7 of the Best Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)
A social media campaign is a coordinated marketing designed to reinforce information or sentiments —about a product, service, or overall brand—through at least one social media platform.
Social media campaigns are the rocket fuel of your marketing efforts: a concentrated burst of energy that pays off in a major boost to your brand reputation, awareness or sales.
A social media campaign is a series of coordinated activities aimed at achieving a specific goal over a set period of time, with outcomes that can be tracked and measured. It can be limited to a single network, or take place across multiple social media platforms.
Looking for inspiration for your next social media campaign? We’ve gathered a selection of the best social media campaigns in recent memory to show you how it’s done.
Bonus:Read the step-by-step social media strategy guidewith pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
7 social media campaign examples to learn from
Coors Light #CouldUseABeer
Platforms used: Twitter
What Coors Light did: Coors Light has had some of the cheekiest campaigns lately, including their Clone Machine, which lets users record a 30-second video loop of them looking interested during video-conferences so that they can sneak away to grab a beer. Genius.
That idea came hot on the heels of their latest social media marketing campaign, #CouldUseABeer. For a limited period of time, Coors Light promised a six-pack to anyone who tweeted at them using the campaign hashtag.
Let’s face it – right now, America #CouldUseABeer. Tell us who could use a 6 pack and why. We’re buying.
Beer purch. req’d. Offer varies by state. See bio for T&C link. Ends 6/1/20.
Why it worked: Running a giveaway is a great way to boost brand awareness and stoke positive sentiments for one simple reason: everyone loves free stuff.
But Coors Light already had a starting advantage, after the positive public interest from their quarantine giveaway. That served as a springboard for launching their campaign and gaining even wider recognition.
What you can learn: Timing is everything. Coors Light not only offered a promotion that addressed the stress and fatigue of a global epidemic, but also leveraged their latest 15 minutes of fame. When your brand has a turn in the spotlight, don’t waste it!
Hello BC’s #ExploreBCLater
Platforms used: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
What Hello BC did: The tourism industry is having a rough year, with air travel down 95% and nearly everyone cancelling their summer vacation plans. It’s hard to spin that into a destination-focused campaign, but provincial tourism authority Hello BC hit the mark with their #ExploreBCLater campaign.
Across all social platforms, Hello BC shared a message of social responsibility in the face of coronavirus, encouraging everyone to stay home and #ExploreBCLater. The campaign was a twist on their branded hashtag, #ExploreBC, building on existing brand recognition and usage.
Along with posts by industry partners, the #ExploreBCLater campaign encouraged travellers to share images and videos from their trips across the province, offering vicarious journeys through social media and keeping these travel destinations top of mind.
So far, the hashtag has been used over 9,500 times on Instagram, with more posts across Twitter and Facebook too.
Why it worked: This campaign is fuelled by user-generated content (UGC), which helps your brand build their reputation through the audiences and social media channels of influential users. UGC also helps brands build up their content library by collecting high-quality visual assets from other users, and resharing them with permission.
The #ExploreBCLater campaign is also mutually beneficial to travel bloggers, who have been hard-hit by the global pandemic. Participating in the #ExploreBCLater lets them repurpose their existing assets into fresh posts.
When running a social media campaign, it’s always important to offer participants something of value as well.
What you can learn: Sometimes, you have to roll with the punches and find a way to adapt to challenging circumstances. This campaign is a great example of turning lemons into lemonade, creating a feel-good campaign that kept audiences engaged and interested in BC as a travel destination while sharing a responsible and caring message.
Platforms used: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube & traditional advertising
What Starbucks Did did: In February, Starbucks UK partnered with Mermaids, an organization to support transgender and gender-diverse youth, on the #WhatsYourName campaign.
Combining TV advertising and social media engagement, the values-driven campaign focused on Starbucks’ desire to be inclusive toward people of all genders, by honouring their chosen names.
The campaign builds on a well-known aspect of the Starbucks experience—having your name written on the side of your cup—by committing to respect the names that customers want to be called.
It’s a pretty heartwarming (and award-winning) campaign, which invited users on social media to use the #WhatsYourName hashtag. They also encouraged people to post photos of their mermaid tail cookie, which raised funds for Mermaids, using the campaign hashtag.
Bonus:Read the step-by-step social media strategy guidewith pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.
Why it worked: This campaign used one of the most traditional advertising methods, a TV spot, to build a buzz on social media. They created a simple, clear campaign hashtag. And they led with their values, which helped this campaign make a real, emotional impact.
What you can learn: Many brands steer away from politicized topics, but ultimately, your employees and customers want you to make the world a better place. Specifically, they want companies to lead on issues of diversity and community.
Starbucks attracted critics with the #WhatsYourName campaign, but by standing up for a cause, they also won a lot of fans. This reputation building was especially important after they were called out in 2018 for a racist incident in one of their US locations. Sharing campaign messages of inclusivity and respect through #WhatsYourName helped Starbucks rebuild trust and respect with their customers, and showed the world what kind of company they want to be.
Platforms used: Twitter
What Digiorno did: During National Pizza Month 2019 (also known as “October”), Digiorno offered free pizza to customers who tweeted #DeliveryDigiorno.
We're getting in the delivery game during National Pizza Month!
Confession: I have never eaten Digiorno pizza in my life, but I still know the tagline from years of primetime TV watching in my youth: “It’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno!” The campaign was brilliant because it played on their best-known attribute.
In addition to organic engagement, DiGiorno used promoted tweets and promoted trends to draw attention to their campaign. They also ran a contest asking customers for input on which cities would be chosen for the delivery destinations to stoke interest.
