In 2019, checking social media is as routine as eating breakfast. Social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube earn internet users’ attention for about 45 minutes per day, according to one study. Of course, all that time spent on social media means that brands increasingly want to use social platforms to promote their content, communities, and products.
Curious who’s doing a stellar job of leveraging social networks to power their marketing and generate buzz (and, yes, even go viral)? Some tickle the funny bone while others tap into meaningful messages about inclusive marketing.
Here’s an overview of 25 brands hitting home runs in 2019 with the best social media campaigns. I’ve organized the examples by channel so you can reference these brilliant campaigns as you plan social media strategies for the year.
It's impressive how a classic children's toy brand has stayed so relevant on Instagram. From partnerships with Stranger Things, Star Wars, and Harry Potter to impeccably produced videos, Lego has found its groove on Instagram as a pop culture consortium. Lego creates content to align with their audience’s favorite interests outside of Lego.
Glossier is a beauty brand who truly sticks to its Instagram bio: “a people-powered beauty ecosystem.” The Glossier Instagram feed features girls, guys, influencers, everyday consumers, and ultimately, is an example of inclusive marketing, which we define as content that truly reflects the diverse communities that your company serves.. The company has also seen social growth through its “Instagrammable” packaging. The way Glossier promotes its products doesn’t feel like marketing – it feels like a fun community you’d love to be part of.
WeWork focuses on user-generated content to highlight WeWork success stories, gorgeous office spaces, and global cities where they operate. The company also takes these posts a step further to highlight personal journeys in its Instagram Stories. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a short video can capture much more.
Taco Bell has long been a social media masterclass. Taco Bell distributes a wide variety of video content, witty captions, and selfie lenses that make individuals the face of the brand. One genius tactic the company has used on Instagram: Leveraging a variety of Instagram Stories to highlight different brand activities that range from free to paid. From wallpapers to their Taco Shop merchandise, brand fans can connect with Taco Bell in the way that currently suits their fandom and budget.
Sit. Roll over. Take a selfie? Pedigree gave Instagram animal lovers the warm fuzzies with its new DentaStix “Pup Booth” campaign. Riffing off of their 2017 “Selfie Stix” for dogs promotion, Pedigree has raised the bar by releasing “Pup Booth,” 3D photo filters for dog faces. This lets dog lovers snap and share fun pictures of their pooches with friends. By using this fun and original approach, they generated social media buzz, both for Pedigree and it’s four-legged fans.
What if you included a picture and a thousand words? BMW’s unconventional approach to Instagram does just that. The German automaker pairs captivating images of its cars with detailed captions to cater to its fan base. The result? An engaged group of gearheads and hundreds, if not thousands, of comments per post.
Serena Williams’ voiceover in the Nike “Dream Crazier” campaign = goosebumps. The tennis legend ticks through a list of endeavors that were once only for men, as a highlight reel shows super-star athletes from Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, to Ibtihaj Muhammad, bronze-medal winner and member of the U.S. fencing team. The video, shared from Serena’s account, earned millions of views and shared a powerful message: “It’s only crazy until you do it.”
WW (formerly Weight Watchers) stepped out of its comfort zone for a recent partnership with social media superstar and musician DJ Khaled. WW decided to reach a younger health-seeking audience with Khaled. The social natural DJ Khaled posted videos from WW facilities to his own account, sharing his weight loss journey.
If you don't want to pay an influencer seven figures to promote your brand, you have other partnership options at your disposal. In 2018, Warby Parker and Arby's partnered for an April Fool’s Day spoof, suggesting they’d be combining to form Warby’s. The video didn't exactly fool customers, but it gave both brands some attention with a new audience.
What happens when a beauty product and a fast-food donut shop join forces? Dove and Dunkin's unique partnership was made for women “running on dry shampoo and coffee.” The brands are giving away a one-year supply of, you guessed it, dry shampoo and coffee. To enter, women must post a picture of their busy morning on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #DoveXDunkin. It’s another great example of an unlikely collaboration to grab the attention of new customers.
In April 2019, H&M announced its #HMLeague, a group of 22 influencers that would be creating and posting H&M-related content for a full year. Some bigger names include Brittany Xavier, Ellen V Lora, and power couple Yummertime. H&M will use these influencers for exclusive events, previews of new collections, and general awareness. The takeaway — long-tail content wins over one-off influencer engagement.
Dominos is fully embracing the consumer migration to mobile food-ordering with its Order AnyWare campaign. After creating a “Pizza Profile” on the Dominos website — a great way to capture user data — a hungry customer can use the hashtag #EasyOrder to instantly order pizza via Twitter. The campaign also allows order shortcuts on Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and various smart watches.
