn’t even cover the real figures of this month when our LinkedIn responses are at their highest, thanks to the campaign.
However, looking at the results above in totality, they do provide a cohesive narrative of the bigger picture. Looking at the whopping increase in engagement rates and the doubling of new followers, I’d say the combination of incentives, gamification and organic exposure worked really well. So personally, I’d consider this a win (although, as with anything, there’s always room for improvement).
My key takeaways
Here, we arrive at the most useful part of this write-up: reminders and lessons learnt, for my future benefit and that of those who’re just exploring social media campaigns as well.
1. Achieve more by working smart
Working hard is a celebrated Asian value – but what about working smart? Attempting to kill several birds with one stone adds dimension to what we’re trying to accomplish; it adds depths to the plans we have to execute anyway, and provides us with a few angles to play with. Look around, and see what ideas you can pull together. Expand your reach internally and collaborate with someone, if you can.
For instance, with just one game-centric campaign, we managed to reach out to the public, reward our employees, interact with our followers, feature our internal events, present a fun branding image, strengthen our cross-country partnerships internally, test what our followers respond to, and most importantly, attract potential candidates.
So dive into the wider picture of what you’re doing – what are you in this company for? What are your responsibilities? What does your company need and want? Maximise results with minimum effort – what can you do to check off two (or three) boxes at once?
2. Write down your purpose and set clear objectives
There’s a lot of hard work that goes into planning a social media campaign. Conceptualising, brainstorming, tweaking, re-writing questions, making idealistic visions feasible, coming up with back-up plans and more. The Chinese idiom, “台上一分钟，台下十年功” (a minute on stage requires 10 years of preparation and practice) becomes exceptionally relatable in this instance, and it’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of your original vision and goals amidst all the back-and-forth and disarray.
Take time to be still, and set clear objectives before the above scenario happens. Why are you doing this project? What do you want out of it? What’re your qualitative and quantitative goals? What’s your vision and direction? How’re you going to turn the ideas in your head into an actual campaign in reality? Don’t skip this part or think it’s a waste of time, because it’ll help you build foundations for the rest of the campaign. It’s also useful for circling back to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, evaluating your pitfalls and identifying repeatable actions.
3. Stagger your campaign
After identifying your objectives, plan your campaign in terms of stages. Create three columns, and write “pre-hype”, “actual campaign” and “post-hype” as headers. Then, come up with plans for each stage – that’ll be your campaign in its entirety.
Prior to staggering my campaign, I wasn’t sure how to launch or conclude a social media initiative. It wasn’t until my Regional Community colleagues brought it up that I realised how to proceed. Doing as they suggested helped me be more organised in my thought processes; it also helped me timeline and prioritise my tasks, allowing me to be more focused whilst working on every stage.
4. Test boundaries by experimenting
Unless you already have several years’ worth of data and qualitative experiences with the exact same market (even then, there’s a low chance of market behaviours being unchanging), you’ll have to rely on experimenting to discover the right mix. It’s a nervous place to be in, experimenting, because you don’t know for certain that what you’re suggesting will work according to your desires. Succeeding means you’re hitting homerun with your stakeholders; failing means loss of man hours and sometimes, money. Problem is, you won’t know what the absolute odds are and where the proverbial wind will take your followers.
This is where courage, curiosity and the willingness to try something new come into play. It’s simple, really – if we don’t try it, we’ll never know. That’s why, for this campaign, my boss and I decided to shake things up a bit. Coordinate a giveaway, try new quiz formats, measure the responses. Based on the results, this approach is working well for us. Internally, it motivates us to come up with fresh ways to excite our community, which spells good news for both the team’s professional growth and our followers’ enjoyment.
5. Remain calm and find alternatives when things don’t go according to plans
My initial concepts were built around multiple collaborations with other teams and individuals within the company. Unfortunately, some of those plans didn’t come to pass. The collaboration I desired the most fell through almost right away. At the worst time possible, too.
Imagine if I hadn’t been flexible and preferred dwelling under a dark cloud to actively seeking solutions – progress might’ve suffered due to my rigidness and pessimism. On the other hand, the ability to say, “It’s okay! I’ll find another way” will help you get to your destination even with the hiccups that pepper the path. We met with several roadblocks before and during the actual campaign. Some had instinctive solutions; others required more attention, which sometimes proved to be difficult since I was on vacation and could only work on the move intermittently. In the end, it came down to the willingness to be flexible, the ability to think quickly and the orientation towards solutions. Not forgetting superb team work (thank you, Alicia, Claire, Juliana, my local teams and my interns) – you just can’t do without it!
Most importantly, remain calm – even when (or especially when) it seems like the sky is falling. “Easier said than done,” you mutter under your breath. Believe me, I get it. But freaking out and losing control of your emotions will only block your mind and make things worse. Just trust that even with Murphy’s Law at work, everything will work out fine in the end if you can just keep a straight mind and focus on the issue at hand.
6. Track results and evaluate your campaign
If there’s one thing social media management has taught me, it’s the importance of tracking numbers and making clear records of them. I’ve never been a numbers person, and never quite understood how to apply them outside of calculating the prices of goods and services. Social media campaigns, and management in general, are forcing me well out of my comfort zone – to go hunting for data, making sense of them, and providing a narrative out of raw figures (although I can’t escape my cerebral need for visual presentations, i.e. graphs).
You can create the best social media campaign in the world – but if you don’t have numbers, you won’t know how effective or ineffective your campaign actually was. It could be the percentage increase in interactions, number of followers gained, likes from a specific market (e.g. location, gender, dispensable income status), or per dollar return on investment. Whatever it is, find a way to track down numbers and tell a (truthful) story out of it. Creative work and result-tracking has to go hand-in-hand.
In other words, if you don’t like numbers, it’s time to like it 😉
Want to be part of our #lifeatshopee? Visit our careers page for opportunities!