If advertising is a firework, social media is a bonfire; slow to start, collaborative to build, then gets bigger and brighter..."
The traditional advertising approach to campaigning is like setting off fireworks.
Great fireworks are attention-grabbing beacons on steroids; they make crowds gasp in delight, and draw an audience from many miles around.
Yet while advertising burns very brightly, it dies very quickly. Fireworks are an expensive way to keep a crowd happy all night. Social media isn't like setting off a firework; it's like building a bonfire.
It takes time to start. There's careful initial construction, a gentle blow here and there, and the gradual addition of more wood. Then a couple of other folk gather around. Some of them will even help you build the fire; break some wood up, throw more on, poke around in the embers to make sure the fire doesn't go out. As more people gather, and help the fire grow bigger, the more it will attract yet more people... with attention and dedication, as everyone fuels the bonfire it will only ever burn brighter.
A social bonfire isn't something you can 'campaign'. It doesn't fit snugly in four-week bursts, it doesn't come with a guaranteed reach & frequency, and it's hard to know exactly what it's going to cost from the outset.
If you want to start a social bonfire, or want to help other people make their bonfires bigger, you're going to have to commit some time, effort, ingenuity and resource. Because it's not just about the bonfire; it's about building it together.
"If you are going to engage, you have to have a plan and make sure that resources are available. Because you can't gracefully exit - once you're in, you're in. The days of walking away from a campaign are over - once we engage, we have to commit to it." Denise Morrissey, Online Community Manager, Toyota