10 Innovative Social Media Campaigns of All Time
For a brand to grow, it also needs to grow its audience, the only way possible is by being noticed by more and more people. An excellent way by which a brand can be noticed is through a marketing campaign. These campaigns are usually driven by creativity which helps spark the interest of consumers. Almost every brand in the world has, at some point, decided to run a campaign, but not all of them succeed because the average marketing campaign could be generic or repetitive. So the brands that think outside the box and drive consumer thinking are the ones that will stand out throughout the digital age.
Pumping in large amounts won’t get you the results you want. Instead, what will get people’s heads turning and fingers scrolling is clever, quirky, artistic and thought-provoking messaging through a campaign. Brands need to decide what platforms will be used to deliver their message and how long they will run the campaign to keep it practical. This is a sure way for your brand to be added to the next upcoming best social media marketing campaign 2022 case study if there is one being written up.
In some cases, some marketing campaigns trend on the internet for weeks. That’s a long time considering the vast digital space and people’s attention is a luxury for a brand. So these would be considered the most viral social media campaigns. What will be highlighted in each campaign is the how, what and whys that made the campaign successful. You might have or have not heard of these campaigns throughout your life, but rest assured that these brands knew precisely what they were doing.
The 10 most innovative social media campaign examples are:
1. Spotify – The #Wrapped Campaign
If you have been a Spotify user for a while now, this campaign would have excited you. This campaign started in 2017 and has been going on every year. The idea was to turn the data Spotify gathered from its’ users into something fun that the consumer to see and interact with. It starts with Spotify advertising this campaign through multiple channels and utilizing social media ads to get the campaign in motion. This was seen as a way that the brand could appreciate their followers using their app and for Spotify users to share their tastes with their friends, family and audience.
This showed people that the brand cared about what music they listened to and added an emotional human touch to the company through the campaign. The way they achieved this was Spotify compiled user data that was collected for over a year. This data consisted of the most streamed artists, favorite genres, songs and the time spent listening to music on the app. They also added a comedic element to the campaign through relatable billboards, hilarious user playlists and quirky music trends. This gave users a comfortable feel for the whole campaign and was highly recognized.
The main element of this campaign was user-generated content that was data-driven. This also encouraged more consumers to use the app to give them more relieving data about their music-listening behavior. The more people used the app, the more data was shared with the consumer. If someone was not using Spotify before the campaign, they used it once it launched. It was a genius move by Spotify. The #Wrapped marketing campaign by Spotify drove even non-user to jump on the bandwagon and participate in it. We even saw millions of people sharing their year-end-wrapped data on their Instagram stories and exchanging their results with one another.
It can be safe to say that this campaign drove brand awareness for Spotify higher and made more consumers jump on the trend throughout the years. Its success lies in the #Wrapped feature that is still going on even in 2022 and will probably continue in the future.
2. Apple – #ShotOniPhone Campaign
Apple as a brand has always been one of the pioneers in its industry, and an iconic marketing campaign fits its persona perfectly. The larger-than-life feel their products give you is part of the lifestyle, and the brand continuously strives for innovation to make life more captivating. So in all its greatness, Apple created the campaign in 2015 and is still running.
The brand started by asking its users to send pictures or videos they caught on their iPhones and share them with Apple as part of a contest promotion. The prize was that if you were picked, your media would be displayed on one of the 10,000 billboards that Apple was planning to set up worldwide. This snowballed into 2017 when Apple unveiled its Instagram account to showcase all of the user-generated content it had collected. The #ShotOniPhone campaign was still running at total capacity, and organic advertising was driving it through their social media accounts. The hashtag was reported to have around 16 million entries on Instagram.
This campaign was perfect for promoting their technology through their user’s content and the brand pulled an incredibly strategic move by integrating the brand deeper into consumers’ lives. It was a very artistic-driven campaign because the iPhone was being marketed through its users and not by the product itself. If you notice in their campaigns, you would not see a single Apple product in the campaign’s imagery, only images or videos caught by people.
If you have or had an iPhone during this period, you probably could not resist posting an image or video with an Apple product, especially if you’re an advertiser. However, the product itself is incredible and you don’t need to be a tech wiz to use it. This kind of organic advertising is why Apple is always associated with innovation.
3. Heineken – #Worlds Apart Campaign
This campaign hits home for many people on opposite sides of worldwide discussions or debates. Heineken has always been very open in its drive for diversity that aligns with its brand values. The video the brand shared is the campaign’s main star and is worth the watch if you have not already seen it. This was back in 2017, but much of what the video entails is still relevant today.
What is exciting and innovative about the campaign is that it does not aim at offending anyone or communities but instead brings them closer together through a familiar ally, BEER. The campaign brought people from different backgrounds to put aside their differences and find common ground. In the video, you will see strangers paired together to perform a task. The strangers don’t know that they all stand at different ends of a discussion. So you have someone who believes in climate change being partnered up with someone who does not believe it. Like this, the other two pairs are people who would probably not knowingly be together in the same room.
