Today I’m taking a look at brands who are doing an amazing job on social media so we can all learn and get inspired. These 14 brands doing it right on social media offer some great examples and actionable strategies other businesses can use.
Denny’s—or Denny’s Diner as they call themselves—loves to be goofy and random on social media, and this is exactly what’s working for them. Some of their posts are about their products, and others are kind of just weird or funny. In that sense they’re doing a great job of mimicking a person’s account, and they don’t sound corporate or stuffy. It is this laid back voice that’s helping the brand win with millennials.
This ad campaign really went social, with more than 1,000 customized versions based on personally targeted audiences using data from social media profiles. The targeting process included processing different kinds of affinity for vehicles like car enthusiasts, competitive owners, and Lexus brand loyalists, but it went a lot further, sorting users based on demographics, location, and personal interests. The campaign then broke down video clip details based on their “ingredients” and matched them to social media users; so a man who restores cars and is a Lexus loyalist sees one video and a woman who loves tech and drives a different brand sees another. According to the Shorty Awards, the campaign worked: it reached more than 11.2 million unique Facebook users, gained more than 10.8 million video views, beat the engagement rate benchmark for the auto industry by 16 times and achieved a 300 percent boost to efficiency. Lexus also raised awareness from 0 to 40 percent in three months.
WWF took over social media with its “The Last Selfie” campaign (and it’s doing it again with #AppsforEarth right now). The Last Selfie used the immediacy of the Snapchat platform in particular to provide a visual of endangered species disappearing all over the world. A huge surge in sharing, especially by millennials, made this campaign one of the most successful in 2015 and a Webby Award winner. We’ll see how #AppsforEarth does this year, but with 10 days of popular Apple apps like Angry Birds going towards WWF campaigns, it will probably also be a major win.
If you don’t follow Oreo on social media you may wonder how much content they could possibly be coming up with; after all, it’s just a cookie. If you do follow them, though, you already know that Oreo is one of social media’s most prolific brands, coming up with great new ideas almost every day. One of the brand’s best moments was their “you can still dunk in the dark” tweet during the Super Bowl blackout. It was massively popular and didn’t cost them the typical $4 million a televised ad costs during the game. During the brand’s 100th birthday celebration, Oreo created 100 new posts for Facebook in 100 days based on trending news with amazing results (see photo collage for examples); by amazing I mean each post was around 1,472 times on average. This move gained them 2,600 articles, more than 231 million media impressions, more than one million new Facebook followers, boosted their platform engagement by 195 percent, and increased their share rate by 280 percent.
The Nike #BetterForIt campaign has just celebrated it’s one year anniversary and it’s clear that Nike Women knows what it’s doing with this one. “Better for it” is a collaborative and motivational message that takes a real-time marketing approach to target the often negative inner dialogue that everyday women experience when it comes to fitness and body image. The brand even created an original series, Margot vs. Lily, which celebrates the journey of two young female athletes as they work together to stay motivated; because it is serialized it allows followers to stay involved and creates buzz for the brand.
Social media is easier for travel brands than lots of others, right? It’s hard to make a picture of Bora Bora look bad. However, this also means that there’s a lot more competition for travel brands. Airbnb is one brand who manages to cut through the competitive noise from other brands on social media and master the platforms, even when bad news and other negative buzz comes their way. Airbnb uses Instagram for great storytelling, with every photo it posts coming from a different Airbnb property and featuring something unique—a feature, a host, an anecdote, or a view. Put these all together and you end up with a great travel guide to the entire world, and it’s also interactive because each post has a link to the property’s URL on Airbnb’s website. Airbnb is also creative; their Twitter #TreehouseTuesday is one of a kind idea and their #Lairbnb April Fool’s Day joke had comic book fans all over the world wishing renting super villain lairs was a real thing.
GrubHub is one of those little guys who knows how to suck its target demographic in. Hoping to target college-aged consumers, the brand went to Snapchat in 2014 to host a week-long scavenger hunt contest called SnapHunt, the first of its kind. This resulted in 20 percent more followers for the brand who then proceeded to send giveaways and discounts using Snapchat, and even recruited an intern on the platform—also a first. GrubHub became the brand master of Snapchat because it engaged with its followers one on one, sending and receiving personalized snaps and conversations.
Lowe’s has an ingenious social media strategy when it comes to motivating followers to get started on interior design and home improvement projects. Just about every post on every platform has a concrete connection to a real project and details about how to make the project happen with Lowe’s materials. Since the brand is creative about choosing great projects, the posts inspire lots of sharing and clicking. They are also fantastic with engagement, because when the get comments asking questions they reply with specifics and more details. This along with their social posts with how-tos mean lots of added value for followers.
For several years now the Dove brand has been making self-esteem its mission on social media, and this overall project has won it serious dividends among women and girls all over the world. Campaigns like #ChooseBeautiful inspire an emotional response of some kind in almost everyone in their target audience, and keeps the brand totally relatable. No matter what side of the beauty debate these campaigns inspire you take, you’re in the conversation and part of the buzz.
The RedBull brand has always presented itself as a component of a media-heavy extreme lifestyle and its entire social media presence depicts that lifestyle very effectively. Instagram is the brand’s biggest channel, yet it posts less frequently there than it does on its other networks. This works for Red Bull because it places the emphasis on what its posting, not how often, providing an amazingly curated range of extreme sports, “Earth porn,” athletes and celebrities, insane looking selfies, and stunning landscapes and other images. Red Bull has also mastered Snapchat, where it posts tons of new content every day, showing a lot of activity on the Millennial network. Typical posts include the usual day to day casual scenes, plus sneak peeks at events and raw footage of athletes trying new moves.
GoPro kills two birds with one stone on social media. By using amazing user-generated content to show off their product’s capabilities they get stunning footage, and they also become extremely interactive. It’s a surefire combination that’s working for the brand; by the middle of 2015 the brand had grown its YouTube base by more than 3 million/40 percent, up 93 percent from 2014 which was itself a banner year. GoPro was the fourth most engaging brand of any on Instagram with nearly 6 million subscribers, and was rising steadily on Facebook and Twitter too.
This campaign is another great example of influencer marketing. HP invited social media influencers, especially “vine-ographers,” to take their convertible laptop and do “epic” stuff with it in six second Vine-worthy bursts. The result is a string of videos of fires, monster trucks, explosions, stunts, luchadores, shattering glass, dune buggies, and other crazy footage than can only be described as epic—all created by influencers with an active, young demographic.
KLM truly takes customer service and social media engagement to the next level, and then some. After a Twitter request for a direct Amsterdam-Miami flight, a KLM representative told a customer that the airline would create the flight if the customer could round up enough people to book the seats; he did, and the airline added the flight to the schedule. In the “KLM Surprise” campaign the airline watched Twitter for customers waiting to board, gathered their details shared on social media, and rewarded them with personalized gifts. These are just two examples among many, and KLM is so committed to engaging on social media that its Twitter header photo—updated every five minutes—includes an estimated query response time. That’s a level of engagement most brands can only dream of.
Honest Tea did a fantastic job creating buzz for its brand by launching a social experiment: are Americans honest? And which city in the US scores highest on something called the National Honesty Index? They found out by placing 27 pop-up stores in major cities to see if people would leave a dollar for a bottle of tea or not. The real genius of the campaign is its use of local influencers to extend the brand’s reach nationally; the #RefreshinglyHonest hashtag continues to draw this kind of interaction. These 14 brands doing it right on social media give even the most experienced marketers food for thought and inspiration. What’s your favorite brand on social media? Let me know in the comments.
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.