For many of us, January has already felt like a whole year!
It’s been a long month of navigating how to make your social media campaign work, new strategies, approaches, content ideas and we’re all just getting started.
We’re strong believers that if you’re feeling short of ideas, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and start over from scratch. Some of the hardest hitting social media players are showing us what’s working for them, and how we could bend their strategy and try it for our own brands, in our own unique ways.
Here are some hard-hitting Social Media Campaigns to inspire you for 2020.
1. Starbucks: The Unicorn Frappuccino
Coffee is the daily routine for millions of people, it’s the base of memes, Instagrammable quotes and most will say they can’t start their days without it.
But how do you get cut-through when you’re talking about the same single-product every day?
Starbucks launched a one week campaign filled with our favorite things: magic, unicorns, and bright colors.
“Like its mythical namesake, the Unicorn Frappuccino blended crème comes with a bit of magic, starting as a purple beverage with swirls of blue and a first taste that is sweet and fruity. But give it a stir and its color changes to pink, and the flavor evolves to tangy and tart. The more swirl, the more the beverage’s color and flavors transform.”
The reason it worked?
Starbucks understood that people are already talking about coffee and using it as a way to push content to their own audiences. By creating a ‘limited time offer’, and essentially providing free content props, and made it fun!
Search #starbucksunicornfrappuccino and you’ll see the User Generated Content
Tip: Find a way to make a limited time offer around something that’s special for your brand!
2. Gillette: The Best A Man Can Be
Gillette sparked heavy debate when launching their campaign #thebestamancanbe in response to the #metoo movement.
The ad took a hard look at toxic masculinity and while some complained about it, others applauded Gillette for taking a firm social stance.
It was mentioned over a million times within the first 24 hours of its release!
The success of this campaign approached a tough social matter and highlighted the brand values of Gillette.
Tip: In today’s climate, people want to know where your brand stands, for example, on environmental or social issues. Join (or begin) a conversation on social media as a brand to show what you’re passionate about. Something to keep in mind is that sometimes opinions can be polarizing so you’ll want to make sure you’ve thought out all scenarios.
3. REI: #optoutside
REI first launched #optoutside in 2015 when they gave their entire company the day off on Black Friday. This was virtually unheard of in retail.
While other companies promoted shopping and long work hours for employees, REI focused on a campaign that was by the people, for the people.
REI rocks this campaign still through the promotion of products alongside user-generated content posts to further their reach.
Tip: When looking for ways your brand can take this approach to build a strong social media community, think about the common causes your brand stands for and how it can encourage conversation among your followers.
4. IHOP to IHOb
International House of Pancakes, otherwise known as IHOP teased a new logo featuring IHOb and asked followers what they thought the “b” stood for.
People went mad over trying to guess it before they announced they would make burgers (but don’t worry, they still went back to making pancakes!) Not only did it boost their sales, but they had found a way to get a conversation happening about their brand, keeping them top of mind.
Tip: This is the element of surprise tactic! Do you have something up your sleeve that your audience might like?
5. Dove & Getty Images: #ShowUs
Long-running social advocates, Dove, partnered with Getty images to bring this powerful campaign to life.
The #ShowUs campaign was launched as a call to arms to talk about body positivity and acceptance. #ShowUs features a library of 5,000 photographs of women from 39 countries around the world.
Partnering with a company who shared the same values, Getty identified that there was a rise in searches on their platform, like ‘female leaders’ – up 306 per cent on last year.
Creative research project manager Petra O’Halloran explained why it was important to Getty to be a part of the campaign.
“Confident businesswoman’ is up 428 per cent from last year, but the most staggering of all is that the term ‘female empowerment’ is up 591 per cent.”
“Visual storytelling is the language of our time, it’s very powerful. Someone like Getty images has a certain responsibility to contribute to that change. There’s been a general increase in searches for diversity, but we’ve seen a 72 per cent increase in terms like ‘real people’.”
Tip: Partner with brands that believe in the same things as you, collaborate and see if you can make any waves together for a cause you both believe in.
6. Spotify: #2019Wrapped
Spotify: #2019Wrapped sent a personalized video wrap of your year of listening, showing you your most played artists of the year, and the decade.
