Social media marketing isn’t enough these days. You also need social media marketing that stands out. Below are some of the most unusual social media campaigns for businesses large and small.
Read this entire list of some of the best social media marketing examples and you’ll find some very clever campaigns and ideas that perhaps you can use in your own business. Some are simple reactions to the needs of a fan or customer but ended up giving massive brand exposure. Others were calculated steps in the march toward brand awareness. All are examples of social media campaigns that go above and beyond the norm and make a real impact.
Looking to increase their share of the market, Maes Beer knew they needed to do something different. While looking for ideas they knew they could only count on two things – family and social media.
They offered a free barrel of their beer to everyone with the last name ‘Maes’ on one condition…they had to share with 20 of their closest friends.
Naturally this took off like…well, like free beer often does.
More than 7,000 people changed their last names to Maes on Facebook. Maes Beer received over 75,000 Facebook likes in a single day…and 500,000 visits to their Facebook page in six weeks.
Sevenly uses social influence to raise awareness for charities and nonprofits while also raising awareness for the Sevenly brand.
People naturally want to help when it’s for a good cause, but not everyone can donate money.
Sevenly understands this, so instead, they ask people to donate to the cause by sharing via social media.
The brand also has another way of leveraging its community for support. Every week Sevenly teams up with a new charity for 7 days. They create a brand new design promoting the charity, slap it on a T-shirt and then sell it from the website.
For every shirt they sell, Sevenly gives $7 to the charity.
The Ushuaia Tower is setting the standard for technology in the hotel industry.
During the summer of 2013, the Ushuaia Hotel merged technology and social media to allow guests to have a one of a kind experience that they could share with friends and loved ones. Guests receive a free RFID wristband upon entrance to the hotel.
They use this bracelet by swiping it at a number of designated areas throughout the property called ‘FaceBook Pillars.’ Once logged in, guests can like an event, take a photo or check in.
From their rooms, guests can also use the bracelet to play games, chat, create personal play lists and enter the hotel’s DJ contest.
When Uniqlo wanted to raise awareness for their new ‘Dry mesh T-shirts’ they knew they needed to do something big to overcome the noise of online fashion in social media.
Pinterest was the obvious platform of choice. However, pinners seem to scroll aimlessly through boards until something grabs their attention.
Well, Uniqlo came up with an idea to do just that.
With about 100 users simultaneously pinning, Uniqlo essentially hijacked the streams of every pinner that was logged on at the time. Users that were scrolling aimlessly got an awakening experience by seeing Uniqlo’s T-shirts turning, flipping and changing colors as they scrolled.
Hijacking Pinterest gained them about 55 million impressions, used no paid media and generated more than 6,000 mentions on Twitter.
Plated gives its customers chef quality recipes and delivers the ingredients that make them. Plated uses its YouTube channel to show customers and other viewers how to make mouth watering recipes that inspire them to have Plated deliver the ingredients.
Follow their Twitter account and you’ll learn about everything from creating a five star meal, to how to photograph the meals from different angles.
Plated aspires to be utilitarian – and that almost always gets attention from social media.
With a clever use of annotations, Tippex created a 30 second YouTube video entitled “Hunter shoots a bear” in which viewers can choose the ending. (Don’t worry, no bears were harmed during the making of this video.)
Instead, the hunter reaches out of the frame to grab a tippex and whites out the word ‘shoot’ – leaving the field blank for viewers to decide what happens next by typing in whatever they want.
It’s kind of addicting which is probably why the clip has received more than 21 million views.
Wanting to reach a younger audience, the Folly Theater in Kansas City Missouri decided to do something most theaters would never even consider. They began allowing audience members to keep phones on during the show. In fact, they encouraged it.
Using an app, the audience members are encouraged to help direct the show. The audience can vote on everything that happens during the show basically creating their own interactive experience.
Theater goers vote on everything from which props and costumes the cast uses to which songs they should sing. Audience members even vote on how much clothing the burlesque dancers should wear.
Everything during the show is shareable which creates an immediate buzz for the theater.
There’s a revolution going on in Ontario…a Burger Revolution. Yep, the folks over at Burger Revolution have created quite the local uprising with their presence on social media.
Burger revolution’s tactics are simple but effective. They keep fans informed on the number of remaining burgers for the day. This highlights specific burgers and creates a sense of urgency.
They also like to post a “comment of the day” which is simply a picture they took of a user’s comment. This has become a tradition the fans love.
