Brands seem to (finally) be getting their social media marketing campaigns right. 2014 has already proven to be a good year for many brands to flex their savviness and bring innovative approaches to the social marketing table.
Of course, new social initiatives are touted across industry publications every day, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In this article, I'll present just a few of my favorite social campaigns of 2014 so far, with the hope of avoiding some of the ones you've probably seen beaten into the ground already (Ellen's selfie, anyone?).
What would you add to the ongoing 2014 best list?
Subway GIFs for #januANY campaign
GIFs are taking the internet by storm. They are the media type of choice for BuzzFeed and have nearly overtaken Tumblr altogether. And that's why Subway is brilliant for building a social campaign around these delightful animated images. These GIFs coupled with real-time "moment marketing" made for a fun and memorable experience.
During Subway's "#januANY" promotion, which ran throughout January of this year, customers could buy any foot-long sub for $5. Working with 360i and Giphy, Subway took this promotion to Twitter and crafted special animated GIFs as real-time responses to people who tweeted at the #januANY hashtag. Subway used Promoted Tweets to get its tweets seen by even more fans, and -- as I'm sure you can imagine -- the customized GIFs spread pretty quickly.
For example, GIFs like the below were sent to folks musing on Twitter, via the #JanuANY hashtag, about what to have for lunch. The replies, like "ANYthing you choose will be OUTTA THIS WORLD," were generic enough to have been developed well in advance, but still suited and appropriate for the reply. (See more examples in context here.)
"Surprise and delight" campaigns are some of my favorite. Yes, they generate buzz about the brand. But more importantly, they make customers feel special -- like they're getting something that not everyone else gets. That feeling is what drives loyalty, and it most certainly drives more word-of-mouth marketing.
Airbnb's first short film -- made completely of Vines
As a true social campaign, Airbnb embarked on putting together the first-ever short film using user-generated content created on Vine. The instructions for the creation of "Hollywood and Vines" were released to all of Airbnb's community in a shot-list on Twitter that anyone could film and submit. Airbnb gave away $100 in credit to any submission that was chosen for the film. Keep in mind, Vine videos are six seconds long, and the entire video wrapped at around four and a half minutes.
The film follows the journey of a single piece of paper, traveling the world as the story unfolds (pun intended). As Airbnb is entirely reliant on its users -- both hosts and guests -- this video is very on-brand and relays the perfect message of wanderlust.
The project received more than 750 submissions from around the world, and 100 Vines were used in the final short, which was released at Sundance this year. The video illustrated the powerful message of adventure and transformation and quickly went viral upon its release.
User-generated content has been and always will be one of my favorite types of "branded" content. It's authentic and relatable. With Airbnb being a "user-generated" company, it seems only fit that it would not only incorporate their users into this project, but also make them the primary focus.
A.1. "Unfriends" Steak on Facebook
When I think of A.1., I automatically think "steak sauce." In an effort to shift that singular association and position A.1. sauce as being the perfect complement for many foods, the brand launched a creative campaign to decouple the sauce from its long-term partner. Part of this campaign was a funny video that was released on Facebook to help drive awareness and buzz around this new persona.
In the video, A.1. is initially "in a relationship" with Steak on Facebook when, all of a sudden, it starts getting friend requests from other foods: Pork, Salmon, even Lobster!
As another social component of the campaign, A.1. also launched a Pinterest page complete with boards containing a variety of foods -- not just steak.
Often times, it's difficult to rebrand a product that's been used one way for many years. Using wit and humor on social media to reveal this new brand messaging was a great way to get customers on board. The Pinterest page, featuring easily accessible recipes, helps open customers' minds to using A.1. with other foods.
As social media continues to evolve, I'm looking forward to even more innovative, customer-focused campaigns this year. Don't forget -- add your favorites in the comments!
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.