Whether you’re just starting out on social media or you’re an old pro, maintaining an engaging social media presence across multiple platforms can be quite the challenge. After all, how many times can you really Tweet about your company’s same five products, or think of a creative new way to show off your well-honed industry expertise?
Don’t worry; we all come down with a case of social media writer’s block from time to time, and there’s no need to struggle on your own. First, take advantage of a good social media guide for an in-depth look at a wide range of strategies you might not yet be aware of. Then take a look at the following five super-creative social media campaigns, and just try not be inspired.
1. Uniqlo Turns Pinterest Into a Flipbook
When the social media site Pinterest first stormed onto the scene, it was both lauded and derided for its image-centric design, which focuses user attention on beautiful photos rather than on the written word. And, to be sure, a good look through Pinterest can at once provide instantaneous visual gratification, and complete visual overload, often leading users to scroll past photos without absorbing them just as readers skim dense texts. For advertisers, this presents something of a puzzle: What could possibly force Pinterest users to focus for long enough to absorb the product imagery before them?
Not stopping them. Or at least, that’s the strategy that Uniqlo took when they produced unconventionally lengthy product images and employed a massive team of people and over 100 shell accounts to pin simultaneously. The result? A product flipbook effect that almost instantly went viral, and just more proof that creativity often comes from understanding a platform’s limitations and pushing them to their very max.
The Lesson: Use platform constraints as your guiding creative force.
2. Bully Fights for Its Cause
For the most part, companies that produce campaigns with the express intention of going viral will miss the mark, as they’re often glaringly “needy” (i.e. attention seeking). Rather, virality is more often bestowed upon campaigns with an excess of authenticity and emotional resonance. And that’s just what the dual (but not joint) campaigns for the R-rated bullying documentary, Bully, on Twitter and Change.org brought to the table by combining strategic tweets and hashtag searches with a spontaneous petition from a seventeen-year-old bullying victim. The result? Over 500,000 signatures, a flood of celebrity Twitter endorsements, and a new PG-13 rating that ensured the very audience that would benefit most from a viewing of the film would be admitted theaters.
The Lesson: Stay authentic, fight for a cause, and know what will resonate with your audience.
3. Starbucks Rewards Its Mayors
Anyway you slice it, Foursquare is manna for businesses big and small. For the uninitiated, Foursquare is a mobile app that allows users to “check-in” whenever they visit their favorite establishments, thereby notifying other Foursquare users of their location. The true source of this app’s popularity is its use of gamification, bestowing the title of mayor upon the user with the most check-ins…and engendering avid participation and competition along the way.
While many businesses profit from Foursquare without doing much, Starbucks really made the most of the app by offering $1 discounts to mayors — a move that not only encouraged mayors to stop by, but also prompted other Foursquare Starbucks fans to snatch away the coveted mayoral title with frequent visits of their own.
The Lesson: If you’re going to do a blatant promotion, gamify it, understand the medium and let custom Facebook audiences do the work for you.
4. Old Spice Smells Like a Man
Of course, no top five ranking of creative social media campaigns would be complete without the Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign. Already a popular TV commercial, this campaign took the idea of viral success to another level when the Old Spice Man began popping up in one creative YouTube video after another, often in answer to suggestions and questions posed on Twitter. This was the ultimate in fan engagement, as followers delighted in the prospect that they could receive a personal response. Videos were widely shared almost instantaneously.
The Lesson: Develop a distinctive voice, fully commit to a creative idea, and let avid fans be your content creators.
5. Carlsberg Intimidates Moviegoers
By most traditional marketing standards, employing a scowling gang of tattooed bikers to be your brand ambassadors wouldn’t exactly be the safest path to creating a successful campaign. But that’s just what Carlsberg did when they filmed this video in a movie theater. The concept: innocent couples just looking to enjoy their evening wander into a movie theater, only to find what appears to be members of a motorcycle gang filling just about every seat. The tape rolls as some couples mutter and skitter out of the theater, while others make their way past the bulging biceps and into their seats, where they’re promptly rewarded with cheers and a pint of Carlsberg. The micro-story and moral of not judging a book by its cover so resonated with viewers, the video quickly went viral across all major social media platforms, was written about in at least 900 blogs and on 150 news sites, and received a fair share of TV coverage, too.
The Lesson: Combine an offline marketing strategy with a penchant for prank pulling to tell a meaningful story that taps into universal emotions.
As it turns out, there are as many ways to be creative with social media as there are to be with any art form. And that’s just what social media can and should be, whether you’re truly an artist running a small business, or you represent a multinational corporation, with millions of dollars in marketing funds to support your efforts. If social media is the great equalizer, use its many tools to your creative benefit, and watch the shares roll in.
This is a guest post by Luke Clum, you find him on Twitter @lukeclum
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