15 Awesome Examples of Social Media Marketing

The best social media campaigns all have one thing in common:

They engage people and make them talk.

Social media can be used to inspire, enrage, amuse, and sell loads of stuff.

Even in what has basically become a pay-to-play channel, marketers continue to find creative ways to increase their visibility and reach, while simultaneously conveying their brand’s message.

You can measure the buzz around a social media campaign with a social listening tool.

It becomes easy to see how many people are talking about your campaign, and what they think about it.

So which brands are successfully tapping into the desires and needs of their target audience on social media?

This post puts together 15 outstanding examples of social media campaigns you need to see.

Some are fun, some are inventive, some promote worthy causes, but all of them do an awesome job of helping the company’s bottom line.

1. Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’

Platform: YouTube

When: 2019

Campaign Outline

In January 2019, Gillette launched a social media campaign aiming at a modern interpretation of manhood.

The short film posted exclusively on YouTube depicted several cases of men struggling with traditional masculinity that Gillette itself used to glorify: the fear to show their emotions, sexual harassment, bullying others.

Then the film shows several examples of positive masculinity, such as standing up for others, caring for your loved ones, and so on.

The campaign was clearly inspired by the #MeToo movement.

On their Instagram, the company also posted positive male role models with short stories about their journey in the world:

  • Organizers.
  • Community leaders.
  • Non-profits’ CEOs.

In addition to that, the company promised to donate “$1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing the most interesting and impactful programs designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal best.”

The Numbers

  • The short film that launched the campaign has over 30 million views.
  • The #GilletteAd hashtag reached more than 150 million people in one month, according to Awario (disclosure: I work for Awario), a social listening tool.
  • The Instagram posts related to the campaign gathered around 800 likes and 50 comments, which is higher than usual for Gillette.

Why Did It Work?

This campaign managed to tap into an extremely relevant and widely discussed issue.

It juxtaposed the previous branding of Gillette with a new one and showed the willingness to change.

At the same time, it was also quite controversial – some people didn’t agree with how the short film portrayed men and thought that it was offensive.

They even started a #boycottgillette hashtag, however, it only took up around 3.5% of all the conversations around the campaign on social media.

2. Greggs’ #vegansausageroll

Platform: Twitter

When: 2019

Campaign Outline

Greggs is a British bakery chain loved by the Brits.

In January, they introduced their new vegan sausage roll, with a clever video ad parodying Apple ads.

However, it’s not the ad itself but the events that followed that made the campaign so memorable.

Piers Morgan, a controversial public figure, retweeted Greggs’ announcement and expressed irritation at the existence of a vegan sausage roll.

That made both pro-vegan roll and anti-vegan roll British people join the social media battle of the year!

Greggs responded to Piers Morgan along with 9,000+ other Twitter users.

And they didn’t shy away from responding both to sausage roll lovers and haters with witty remarks.

As a result, the vegan sausage roll became one of the most popular Greggs products that year.

The Numbers

  • On Twitter alone, the Greggs vegan sausage roll conversation saw over 516 million impressions according to Brandwatch.
  • The announcement tweet was retweeted more than 15 thousand times.
  • Greggs jumped 9,6% in sales in the first seven weeks of the launch.

Why Did It Work?

Even though the success of the campaign partly happened because of an organic retweet and not an action planned by Greggs, it once again shows us the power of influencer marketing.

Even a negative opinion expressed by an influencer draws an incredible amount of attention to your brand.

Plus, if it’s an influencer that most people hate, you only win as a result of this retweet.

Another lesson to take away from this campaign is the advantages of being witty on social media.

Greggs’ funny responses to haters are what won over a new audience and it’s a good practice to not take yourself too seriously on social media.

3. Spotify’s #yearwrapped

Platform: Instagram Stories

When: 2019

Campaign Outline

At the end of last year, Spotify launched a campaign where its users could see the most important musical highlights on their website.

The special webpage Spotify Wrapped showed you your most listened artists, genres, songs, and other fun data discoveries.

You could even see how the music you listened to coincided with your life events that year.

Once you went through all the data analysis, Spotify suggested you share these highlights on social media, specifically Twitter and Insta Stories, and tag your favorite artist of the year.

The Numbers

  • According to Twitter, the campaign has been mentioned in at least 1.2 million posts in the month of the launch.
  • More than 60 million users engaged with the in-app story experience.
  • There were nearly 3 billion streams from Wrapped playlists.

