Social media marketing has proven itself as much more than just a passing fad. A common misconception is that when things go viral, it’s just by accident or some kind of fluke. Granted, there is a little bit of luck at play sometimes but certain firms have got it down to a science where they can really put the odds in their favor. Sometimes it’s about creating a new trend from scratch and making it go viral but other times simply jumping on a bandwagon will do more than enough to raise a lot of exposure for your campaign. Let’s take a look at some of the very best social media campaigns of 2014 (so far) and why they were so successful.
Here’s an example of a company seizing the opportunity when something goes viral by accident. If this was planned from the very start, it would have been incredibly clever and a brilliant way to get attention. Part of me wants to believe that this happened organically, but the cynic in my head says it was staged. In either case, the result is still the same.
TrekAmerica is a company that specializes in putting together adventure holiday packages. When one of their employees named Greg sent in a vacation request, he accidently CC’d every member of the company’s 3500 staff rather than just sending it to his manager. This resulted in the hashtag #GiveGregaHoliday taking off, and the company responded by giving Greg a trip to Las Vegas and including the hashtag #GregGotTheHoliday. The result here was exposure, and this campaign worked because most people can relate to wanting a little time off, and everyone loves an underdog story of an employee being treated right by their bosses.
This viral video campaign isn’t necessarily ground-breaking but it still does a great job of using a very familiar platform (Facebook) to get across the message that A1 sauce isn’t just for steak anymore. The people at A1 realized that people eat more than just steak, so why not position themselves as a more universal condiment? It would be like if Heinz Ketchup only marketed itself as being used on fries. They created a video that demonstrates the relationship between A1 and Steak as if it were a normal Facebook relationship. A1 starts adding some new friends (Pork, Salmon, Quinoa) and Steak gets jealous. A1 starts posting selfies with all of the other foods, and Steak realizes that he’s going to have to share A1 Sauce from now on. This campaign was successful because it takes a familiar brand and portrays it in a new light, using a platform that everybody is familiar with and can relate to.
Cars For Cancer by Mater Lotteries
The Mater Foundation has been leveraging social media for years. When you have an organization doing such good work for people in need, the audience is much more receptive than they are to a brand that’s just trying to advertise a product or to sell things. The allure of a lottery is hard to ignore, and when that money goes towards a great cause it’s no wonder that these campaigns have done so well. Their most recent is the Cars for Cancer campaign by Mater Lotteries, who are also famous for the Mater Prize Home campaigns. The Mater Foundation has spent more than 100 years providing compassionate health care with a focus on dignity, mercy, quality care and a commitment to their patients. Mater’s social media campaigns are so successful because the public is happy to share the details with their friends, and the prizes this time around are incredible – iPads and even cars!
My Nat Geo Covershot
In the My Nat Geo Covershot campaign, National Geographic encouraged readers to submit their own original photographs via social media outlets along with a caption for a chance to win an incredible travel package. Currently, they’re running a television program featuring the 10 best photographers who are competing to be voted to have their image featured on the cover of National Geographic, an honor that many professional photographers have dreamt of! This campaign works because it leverages the visual aspect of Facebook, engages readers, and gives viewers and fans a sense of ownership to select the winner. It’s a perfect example of engagement, which is a key piece of most successful campaigns.
At the end of the day, you never really know which campaigns will take off and which ones will fizzle away without creating any buzz. You can have all of the right ingredients and a huge media budget yet still have a campaign fail, and sometimes things go viral without any budget or strategy at all. Learn what you can from past campaigns, including the hits and the misses, to help leverage for your own social media success story.
Mary Ann Keeling is a social media manager and business consultant, actively involved in the welfare of her community. She lives in Brisbane with her family, where she spends her free time helping local charities and enjoying various water sports.