By providing a video that was personalised, comparable, and shareable on every social platform, it provided a way for their users to relate and connect with their audience, with a sneak peek into their real life.
Music is personal and sometimes private, so this campaign allowed everyone in the world to share what they were passionate about – even if listening to Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran for a month straight was what they chose to do (*ahem!).
Tip: Could you develop a way for your audience to share results, or have customized interactions from your product that could boost engagement and shareability?.
7. Apple’s Share Your Gift 2018 Campaign
Apple’s holiday campaign celebrates the power of creativity and heartens creators to share their gifts with the outer world.
The Apple campaign features music written by a girl who keeps her creations secret, until they’re let out into the world by her dog and enjoyed by everyone around her. The “Share Your Gifts” theme encourages Mac and iPad users to share their creativity with others.
Apple products are notoriously used by creative people, making movies, music, designs and illustrations. This beautiful campaign showed a real understanding, empathy and love for their core customer base.
The clever execution showed how the users of Apple products are the real heros, however to find success and execute with excellence, they should be using Apple products.
Tip: How can you hero the success of your customers while showing you are their secret weapon?
Even toilet paper companies have social media needs.
Products like homewares can be perceived as boring and a bit mundane. Bringing them to life with characters can inject huge personality into your brand messaging, a way to make the originally boring relevant on social media.
Characters help personify a brand, especially the cute bear that Charmin uses to jump on trending hashtags and topics.
Their ability to stay consistent means as soon as you see the bear faces, and their white and blue brand backgrounds creates a visual brand consistency, you’ll know who it is without even having to see the brand name – and they’re a toilet paper brand!
Unsurprisingly, their hashtag trends on Twitter every time they launch a campaign.
Tip: Can you inject personality into your brand with a character, or find a way to create visual consistency?
9. Nike: Dream Crazier
Where do you go after “Dream Crazy”-size success?
Nike simply dreamed “Crazier” in this Oscars spot starring Serena Williams that directly addressed the hurdles female athletes face in a male-dominated world.
“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts,” she says, noting other words such as “delusional,” “unhinged,” “hysterical,” and “irrational.” Williams concludes the commercial with, “So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.” Text then appears on the screen, “It’s only crazy until you do it. Just do it.”
“Don’t Just Dream for You, Dream for the Next You”
Nike capitalised on heroes (like Williams) using their brand, to inspire those who look up to them to encourage them to follow in their footsteps, and to follow their own crazy dreams.
Tip: How can you use Social Proof in your brand to inspire others to take action, where the knock-on effect is to use your product to get there?
10. NASA: #Apollo50th
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, NASA posted historical photos about past events and created a viral movement for other brands to jump in on too.
The extra awareness sparked conversations about current projects that helped raise awareness for future endeavours into space and created PR opportunities.
Tip: Are there historical facts that you could share with your audience, or could you become part of another brand’s conversation?
11. Moonpie: #MoonPieToTheMoon2024
Can you prompt virality through humor?
Moonpie caught the attention of NASA executives with their witty content wanting to land a moon pie on the moon, going so far as to create a petition to send to NASA to make it happen.
Their brand loyalist signed it and shared it with their communities prompting many twitter mentions and new conversations from brands like United Airlines.
Creatively wedged into the NASA anniversary (#10 above) the #MoonPieToTheMoon2024 made people giggle and reminded customers how they bring light-heartedness and fun to the dessert table.
Tip: What current events could you incorporate into your social media campaign? Creatively join the conversation!
12. Cotopaxi: #gearforgood
Cotopaxi is a brand that focuses on the humans that use their products, with a humanity first approach.
Their community is strong and they make it easy for customers to share their experiences and love of their products on social media.
Ultimately, they let their brand speak for itself!
Tip: How are you currently engaging with your social media community? Do you create products that your customers love and naturally want to talk about?
13. Lush: #LushLife
Lush has proved over and over again that their bath bombs and soaps aren’t just a product, using their eco-friendly products is a lifestyle.
Surprisingly, Lush has never spent money on celebrity endorsements, TV campaigns or boosting social media posts, their entire empire has been built using organic strategy.
By searching through their #lushlife hashtag, it’s not hard to spot thousands of beautiful images that their community has created, including their staff on how products are made and used because they want to be seen as being part of a wider movement.