They are tasked with building a bar together and ask each other a few personal questions, after which a video is played in front of them, showing one pair of strangers voicing their opinion about a view they believe in. This is where things stand still for a second and each pair sees what the other person stands for. Heineken then asks the pair if, after seeing the video, they want to stay and have a beer with the other person or leave. Such different opinionated people would leave, but it was the opposite. All the pairs of strangers decided to sit down, have a beer and chat.
The ad is marketing the product, but what it achieved was togetherness and tolerance. Even though these people have different perspectives and opinions, they all still were open to spending time with each other over a beer. This was a positive step toward healing a divided community through the brand.
If you are curious to see the ad, take a look –HEINEKEN WORLDS APART. After a few months of the campaign running, it was reported that the video racked up almost 40 million views, and the majority of the reaction to the video was positive. This video ad was way ahead of its time in terms of social media campaign strategy. The message was clear, and the brand executed it in an inspirational fashion.
4. WHO – #SafeHands Campaign
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization decided that a campaign would be run to promote hand hygiene worldwide. So in 2020, they started the #SafeHands challenge, aimed at people using the most effective hand-washing technique to help stop the spread of the virus. People were encouraged to upload videos of them washing their hands and using the hashtag. Consumers could use any social media platform, but the one that made a significant impact was TikTok.
In just 48 hours, the hashtag SafeHands was used half a billion times. You had celebrities like Mariah Carey and Tiktok stars like Charli D’Amelio who shared videos of themselves taking part in the challenge. The campaign was timed perfectly as most of the world was in quarantine and had enough time to view the whole campaign unfolding. This was gaining popularity and proved to be an excellent delivery system for COVID-related resources and information shared through the hashtag, which had a link attached. This was not only a success for WHO but also TikTok. The platform saw a rise in popularity and a 27% increase in engagement on sponsored posts.
5. Dove – #RealBeauty Campaign
A beauty brand like Dove promotes products to make you feel good about yourself. Just like other beauty brands out there, they sometimes sell a false impression of what beauty is. Dove decided to change it by starting a campaign that promoted self-love and strived for better self-esteem from its patrons. Their #RealBeauty campaign worked wonders in the community, and the brand established itself as a pioneer in female empowerment and started much-needed conversations about the definitions of female beauty.
This campaign started in 2004 and is still running today, showing the impact it had and has. The campaign revolved around Dove’s observation that only a few women found themselves beautiful. This sparked the idea of the higher-ups at Dove to focus on inner beauty, women empowerment and being natural. Even though social media was still in its testing phases, the brand still used the internet to promote its campaign.
In 2006, the brand uploaded a video titled Evolution as an ad on YouTube. When a campaign can be related to its audience, that is when you know it is going to be successful. Dove knew that and decided to push ads that spoke to women everywhere. Why did people believe them? It was because it was not only the words they used but also the brand’s actions following the campaign’s release. In 2018, Dove promised its consumers that it would stop editing ads to seem more aesthetic in marketing.
The campaign also influenced other movements like the #SpeakBeautiful campaign. This was a collaboration between Dove and Twitter, where the brands sought to respond to negative posts about beauty or body image. Dove also started to upload images of women tagged as beautiful on image libraries like Shutterstock. Getty Images also teamed up with Dove to allow consumers to use images of underrepresented women free of cost on their platform. All these campaigns result in Dove being one of the most recognized brands in the world, and you can find their products in almost every household.
6. NSW Police – #Memes Campaign
This campaign is surprising to most people since you would not associate these two words, the first police and the second meme. But it did happen in 2017; the New South Wales police department took to Facebook and started to share memes that users could share with their followers. This content was a change from their previous posts, which would have a serious undertone. The police force started uploading posts that reflected a sarcastic and comedic sense to combat the social media algorithm. This was an effort to reach young people, an audience that generally isn’t very responsive to the police.
This campaign aimed to eliminate the stigma around the police and have the community find law officers more approachable and see them as human beings who also enjoy humor. The NSW Police Facebook page has around 1.2 million followers by the end of the campaign. This is seen as a feat no other police force has ever accomplished. Their digital marketing team had the goal of bringing the community and the police force closer together through the use of relatable content.
The main element of this campaign was memes, which increased their reach and user engagement. By the end of the campaign, the NSW Police brand was looked at positively and debunked any previously established myths about the police force.
7. National Geographic – #YourShot Campaign
When it comes to everything wild and natural, National Geographic is a brand that excels in giving its follower precisely what they need. Tuning in, you usually see breathtaking photography and incredible visuals showcased on all their channels, including digital. Similar to Apple, the brand decided to introduce a campaign of its own that spotlighted talented photographers.
This campaign was titled Your Shot. It consisted of an Instagram account that National Geographic created and called natgeoyourshot. The page was to bring together the photo community and give every professional and amateur photographer the chance to show their photos to a vast audience, which at the time was at 4.2 million followers. This would work by being featured on their page and tagged in the brand’s post.
As mentioned before, user-generated content is a gold mine for brands because it screams authenticity. When consumers see a brand being genuine, it increases brand awareness. It also gives the brand credibility and impacts its profits positively. When this campaign was launched, the response was over 10 million photos were sent to your shot page. This was a milestone for the brand, which operated for 14 years without any social media presence.