Why Did It Work?

Spotify combined two big psychological triggers in this campaign: personalization and FOMO.

Firstly, the app provided a personalized story for each user – you could see how your music taste developed through the year and what songs accompanied you in your life.

Secondly, by enabling and encouraging sharing on social media, Spotify amplified the reach of the campaign.

People naturally wanted to show off their highlights to their friends, thus making more people eager to try this experience.

4. Planters’ The Death of Mr. Peanut – #RIPPeanut

Platform: Twitter

When: 2020

Campaign Outline

Perhaps one of the most bizarre social media campaigns: the beloved mascot of Planters snack food company died at the beginning of January.

His death was announced with a tweet and later explained in a video ad posted to YouTube.

Apparently Mr. Peanut sacrificed his life to save his commercial co-stars Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes.

You could win some snacks by replying to a tweet with a #RIPPeanut hashtag.

The brands and regular social media users alike played along with the campaign and it even got a mention on SNL.

The campaign was inspired by the reaction to celebrity deaths on social media.

It aimed to repeat the same level engagement that Tony Stark’s death caused in “Avengers: Endgame”.

Later Mr. Peanut was reborn as a Baby Nut and now happily tweets from the Peanut Jr. account.

The Numbers

  • The tweet announcing the death of Mr. Peanut gathered almost 50,000 retweets.
  • The hashtag was used more than a million times on Twitter.

Why Did It Work?

The premise of the campaign was so crazy that it immediately became a meme.

Many comedians and funny Twitter personalities “were making jokes about Mr. Peanut’s departure.

This was a specific brand of Internet humor that makes certain things go viral – and it worked.

5. Starbucks UK’s #WhatsYourName

Platform: Instagram

When: 2019

Campaign Outline

Starbucks UK partnered with Mermaids, an organization to support transgender and gender-diverse youth for a #WhatsYourName campaign focused on trans rights.

The campaign builds on a well-known aspect of the Starbucks experience – having your name written on the side of your cup – by committing to respect the names that customers want to be called by.

In addition to that, Starbucks started selling a mermaid tail cookie to raise funds for Mermaids.

Social media users were encouraged to use the hashtag on Instagram to tell about their experience with gender.

The Numbers

  • The YouTube ad gathered 605,000+ views (with less than a thousand YouTube subscribers).
  • The Instagram post gathered 1,000+ comments with an average comment rate for the Starbucks UK Instagram profile being around 40 comments.

Why Did It Work?

The team behind the campaign created a simple, clear campaign hashtag.

And they led with their values, which helped this campaign make a real, emotional impact.

Many brands steer away from politicized topics, but ultimately, your employees and customers want you to take a stand.

Specifically, they want companies to lead on issues of diversity and community.

6. WWF’s #EndangeredEmoji

Platform: Twitter

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

Seventeen of the animals included in the emoji index were identified as representative of endangered species.

WWF used this insight to launch a campaign to raise donations for species protection.

The idea was simple but effective: for each retweet of an animal emoji shared by the @WWF Twitter account, users were encouraged to make a donation of 10 cents.

Every retweet of an animal emoji was tracked and at the end of each month, users were given a summary of their activity, along with what their donation equivalent totaled.

This timely campaign launched for Endangered Species Day (May 19), which helped to add an element of urgency.

The Numbers

  • Launch tweet was retweeted more than 36,000 times with 11,000 likes and 38,000 responses.
  • More than 1 million tweets using the campaign hashtag.
  • WWF gained over 200,000 new followers and over 59,000 donations in the first two months of the campaign alone.

Why Did It Work?

WWF made it easy to get involved with the campaign and effectively tapped into the emoji craze.

It was fun, the suggested donation was minimal, and the use of emoji tied directly to the campaign’s purpose, rather than feeling like a forced attempt to hijack a trend.

It also didn’t hurt that celebrities including Richard Branson and Jared Leto got involved.

Plus, the WWF campaign earned media coverage from big outlets including the Huffington Post and The Guardian.

7. ‘Ex Machina’

Platforms: Tinder, Instagram

When: 2015

Campaign Outline

A fake Tinder profile was created for SXSW 2015 to attract some publicity for the sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina”.

The profile featured pictures of Alicia Vikander, the Swedish actress who plays a bot named Ava in the movie.

This impressively deceptive stunt lured people into a conversation with “Ava”, before sending them to an Instagram profile that contained only trailers for the movie.

We can only imagine their disappointment.

