The 10 Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2016 So Far

Marketers dream of creating and implementing the greatest buzz-building marketing campaign on social media, and the first half of 2016 has revealed no shortage of companies striving towards this ambitious goal with both traditional and new tactics to get people talking about their brands on social media.

Since 2015, Adweek has been evaluating hundreds of individual campaigns for Shorty Awards, which are awarded for best content in social media. The following 10 great social campaigns will likely show up on that list in 2017.

1. Lowes – FixinSix

Playing off the popularity of time-limited video with apps like Vine and Snapchat, the marketing team at Lowes have created a clever, ongoing social campaign that offers quick home improvement tips in just 6 seconds.

Each clip uses stop motion techniques along with claymation-type animations to create fun and engaging videos.

Don’t rely solely on in-house videos for your own marketing campaign. Learn from Lowes’ creative success and find clever, fun, and engaging ways to deliver valuable content to your audience with an educational takeaway.

2. Esurance – Sparking Engagement with a Contest

There may have been a lot of chatter around the half-time performance at the Super Bowl this year, but data fromSysomos showed that it was Esurance who garnered the most brand mentions on gameday. Even though Esurance didn’t actually run a Super Bowl ad during the game itself, they aired advertisements both before and after the event.

Those commercials pushed a social campaign that scored tons of attention thanks to a contest: the insurance provider was giving away $1 million to a group of lucky winners, and the only way to enter was by retweeting Esurance posts on Twitter.

The Twitter-based contest wasn’t the only aspect of Esurance’s campaign, however. The company informed winners via FaceTime calls and shared their reactions with followers. This is an awesome example of how leveraging user-generated content can improve engagement and brand visibility.

I’m confident you could do the same without shelling out millions.

3. Amnesty International – #GayTurtle

Amnesty International launched a campaign that rapidly grew in popularity as it intended to highlight the absurdity of homophobia. The focus of the campaign was a short video on customers interested in purchasing a turtle.

Several customers seemed to quickly bond with a turtle, though their feelings changed once the shop owner revealed that the turtle was gay.

This was a clever and creative use of content marketing to deliver a specific message and raise awareness while using a hashtag to track the effectiveness of the campaign. The absurdity of people’s reactions made it memorable, with lines like, “Give me a normal, non-gay, standard turtle” that feel as though they’re straight out of a Seth Rogan/James Franco film.

4. 3M – Stop Hammer Time

To promote their branded line of command strips – a product used to secure pictures to walls without the use of a hammer or nails – 3M opted to play off nostalgia and combined traditional advertising with the real-time engagement.

The “Stop Hammer Time” campaign includes a live event in New York where the public will be able to meet and lip sync with M.C. Hammer. This gives 3M the chance to leverage some serious user-generated content across all of their social channels after they record the ridiculousness.

5. Knorr – Love at First Taste

I remember one date years ago where I tried making a fresh lake trout dish and everything that could have gone wrong absolutely did. Thankfully, it created fun memories for us in retrospect.

I believe there’s been a long-standing link between food and romance, and Knorr has done an exceptional job leveraging this connection around the idea of food and first dates. Their #LoveAtFirstTaste campaign combined video, Twitter cards, trend promotion, and interactive content (online quizzes) to boost brand awareness around Knorr foods.

It’s a new approach for Knorr, which typically releases product-specific campaigns instead of broader brand campaigns. It’s a terrific approach to storytelling and making an emotional connection that reminded me of some of those wonderful firsts in dating.

6. L’Oréal Paris – #WorthSaying

L’Oréal has a long-running slogan: “Because You’re Worth It”. Their newest campaign ties closely into that brand positioning with the promotion of #WorthSaying, a hashtag meant to inspire women to talk more about things that are important to them.

The campaign used their sponsorship of the Golden Globes to push the campaign, and the use of an influencer (Jennifer Lopez) lent authority to the message. Months later, the campaign is still being talked about and the hashtag still in use across social media channels.

7. Butterfinger – Bolder Than Bold

Many brands and marketers struggle with the silent video approach to Facebook videos, failing to realize that videos will often play automatically within the News Feed, without sound.

Butterfinger is one brand that figured out how to leverage this model. In my opinion, the “Bolder than Bold” Super Bowl ad wasn’t too impactful, but the short GIFs and videos that resulted from the main campaign surpassed expectations on social media by garnering collectively millions of views on the video shorts.

It’s hard to simply scroll past these entertaining clips once they start playing on your phone, and Butterfinger understood that the clever hook and outlandish visuals would overcome the challenge of the getting noticed in an otherwise clogged News Feed.

8. Paramount – #BlueSteelSelfie

I don’t consider myself to be really, really, ridiculously good-looking, but hey, I’ve got my own style. Paramount placed their bets on fans sharing their own styles by prompting them to take selfies in Derek Zoolander’s signature Blue Steel pose to promote the new Zoolander 2 release.

It’s not a ground-breaking campaign by any means, but it’s a great example of how you can leverage user-generated content to build buzz around an upcoming release.

9. Buzzfeed – Tasty

You’ve probably seen these video shorts making their rounds on Facebook this year: quick, easy-to-make, mouthwatering recipes that are as much fun to watch as they are to eat. In a short span of time, the pilot from BuzzFeed has accumulated over 60 million Facebook fans and this campaign resulted in the launch of TastyJunior and Nifty.

Similar to Butterfinger, BuzzFeed’s foodie-oriented social campaigns leverage Facebook’s native video and make it easy to digest (no pun intended) without sound. They’re scroll-stopping videos that continue to amass a steady following, which creates great visibility for BuzzFeed.

10. Disney – #ShareYourEars

Not all social campaigns directly promote a product. This year, Disney teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise awareness and funds for terminally-ill children. Their campaign encouraged fans to share images and selfies featuring the classic mouse ears on Twitter and Instagram, using the #ShareYourEars hashtag.

Disney pledged a $5 donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation for each participant in the campaign, with a total cap of $1 million. The campaign became a trending topic on social media and it was eventually so successful that Disneydoubled their original pledge to $2 million.

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