There are a few social media campaigns that go viral and make a real impact on society. There is no reason yours shouldn’t. We handpicked 20 social media campaign ideas to give you an edge when planning your social strategy for 2020.
A well-planned social media campaign helps brands create awareness, build a community, and drives sales. Since social media is an essential aspect of marketing in the digital era, it is more important than ever to know what works and how to ace a social media strategy. As you are probably brainstorming social media campaign ideas ahead of 2020, here are 20 prizewinning social media campaign ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
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1. Create Weekly Themed Content
Brands use the #MondayMotivation or #ThrowbackThursday hashtags to appear among trending content and to bring consistency in their posting schedule. The simplest way to ideate a social media campaign is to create weekly theme-based campaigns, where you can introduce a hashtag or theme that is unique to your brand. Considering the vast quantity of content created by B2B companies, this campaign idea helps you compartmentalize the content distribution process.
Example: One of the widely known theme-based campaigns is Moz’s #WhiteboardFriday series. Each Friday, a member from Moz explains a concept, update, strategy, or tactic related to SEO and its peripheral topics on a whiteboard.
#whiteboardfriday on Twitter
Make It Your Own: Identify your audience's most pressing difficulties and get your employees or experts to answer them in a video, podcast, or a blog article. Turn it into a weekly activity.
2. Encourage User-Generated Content
User-generated content inspires your community to create and share content about your brand. The content could be in the form of photos or videos. Brands can create user-generated content campaigns around events such as product launches, conferences, or festivals or make it an ongoing activity to keep the content rolling in.
Example: Apple has created the #ShotoniPhone hashtag on Instagram to allow users to share their photos and videos clicked using an iPhone. Over 10 million posts have been shared under the hashtag so far.
Apple Hashtag in Its Instagram Bio
Make It Your Own: If you’re experimenting with user-generated content for the first time, you can run a contest to boost audience participation or create a wall of fame on your website to highlight top content. Twitter Moments is also a great alternative to showcase featured content.
3. Create a Domino Effect a.k.a. Virality
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is one of the most famous campaigns of 2014. The purpose was to promote awareness for the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease and raise donations for its research. The campaign required the participant to record a video of dumping an ice bucket over their head and post it on social media.
The campaign spread like wildfire because the participant could nominate other people to participate in the challenge, and it worked! The 2014 campaign raised $115 million, with 2.4 million videos uploads on Facebook.
Example: Jason Becker, a guitar virtuoso who has had ALS for more than 25 years, nominated John Mayer to participate in the challenge.
Jason Becker Invited John Mayer to Participate in the Challenge
John Mayer Responded to the Invitation
Make It Your Own: This tactic takes user-generated content to the next level. While it may not be easy to execute a campaign of such scale for every brand, a simpler alternative to this is tag-a-friend posts. With tag-a-friend posts, brands can encourage their followers to tag their friends in the post to boost brand awareness. A word of caution, don’t go overboard with this idea as these posts can appear spammy.
Learn More: What Is Social Media Marketing? Platforms, Strategies, Tools, Benefits and Best Practices
4. Use Instagram Shopping
Instagram Shopping enables brands that sell physical products to tag them in their Instagram posts and stories. After tapping on the product tag, users are redirected to a website (usually the brand’s official website) to complete the purchase.
Brands need to get their store approved by Facebook and publish their inventory on Facebook. The feature is currently available in 40+ countries, including Canada, France, Germany, and the United States.
Example: JCPenney used the Instagram Shopping feature to highlight its winter products through a post depicting all the essentials for an ideal winter ensemble.
JCPenney Uses Instagram’s Shopping Feature
Make It Your Own: If you have an e-commerce brand, Instagram Shopping can do wonders. Use ephemeral content to run limited-time offers. Highlight offers and product discounts in your Instagram stories, which would disappear after 24 hours. This creates a sense of urgency among buyers and compels them to keep coming back to your Instagram every day to see new offers.