The Numbers

It’s difficult to pin down exactly how many people fell for this ruse, or just how much a fake Tinder profile contributed to the movie’s ultimate success.

In this instance, we can really admire the inventiveness of a great publicity stunt.

Why Did It Work?

Once more, we see the importance of a close tie between the campaign’s content and its purpose.

This campaign seems a logical extension of Ava’s character in the movie, which is perhaps why people were willing to forgive what could otherwise have been seen as a cruel prank.

It was also in the ideal location – SXSW is attended by a large audience of 20-something, tech-loving men.

8. BuzzFeed’s Tasty

Platform: Facebook

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

You’ve probably seen these quick and easy recipe videos popping up all over your Facebook news feed.

BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos are essentially cooking shows for the social media generation.

These videos, typically lasting less than 2 minutes, deliver on-trend recipes to a highly engaged audience.

The Numbers

  • Nearly 15 months after launching, Tasty was able to publish 2,000 recipe videos, giving the brand a steady stream of new content.
  • Videos reach around 500 million users monthly.
  • 100 million Facebook fans.
  • In September 2016, Tasty generated more than 1.8 billion views of its videos. BuzzFeed now has a team of 75 people dedicated to producing content for Tasty.

Why Did It Work?

For starters, there’s the content.

“It taps into a simple truth: People love tasty foods and the kind of foods that remind them of their childhood, comfort food, or food that reminds them of an experience,” according to Frank Cooper, BuzzFeed’s chief marketing officer.

But more importantly, Tasty and Proper Tasty have exploded on Facebook because the content is tailor-made for that platform.

The videos are optimized for Facebook’s autoplay feature, which starts playing videos without the sound on. You don’t need sound to see, for example, a 45-second guide to making a cheese-stuffed pizza pretzel.

Within 24 hours, that video had 37 million views, 650,000 likes, and 750,000 shares. (It’s now up to 50 million views.)

9. Worldwide Breast Cancer’s #KnowYourLemons

Platform: Facebook

When: 2017

Campaign Outline

The charity Worldwide Breast Cancer launched an innovative and highly shareable campaign in 2017.

Labeled #KnowYourLemons, the campaign was designed to promote awareness of the various signs of breast cancer and remind women that lumps are not the only symptom.

Using lemons to depict 12 different signs, the image cleverly gets around nipple-based censoring rules and aims to help women overcome fears about checking their breasts.

While a breast lump is the most common sign of breast cancer, some symptoms can be seen rather than felt. Either way, a…

Posted by Know Your Lemons Foundation on Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Numbers

  • The images from the campaign have reached 7.3 million people through just three Facebook posts.
  • It’s impossible to know how many women visited their doctor on the basis of this campaign, but it’s safe to assume it had a positive impact.

Why Did It Work?

It managed to strike a delicate balance between playful and serious, while also tackling an important issue.

A campaign like this one serves as an important facilitator of that discussion.

It can be difficult for people to talk openly about these things, but the willingness is there.

10. General Electric’s #6SecondScienceFair

Platform: Vine, Tumblr

When: 2013

Campaign Outline

General Electric launched a campaign hosting a #6SecondScienceFair on Vine and Tumblr back in 2013.

Within this campaign, they revined posts of at-home science experiments, with the aims of encouraging engagement, generating interest in science, and building GE’s position as a force for innovation.

You can view a sample Vine here.

The Numbers

  • The Vine linked to above was revined more than 105,000 times.
  • The campaign on Vine attracted more than 100 million Loops.

Why Did It Work?

Although this campaign is a few years old, it is an excellent example of just how effective user-generated content can be.

The rules were clear: posts had to contain a science experiment and they had to be 6 seconds or shorter.

Other than that, people were free to let their imaginations roam.

This sense of guided creativity was a driving factor behind the campaign’s success.

11. Ted Baker’s #MeetTheBakers

Platform: Instagram

When: 2017

Campaign Outline

Ted Baker, the British fashion brand, has long been associated with great social media storytelling.

Their content ambitions have continued evolving following last year’s cinematic “Mission Impeccable”.

Their newest campaign centered around a fake soap opera called “Keeping up with the Bakers”, partnering with Nexus to create digital window displays that link the real world to their social activity.

Instagram Stories has been utilized in an episodic format to share updates from the “sitcom” with new content released daily over eight days.

This is far more engaging than simply snapping behind the scenes content and products like other brands have done.

