A lot of factors are at play when it comes to making a social media campaign go viral. The content needs to be engaging, and it needs to encourage people to share. Timing matters too. But perhaps most importantly, the tweet, image or video needs to connect to an audience. All of this was at play, and more, in the three best social media campaigns of 2013.
Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” Tweet
Companies pay millions to run an ad during the SuperBowl, because they know they have an enthusiastic audience. But it wasn’t Oreo’s cream versus cookie debate commercial that earned buzz — even with their call-to-action to continue the debate on Instagram. Rather, it was a tweet sent out during the blackout in the Superdome while the San Francisco 49ers played the Baltimore Ravens. “Power out? No problem,” they tweeted with a simple graphic. That tweet was retweeted more than 15,000 times, and social media strategists think it paid off more than their SuperBowl commercial.
Why it worked: Just as location is key in real estate, timing is everything in social media. Oreo’s ad agency, 360i, was at the ready during the Superbowl, particularly when the blackout happened. The design and approval of the tweet had to have happened within minutes. This proves that real-time marketing works, especially when it connects with an audience already tuned in.
Even if your company doesn’t have a team of strategists at the ready, there’s an important lesson to be learned: react to everyday moments and what’s occurring out in the world. It also helps when you’re witty and creative too. When you do that with your social media, chances are you’ll resonate with audiences, just as Oreo did. But timeliness isn’t the only reason why this tweet worked. Sure, Oreo was responding to real-time events, but it also made the moment relevant to its brand.
Human Rights Campaign
Not all social media campaigns are designed on the spur of the moment. The day before the Supreme Court was to hear arguments regarding same-sex marriage, and timed to coincide with the demonstration outside the court, the Human Rights Campaign announced a change to it’s logo and started spreading the word. Their logo’s colors went from yellow and blue to red and pink. The HRC then encouraged people on social media to use this new logo as their profile photo as a way of showing support for gay marriage.
The plan paid off. Within a day of logo release, it was reposted more than 10,000 times, in part due to 120% more Facebook users changing their profile photo in a single day (compared to the prior Tuesday). In the process, HRC gained 10,000 new followers on Twitter, and 200,000 new Facebook fans.
Why it worked: The Human Rights Campaign asked people to stand up for what they believe in. As such, it promoted equality, rather than the organization. It also helped that supporters could customize the logo for themselves, making the experience even more personable.
Planning was key to how the logo went viral. The HRC utilized promoted tweets and enlisted celebrities to change their profile photo. It may not have needed a nationwide notary signing service, but it did take advantage of new online tools, particularly targeting ads so they’d show up on the smartphones of people near the Supreme Court. So planning is key, and so too, apparently, is location.
Dove Real Beauty Sketches
In the most viral ad video ever, according to Mashable, a sketch artist trained by the FBI made drawings of women based on the way they described themselves. He then did another drawing based on the way a stranger described each of them. The results portrayed in the three-minute video were stunning and eye opening; the stranger-described portrait is much more attractive than the self-described one. This campaign had nothing to do per se with Dove beauty products, but it did, in a roundabout way, focus on their brand. Their message was clear: that women really are their own worst critic, and that women have a hard time seeing their own beauty. That resonated with women the world over.
Why it worked: The number one reason the Dove campaign worked was emotion, eliciting feelings like happiness, self-realization and warmth. It gave women around the world, literally (the video was distributed via YouTube to 110 countries), something they could identify with. And then they started sharing the video like crazy all over social media.
With 3.74 million shares, the Dove video is the third most shared video ever. Sharing wasn’t just enabled by eliciting emotions in women the world over though. Dove had a plan for deployment, and it clearly paid off. After rolling out the video through YouTube and Unruly, the PR strategists behind Dove also got the video placed with top media. That’s because if someone can’t find your campaign, they can’t share it either.
Making your social media campaign content timely and shareable doesn’t guarantee it will go viral. But if the top social media campaigns of the year show us anything, it’s that content is still king. Make your brand or message engaging, and you’re starting off on the right foot.
What was your favorite social media campaign of 2013?