15 Creative Social Media Campaigns and What You Can Learn from Them

You are looking for exciting ideas for new social media campaigns? Then get inspired by others. Many of the best examples come from big companies. But this doesn’t mean that these ideas cannot be executed at a smaller level, often with little effort. Here you will find 15 social media marketing campaigns which will show you “how it’s done” –  from a value-based campaign via a self-deprecating video series up to a spontaneous change of name. Furthermore we will give you tips on how to implement the strategy used for your own goals.

1. Heineken #OpenYourWorld

The dutch multinational brewery Heineken has not always been very sensitive in its advertising campaigns. Just recently the company had to pull the slogan “Sometimes Lighter is Better” due to heavy criticism of racism.

On the other hand their 2017 campaign #openyourworld received nearly unanimous praise. The film experiment in which people with contrary political opinions were put together in a room is considered a prime example of successful value-oriented advertising campaigns (purpose-driven campaign). Additionally to the publication of the video Heineken was experimenting with a Facebook chatbot. Not surprisingly, it brought people from different backgrounds together.

The result of this, apart from recognition? In this case the use of the hashtag #openyourworld 18,000 times in 13 months as well as 2.4 million likes, comments and re-shares over the same period. How many people will now choose to drink Heineken beer when discussing their values and political views is hard to determine though.

What you can learn from this:

Advertisements do not have to be value neutral. Quite to the contrary! According to forecasts the meaning of value-based campaigns will increase in the future. Social media campaigns tackling relevant social discussions and inter-human values, such as Heineken’s, are well suited to reach a lot of people and increase brand awareness.

2. Qdoba Queso Showdown

The fast food chain Qdoba is a popular type of restaurant in the USA. The darlings of the public on offer are Quesos, variations of traditional mexican cheese-cream dishes with various spices. In the course of the social media campaign “Queso Showdown” Qdoba encouraged users on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to choose their favourite queso from two choices. More than 30,000 users took part. People who voted for the winner “Queso Diablo” were able to add it to their order for free for a whole month.

What you can learn from this:

Even though it happened a few years ago the Qdoba Queso Showdown is still a great example of how to increase interaction rates with competitions and give the followers the feeling that they are part of important decisions within the company. That the close race between the two Quesos could be followed in real time on Facebook and co. increased the efficiency of the campaign even more.

3. Wayfair

Wayfair was one of the first companies to realize the potential of Instagram at an early stage. When the image network introduced its new shopping function the furniture store took this opportunity. From the beginning Wayfair took care to picture the products available for sale in a favourable environment. This meant for example putting a lamp into a stylish and fitting living room arrangement.

What you can learn from this:

Wayfair is a prime example of how to make the most of Instagram shopping. To simply photograph your products from your online shop in front of a white wall is less encouraging to users than placing them in an appealing environment targeted at the relevant target group. To put it differently: a part of a picture will be more interesting to the viewer if the whole picture is interesting.

4. Blenders Eyewear

Blenders Eyewear is a success story based in great parts on intelligent social media marketing. This includes the Facebook ads of the company. These are unique because they include – next to the pictures – comments and reviews by customers. This enabled Blender Eyewear to double the click rate.

What you can learn from this:

Including your own customers in your marketing is not a new approach. With its Facebook ads Blenders Eyewear shows that this strategy is not limited to posting user generated photos but can even be used for paid ads.

Paid ads are an important part of social media marketing. In our blog article “The Complete Guide to Facebook and Instagram Advertising for Beginners” you will learn everything you need for a successful start with Facebook and Instagram ads.

5. Blendtec

Sometimes it makes sense to exaggerate the advantages of your own products to emphasize their effectiveness. Get inspired by Blendtec.

The producer of blenders caught the public eye with its video series “Will it blend”. Company founder Tom Dickson uses it to test the capability of his products to turn smartphones, tablets or Justin Bieber merchandise to mush while grinning happily. The result of these destructive orgies is always the same: “Yes, it blends”. By now the YouTube channel of Blendtec boasts 881,000 followers, quite an impressive number for a producer of blenders.

What you can learn from this:

No one will buy a blender to destroy their iPhone. But the success of Blendtec’s legendary videos shows that it can pay off to artificially exaggerate the product promise (in this case “the last blender you will need in your life”). The fact that the products that are destroyed are popular items such as iPhones or Nike shoes furthermore contributes to the massive reach. The company also cleverly involves its users by asking them which object they should destroy in the next “broadcast”.

But be careful: A good idea is important in order for the experiment not to turn out unintentionally funny and cause more harm than good. Furthermore not all CEOs are blessed with the acting talent of Tom Dickson.

6. Netto

Everybody is talking about storytelling, but few do it as good as Netto in its video #DerWahreOsterhase (#TheRealEasterBunny). The elaborately produced animation film received 20 million clicks in a short period of time. It was a success on both Facebook and YouTube and shows that supermarket chains are at the forefront of modern social media marketing.

What you can learn from this:

Not every company has the financial resources and possibilities to create a mini cinema movie in high gloss quality for its social media marketing. But whatever your budget may be: the way Netto tells an emotionally touching story linked to a current topic is a source of inspiration for many formats.

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7. AirBnB

Another successful method of putting one’s own customer base at the center of social media campaigns comes from the hip accomodation agent AirBnB. To demonstrate to its followers what kinds of exciting experiences await them in far-off countries, the company invited people from all over the world to take part in a 6-part Facebook live feed called “We Are Here”. Followers were able to see on their screen how the protagonists of the video took part in performance art in Paris, surfed on Californian beaches or visited a cooking class in Venezuela. AirBnB was able to reach more than 6 million people this way.

