Social media is how businesses engage with customers, demonstrate their values, and broaden awareness to new potential leads. However, moving the dial on social media in terms of followers and impressions can be a long, thankless trudge which is why a coordinated strategy is needed to spark activity and get your brand noticed.
The centerpiece of this strategy is a focused social media marketing campaign that drives engagement, gives people a reason to share your posts, or just takes advantage of an opportune news-cycle moment. There are many reasons why successful social media marketing campaigns can be the cornerstone of effective social media strategy and just as many causes for a campaign to be a success or a failure.
Here we’ll take a look at some of the most successful social media marketing campaigns of the last few years and the core elements that generated value for the organizations behind them.
Campaign #1: #UnicornFrappuccino
The brand: Starbucks
Why it worked: Created a buzz
The story: Live for only a single week in 2017, the #UnicornFrappuccino struck a chord with the Insta-worthy zeitgeist, and it became the “must-have” photo of the day. A colorful concoction of flavors and styles (it included mango, sour blue drizzle, and sweet pink powder) the buzz around this campaign drove large sales increases for that quarter.
The fact that the campaign was only short-lived played off Instagrammers fear of missing out (FOMO) and made the shot a relative rarity. All of this created a positive buzz for Starbucks, driving impressions and keeping their brand at the forefront of people’s minds. They also enjoyed an uptick in revenue from the increased sales during that week.
Campaign #2: #ExploreBCLater
The brand: Hello BC (British Columbia’s tourism body)
Why it worked: Having a take on current events
The story: Building on its standard #ExploreBC hashtag, the British Columbia tourism authority Hello BC repurposed their messaging to suit the Covid-era lockdown. With a message of social responsibility and staying safe, the campaign became #ExploreBCLater and featured beautiful nature and wildlife shots from the Canadian province. This still kept the remit of promoting British Columbia’s best tourist features while also encouraging those now stuck at home to post their own happy memories of trips they had previously taken to BC.
Campaign #3: #ShotOniPhone
The brand: Apple
Why it worked: Leveraging user-generated content
The story: What better way to demonstrate the best features of your product than getting your own customers to post about it online? Apple achieved this and even went a step further as their customers’ posts literally gave a perfect image of what the feature could achieve. The campaign started out as a challenge for iPhone users to post the best shots they could take with their iPhone and morphed into a selling point all of its own.
With over 23 million posts on Instagram, the engagement and reach of the campaign has been huge, making it one of Apple’s most successful social media marketing campaigns, and all of it has been created for free by Apple’s own customers.
Campaign #4: #playwithpringles
The brand: Pringles
Why it worked: Entertained their audience
The story: After noticing that fans were already using their famous cans to produce content on TikTok, Pringles started a challenge for TikTok users to try and create the most fun and interesting videos they could using Pringles. They worked with TikTok to create special filters and to give prominence to the videos in feeds. It is so far one of the most successful social media marketing campaigns on TikTok with nearly 5 billion video views and, considering TikTok’s youthful user-base, engagement with a whole new generation around the world.
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Campaign #5: Worlds Apart
The brand: Heineken
Why it worked: Demonstrated values
The story: A hybrid traditional and social media push, this campaign started out with clips of two strangers being brought together in a room. Little did they know, but the other person held very different opinions to them on a certain subject, such as climate change or transgender rights. They were given the task of building a bar together and getting to know each other personally. After the differing values were revealed they had a choice: leave or stay to have a beer together.
The social media marketing campaign made an impression as social media itself can be extremely divisive when it comes to personal opinions. Heineken, while not taking any sides, demonstrated its values of openness and promoted themselves as a unifying factor for people. The campaign was widely shared as audiences showed that these were ideals they also valued, thus connecting positively with Heineken as a brand.
Campaign #6: Tim the Security Guard
The brand: National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Why it worked: A feel-good story
The story: With much of the world getting locked down due to Covid, people needed a feel-good story to lift the mood. Enter Tim Tiller, the head of security at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Given responsibility to update the museum’s Twitter and Instagram as he was the only person left on-site, Tim had a unique take on making a successful social media marketing campaign, namely to not understand what one was.
From misunderstanding how hashtags work and talking to coworkers like he was on messenger to his gracious “Thanks, Tim” sign-off on each post, Tim provided daily joy to the museum’s followers, a cohort that increased by hundreds of thousands during the lockdown.
It takes more than luck
Social media marketing can deliver excellent benefits for your business in a variety of ways. Campaigns, especially ones that work, are a major part of that. Of course, running successful social media marketing campaigns isn’t just a case of coming up with a good idea, it takes great execution, perseverance, learning from past mistakes, and even a bit of luck.
Like any marketing venture, nobody can guarantee a successful social media marketing campaign, but working with the experts can significantly increase the chances and volume of your success. To find out more about running great social media, hybrid, or other marketing campaigns, get in touch with our team to see how we can help.