The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
The eyewear company has a home try-on program where you can get five frames sent to your home for free, and they encourage you to try them on and share them on social media to get opinions from friends. This is a great bottom-up campaign that gets potential customers and their friends leaving a social footprint tagging Warby Parker.
The company maintains integrity and transparency through their social media marketing. For example, Patagonia used Instagram to share their response to a company crisis regarding manufacturing. They addressed the crisis and stated what they were doing to remedy the issue. The photo-centered platform provided an intimate and direct way to communicate a company's action after a crisis.
Airbnb brings an authentic feel of travel and accommodations to the social marketing platform. They do this through the stories that are told by the travelers that have stayed in different accommodations around the world. The stories are genuine, funny and interesting, which sells the idea of using Airbnb for accommodations.
This continues to be one of my favorite brands to watch on social media because the company shows you what it's like to work there and what they think about customers, their brand, and each other. They are fun to check on, and they offer a positive, humorous and authentic approach to their content, including pictures and videos.
Apple's new Support account on Twitter is absolutely genius. Not only is it a real attempt to resolve customer issues in an organic, effective, and direct way, but the fact that a company of Apple's size has dug in and committed to this approach is a sign that they're taking their customers' support needs seriously.
It is obvious that Southwest Airlines doesn't look at social as just a team of people tweeting. Rather, they've tied in logistics, operations -- even the in-flight teams -- in order to listen, engage, respond, and react. They manage to have real conversations, inserting humor without sounding inauthentic, while also hearing the needs of customers and addressing their issues both online and offline.
Taco Bell for years now has set the bar for truly understanding their core demographic. They've skipped the super famous celebrity endorsers and gone with what their target audience consumes: social media. They've used social media stars to develop a perfectly executed social strategy. Using social media stars as paid brand ambassadors, their advertising comes across as native and natural.
Life Is Good
Life Is Good is an authentic company that focuses on optimism and aligns their creative vision with that mantra. Its social cause is to spread optimism and help people live a happy and fulfilling life with an emphasis on helping underprivileged children. The brand utilizes social marketing to encourage community members to act as brand ambassadors to champion the philosophy in their local regions.
Denny's takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to its social media. I think they realize that because they are a large corporation, their social media posts could easily come off as annoying, overwrought, and silly. Denny's maintains their authenticity and keeps their posts light and fun. They are successful in avoiding making their posts feel like a corporate marketing scheme.
Many companies today use cutting edge social media strategies, but what's nice about Whole Foods is that they share helpful content such as recipes and information on food and nutrition on Twitter and Facebook. Naturally, this is self-serving, but it also provides value for customers who want this kind of content, so their posts are seen as more than just ads.
Dollar Shave Club
They certainly are one of the more creative companies out there. They were one of the first to really utilize video in a creative yet viral way. Since then, they have continued to make more video content that is enjoyable to watch but also serves a purpose of advertising. In addition to that, their online marketing campaigns on Facebook and Instagram have some of the best ad creatives I've seen.
TED Talks covers a wide range of subjects with a variety of experts who speak eloquently and thoughtfully about their topics. They also do social media very well. Their tweets are succinct and attention-grabbing, and they use imagery and photos very well to draw the eye. Their content is always valuable and always insightful.
Lulu and Marula
This is a small cosmetics company out of Johannesburg, South Africa. When you follow them on their various social media platforms (namely Instagram), you gain an insight into what it takes to not only run a skincare brand -- but what it naturally takes to make the products. You actually start to root for them as the customer of an underdog. You get to see them grow and that's priceless.
I'm a big fan of visually compelling social media campaigns. GoPro did this early with YouTube, growing to almost 4 million subscribers and more than 1 billion views by tapping into this almost unlimited resource. Consumer electronic companies like GoPro have established their social media strategies by sharing their customers' accomplishments with other fans.
Netflix does a great job of understanding and connecting with their audience. They cleverly interact with their users utilizing gifs and quotes from their available titles. They embrace the binge-watching habits of their users and encourage it. Knowing your audience is key.
Groupon has always had a really good approach to social media that involves promoting discounted offers in various localities. They aren't afraid to use humor in their posts, they use attractive visuals, and they know how to grab and hold your attention. You could easily end up wasting a lot of time browsing their Facebook page or Twitter profile because it's a lot of fun.