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Top 9 Social Media Campaigns of All Time

What makes a successful social media campaign? Is it simply being able to go viral, or is it more than that? Today we will delve into our top 9 list and determine what we’ve learned from studying them. Listed in no particular order:

Top 9 Social Media Campaigns of All Time

Wendy’s Chicken Nugget Challenge

It all began with a single tweet in 2017. Carter Wilkerson tweeted at Wendy’s, the fast-food chain, asking how many retweets he would need to get a free year of chicken nuggets. Wendy’s took the bait and quickly replied their answer: “18 million”.

Carter pleaded for help to reach his goal, and the internet delivered. The tweet didn’t exactly reach 18 million retweets, however it did become the most retweeted of all time (at the time) and Wendy’s decided to reward his efforts. 

Key Takeaway

The customer is always right, so be sure to listen and interact with them whenever possible. Wendy’s never could have planned this viral marketing stunt. It only happened because they listened to someone posting about their brand (Carter), and took time to interact with them.

Dollar Shave Club

Way back in 2012 the razor subscription service was searching for a simple way to showcase what makes their product so special. They settled with creating this hilarious video to explain exactly that:

Key Takeaway:

This masterpiece of a viral marketing example is living proof that you don’t need a huge budget (the video cost $4,500) or brand following to create an effective viral video. Also, using humor and taking a risk can both be incredibly effective techniques. After the release of this video, the previously unknown brand’s site crashed multiple times and they received over 12k subscribers in under 48 hours. The video currently has a staggering 26M+ views.

iHop to iHob

For a brief moment in 2018, the International House of Pancakes chain “became” International House of Burgers. They simply flipped the “p” upside down. Before the big reveal, the brand asked its followers to guess what the “B” stood for — more than 30,000 users responded with their guesses. When IHOP finally shared the new name, their tweet already garnered a hefty amount of attention and received over 15,000 retweets.

Key Takeaway

Being too clean cut and serious all the time can eventually become boring. iHOP memeified their own brand and many people found the marketing stunt quite refreshing from the norm. Sometimes consumers just want to let go, and brands that can manifest a bit of mindless fun may be rewarded for doing so.

Budweiser’s Lost Dog Commercial

This commercial debuted during the super bowl in 2015, and immediately after went viral across social media. Still to this day it remains one of Budweiser’s most viewed ads of all time.

Key Takeaways

Don’t try so hard to sell products, instead tell stories that people can resonate with emotionally and include the product within. They’ve showcased that here by creating a short storyline which quickly draws in the attention of viewers. The marketing is more subtle on this one – people don’t even realize it’s a beer commercial until the very last frame.

Coke: Share a Coke

Big brands are usually hesitant to try something groundbreaking when they’re already so established. So, what did Coca-Cola do to appeal to the masses? They appealed to individuals — by putting their names on each bottle.

The Share a Coke campaign began in Australia in 2011, when Coca-Cola personalized each bottle with the 150 most popular names in the country. Since then, the U.S. has followed suit, printing names on the front of its bottles and cans in Coke’s branded font. You can even order custom bottles on Coke’s website.

At the time it was a well covered story in the marketing and advertising industry. I distinctly remember the huge amount of buzz it received, people were making jokes and memes about certain bottle names, further spreading the reach of the campaign. Pepsi even released counter-ads sometime after the campaign launched.

Photo By Mike Mozart – Share a Coke Name Promotional Coca Cola Bottles

Key Takeaway

There’s nothing people truly love more than themselves. That’s why creating a personalized experience makes people more likely to buy, share and talk about your product. The promotion allowed consumers to feel like they were the center of the narrative, instead of the usual cogs in the wheel of a campaign. Wondering what name you’d get out of the vending machine was reason enough in my eyes — even if it isn’t yours, it encourages you to “Share a Coke” with whomever’s name it is.

Oreo: Dunk In The Dark

During the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo capitalized on the massive power outage by tweeting out a clever ad. The post quickly racked up thousands of retweets and attention. The day afterwards, Huffington Post proclaimed that “one of the most buzz-worthy ads of the Super Bowl on Sunday wasn’t even a commercial – it was a mere tweet from Oreo during the blackout”.

Key Takeaway

Capitalize on current events in a timely and creative manner. The brilliant ad by Orea was posted not long after the power outage happened. This means their social media team was quick on their feet to make the image and post it on social media.

Sunny Co Clothing

If you were on the internet in april of 2017, there’s a good chance you have seen this image. Clothing retail startup “Sunny Co Clothing,” founded by two college seniors at the University of Arizona, figured creating a swimsuit giveaway would be a good way to get the word out about their new brand. By reposting their photo with a specific hashtag, social media users would be entitled to a “free” swimsuit in exchange for their post — in addition to the company donating $1 to the Alzheimer’s Foundation for each one. The company had ~7k followers on Instagram on Tuesday night. By Wednesday night, that number had reached more than 750k.

Photo via @Sunnycoclothing

Key Takeaway

This campaign became viral overnight because they created a call to action system which required participants to share their brand photo in order to win. It worked so well that it spurred a chain reaction of girls rushing to post the bikini on their Instagram stories hoping to win a free swimsuit. The lesson learned here is: find a way to make people actually want to promote your brand, and you will succeed.

#StraightOuttaCompton Movie Campaign

In 2015, Beats by Dr. Dre + Universal Pictures created a website called StraightOuttaSomewhere.com their movie Straight Outta Compton (based on rap group N.W.A.). Visitors could create their own #StraightOutta memes and input any place and picture. This helped the hashtag go viral as people shared their creative and personal posts with the website reaping 10.8 million+ visits. Even other marketers jumped on the bandwagon and created their own memes, such as 7-Eleven, Snickers, and Whataburger, to name just a few.

Key Takeaway

People love making memes and jokes. Giving them the tools to make memes while simultaneously promoting your brand or product can have a profound effect on it’s share ability and effectiveness.

KFC Herbs & Spices

In 2017 KFC unfollowed everyone except 6 people named Herb and the 5 Spice Girls. A Twitter user noticed this easter egg of a stunt by KFC and posted about it. Afterwards, the whole internet proceeded to go absolutely nuts over it.

Key Takeaway

KFC’s sneaky gag paid dividends by igniting an organic conversation via discovery of their hidden joke. This social strategy was utter genius in its playfulness and simplicity. It goes to show that even creatively changing the profile page of your brand can get people interested. KFC came off as a lighthearted brand that enjoys having fun with its customers.

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