The burger joint’s FaceBook page now has more than 2,000 likes.
Since its inception, ‘Vine’ has received lots of attention from not only marketers but from millennials too. Creative six second videos are becoming more and more popular.
And among them is Airbnb’s short film “Hollywood and Vines.”
Airbnb reached out on Twitter for six days by tweeting a ‘shot list’ and asking users to shoot one of the shots in the list. Users would follow the director’s instructions for a given shot and then share it.
For shots that were chosen, Airbnb offered $100. There were more than 750 submissions of which, about 100 were used in the short film.
It was the first short film directed via Twitter. It got wide exposure – even gaining the attention (and more importantly the retweets) of actors like Adam Goldberg and Ashton Kutcher.
In 2012, Waggener Edstrom wanted to hit SXSW with something new. Instead of using typical marketing tactics and broadcasting how great they are, Waggener Edstrom decided to just be – well, useful.
And when you’re at SXSW there’s nothing more useful than a frosty brew. So they teamed up with ‘chirpify’ to develop an app that would allow you to buy your buds’ a beer via Twitter.
The tweet-a-Beer app connected your Twitter account to your Paypal and allowed you to send $5 to any twitter handle you chose. Since beer is the social lubricant, the app resulted in countless face to face meet-ups that might’ve otherwise never happened.
The app instantly gained massive national attention and was covered by numerous mainstream media outlets.
Online Jewelry store BaubleBar has recently opened two locations in New York City where they’ve combined real world shopping with all the qualities of the Web.
Shoppers can interact with any piece of jewelry they choose from BaubleBar’s unique display cases. When a customer chooses a piece of jewelry, the display case offers information from the website such as how to wear the jewelry and more.
But they’ve also integrated social media.
In addition to the information from BaubleBar.com, customers can see pictures of other women wearing the jewlery. Most images are pulled from Instagram using special hashtags so the images are from other customers, not models.
Looking to take social recommendations to the next level, JustBought.it uses Twitter to show purchase activity.
Justbought.it encourages its users to tweet every time they make a purchase so that other users will see the purchase and can then ask and receive general information about the product. Tweets include a picture of the purchased item and a location. The information is then served up to users and sorted by category, location and date.
JustBought.it is currently integrated with Shopify, Microsoft.net, Magento and more.
The Quechua Experiment
Wanting to raise awareness for their outdoor hiking gear, Quechua took to their FaceBook timeline to create a memorable experience for fans.
Quechua posted more than 300 sequential images of a man hiking up a hillside to a special FaceBook page.
Fans could scroll through the timeline to experience the man getting prepared for his hike by sleeping, tying his boots and then hiking the hill. The timeline essentially works as a stop motion commercial.
With ride sharing apps becoming more and more popular, Sidecar started looking for a way to stand out. They teamed up with popular bloggers, designers and fashionistas to have them take over and decorate three sidecars.
Commuters who are lucky enough to end up in one of the three cars will be greeted with drinks, plush pillows, and signs that say things like, “Hey good lookin’ need a ride?”
In addition to these fun signs, there are instructions for the rider which explain how to win sidecar’s contest called “#TasteMakerTakeover.”
Riders must take a photo of themselves in the sidecar and share it to Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #tastemakertakeover and they could win one month of free rides worth $1,000.
An independent record label and self proclaimed fun loving Burger Records is inviting fans to throw shows all over the world. All you have to do is setup a show and Burger Records will promote it.
The only stipulation is…well there really isn’t any, except that it has to be fun and it has to involve music.
Fans without means to set up a show can instead throw a record listening party. In 2013, Burger records did 70+ shows. This year they’re on schedule to do even more – from China to Denver. The shows have gained Burger some nice exposure with fans.
They currently have over 34,000 Facebook fans, more than 20,000 Twitter followers and almost 18,000 on Instagram.
You can plan. You can strategize. But sometimes situations present themselves. And by rising to the occasion you can create a viral campaign without even trying.
Body Form received a comment on FaceBook from an apparently disappointed Richard Neil. Neil explained that he was angry because Body Form had been lying to him for years about what he calls…
“that wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things like bike riding, rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, blue water’ and wings.”
Of course Richard was joking (kinda), but the comment got lots of attention. Body Form decided to rise to the occasion by releasing a video response to the comment.
The video has seen more than 5 million views. Neil’s comment has more than 104,000 likes and almost 5,000 replies.