What you can learn from this:

Live-videos are one of the social media formats experiencing rapid growth. The AirBnB campaign shows how one can create the immersive feeling of taking direct part in what is happening on screen for the viewer. The company enhanced this with small but effective tricks such as filming with helmet cameras and the integration of social media comments in the narration.

8. Worldwide Breast Cancer

A well known saying goes “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” The organisation Worldwide Breast Cancer took this saying as the starting point for their campaign #knowyourlemons. It informed about lesser known symptoms of breast cancer on one hand. On the other hand it created a platform for information exchange of affected people and calls for donations. According to Worldwide Breast Cancer it was able to reach more than 7 million people with 3 postings on Facebook alone. According to the Digital Marketing Institute the amount of donations far exceeded the targets set for the campaign.

What you can learn from this:

Signature hashtags are a great way to attract people out of your own target group to visit your channels again and again. Wordwide Breast Cancer also shows how easy to remember and light footed hashtags may be used to increase awareness about serious topics.

9. Disney

In 2016 Disney invited its followers on social networks to publish photos of themselves with Mickey Mouse ears and the ShareYourEars Facebook photo frame under the hashtag #ShareYourEars. For each of these photos shared on Twitter and Instagram the company donated 5 Dollars to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. At the end more than 220,000 photos where shared. Disney then doubled the amount of donations.

What you can learn from this:

Social engagement improves the image of your company. With calls for donations in social networks you can do good for others and your brand. Try to not make the campaign feel too fake by limiting the amount of advertising for your brand. The use of photos and other content with a special hashtag gives the campaign better visibility and more reach.

10. ALS

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” was one of the most surprising social media campaigns of the last few years. It made more than 17 million people pour a bucket of ice cold water over their heads and upload a video of this spectacle to social media after all. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of the serious condition of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and kick-start donations to the ALS Association – but not right from the start. At the beginning the participants of the Ice Bucket Challenge chose the recipient of the donations themselves. The ALS Association “captured” the idea and the whole campaign only at a later stage.

What you can learn from this:

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a prime example of how social institutions and organisations can use social media to raise awareness about a topic. It is also a reminder of how some of the most successful marketing campaigns can come from nothing or stem from coincidences. Then it is just a matter of picking the right moment to jump on the train.

11. Bikini Luxe

For the fashion company Bikini Luxe employee advocacy is an important part of marketing. A requirement for employees is presenting themselves as brand ambassadors and publish photos with the products of the brand.

Additionally Bikini Luxe has created a partner program. The registered brand ambassadors receive discounts and free products for the images submitted. The success of both programs can be measured in the rapid growth of follower numbers as well as rising sales.

What you can learn from this:

Employee advocacy is not a new idea. Many companies in the German speaking countries are still hesitant to use this strategy though. If you want to turn employees and customers into brand ambassadors you can take inspiration from Bikini Luxe.

12. Starbucks

The inspiration for Starbucks’ White Cup Contest were photos of painted Starbucks cups that customers were posting on the internet. The company responded by encouraging coffee lovers to publish their personal design under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest on Instagram and Twitter. The design of the winner was sold as a limited edition. Nearly 4,000 people took part in the contest which only ran for 3 weeks.

What you can learn from this:

Coming up with a theme for a competition can be hard. The White Cup Contest shows that the best inspiration can sometimes come from your own customers. Presenting the creative achievements of your followers on social networks like Instagram is a wise decision which shows appreciation and attracts attention.

13. Lowe’s

How-to-videos are often useful but also not very enjoyable at the same time. The American hardware store chain Lowe’s includes new features of social networks in its videos and creates a gamification effect. In this 360° Facebook-Video users can follow the construction of a Tipi by turning and swiping.

What you can learn from this:

With How-to-videos quickly showing simple work steps in an entertaining way Lowe’s wants to attract younger Millennials who prefer it short and crisp.

14. LinkedIn

At the beginning of 2018 LinkedIn asked its members “What are you in it for?” in a social media campaign. The network then created videos out of chosen answers in which people from different industries explained how they want to push their career and develop professionally. The black and white clips shot in a documentary style were notable for the fact that they featured not only IT experts in suits or other professionals usually associated with the cliche of a typical active LinkedIn member, but also artists, farmers and even a professional female martial arts athlete. The video of the “In It Together” campaign was shown during the Golden Globes awards ceremony.

What you can learn from this:

By integrating user-generated content in marketing campaigns as cleverly as LinkedIn did you can promote a strong bond between followers or a target group and your company. You furthermore create credibility. At the end LinkedIn succeeded in painting an authentic and multi-faceted picture of its community with “In It Together”.

15. IHOP

The restaurant chain IHOP (International House of Pancakes), which is mostly known for its pancakes, caused a big stir on social media when it announced that it was changing its name to IHOb. After some time of guessing amongst its followers the company announced that the “b” stood for Burger. It has since come to light that this was a test to promote the introduction of burgers into the product range. In the meantime the company has “changed its name back” to IHOP.

What you can learn from this:

Sometimes it helps to confuse your own followers. But you need a lively community for this to work. In this case a stunt like the one IHOP pulled is well suited for generating attention – not even mentioning the fun factor. In the end IHOP initiated a flurry of debates on Facebook and co. over a period of weeks with its announced name-change.

Studying does not mean copying

Successful advertising campaigns like the ones mentioned above are a great inspiration for your own marketing. But copying these ideas directly is not only problematic from a legal point of view. It also very rarely works.

It is better to get inspired for your own strategies which have to be tailored to your own product offering and target group. Maybe your own campaign will be included in our next list!

A good idea only comes to life with the right execution. Swat.io includes everything you need for content planning, community management and social customer service. Get your free demo now!


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