Social media campaigns — winning examples to inspire your next strategy
A lot of work goes into a social media strategy, and as soon as you’ve finished one campaign, it’s time to post your next. The sheer volume of content needed and the speed of social media marketing make it hard to continue developing new ideas.
A social media campaign is a series of posts that supports your overall social media marketing (SMM) strategy. A campaign is often based on a certain product or marketing push like a new launch or holiday sale. Your campaign will generally stretch across multiple social platforms as you aim to meet your SMM goals.
To help you build an effective strategy, we’ll explain a few different best practices for creating social media campaigns. Then we’ll examine nine successful campaigns for some inspiration.
- Getty Museum’s #GettyMuseumChallenge
- Apple’s #ShotOniPhone
- Spotify Wrapped
- Dove’s Project #ShowUs
- Procter & Gamble’s #DistanceDance
- MSIG’s #RealSmallProblems
- Delta’s Faces of Travel
- Trello’s #WhereITrello
- Lush’s #LushLife
Social media campaign best practices
A healthy social media marketing strategy includes a mixture of tactics. Here are a few best practices to help you with your next SMM campaign.
- Find user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by your customers or audience. Examples of UGC can include images, videos, reviews, and blog posts. When you see a piece of content you like, ask the creator for permission to repost it on your brand’s profiles. Some brands create a unique hashtag to help collect user-generated content. UGC is a popular marketing tactic because it’s authentic. It serves as social proof, demonstrating real people using and enjoying your product or service.
- Share your brand values. Your brand values are the beliefs and ideals that serve as the company’s guiding principles. Even if you don’t explicitly state your values, they should be the foundation of everything you post. An athletic brand might value perseverance and determination and create content that inspires and motivates its customers. Communicating your values helps attract your target audience by displaying the brand’s personality and identity.
- Host entertaining challenges. New ideas are constantly popping up across social platforms, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or the Mannequin Challenge. The best challenges are memorable and shareable — they’re funny, timely, and they drive change for an important cause. Creating your own social media challenge helps your brand increase awareness, drive engagement, and cement customer relationships.
- Develop a unique brand voice for your social media. If brand values determine what you say on social media, the brand’s voice and tone describe how you say it. Your brand voice should cooperate with your values, so if fun is one of your values your content tone should be playful and humorous. A consistent voice will differentiate your brand from your competitors’ and help your profiles stand out. Language that resonates with your target audience will make them more likely to gravitate toward your brand.
- Offer a unique perspective or fresh take. Your brand has a perspective that nobody else does, and openly sharing that perspective on social media is one of the best ways to help your company stand out. Think about what makes your brand unique and brainstorm how you can incorporate it into your copy.
- Use personalized data. Data can help you deliver personalized experiences on social media. Gather data on your audience’s demographics, behavior, and interests so your content and campaigns will be relevant. When you make people feel understood they’ll be more likely to make a purchase, engage with content, or share it with a friend.
- Incorporate emotional marketing. Emotional marketing is any marketing campaign that taps into emotions to convince people to buy. For example, a video could tell an inspiring story involving your brand that makes viewers feel motivated, happy, or amazed. Emotional marketing pushes people to act. It’s also a helpful way to create memorable, shareable campaigns — resulting in more engagement with your content.
- Be aware of platform trends. The type of content you see on LinkedIn is different from the campaigns circulating on TikTok. Keep tabs on what’s popular on different social media platforms so you can incorporate these trends as you’re creating campaigns. But don't wait too long, because trends change quickly. If you’re going to use them, do it fast.
- Create a branded hashtag. A branded hashtag is one of the best ways to gather user-generated content and your own original brand posts in one place. A good branded hashtag should be unique and as short as possible. To help keep it simple, focus on one message. Remember to include your brand name or a variation of it.
Nine examples of highly effective social media campaigns
Here are a few examples of how brands have implemented these strategies in their marketing campaigns.
1. Getty Museum’s #GettyMuseumChallenge
The Getty Museum launched the #GettyMuseumChallenge in March 2020 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The goal was for participants to recreate their favorite piece of artwork using three household items. The challenge was inspired by an existing Instagram account, but Getty put its own spin on the idea by challenging people to use digitized and downloaded artwork from the Getty collection.
The challenge took off, with thousands of users around the world recreating Renaissance pieces with lasagna noodles or volunteering pets to make their own version of Girl with A Pearl Earring. Getty even turned the finished products into a book.
This social media campaign was successful because it made the museum more accessible. Not everyone could visit the Getty Museum to see artwork in person, but everyone could recreate the “products,” or the artwork, at home. Getty also used some strategic timing, sharing the challenge in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when most people were at home with nothing to do. Consider how your social media campaign might be able to meet the moment and give people a creative outlet, whether it’s using the positive moment of a popular event or offering a distraction during a stressful time.
2. Apple’s #ShotOniPhone
Apple has run multiple #ShotOniPhone campaigns over the years. In 2022, the campaign was designed to promote the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple wanted to showcase the new phones’ macro photography capabilities by asking users to share their favorite macro photos taken with the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple encouraged people to share the photos on Instagram and Twitter using the #ShotOniPhone and #iPhoneMacroChallenge hashtags. Judges then chose 10 winners to use for digital campaigns and other marketing. The two branded hashtags garnered more than 26 million posts on Instagram.
The campaign continues to be effective because it demonstrates how well the iPhone camera works. This is a prime example of a brand showing instead of telling.
You don’t have to offer a prize or reward for your social media challenge, but if you do decide to select winners, consider giving away products or reposting your favorite entries. Excite your audience with the chance to be part of your brand’s campaign.