Lush reshare posts, highlight customers, share news on climate and eco-friendly updates, boosting their community simply through the act of sharing.
This style of campaign reoccurs over many companies and is a great example of how to utilize content that is already out there.
Tip: You can screenshot and share testimonials or repost user-generated content directly with Plann, here’s how quickly you can do it!
14. See Jane Work
See Jane Work is a working woman’s lifestyle brand, selling products for productivity and desk decor. If Shoppable Instagram posts aren’t part of your strategy yet, here’s great inspiration on why to get started.
Their strategy allows their audience to easily buy products featured in one of their dynamic photos, which are beautifully created to appeal directly to their audience.
By styling images in a way that inspires, creates FOMO, and uncovers a lifestyle their readers want makes it much easier to get people clicking to buy their products over a traditional white background you’ll find on eBay.
Tip: If your brand sells products, feature them in Shoppable Posts in a way that relates to your audience, here are some tips.
15. Popeyes Chicken: The Chicken Sandwich
For months, a fried chicken frenzy gripped America, sparking food-fights and fistfights as people scrambled to get their hands on a brand-new burger.
Popeyes Chicken didn’t like the messaging Chic-Fil-A was promoting around the LGBQT community, so decided to copy one of their burgers, with a few enhancements to highlight how they could be doing a better job.
That’s how Louisiana-based fast-food chain Popeyes first released its fried chicken sandwich, featuring a big, crunchy piece of poultry on a brioche bun with pickles and mayonnaise.
… y’all good? https://t.co/lPaTFXfnyP
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 19, 2019
By all accounts, it is a tasty burger. But it quickly became more than just a burger. It became a cultural phenomenon — the “iPhone of chicken sandwiches” — and sold out in all 3,000 locations across 49 states.
Driven by word-of-mouth and an all-out #ChickenWar on Twitter, Americans lined up for hours, in queues out the door, to get their hands on the $US3.99 burger ($5.85).
Tip: Are you brave enough to take on a competitor to show them up on how they could be serving your community better?
16. Casper: Sleep Channel
Falling asleep at night is a luxury for many, a saying that Casper (a mattress brand) is not immune to hearing every day.
By creating a free Spotify playlist, they made sure their customers walked away with a ‘Value Add’ that they could use everyday, a nightly reminder that the brand they’re falling asleep on is looking out for them.
Repurposed across IGTV, Spotify and YouTube, their approach meant they could acquire new customers while sharing their tracks with existing customers kept retention at bay.
Sure, they sell mattresses, but they also help you fall asleep through soothing sounds on Spotify
Tip: Are you providing value, or a continued experience of your brand after your customers have made a purchase?
17. Disney+ and Baby Yoda
Star Wars fans are fanatics, and Disney knew that. Launching a brand media streaming platform when brands like Netflix have been around for years would have been a risky exersize.
To ensure it was successful, Disney+ landed an exclusive deal to have the Mandellorian streaming on their platform, knowing that die-hard fans would rush over to subscribe immediately.
With the nostalgia of the 90s, the internet exploded with Baby Yoda memes, making it impossible not to notice the launch of Disney+ streaming services.
Disney+ took a risk as viral campaigns are almost impossible to manufacture, but after the success, they were also able to leverage merchandise to boost sales.
Tip: Can you create exclusive partnerships, offers or captizlise on pop culture (i.e. memes) to launch your next product?
What’s the real take away for social media campaigns?
Audiences love causes they can stand for or get behind, cute things they can turn into memes, and personalised brand experiences that can share with others, humans crave connections.
In a world that’s increasingly online, it’s becoming much harder for humans to feel connected to each other.
Looking for a better way to plan out and create your next viral campaign?
With Plann you can schedule out and pre-plan your entire content, right from captions, hashtags, user-generated content – all with help from your team.
AUTHOR > Christy Laurence
Christy Laurence is the multi-award-winning Founder of Plann, an app she created after watching hugely talented people around the world give up on making an income from their passion due to lack of marketing help.
After winning ‘Australasian Startup Founder of The Year’ for her achievements helping businesses grow using Instagram, she now splits her time between Silicon Valley and Sydney to grow her own software business, and help others grow their businesses too.
She has a strong pun game and loves a good chat, connect with her directly at @christyladylaurence