Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Learn from the Best (and Worst) Social Media Campaigns Ever

Social media campaigns, when done right, can result in massive boosts for your brands. However, one misstep is all it takes to knock you off the grid.

By Liz Azyan , in Business Automation Social Media , at October 21, 2015 Tags:

As we all know, setting up an effective social media campaign takes a lot of work and planning.

A brand that wants to use this social media marketing strategy to give itself a much-needed boost needs to be prepared to invest time and resources into getting it right. This typically involves hiring a team of experts, figuring out the requirements and timelines of the campaign, scoping out the competition, and many other steps along the way. (By the way, here’s an infographic that shows the anatomy of a successful campaign — check it out!)

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), not all social media campaigns are created equal; some may turn out to be significantly more effective (or even horrifically more detrimental to the brand’s reputation) than the other. In this blog post, I decided to take a look at both the good and the bad, and to point out what we ought to learn from these social media experiences (and misadventures).

The Best

The Old Spice Guy Q & A.

Forbes calls it one of the most effective social media marketing campaigns from 2010, and with good reason. It was a true turning point for digital marketing, as it was the first significantly successful instance where a brand’s television marketing campaign jived excellently with its social media efforts.

Old Spice created this synergy when they selected former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa to become the new “face” of their company — the Old Spice Guy, who was meant to embody the ideal man.

With just the right amount of weirdness, humor, and meme-worthy lines in their TV commercials for this generation to appreciate, the brand took it (and the Old Spice Guy) a step further by encouraging their social media followers to come up with questions for the then-newly unveiled superstar.

Needless to say, it was a smash hit.

Key Takeaways:

With the right campaign, even a brand’s longstanding image can be completely transformed. Also, know your audience well, and don’t be afraid to go digital.

The Colorful Oreo “Daily Twist” Campaign"

Who would have thought that Oreos would look so good in so many colors? For the brand’s 100th birthday, Oreo opted to showcase a new design for their cookies every day for the next 100 days. The very first one was a rainbow cookie — a colorful, 7-layer treat that was designed to express the brand’s support for gay pride.

Because of their visually exciting designs (which commemorated, among other things, Shark Week, the panda Shin-Shin’s new baby, and even Batman), the brand gained over 231 million impressions, experienced a 195% boost in Facebook engagement and was shared nearly three times as much at it normally is. 

Key Takeaways:

Doing things differently and for a good cause will definitely get your brand noticed. However, it also becomes necessary to learn how to create truly compelling content that can stand on its own if the need ever arises.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Remember this campaign from 2014? Chances are, you may have even participated in it! Intended to raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), it was covered even by traditional media outlets, generating enough buzz to make it massively popular and raise over $ 100 million in funds for ALS research.


Key Takeaways:

Create a campaign for a good cause, and you’ll give them a good reason to participate. Create an interesting, engaging campaign, and you’ll give them the incentive to participate. Aim to combine both.

Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” Series"

blendtec-logo-2013I’m not even THAT into smoothies and shakes, but somehow Blendtec managed to catch my attention — as well as a whole lot of other folks’, if the over 700 % increase in home sales of their blenders were any indication.

The “Will It Blend?” videos are pretty simple and straightforward: Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson is simply shown blending all sorts of things, from glow sticks to metal sheets and even iPhones (gasp!).

Not only do the videos demonstrate just how powerful Blendtec’s blenders are, they also capitalize on the power of social media and keep viewers hooked. Because really, who WOULDN’T want to know if a Ford Fiesta would blend? 

Key Takeaways:

Inspiration can come from the strangest places. (Oh, and keep your hands out of the blender. please.)

Blendtec’s #SocialMedia campaign was so effective that it boosted blender sales by 700%. Learn more:

The Worst

British Gas’s Q & A Faux Pas

british.gas_.image_.2015-300x150Here’s a case of bad timing that snowballed into a social media disaster. When British Gas held a Twitter Q&A session in 2013, they failed to take into account that they’d launched their campaign on the same day they decided to up their energy prices by about 10%.

Naturally, angry consumers saw the Twitter event, decided that it would be the perfect vehicle for some sweet payback, and practically smothered customer service with inappropriate questions, declarations of anger and outrage, and even a few well-honed sarcastic jabs. 

Key Takeaways:

Not all campaigns and circumstances merit being tackled in a certain way on social media — especially if you somehow managed to anger a sizable number of users.

Epicurious’s ill-advised Boston Marathon bombing tweets


When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, cooking site Epicurious saw an opportunity to express their condolences while still finding some way to make money out of it.

The brand took to Twitter and posted what were meant to be uplifting messages. Unfortunately, the tweets came off as a tad opportunistic and insensitive — totally not what the brand wanted to convey. 

Key Takeaways:

If you’re thinking of using a tragic event as leverage for your social media campaign or promotions… don’t. Just don’t.

Malaysia Air’s “Bucket List.”

Logo_Penerbangan_MalaysiaIf you’re in the airline business and you just suffered two major crashes, reminding people of their mortality might not be in your best interests, in as far as marketing is concerned.

Still, no one seemed to catch this little matter over at Malaysia Air, where they launched their “Bucket List” (as in, things you want to accomplish before you die, right?) campaign on social media.

Instead of receiving tweets containing posts and images of what users considered were their “ultimate bucket list” items, the brand instead received a jumbo jet’s worth of complaints, until they had no other choice but to take their parachutes and leap out of the burning mess that was their campaign.

Key Takeaways:

If your problems lie in your services, you won’t find the solutions in your marketing.

Which airline came up with a disastrous and ill-timed “Bucket List” campaign? Find out: #SMM

Now that we’ve gone through examples of social media campaign successes and failures, why don’t you start building your own social media campaign?