Understanding social media campaigns - a Makermet seminar at Nottingham Trent University

By Alex Traska on 11th Jun

Nottingham Trent University's courses in art, design, fashion and media production are responsible for introducing fresh creative talent to the city's burgeoning creative industries. A decade on from Makermet director Alex Traska's studies there and following a thoroughly positive experience hosting a placement student earlier this year, we were invited to hold an afternoon seminar looking at what's involved in launching a social media campaign, as reported here by NTU.

20-year old students at University today have little concept of a world with no internet; from birth they've been exposed to the explosion of online communication. As their social skills have developed, so have the platforms that allows us to socialise; email, discussion forums, internet gaming and, over the last ten-years, social media. Although personal communication via digital channels is second nature to those on the Media Creatives course at NTU, considering social networks from the point of view of a brand is not so straightforward. Their experience, interests and behaviour on social media is just one of thousands of potential scenarios that brands have to consider when attempting to engage with their audience.


Students on the course have recently tackled a video project for local charity Groundwork's "Young and Successful" campaign, which has helped those aged 18 - 24 struggling to find employment due to any combination of turbulent childhood experiences, interrupted education, criminal records or homelessness. Short videos produced by the NTU students, featuring Groundwork success stories, aimed to encourage other users of the service to share their experience of finding work with the help of the Groundwork team. The producers of these videos were now being asked to consider how they might tackle manage a social media campaign which puts their content in front of the original target audience.

Although the thorough planning and execution of social media campaigns is very much in the sphere of "Marketing", it was explained to the students that understanding the demands of audiences on social media platforms will help them develop creative ideas suitable for whoever is expected to consume them. The students familiarity with myriad social networks gave us a head start during the fairly open discussion with the group on important concepts including...

  • How has social media changed the internet and how have brands had to react?
  • What is the emerging relationship between social media and SEO?
  • How can you make effective use of #hashtags?
  • Who is your audience and how do they interact with your favourite social networks?


With the group now fully understanding the need to target campaigns carefully, we had devised an activity whereby the students would imagine we were launching a new soft drink called "TOUCANting". We assigned pairs of students to a particular demographic on a social network and asked them to consider a campaign that would likely engage their target audience.

It was encouraging to see some genuine creativity happening so quickly in that room. Ideas for their campaigns were funny; #tingaling for the campaign involving videos famous percussionists playing pop music tunes on TOUCANting drinks cans tuned with different levels of water) and another which cheekily satirised the viral epidemic that was Kim Kardashian's photos (although they did eventually concede that this may fail to impress some audiences that the drink may be aimed at!).


With a campaign in mind, we talked about identifying goals for social media traffic such as further sharing, visits to a website, subscriptions to newsletters or purchasing of products online and how to ensure that these goals were tracked and measured using Google Analytics. Other important factors introduced to the group included...

  • Generating valuable and quality content for landing pages on websites. which matches the target demographic of the campaigns
  • Guaranteeing that their audience are able to access the social and landing page content with their favourite internet devices
  • The benefit of using Google Analytics and other campaign tracking methods to reallocate budget and resources to various campaign mediums

At the end of the session (and tired no doubt from so much learning!) we recapped on what we'd learned to see how they might use it when generating their own campaign strategies for their Groundwork project coursework and pondered the future of social media and networks with a rapidly growing market share. It was encouraging to see that although doubt had been cast over their assumed familiarity of social networks, they were now thinking about them from an objective and professional point of view. We'd definitely be interested to hear some of those strategies!

If you are looking to improve your brand's engagement with social media, or if you'd like to invite us to present talks please email studio@makermet.com

About the author


Alex Traska

Founder / Creative Director

Alex's works with clients as brand consultant and strategist, and with the in-house team and a large network of collaborators as creative director and art director.

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