Small marketing and film agency Sensu was tasked with promoting recording artist Ben Howard’s next music video. But since Ben is no Bieber, Sensu had their work cut out for them.
Instead of using traditional marketing, Sensu created a FaceBook event page and told everyone there was going to be a free concert with free beer. With a little help from the local media, they quickly drew a crowd of more than 500 people.
Sensu essentially created a flash mob. Since the local media was already involved, the event was covered in newspapers, radio shows and blogs. The video has gotten more than 1 million views and almost 8,000 likes on YouTube.
Wanting to raise awareness about breast cancer, Ogilvyone created the Tweet bra. And it does exactly what it sounds like it does. The Tweet bra tweets every time its unclasped.
Tweets include various serious and funny reminders to women that they should get monthly breast exams.
Marketing to younger audiences can be tricky, especially when you’re marketing a bar or pub. Most people don’t trust standard advertising anymore and the younger generation is practically immune to it.
But PODZEMKA was determined to bring in younger customers with advertising that spoke to them.
Their answer was user generated content. They set up a page on their website where customers could upload photos of themselves using templates and pre-written slogans. This allowed party goers to create their own unique ads to share with friends.
The ads were also automatically shared through social media and were quickly seen everywhere. PODZEMKA noted a 50% increase in traffic to their website.
In total, there were 1,000 new advertisements created.
Wanting to show off their creativity, digital agency RazorFish created the #UseMeLeaveMe campaign. Bicycles, GPS, Twitter and a few free rides are about all there is to it.
In total, 20 bikes were available to ride for free at the annual SXSW festival in Austin. Each bike had its own personality and it’s own Twitter account. The bikes shared location information while riders made their way around the event creating considerable buzz in the process.
Social media contests are a great way to increase engagement quickly. One contest created by marketing agency Thinkable Digital was somewhat unique.
The “Guess the Campaign” contest ran on Thinkable Digital’s FaceBook page and required fans to identify the brands behind various popular social media campaigns.
The winner of the contest was to receive a full social media evaluation. Runner up would get a Twitter evaluation from the company, and third place would be featured on the Thinkable Digital FaceBook page.
Sometimes considerable social buzz can be created by a simple mistake. After sending a sales voucher for 40% off to its customers, Threshers started to notice a loss.
The company then came out publicly to say that it was sent out “accidentally” and that the sales voucher was for suppliers use only. Naturally, this made the frenzy bigger and created quite the local buzz for Threshers.
Will it blend? That’s how Blendtec’s CEO Tom Dickson started every video in this highly successful campaign. Everything from hockey pucks to rake handles were shoved into a blender and pureed.
For obvious reasons, the the “Will it blend” campaign gained millions of views on YouTube and quickly became one of the most memorable viral campaigns in social media. It spawned countless immitators too like “Will it drift” and “Will it burn.”
Recruit Military works with veterans from all branches when making the transition back into civilian life. The company’s FaceBook page is the hub of all their social media activity.
They create FaceBook events that function as job fairs and are used to find work for military veterans. Every week they run the oh so clever ‘Find a job Friday.’
Each Friday, they ask fans to post the type of job they want and Recruit Military replies with thousands of matches from their job board.
The engagement they get on the FaceBook page is admirable with each post getting an average of 10 or more comments. Recruit Military currently has more than 68,000 likes.
Wanting to stay relevant, Canadian Tire set out to create something new. They put together “The Canadian Way,” a digital catalog which highlights their products with user generated content.
By reaching out to Canadians and asking for their stories, Canadian Tire received overwhelming response. They got countless stories from Facebook and other popular social media platforms. What they ended up with was something containing all the ingredients of the most successful social media campaigns.
The company’s catalog is interactive and uses engagement with ‘everyday people’ who use the company’s products.
As of now, The Canadian Way has received more than 3 million page views with 15 pages viewed (on average) by each visitor.
While promoting Australia as a holiday destination, Tourism Australia created the famous “Best Job in the World” campaign. Over the course of the campaign, the company offered dream jobs — a 6 month salary worth $100,000 each — to six lucky people.
Dream jobs included such titles as chief funster and lifestyle photographer.
To enter, applicants were asked to make a short video explaining why they were the best choice for the job. The contest quickly went viral and received more than 330,000 entries from 196 countries.
Tourism Australia’s FaceBook page grew from 400,000 to its current status of 5.5 million in the process.
