Social media campaigns are great for raising awareness and increasing engagement for a particular purpose or cause, yet they require developing an intricate and strategic plan in order to achieve success.

It’s generally hard to predict how to make your social media campaign achieve viral success. However, as I was watching some of my favorite TV shows, The Voice and Law and Order: SVU, I noticed how they expertly crafted social media campaigns that gained huge levels of engagement and following.

The Voice integrates its social media channels into all of its communications plans. Each episode has a designated hashtag, encouraging viewers to tweet and follow along. The celebrity coaches get involved and encourage others to do the same. The host, Carson Daly, even explains how to participate on Twitter, allowing those not advanced in their social media skills to be a part of the phenomenon. At the end of April, The Voice launched a pre-show social media event. All you need to be a part of it? #VoiceTailgate. Fans who take part in this campaign will see exclusive footage and action behind the scenes. In creating this campaign, the show makes it easy to get the fans involved in the conversation online. It also promotes that there is a human behind the brand, driving real-time, genuine interaction.

Law and Order: SVU is one of the oldest running TV shows yet is still on pace with the times as it succeeds week to week on social media. Each week, they create a hashtag for users to follow along with the episode, creating social media buzz before, during, and after the new episode airs. Their twitter handle is constantly engaging with the users tweeting at them or using the designated hashtags, creating a friendly and genuine tone that users want to engage with. Their most recent success however, was when they promoted the “No More Excuses” Campaign, an organization that aims to increase awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault. USA network aired a special 16-hour marathon to promote the campaign as stars from the show appeared in special messages throughout the marathon. Their hashtag went viral as the stars of the show and other celebrities tweeted along to raise awareness.

Both of these shows used tactics to promote their campaigns that other organizations should imitate. Here are my takeaways from their campaigns on how you can create a successful social media campaign:

  1. Explain the campaign and how to participate. On The Voice, the host, Carson Daly’s instructions are detailed and explicit, leaving no user confused about how to get involved. He empowers the audience to take action and alter the results of the show, making Twitter users excited and eager to participate.
  2. Incorporate social media into existing plans. Are you already hosting a fundraising event? Creating a new brochure? Add your social networks to your existing marketing materials. Social media campaigns do not have to live only on social media. They will have a larger impact if it appears they are a part of your overarching communications plan.
  3. Be genuine and engage. Whoever is responsible for managing Law and Order: SVU’s Twitter handle is doing a great job, as they are constantly interacting with and tweeting at fans. They refer to their followers as detectives and want them to have a genuine investment in the show and the characters. Who wouldn’t get excited when a hit TV show mentions you or retweets you to their hundreds of thousands of followers?!
  4. Get everyone involved. Celebrity coaches on The Voice and stars and writers of Law and Order: SVU all take part in their social media campaigns. When users have questions for them or compliment them, they answer and create a personal connection. When creating your social media campaign, get your board involved, your donors, your family and friends- the more people involved, the greater reach you can achieve!