Currently, the hashtags #yourshotphotographer and #natgeoyourshot have brought in over 11 million photos combined on Instagram. The different social media made for the brand were enormous since it received more photos from one year of the campaign running than it did on the brand website.
The campaign aimed to showcase pivotal moments that could be captured on camera. National Geographic ensured these were always put front and center in their social media accounts. The creativity, authenticity and professionalism portrayed in this campaign are why it stood out from the rest. The campaign encouraged photographers to immerse themselves like never before in their art form and put together incredible shots that would bring light to communities, cultures and environments.
The result was that the page had 4.2 million followers, 6000+ posts, and the brand generated half a million likes. This campaign has changed the lives of many photographers that were noticed and helped them elevate themselves to the next stage of their careers.
8. MEAA – #RightToKnow Campaign
The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance in Australia devised a very impactful campaign for the whole country due to the sheer extent of what took place. On the 21st of October 2019, the front page of every newspaper was blacked out, meaning every line and photo on the page was covered in black ink, a bold statement directed toward the federal government. At that time, the government implemented policies that impacted the freedom of media houses and how they reported the news. The government also came down hard on whistleblowers and even pursued criminal charges against journalism.
This campaign aimed to spark a discussion among the people and the country’s government. The freedom of journalists in the country was coming under fire, and many established traditional media and social media brands advocated for this issue through organic posts and ads. The social media aspect of this campaign was a part of an overall strategy to bring these issues to light. Social media platforms were used to incite discussions about the problem and engage users with content they could educate themselves about the campaign.
The results of this campaign were that it brought people together to fight this injustice and sent a clear message to the government. The message is that all media houses were standing together against these policies, and none of them will be silenced. This single hashtag and landing page made cross-platform interaction and sharing easy. As you have seen, most of the campaigns mentioned were praised for being positive and cheerful, but this gained popularity because it exposed the truth and fought an issue plaguing an industry. As a result, campaigns can sometimes change a whole country if they have the right message and stand for what is right, in this case, the right to know.
9. Gillette – #TheBestMenCanBe and #MyBestSelf Campaigns
In 2019, Gillette decided that the brand would stand against an issue affecting the male community. The brand was going to tackle toxic masculinity with a campaign that would revolve around a video; in this video, men were asked to be better and stop making old excuses like “boys will be boys.” Even though the response was that the video was the most disliked video on YouTube, they still started a discussion.
This social media teaser campaign example is one of the many ways brands take advantage of corporate social responsibility to build trust, encourage awareness, and promote societal changes. Companies have seen an increase in sales because people are more apt to buy from a company that shares their values or supports causes they care about (64% of consumers will buy from those companies). The results of this marketing campaign are impressive as well. Firstly, Gillette had around 1.5 million mentions on social media in 48 hours. The brand’s hashtag TheBestMenCanBe was used over 187,400 times in a day. Gillette’s tweets were shared 300,000 times and liked 600,00 times. It can be assumed that this campaign was a success for the brand in spreading awareness.
Gillette used the adverse reactions it received as a form of outrage marketing, which engaged people with the brand. Another #MyBestSelf campaign was launched to represent the transgender community. The video entailed a transgender man using a razor for the first time to shave. This was embraced positively by the transgender community.
As brands become more aware of their values and put them at the forefront of what they do, consumers become more aware and care about how brands behave. Therefore, it becomes crucial for brands to identify social issues they support to build trust among their customers. This ad can be seen as one of many social media campaigns for a social change introduced by brands throughout the era of digital media.
10. Starbucks – #UnicornFrappuccino Campaign
The Frappuccino Happy Hour was launched in 2017 by Starbucks. This consisted of the introduction of the Unicorn Frappuccino during this time. It was an Instagram-friendly success that generated significant traffic, earning them a spot on the Best Social Media Ad Campaigns of 2017 list.
In this campaign, Starbucks researched and targeted social media advertising toward Millennial audiences – known for documenting every meal they eat on Instagram. They designed a glittery pink and purple frozen drink that looked awesome in pictures and made it available for just one short day in select stores. Manufacturing scarcity (and inciting FOMO) are some of the oldest tricks in the book – but when combined with social media, any brand is set to become viral through its campaign.
This campaign brought many benefits to the brand, such as global store sales increasing by 3% in America. The hashtag Unicorn Frappuccino also generated 155,000 Instagram posts, while the hashtag Unicron generated 4.5 million posts.
Looking at all these campaigns, it can be assumed that every brand did its research and made sure they were reaching a specific audience segment effectively. Most brands had a positive reaction from people, but even then, any publicity is good. Each of these case studies is an example of the different types of social media campaigns that brands usually try and create.
If you are an emerging brand thinking about launching a potentially viral campaign, use these case studies as a benchmark to ensure you cover all the bases and achieve success. Finding more examples to fit your brand is also essential, so you can view endless examples online. Experiment with various social media campaign templates to see what kind of message you want to put out into the digital world. Even if you don’t reach your desired result, you could still positively impact the community and the world.
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