Why it worked: Digiorno took advantage of National Pizza Month, when they knew customers on Twitter would be tweeting (and thinking) about pizza. They combined organic interest and promoted tweets to create an authentic buzz around their activities, and incentivized participation by offering rewards (pizza!) for engaging in the campaign hashtag.
What you can learn: What is your brand best known for? Playing off those qualities like DiGiorno did can help you win new fans and charm your current supporters.
Taking advantage of a popular event on social media (like National Pizza Month) can also help you surf the waves of audience interest. But you won’t be the only brand competing for attention, which is why you need to combine a tempting offer and an attention-grabbing concept, like DiGiorno did.
#DistanceDance with Proctor & Gamble
Platforms used: TikTok
What they did: Proctor & Gamble—the consumer goods giant responsible for your toilet paper and toothpaste, probably—partnered with TikTok sensation Charli D’Amelio to urge people to stay home and prevent the spread of coronavirus in March 2020.
Why it worked: Dance challenges are the bread and butter of TikTok. Users share simple, original choreography, set to popular songs, that other users can imitate or riff on. Teen users are even getting their parents into dance challenges.
By understanding TikTok and its audience, the creators of #DistanceDance hit a home run.
What you can learn: A smart influencer partnership can take your campaign to incredible heights. D’Amelio is the number-one most followed influencer on the platform with over 59 million fans, but you don’t necessarily need to partner with the biggest influencer you can afford. The more important factor is fit: finding an influencer who aligns with your brand values and audience.
Also, many brands have yet to venture into TikTok, despite the fact that the platform is now the sixth biggest social network (and growing). It’s especially popular among Gen Z, with about half of all users between the ages of 18 and 24. So if your brand wants to reach a young, savvy audience, consider the power of TikTok (or maybe even TikTok’s competitor, Reels).
For 2019, they went bigger, with a summary of the past decade (2010-2019) showing how users’ listening habits and preferences had evolved. These summary snapshots were provided in shareable image formats, perfect for posting across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Why it worked: Users love personalized data—even if some of us (ahem) would be grateful not to know how many times we listened to Adele while crying. That’s why you can’t resist a good Buzzfeed quiz or a particularly accurate horoscope.
By offering users fun and insightful data visualizations to share, Spotify essentially created a winning ad campaign and let their users do the work of promoting it. That kind of social proof is hard to beat. The Spotify Wrapped format is so recognizable, it even became a meme.
What you can learn: You can recycle a great campaign year over year, if you add some thoughtful updates to keep it interesting. Spotify added new data and insights for 2019, including Wrapped summaries for podcasters, and creating world maps to show users where their music is made:
Tying your campaign to an annual event (like the end of the year) also builds anticipation among your fans, helping it to grow bigger every year.
Why it worked: This campaign was fun, original, and made creative use of Pantone’s brand identity as color experts. It created a bridge between sports fans and design aficionados, with accessible posts that anyone could enjoy. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events of the year, and Pantone found a way to capitalize on that interest in a surprising way.
What you can learn: Campaigns can be short and sweet! If you lack the resources (or executive support) to launch a resource-intensive campaign, try something fun and finite to test the waters and see how your audience responds.
Also, don’t limit yourself when looking for a timely opportunity to launch a campaign! No one would have ever put “Pantone” and “football” in the same sentence before, but that unexpected angle was exactly why it worked! Think outside the box and you might just stumble across a brilliant idea.
Common elements of successful social media campaigns
As you probably noticed, these campaigns all looked pretty different from one another. So what makes a social media marketing campaign successful? Here are the key ingredients:
1. They’re true to the brand. Each of these campaigns reflects the brand identity and values in a way that resonates with their fans. No matter how clever the concept or how big the budget, a campaign that doesn’t make sense for your brand won’t work.
2. They’re focused. Each campaign has a single, simple message at its core: for Spotify, it’s “your year in music.” For Coors Light, it’s “free beer!” Your customers should never be trying to figure out what the point of your campaign is, or be confused about what you are asking them to do. Stick to one goal and one central message per campaign.
3. They’re trackable. Each campaign has a distinct hashtag or channel, which means the companies can measure key indicators of success. For an awareness campaign, that might be mentions or shares; for contests, that could be the number of entries. Whatever your campaign goal, make sure you have a plan to evaluate your impact.
4. They’re unique to each platform. Broadcasting identical content across every platform is less effort for your social media team, but it looks sloppy.
Good campaigns have core messages that are tailored to each platform and play on the strengths of that network. User expectations are different on Twitter versus TikTok, and the wrong tone or messaging can be pretty jarring. Make sure you consider your audience on each social network when developing your messaging.
5. They’re timely. Every campaign above was responsive to the current events and activities that were top of mind for their audiences.
Having a social media content calendar that helps you keep track of annual events, like the Super Bowl (or National Pizza Month) can help you plan for and seize opportunities to make an impact
6. They’re emotional. Emotional doesn’t always mean sentimental or tear-jerking (though if you found yourself getting misty during that Starbucks campaign, you’re not alone!). But to be memorable , they should make you feel something when you see them.
A great campaign offers audiences a meaningful and genuine message that they can connect with. Whether you want audiences to feel empowered, nostalgic, delighted, or understood, your campaign should be grounded in a shared sentiment.
Each of these campaigns succeeded because they offered audiences something unique and interesting. Pantone provided a novel take on sports commentary; Proctor & Gamble gave TikTokkers a brand-new dance. Social media users are bombarded by content daily. To stand out, you need to provide something fresh and interesting.
Ready to launch your next social media campaign? Let’s go!
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When it comes to engaging with your audience on social, sometimes it pays to take a risk. That means sharing content that could spark controversy, thrust your brand into the spotlight, or draw critical attention.