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5. Design a Snapchat Geofilter or Lens
Snapchat Geofilters are similar to standard Filters – they can be used as an overlay on top of the photos or videos clicked in the app. The difference is Geofilters are premium, on-demand filters and can be used only at a specific location. The pricing of the Geofilter depends on the area of the location and duration of the campaign. Like Geofilters, brands can also create sponsored Lenses.
Example: For the 2017 Frappuccino Happy Hour, Starbucks created multiple Snapchat Lenses that were available exclusively at Starbucks stores.
Image Source: Starbucks
Starbucks' Snapchat Lens
Make It Your Own: If your brand has organized an event or is opening a new outlet store, exclusive Geofilters can help you drive awareness and create a novel experience for attendees and customers. Make sure to check out the filter submission guidelines here and here.
6. Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot
The rise of conversational AI and messenger apps proved to be the perfect opportunity for Facebook to introduce chatbots. Chatbots can help you automate content delivery, order/appointment booking and confirmation, delivery tracking, and personalization of the overall experience.
Example: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) created a Facebook chatbot that delivers top stories every day. The chatbot also provides a list of commands that users can use to receive market updates, company news, and so on.
The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Chatbot
Make It Your Own: The simplest application of chatbot is content delivery. Using Facebook's chatbot, you can deliver content based on individual preferences. Besides this, you can also conduct customer surveys or integrate new features as you move along.
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7. Use Spotify for Marketing
When talking about social media marketing, Spotify doesn’t usually appear on a marketer’s radar. But it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t capitalize on the 217 million monthly active users.
Brands with brick and mortar outlets are already utilizing Spotify by creating custom playlists for their retail stores, but Spotify offers much more than just custom playlists.
Example: New Amsterdam Vodka partnered with Ebb & Flow, a podcast that talks about hip-hop and R&B; artists, to start a branded podcast series hosted on Spotify.
Make It Your Own: You can experiment with sponsored playlists, audio, video, or display ads on Spotify. B2B organizations can showcase the human aspect of the organization by releasing an employee-curated weekly playlist.
8. Host Instagram Contests or Giveaways With Influencers
Instagram is a potent platform to execute influencer marketing campaigns. Brands engage with influencers to bank on the influencers’ following. Hosting contests or giveaways through an influencer is an effective way to build a community. Pairing contests or giveaways with influencer marketing works because the possibility of getting an incentive acts as a motivator.
Example: Instagram giveaways can rake in massive engagement. Found Wild Project collaborated with Pixuls and gave away a Canon camera and an Apple iPad for following the brand account on Instagram and tagging friends.
Found Wild Project's Giveaway With Pixuls
Make It Your Own: Identify micro-influencers in your niche with a good following and engagement to run social media contests and giveaways. Feel free to experiment with other social media platforms as well. Make sure to abide by the rules of the platform to avoid getting penalized.
9. Run a Social Media Account Takeover
A social media takeover is kind of a toned-down approach to influencer marketing where a third-party person manages your social media accounts for a stipulated duration. Social media account takeovers work well for both – B2B and B2C brands.
Selecting the right individual to manage your social media accounts is crucial because the end result depends on the influencer’s content creation capability. Note that you don’t need to onboard influencers for takeovers. People within your industry that can offer different perspectives can also become a part of it.
Example: Fiona Gubelmann took over the official Instagram account of The Good Doctor to share behind the scene moments during the shoot.
Example of an Instagram Takeover
Make It Your Own: Up the ante of the takeover campaign by involving your audience before the activity. You can take audience questions beforehand and host a live ask-me-anything (AMA) styled video session where the guest will answer the questions.
Learn More: How To Calculate Influencer Marketing ROI
10. Collaborate With a Brand
Co-branding initiatives enable partnering brands to tap into a vast audience pool. Brand collaborations are efficient as the joint force of collaborating brands makes it easy to achieve a common objective.
Example: Forever 21 and Taco Bell collaborated to launch Forever 21 x Taco Bell - a Taco Bell themed clothing collection. Users could share their photos with the #F21xTacoBell hashtag. Forever 21 also used the #F21Contest hashtag to amp up audience participation.
