What the Best Social Media Campaigns Teach Us


If you wanted to grow strawberries in your backyard, what would you do?

  • Reinvent the wheel and create new, never-before-seen methods for growing healthy strawberry plants.
  • Learn from successful gardening experts who’ve harvested a ton of strawberry crops throughout the years.

Well, if you’re the adventurous type, I say you’d go for option #1.

But if all you want is delicious, sweet, healthy strawberries?

You’d go for option #2.

Because here’s the thing: reinventing the wheel and experimenting with new stuff is all good.

But if you want sure results, look to the past and follow what worked.

The same is true with social media campaigns.

As we face a new year, we can go all out A/B testing our brand-new campaign ideas.

Or we can look back, single out the best campaigns, and dig into why they worked.

Of course, I’m not saying we should spin or plagiarize other brands’ content.

What I’m saying is there’s a ton to learn with what went right last year that we can put into our own campaigns.

So are you ready to check out some of the best social media campaigns going?

Let’s dive in.

5 Top Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)

2020 was a year of unprecedented change.

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the world, people lost their security, jobs, businesses, and even loved ones.

But the human spirit stayed alive despite the catastrophe.

People continued buying coffee. Bags. Clothing.

And the best brands kept in touch with them on social media, making sure they had everything they needed.

Here are five top social media campaigns (plus what you can learn from each of them).

1. Manu Atelier’s Lockdown Launch

Imagine this.

You’re a thriving fashion brand selling luxury bags and shoes.

Suddenly, a global pandemic strikes, and your loyal customers are stuck at home.

You’re forced to temporarily close your shops.

What would you do?

For luxury fashion brand Manu Atelier, it meant pivoting from their original campaigns and connecting with their Instagram following on a deeper level.

Their plan was genius.

They reached out to friends and fans of the brand and asked them to shoot photos of themselves with their Manu Atelier pieces… right in their own homes.

Check out this post

…And this one.

…And this one.

The brand enjoyed higher engagement with their following and a successful launch of their new collection as a result.

What we can learn from Manu Atelier’s lockdown launch:

Be ready to pivot and change your marketing plan within short notice.

If there’s anything we as marketers can predict, it’s change.

No one expected the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic brought.

But for brands like Manu Atelier, which were ready to quickly pivot and change their message, things worked out more than well.

2.  Coors Light’s Giveaway

In April, during the height of the lockdown, a 93-year-old woman under quarantine posted a photo of herself with one request.

Here it is:

Now, Coors Light could have enjoyed the few minutes of fame and done nothing about it.

But they were quick to grab the opportunity.

Just a day later, they delivered 10 cases of beer to Olive Veronesi’s doorstep.

But that’s not all.

Coors Light went even further and planned one of 2020’s best social media campaigns based on what happened.

What they did was run a month-long giveaway.

All you had to do to join was tweet them using their campaign hashtag: #CouldUseABeer.

In the end, they gave away 500,000 beers, greatly boosting brand awareness and good public sentiment.

What we can learn from Coors Light’s campaign:

Don’t waste the random moments your brand gets the spotlight!

Sure, Coors Light gained attention when Olive Veronesi posted a photo of herself with that sign and a can of beer.

But Coors Light’s 15 minutes of fame could have all gone to waste if they hadn’t followed it with a related campaign to “relieve the stress of a pandemic.”

3. Hello BC’s #ExploreBCLater Campaign

The COVID-19 pandemic hit some industries harder than others.

For instance, the travel industry.

With lockdowns and travel restrictions set in place across the globe, the tourism industry saw itself facing a severe problem.

But not all travel and tourism authorities lay down to weather the storm or die.

Provincial authority Hello BC decided to come up with an epic campaign called #ExploreBCLater. This campaign was related to their previous one called #ExploreBC.

What did they do?

They encouraged people to stay home and enjoy virtual tourism by posting their own beautiful BC snapshots, no matter how old.

The results were amazing: 12,722 posts using the hashtag #ExploreBCLater.

Here’s an example.

And this one.

The best part is, the campaign didn’t only boost awareness for Hello BC.

It also served as a great way for photographers to make money during the lockdown by repurposing their old photographs.

That’s hitting two birds with one stone at its best.

What we can learn from Hello BC’s campaign:

User-generated content works like magic because people love sharing their own stories and special life moments.

So next time you’re planning a campaign ask yourself this, “How can I make this about my ideal client instead of my brand?”

And, “How can I take the attention away from myself, and place it on my potential customer?”

4.  Starbucks’ #WhatsYourName Campaign

Ever gone to Starbucks and had the name on your cup misspelled?

If yes, you probably snapped a photo of it and posted it on social media.

Yup, Starbucks is famous for misspelling names. (On purpose, maybe?)

And back in February, they decided to use this well-known practice of writing names on cups to spark one of their best social media campaigns yet.

They partnered with Mermaids, an organization that supports gender-diverse and transgender youth, and started the #WhatsYourName campaign.

To join, all you had to do was post using the hashtag or a photo of their mermaid cookie, which raised funds for gender-diverse and transgender youth.

The result was an overflow of warmth and good sentiment.

Check this one out…

…and this one.

What you can learn from Starbucks’ #WhatsYourName campaign:

While it can be disastrous to pick a polarizing topic, there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand for what you believe in.

Sure, it’s a good idea to stay away from religion and politics in your campaigns. But standing up for the rights of a minority group will win you a ton of love.

5. Proctor & Gamble’s #DistanceDance Campaign

In March of 2020, Proctor & Gamble (the brand that packages everything from razor blades to dandruff-free shampoo), partnered up with Charli D’Amelio to create the #DistanceDance campaign.

Here’s how it worked:

Users were encouraged to stay at home and film a short dance video.

They would then post these videos on TikTok with the hashtag #DistanceDance.

For the first three million videos, Proctor & Gamble promised to donate to Feeding America and Matthew 25.

The results were amazing.

In the first week alone, #DistanceDance garnered 1.7 million iterations and eight billion views.

To date, the hashtag has 17.6 billion views.

What we can learn from the #DistanceDance campaign:

A campaign run by an influencer can go a long way. Since Charli D’Amelio has 105.6 million followers, her video reached a ton of people.

Of course, it’s not necessary to reach out to the biggest stars. You can go smaller and still enjoy success.

The key is to choose a topic that your influencer’s followers will care about.

How to Run a Timeless & Successful Social Media Campaign

I know, planning a new social media campaign is daunting.

You’re thinking to yourself, “It’s January again. A new year. What brand new ideas can I come up with this year?”

Maybe you’re even feeling exhausted just looking forward to hours-long brainstorming sessions where you try to build a campaign that’ll stand out.

But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

You don’t need to beat yourself up if you can’t come up with “never-before-seen” ideas.

Because the thing is, shiny new campaign ideas can turn out to be a complete waste of time.

Do this instead.

Take a tiny peep into the past.

Which campaigns worked best?

Why did they work?

Then, apply what you’ve learned to your new campaign.

For instance, look at the five campaigns above and make a checklist for yours:

  • Run a campaign based on current events.
  • Run a campaign based on that one time your brand got attention on social media.
  • Run a campaign based on user-generated content.
  • Run a campaign based on standing up for someone else’s rights.
  • Run a campaign through a beloved social media influencer.

When you’ve tried all five, give your brand a hard look and be amazed at how much it has improved.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, January 2021.