Perhaps more interestingly, a shoppable 360 film has also been created to allow shoppers the freedom to explore before making a real-world purchase.

The Numbers

This campaign just launched, so it’s too early to attach final figures.

Nonetheless, Ted Baker has already received some positive press.

Why Did It Work?

Ted Baker took the universal, eternal appeal of storytelling and applied it to a relatively new medium.

The campaign doesn’t feel too overt with its commercial message either, which counterintuitively will most likely lead to much higher sales in the spring period.

12. L’Oréal’s Beauty Squad

Platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

L’Oréal teamed up with five of the UK’s most influential and inspiring beauty YouTubers to promote their products and events.

Instead of simply commissioning sponsored content, the move saw a more genuine relationship between brand and blogger.

The result: more authentic and regular content across the influencer’s social channels.

It’s all #Sponsored. But because there is a bigger, lasting relationship behind this, fans are more receptive to the content.

The Numbers

  • The L’Oréal content produced for YouTube by the influencers has been viewed more than 5 million times.
  • More than 100,000 likes on YouTube and Facebook.

Why Did It Work?

Influencers have evolved from media support to media personalities in their own right.

Many brands have identified influencers as an “opportunity”, but viewing them as merely a vehicle to reach their social followings creates an unnatural and ineffective partnership.

L’Oréal went a few steps further in establishing their own team of top influencers to promote their messaging, and they believe this will herald a new era of relationships between brand, talent, and audience.

13. The Brit Awards 2016

Platforms: Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

In the months leading up to the Brit Music Awards, this campaign by UK TV channel ITV used multiple social media platforms to create an interactive journey, building excitement with a steady trickle of information.

On the night, a newsroom of 60 people worked behind the scenes with designers, photographers, interviewers, and social media experts to ensure all platforms were working to full capacity.

YouTube streamed the show globally; Facebook hosted a Red Carpet Live show; Instagram held a red carpet experience; Snapchat created a Brits Live Story; and the official Brits Vine channel pushed out exclusive content.

The Numbers

  • 10 million views on Vine in one day.
  • Facebook likes grew by 81%.
  • 12 million people live-streamed the red carpet experience.

Why Did It Work?

Unique content was created for each platform over a period of months, building up slowly to the main event.

That’s not easy to do, but the effort clearly reaped rewards.

People use the various social platforms differently and expect different things from each, so brands with the means to meet this demand should aim to do so.

14. Visit Norway’s #SheepWithAView

Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

Visit Norway took a slightly alternative approach to promoting tourism to the country.

For their #SheepWithAView campaign, four sheep in four different regions of Norway starred in videos that promoted their local area.

Video content was supported with further imagery promoting local outdoor adventures, food, and culture.

The photographer spent 20 days documenting Norway through the eyes of the sheep to share their unique life.

The sheep used in the campaign belonged to local farmers, bringing additional authenticity to the campaign.

The Numbers

  • The campaign reach exceeded 64 million people.
  • Brand sentiment was tracked at 98.8% positive during the campaign.

Why Did It Work?

It was knowingly self-mocking, and people like when companies don’t take themselves too seriously.

It was also downright bizarre at times.

Even those who didn’t enjoy the content would have to appreciate the unique, brave approach Visit Norway opted to take.

15. Burberry Cat Lashes

Platform: Pinterest

When: 2016

Campaign Outline

Burberry was the first luxury brand to offer customers a personalized experience on Pinterest.

To promote their Cat Lashes Mascara, Burberry asked users three questions about their beauty style.

Their answers were used to create personalized boards with complete looks.

The partnership allowed Burberry to tap into Pinterest’s 38.5 million unique monthly viewers in the hair and beauty category.

Burberry varied its content formats, too, interspersing product posts with beauty tips and demonstrations.

The Numbers

  • Pinners created more than 30,000 personalized boards.
  • 1 million Burberry makeup Pins were used.
  • All 5,000 available samples were redeemed in just five days.

Why Did It Work?

Burberry has become a go-to brand for innovation within social spaces – from live-streaming their shows to collections that can be purchased directly from the catwalk on a mobile device.

Although this campaign didn’t garner the headlines that its other innovations have, this was still a novel use of Pinterest.

It showed Burberry has a deep understanding of how its audience uses the platform.

To Sum Up

Hope these 15 amazing campaigns gave you a lesson on how to do social media marketing right and inspired you to create your own amazing brand campaign!

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Image Credits

Screenshots taken by author