Forever 21's #F21Contest Encouraged Users to Use #F21xTacoBell
Make It Your Own: Collaborate with a brand in your niche that offers complementary products to your offerings. The collaboration could be a content piece if you're a B2B organization. B2C brands can launch a limited-edition product line or offer unique experiences that will generate buzz on social media. Make sure the collaboration is a win-win for both brands.
11. Show, Don’t Tell
You can stand atop a building and scream your lungs out to convince a stranger to try your product, but it won’t really work. People would instead believe something if the benefits are demonstrated before purchase, and that’s what a Swedish broadband service provider, Umeå Energi did.
Example: Umeå Energi ran an experiment where four volunteers used Oculus Rift and experienced the difference slow internet would make in daily life as opposed to having Umeå Energi. Themed as Living with Lag, the campaign video has amassed over 6 million YouTube views so far.
Umeå Energi's Living With Lag Campaign Demonstrated its Broadband's Effectiveness
Make It Your Own: Create a video campaign to demonstrate the use cases of your product. It could be a simple product demo video or an elaborate series exploring various product features.
12. Build Hype on Social Media Before Product Launch
Successful pre-launch campaigns get people talking about your brand, increases product anticipation, and ensures your product sells well. Creating hype or mystery around your product keeps people guessing and cooking up different possibilities, which paves ways for publicity before the product launch.
Example: Nintendo released a series of Instagram posts to build hype around its highly anticipated product – Nintendo Switch. The posts often revolved around the preview events, 1-2 switch, and the console itself.
Nintendo Posted Instagram Photos and Videos Before the Launch of Nintendo Switch
Make It Your Own: There are many ways to go about creating a product launch campaign. Having a dedicated hashtag is a must. You can build anticipation by creating cryptic posts, ephemeral content to spill the beans, teaser videos, countdown posts, or simply by taking pre-orders.
Learn More: 7 Reasons Social Media Should Lead Your Customer Acquisition Strategy
13. Feature Your Customers
Social proof is a powerful persuasion technique used by marketers. Organizations strategically place social proof across their online presence in the form of ratings, reviews, and testimonials to convince potential buyers. Social media is a great enabler for brands to share customer stories.
Example: Slack does a great job of featuring its customers and partners. The messaging app has created a dedicated playlist on YouTube, featuring videos of how its customers use Slack to improve team communication and productivity.
Slack Created a YouTube Playlist Featuring its Top Customers
Make It Your Own: Run a social proof campaign to target people in the consideration and action stage of the sales funnel. Create content that features your customers talking about how your offerings have helped them. Create custom audiences or remarketing lists to target the right segments.
14. Create Content Around Trending Topics
Twitter is quite an unpredictable platform. A random hashtag or template-based tweet will pop-up out of nowhere, and it will become all that anyone talks about for a day to a week. Brands can garner genuine engagement by using witty content during that tiny window of opportunity.
Example: Oreo is known for its witty Twitter presence. Here is an instance of Oreo creating content using the famous handshake tweet format:
Oreo Creates Content Using Trending Topics and Tweet Formats
Make It Your Own: Keep an eye on what people are tweeting about. If a trending topic or tweet meshes with your brand personality, create content around it. But don’t overdo it as people may not be amused by it.
15. Find Ways to Inject Humor Into Your Brand Personality
While it is easy for B2C brands to base their social media presence on humor, it may not be the same for B2B brands. But every once in a while, be sure to display your fun side. It could be a playful jab at a competitor, goof-ups at company events, and so on.
Example: Zendesk noticed a rise in the zendesk alternatives search query. The brand took this opportunity to do something completely whacky. The company created a fictitious Seattle-based alternative rock band named, well… Zendesk Alternative. The band featured Zendesk employees and had a standalone website, social media presence, and accounts on music streaming websites such as ReverbNation.
The Video Intelligently Used the Zendesk Logo and its Brand Mascot
Make It Your Own: Social media allows brands to show their human side. Humor makes your brand memorable. A little humor doesn’t hurt anyone. Sprinkle it across your content strategy to ensure that you don’t go overboard with it, especially if you’re a B2B organization.