Wanting to show the people behind their testing and development tools, SmartBear decided to get a little playful. They created a game called “Where’s Dain” which is the developer’s equivalent of ‘Where’s Waldo.’
Visitors were asked to find and click on Dain (a SmartBear developer) who was hidden in various spots throughout SmartBear.com.
Once they found him, a Twitter box appeared asking users to enter to win a T-shirt by tweeting the message which included @SmartBear and a special hashtag.
The campaign is said to have doubled the @SmartBear mentions and increased traffic by more than 120%.
Great running shoes aren’t cheap, so buying a nice pair online is sometimes scary. The team over at Optimal Run understands this and they’ve gone the extra mile to make buyers feel more comfortable about their purchases.
Using their YouTube Channel , Optimal Run creates a personalized video for each shoe. They answer common questions that come from their Facebook page and website. The videos also offer an overview of the shoe, best usage and other information visitors want to know.
This is a great example of using social media for customer service. The videos have increased traffic to Optimal Run’s website by more than 150%.
Cloak is a location-based app for the iPhone operating system. It’s a clever use of social media for the socially awkward.
Cloak allows you to see if any of your friends are nearby by using the information from your social networks. The idea is to avoid those accidental run-ins with the people you like a little less than the others.
Currently, Cloak only works with friends you’ve connected with on Instagram and foursquare. (Cloak is one of many apps we’re seeing with the recent rise in anti-social networking apps.)
Morton’s steakhouse has a long history of great customer service. But, just a few years ago they exceeded that reputation when they responded to a tweet from entrepreneur Peter Shankman:
Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. 🙂
— Peter Shankman (@petershankman) August 17, 2011
After a long day of traveling, Shankman jokingly tweeted that he’d like Morton’s to bring him a porterhouse steak once he landed in Newark. Because Morton’s monitors their twitter account closely, they saw Shankman’s tweet and decided to make his wish come true.
They sent someone to the Newark airport which was 24 miles away with a 24 ounce porterhouse steak, colossal shrimp and a side of potatoes. This, of course, involved more than simply making a meal and delivering it.
They also had to..
- Find the correct plane.
- Cook the meal.
- Get permission from the higher-ups.
- Wait at the Newark airport.
It was a simple use of twitter but it gained Morton’s steakhouse tons of exposure and even more trust. Shankman immediately shared the story on his blog which has since gotten more than 6,700 tweets and 10,000 shares on Facebook.
What We Learned
If we’ve learned anything from the some of the best social media marketing examples out there – it’s that creativity is gold, videos are often effective in marketing efforts, and when in doubt…offer free beer.
Rock Photo via Shutterstock
It’s got to be Taco Bell for me, they’ve been doing an excellent job on Twitter. It’s a restaurant I’ve never been to (I don’t think there are any in the UK), but thanks to their sense of humour I kind of want to visit. I don’t easily succumb to advertising, so major kudos to them!
There’s a brand of smoothies in the UK called Innocent who kind of started off a friendly/humorous tone. This was before social media took off, so they were kind of ahead of their time.
Taco Bell is definitely doing some great things for their fans on social media. They’ve taken Snapchat by storm and as you said, the stuff they’re doing on Twitter is fantastic. I would loved to have included them but we were trying to stick with lesser-known businesses, maybe next time.
I’ll have to look into this smoothie brand you’re talking about. I’d be curious to see how they’re doing now. Thanks Alex!
One of the things I love about social media campaigns is that businesses are compelled to be more creative. The old TV ads are no longer working. They need to create something so interesting that people will look lest you want them to look eslsewhere.
Yep, that’s true. People are practically immune to traditional advertising. Getting attention from potential customers is only going to get more difficult. Businesses are going to have to be more creative and trustworthy as time goes on. Thanks for reading,
Great compilation of social media marketing examples. Have you checked out Kimpton Hotels’ social media activities? Listen to Brent Leary’s interview with Maggie Lang of Kimpton Hotels?
No I haven’t Martin, but I’ll check it out. Thanks for the heads up!
Chris: You are welcome! 🙂 It is a great interview. I have personally experienced how good Kimpton Hotels are at social media marketing.
Love this post, Chris! You covered so much ground.
Definitely some food for thought here.
Thanks Cendrine, I’m glad you liked it.
Some people may say that some businesses may suit social media more than others. But I beg to differ. I think that it all depends on how you utilize social media channels.
Inspiring. It is important to take a closer look at what they are doing so that we can do what they are doing.