In 2018, IHOP caused a viral Twitter meltdown with the news that it was changing its name from International House of Pancakes to International House of Burgers. The gimmick was met by Twitter skeptics and other food brands with plenty of memes, but the stunt worked: Everyone was talking about IHOP’s foray into burgers. A year later, IHOP ran a similar campaign touting a name change.
KFC's creative director Freddie Powell and his team decided to take their famous “11 Herbs and Spices” slogan and turn into a hilariously memorable moment on Twitter. KFC's Twitter account suddenly began to follow just 11 specific people: The five Spice Girls and six random guys named Herb. Funny, right? Well, it probably wouldn't have been if KFC announced it themselves. The key to this creative tactic’s viral success was that an individual Twitter user first noticed and posted about it — and it's now been liked more than 600,000 times.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a home goods brand using cross-channel marketing as effectively as Casper. The mattress company has innovated its content and social strategy through a “sleep channel” on Spotify and YouTube, which it then highlights on Facebook. The audio content is designed to be “the dreamiest snoozefest on the internet,” helping customers fall asleep with meditations and bedtime stories.
Sites & Sounds highlights beautiful Southwest destinations and local artists through a video series on the airline’s Facebook page. Facebook algorithms are always changing, but entertaining, under-a-minute videos are still a solid way to entertain and engage.
Pepto-Bismol has created a boy band of its own making to highlight the five symptoms of heartburn. They frequently post videos of the boy band on Facebook. Last year during the holiday season, one of these videos highlighted how Pepto-Bismol could help even Santa feel better. A gentle reminder to turn on the sound makes sure their audience gets the full benefit of the post’s humor.
Medical information can be confusing. To help demystify health questions, the Cleveland Clinic uses its Facebook page as a source of easy-to-digest information for its 1,969,172 online followers. In addition to sharing multiple blog posts a day, the Cleveland Clinic produces seven different podcasts on topics ranging from “Health Essentials” to “Cardiac Consult.” This multimedia approach promotes an engaged, informed, and healthy community that’s just what the doctor ordered.
The French cosmetics company has amassed nearly two million LinkedIn followers – no small feat. I’d attribute L’Oreal’s LinkedIn success to the true behind-the-scenes peek it gives audiences at the company. L’Oreal has used LinkedIn to post photos of new offices, address acquisitions, and dive into industry research reports. Here’s one example of L’Oreal sharing details of the company’s new C02-neutral distribution center.
Instead of using LinkedIn to promote its wonderful content – and, let’s be honest, Disney has plenty of amazing content at its disposal – Disney uses its LinkedIn page to spotlight current employees. This employer marketing tactic is two-pronged: It gets potential hires more excited and in-touch with the brand, and it also gives recognition to the behind-the-scenes folks who power one of the world's most loved companies.
UC Berkeley can teach us a thing or two about using LinkedIn. It’s Haas School of Business does an exemplary job of putting its alumni at the center of its social strategy. Both its organic posts and paid ads showcase a wealth of alumni success stories. This helps celebrate its graduates while inspiring others to join the Berkeley network. For those looking to connect in a more targeted fashion, the Haas School of Business’ LinkedIn page has a special tab for easily finding and syncing with any of its 35,146 listed alumni. These efforts are well-placed, targeting young professionals spending time on the social network.
The German manufacturing giant may be 170 years old but it still knows how to keep things fresh for its nearly three million LinkedIn followers. Its secret? Siemens uses LinkedIn to show the human side of scientific innovation. From behind-the-scenes looks at an IoT-enabled factory floor to embedded videos of electric racing motorcycles, Siemens's thought-provoking posts are perfect fodder to entice and engage curious minds.
The UPS #WishesDelivered program donated $1 to charity for every retweet the initiative received. Pulling heartstrings pulled in donations, with more than 20,000 retweets in total. The holiday season is an excellent time to celebrate a cause your customers care about.
During the last holiday season, Lilly Pulitzer donated 50% of all proceeds from a limited-edition graphic tee to Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that helps teach preteen girls self-respect and healthy lifestyles. Lilly Pullitzer timed this campaign perfectly with the #GivingTuesday buzz to make the most impact.
Every year on Black Friday, Everlane donates its profits to improve the lives of people who work at its factories. Last year, the company partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to fund beach cleanups. “Up to 13 million tons of plastic waste enter our oceans each year, destroying our environment. It’s a huge problem,” said Everlane Founder and CEO Michael Preysman. Everlane highlighted that problem (and their purported solution) across its social channels.
That was 25 brands, 25 unique examples, and a wealth of social media marketing inspiration. No matter how you engage with your audience on social media, remember that real communities trump bright shiny objects – and customers will always appreciate individualized responses more than cleverness. So, don’t forget to listen to your customers on social and engage with them in real time, even while you're busy crafting your next brilliant campaign.
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