The 4 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014

best social media campaignsWe live in a digital world of massive proportions.  It has changed, and continues to change, the way we obtain information, communicate with each other, and process work. In the world of business it has opened a wide door to a greater marketplace where consumers are no longer anonymous. Social media gives everyone a voice, a face, and a platform to state their opinions, their likes, and their dislikes. It empowers those who utilize it to take a level of control over their experience unlike ever before.

Undoubtedly, this is very exciting for everyone. But it presents an interesting challenge for businesses and brands. To truly capitalize on their product they need to do more than just get people to buy it or invest in it, they need to get people talking about it. They need to understand the different platforms of social media at their disposal. They need to understand how to use each to the maximum potential and how to truly engage the highly engaged community of the Internet.

The speeds at which a brand can reach its faithful followers or amass new ones make social media marketing seem easy. But good social media campaigns are well crafted, well executed, and planned with precision. And if you are a new brand, just starting up, then you need to get as much know how under you belt as possible as quickly as possible.  If you want to learn the basics of a good online social media campaign start by checking out Udemy’s Introduction to Social Marketing Course. It will help get you up to speed so that you can move forward with other courses and the same skill as the brands that made the best campaigns in 2014.

Weight Watchers: Simple Start

Weight Watchers has always been a company that grounded itself in the power of community. Long before the Internet had chat rooms or discussion boards (let alone the more dynamic social media platforms we now use) the company focused its efforts on helping people get together to support each other and share their stories. It makes perfect sense that the launch of their new Simple Start eating plan has spread like wild fire across the Internet.

With this plan, they created a simple and elegant hashtag that members could use to find each other on various social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, among others. This allowed Weight Watchers’ users to communicate with one another and to share their stories in a public forum – something that in and of itself gave them plenty of exposure. However, they didn’t stop there.

To support its fans and to congratulate them for their weight loss wins, Weight Watchers began to retweet and repost some of their favorite stories, exposing their weight loss winners to the very large Weight Watchers fan base. By keeping a keen eye on posts and discussions, the company was able to post feel-good success stories, giving their fans and themselves a boost all at the same time. After all, their fans feel more confident in seeing other people achieve the goals that they are working toward, and those who have achieved something great can they see that the company is proud of them and wants to share their stories. Weight Watchers also found great ways to showcase the creativity of their clients by featuring pictures of delicious, healthy food items that fit in the Weight Watchers plan. By letting the clients talk about the brand, the #Simplestart campaign let the market do the work for them.

Qdoba’s Queso Showdown

Everyone loves a competition. Qdoba tapped into this mentality with their Queso Showdown campaign by taking a basic ‘vote for the best’ competition and upgrading it with real time updates. It was a simple and exciting way to get their fans both involved and aware. The key to this success was built directly into its concept: strategy. Getting votes in the real world requires one, but the simple, easy, and hilarious vote counting for cheese was both a strategy and great entertainment.

The idea of a showdown was a choice that speaks to company’s understanding of what people will get excited about, and how they will talk about it. Voting is a huge part of American life. Americans spend large amounts of time during presidential elections watching the tickers, listening to the reports and following the votes in real time.

By tapping into this mindset Qdoba found something universal that would appeal to the nature of their consumers, regardless of their demographic. There is also the influence of the subject matter. Qdoba took a competitive style Americans consider serious – voting – and focused it on a ‘sillier’ aspect of their product – mainly cheese. This is not to say that Qdoba thinks cheese is silly, but they were willing to show they don’t take themselves too seriously. By being a company that doesn’t take itself too seriously they allowed for their fans and consumers to jump on board without thinking too much about anything other than a good time.

Qdoba decided to focus their campaign on the three top social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They created an easy to understand live-time updated poll that could show participants which platform was voting for which cheese. Even though focusing on the top three social media platforms might have cut them off from new platforms and new business, the company took the time to understand where their biggest bases were located. Again, as with many other successful social media campaigns, the focus was not as much on getting new customers as it was on entertaining current ones. Besides voting for your favorite ‘Queso’ Qdoba fans were able to add comments or retweet the vote.

Understanding what makes a good strategy can put you above the rest. Check out Udemy’s course on creating a Social Media Strategy for more insights on what you can do to develop a social media marketing plan for your own social media campaign, whether you are going big like Qdoba did, or you’re focusing on something a little bit smaller in scope.

Samsung, #Oscars

Without a doubt this was the most talked about social media campaign of the year so far, and most likely the entire year to come.  To recap: Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres, in what felt like an impromptu moment gathered some of Hollywood’s biggest stars for a selfie. This was a huge gamble on Samsung’s part.

The stated intent of the tweet was to make it the most tweeted picture in history. It felt incredibly spontaneous and unplanned. The random collection of celebrities was fun and silly. And it didn’t feel in any way like a promotional campaign. The phone was never mentioned, but that hasn’t mattered. Firstly, everyone saw the phone itself, held up in front of the camera to take the picture. Secondly, everyone is still talking about the event. And though they aren’t calling it ‘Samsung at the Oscars’, the articles, blogs, and constant buzz about the moment have revolved around about whether or not the campaign worked.

This campaign was gutsy. Why was Samsung willing to sacrifice their product and even their name in lieu of a celebrity stunt? The answer here lies in understanding user engagement. Samsung understood that any nod to the product by DeGeneres at the Oscars would feel like a shrill move and would turn off consumers very quickly.

Being a stable brand means keeping yourself in a positive light, which is harder to do on the Internet than one might think. Having bloggers, hashtaggers, Facebook posts, and tweets turn on Samsung if they’d played their hand too openly would have done irreparable damage. A good social media campaign means understanding that the brand can only control it so much. By being part of a fun, exciting, and seemingly impromptu event Samsung played a bit of a long game, as we are still talking about it even now, and even though we might not have originally, we are associating Samsung with the event.

Taking Udemy’s course on Social Media Marketing: Analytics and User Engagement can give you the right tools you need to understand how companies like Samsung connect with and engage users through their social media efforts. Check it out to learn more about transforming casual followers into active participants on your social media pages.

NASA’s #globalselfie Campaign

Being a brand is not limited to the for-profit world. Not-for-profit organizations have gotten into the mix as well, learning how to promote their cause and mission with as much fervor as any product.  For this year’s Earth Day NASA encouraged everyone to take a selfie for the Earth, since the Earth could not do it for itself. NASA plans to monitor the photos taken on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, and Google+ that use the created hashtag and compile them into an unbelievable ‘global mosaic.’ They also created several event pages to double down on the campaign.

This campaign works for many reasons. The obvious, and the thing that links almost all the successful campaigns listed, is that it allowed the market to do most of the work for the brand. But with the #globalselfie campaign NASA did something particularly ingenious. They harnessed the already established trend of taking landscape photographs of where you are in the world. Hundreds of Instagram photos a day show the Internet parts of the world. And with the creation of more filters, apps, and devices, those photographs are becoming more and more attractive to the eye. By capitalizing on already tested software and social media platforms NASA found an ingenious way to claim, as theirs, the act of digital landscape photography.

2014 is not yet half over and we’ve already seen some amazing social media campaigns from brands that have shown their ability to understand the various platforms and strategies out their on the Internet. These are only four campaigns out of thousands, of course, and there are most definitely going to be newer and more creative campaigns to come. The companies that are the most successful are not always the largest. If you’re looking to build a great campaign influences by these campaigns, there’s no better place to start than Udemy’s Social Media Classroom, which can teach you the ins and outs of various social media platforms.