3. Spotify Wrapped
Spotify Wrapped is another example of a brand campaign used year after year. Every December, Spotify users receive personalized statistics and insights based on their listening data regarding the genres, tracks, and artists they listened to the most. Spotify presents this information in fully designed graphics that users can share to social channels.
Spotify’s campaign is a winner because it’s highly personalized and unique. Spotify’s biggest competitor, Apple Music, only recently launched Replay, its own similar feature in an attempt to keep up. But Apple Music Replay doesn't provide the same unique experience as Spotify Wrapped.
Customer data is one of the most powerful tools for creating effective social media campaigns. Data-driven experiences increase engagement because they can be tailored to each user. Personalized marketing can also drive brand awareness and conversions. In the first week of December 2020, when most users were sharing their Wrapped cards on social media, Spotify app downloads increased by 21%.
Try to create personalized experiences for consumers everywhere you can. Cultivate the relationship between your brand and your audience by making sure you’re gathering customer data that you can use to create unique content.
4. Dove’s Project #ShowUs
For the Project #ShowUs campaign, Dove partnered with the Girl gaze community and Getty Images to create a collection of more than 10,000 images that, “offer a more inclusive vision of beauty for all media and advertisers to use.” The campaign was completely powered by women and focused on diversity and avoided digital photo editing.
Over 640,000 posts have been shared on Instagram with the #ShowUs hashtag. Dove also shared photo submissions across its other social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.
This campaign is a great example of knowing your audience. Dove asked its audience and found that 70% of women don't feel represented in advertising. Dove used its reach to understand its audience’s needs and to try to solve this problem by creating Project #ShowUs.
If you’re about to launch a social media campaign, project, or challenge, consider first doing some market research to ensure your campaign is wanted and needed. Conduct a survey to find out what causes and issues are important to your audience. You may be surprised to discover you need to take your campaign in a different direction than planned.
5. Procter & Gamble’s #DistanceDance
Procter& Gamble’s (P&G) TikTok-specific challenge was created in partnership with influencer Charli D’Amelio. P&G asked people to do the #DistanceDance routine, encouraging users to practice social distancing. P&G also promised to donate to charity for the first three million videos posted.
Within the campaign’s first week, D’Amelio’s video had over eight billion views, and 1.7 million people had posted their own versions.
P&G combined two strategic insights to make this a winner. First, the campaign asked TikTok users to dance, which is what TikTok is known for. It’s a perfect example of using the right kind of content for a specific channel.
Second, P&G enlisted an influencer. Influencer marketing has a high ROI, according to Influence Marketing Hub, with businesses earning around $5.20 for every dollar spent.
6. MSIG’s #RealSmallProblems
Wild Advertising helped insurance company MSIG launch their Instagram presence with the #RealSmallProblems campaign. While bigger companies focused on large-scale messaging, like the need for life insurance, this campaign was designed to get people thinking about small disruptions that can become major issues.
Wild Advertising is known for creative and effective social media content, so the agency created short videos and colorful illustrations featuring everyday occurrences turning into major problems — like playing a sport with friends and needing medical attention after getting hit with a stray ball. Using common, minor accidents fit with MSIG’s brand as a more relatable insurance company. They also used the campaign to highlight causes important to the company’s values, like sustainability and mindful social media use.
MSIG gained more than 1,000 new followers from the campaign and saw a 15% increase in monthly engagement. Focusing on your brand’s strengths can help create stronger relationships with your audience. If you're a smaller company, use that to your advantage to create meaningful dialogue on a more personal level. Design your social media campaign to take advantage of your place in the market.
7. Delta’s Faces of Travel
When Delta Air Lines decided to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it partnered with Kinto create the “Faces of Travel” initiative.
The idea behind this campaign was to find or create travel-related stock images that reflect diversity in travelers — people from all backgrounds, abilities, and economic statuses. The collection includes over 100 photos and video clips that were distributed through outlets like Vice Media, Refinery29, and Adobe Stock.
Delta’s campaign was created because the company noticed a disparity in available stock images. As you consider ideas for your next social media campaign, think about your industry and your audience. Consider what they need and what they’re missing — and how you can fill those gaps with a creative campaign.
8. Trello’s #WhereITrello
Productivity software Trello created the popular #WhereITrello campaign. The idea was simple and highly effective. Users shared photos on Twitter and Instagram documenting where they used Trello, and winning entries were republished on the company’s blog.
This social media series was a way for Trello to gather some user-generated content. It also highlighted one of Trello’s key selling points — you can use this software to stay better organized no matter where you are.
Create a social media campaign that focuses on a specific feature of your product or service. It's even better if you can get customer testimonials. Trello also asked users to share how they used the software with the #HowTheyTrello and #FavoriteThingsInTrello hashtags. Come up with a similarly effective way to show what’s great about your product.
9. Lush’s #LushLife
#LushLife is an ongoing social media campaign created by cosmetics company Lush. Using the branded hashtag, customers can show off their most recent purchases or share advice about products they love — like their favorite bath bomb scent or how they use a certain face mask.
Lush’s products are bright, colorful, and feature seasonal designs, which makes them great to share on social media. The hashtag is most popular on Instagram and TikTok, with over one million views across both platforms. By promoting this tag, Lush allows their customers to talk directly to each other, creating a feeling of community. And posts from consumers serve as additional brand awareness.
Develop and deliver your fresh set of social media campaign ideas
Refresh your creative energy by learning about the different types of social campaigns and studying examples from well-known brands. It’s the first step to developing and delivering your own effective, personalized campaigns.
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