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16. Highlight Company Culture
Along with reading Glassdoor reviews, candidates visit the social media accounts of a potential employer before joining or even before an interview. How an organization presents itself on social media matters, and major organizations are using social media to showcase various aspects of company culture, such as their values, vision and mission, CSR activities, diversity and inclusion, and so on.
Example: The American multinational company, Cisco, has created a dedicated Instagram account to showcase their company culture called We Are Cisco along with #WeAreCisco (over 43 thousand posts) and #LoveWhereYouWork (over 210 thousand posts) hashtags. Employees participate in this initiative by uploading content on Instagram with these hashtags.
Make It Your Own: Besides using the company’s official accounts to promote company culture, introduce an employee advocacy program. You can also offer various incentives to encourage employees to participate in the program.
17. Explore Social Media Storytelling
Marketing storytelling lets you share personal, relatable, and compelling messages with your audience. Brands tell stories to make themselves memorable. Emotional marketing is based on the concept of appealing to users' emotions and creating memorable campaigns for your users.
Example: Intuit’s A Giant Story is a fantastic example of social media storytelling. The video shows how Intuit can enable small and big businesses to manage their finances and help them grow, wherein the giant robot depicts Intuit’s products.
Intuit’s Giant Story Depicts How its Products Can Help Businesses Grow
Make It Your Own: Weave a story around your target audience, their pain points, and how your products can help them. Use metaphors to depict different entities. Storytelling doesn’t always have to be a tear-jerker. Rather, it should come from a place of empathy.
18. Experiment With Guerrilla Marketing Tactics
Guerrilla marketing is the growth hacking of traditional media. It uses ingenious tactics to create buzz around the brand. Coming up with a unique idea isn’t easy, so give it some thought – ideate and brainstorm with the team to find a way to surprise users.
Example: To celebrate the launch of the third season of Stranger Things, Coca-Cola recreated a pop-up arcade in Shoreditch (London) to pay homage to the Palace Arcade. The arcade was open only for one day. More than 800 fans visited to experience the nostalgia of the ‘80s.
Make It Your Own: Guerrilla marketing is subject to the norms of the brand and industry, and therefore, generic advice is unhelpful. We recommend you involve a creative agency to launch a campaign tailored for you.
Learn More: How To Impact Every Stage Of The Marketing Funnel With Instagram Video
19. Incentivize User Behavior
Gamification is an effective strategy when you want to enforce certain behaviors. Brands combine rewards and gamification in the form of affiliate marketing to increase their reach. Users could receive discounts or other rewards when someone buys by following their affiliate link.
Example: Amazon Associates is an affiliate program through which users can earn money. Amazon affiliate members get a unique link for each product, which they can share on social media. If someone buys using that link, they earn a pre-decided percentage or amount from it.
Make It Your Own: Introduce a similar gamified affiliate marketing program revolving around social media that runs on a continual basis.
20. Run Occasion-Specific Social Media Campaigns
This is where everything that we’ve seen so far comes together. Holiday or occasion-specific campaigns allow you to mix-and-match different tactics to build your marketing campaign. You can have a little bit of everything as part of your overall strategy.
Example: Starbucks has been doing the #RedCup campaign since 1997, which has become even more popular with the evolution of social media. As the festive season begins, Starbucks offers red cups with their holiday beverages. Users are encouraged to share photos with the #RedCup hashtag.
Starbucks Encouraged Users to Share Photos of their Holiday Beverages With the #RedCup Hashtag
Make It Your Own: Identify festivals and special occasions relevant to your niche. You can combine two or more ideas to create a social media campaign around the festival. For example, you can collaborate with a brand to launch a giveaway or design a festive-special Snapchat Lens. You’re only limited by your imagination!
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Over to You
We hope these ideas will help you think something out of the box. While planning a social media campaign, set the right goals and metrics to ensure that the success of the campaign is correctly measured.
Which of the campaign idea from the list above resonated with you the most? Tell us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.