The power of social media is great – and we can’t stress enough how underrated its power really is. The advantages for marketing, advertising, and communication are simply tremendous: social media gives companies, both big and small, the ability to reach a global audience and attract far more customers and, ultimately, turn a small business into an empire – if done right, of course.
These five companies did things right and their marketing campaigns proved to the world how deserving they are of that power. Unique and innovative marketing campaigns like these are what you need to propel your company to business superstardom, and they will undoubtedly make you wish you had come up with them first.
Here are five social media marketing ideas definitely worth stealing!
1. Tiny Billboards by Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’
The best and often most successful marketing campaigns are the ones that require no real effort. And the marketing geniuses behind 2015’s superhero movie Ant-Man are living proof of this.
Leading up to the movie’s release, tiny billboards were placed all over Australian cities, including Brisbane, Melbourne, and Queensland, to build hype for what went on to become one of the highest grossing movies of the year. The billboards were placed next to bus stops and on top of bins, and they even decorated sidewalks. They had popped up everywhere and anywhere. And, quite naturally, people who came across these pint-sized (or shall we say: ant-sized) billboards took photos of them and uploaded their snaps onto social media. Marvel’s clever marketing stunt got people talking, and that’s exactly what you want consumers to do: talk about your brand without having to ask them to.
2. HeliYUM by Samuel Adams
Everybody loves beer. And the fact that it is the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage is proof of that. In fact, in 2013 alone, an estimated 200 million barrels of beer were sold around the world – that’s about six billion gallons, or 48 billion pints of beer. A 2008 poll, meanwhile, found that the average British man consumes 11,600 pints of beer or lager in his lifetime.
Beer is quite possibly the oldest prepared beverage and dates back to around 10,000 BC in Ancient Mesopotamia, and archeologists even speculate that the rise of civilization is linked to the invention of beer. Over the years, many different types of beer have made their way onto the global market including wheat beer, pale ale, stout, lager, Belgian ale, and Lambic. Samuel Adams, meanwhile, introduced HeliYUM in 2014, a helium-infused beer.
A video of cofounder Jim Koch introducing the beer was uploaded to the brewery’s YouTube channel, explaining that using helium instead of nitrogen completely changed the mouth feel and even extended shelf life – in an inevitably squeaky voice. The video was obviously an April Fools prank (its upload date would be the first obvious sign of this), but it got people talking and it has been viewed over 1.3 million times to date. The following year, beer testers Alex Teubner and Ralf Wichner from the Die BierProbierer revived the joke by claiming they had managed to get their hands on a bottle of the “limited edition” beer and uploaded a hilarious video of their beer tasting.
3. Red Cup Contest by Starbucks
Ah, the infamous red cup. Unless you were living under a rock during the holiday season last year, Starbucks stirred up quite the controversy when it rolled out the updated version of its seasonal cup that very noticeably lacked the “symbols of the season” like the reindeer and ornaments it was so famous for. People began accusing Starbucks of waging a war on Christmas, and one former pastor by the name of Joshua Feuerstein uploaded a video onto Facebook criticizing the coffee shop chain for removing Christmas from their cups “because they hate Jesus”. Yikes.
When not hating Jesus, Starbucks spend a great deal of time and effort in marketing their brand on social media sites like Instagram where they have successfully generated engagement by sharing user-generated content. In 2015, they got their customers to snap and upload photos of their silly, plain red cups to Instagram for a chance to win one of five eGifts preloaded with $500. The #RedCupContest went on to receive more than 40,000 entries, 24,000 of which were received in just five days. That red cup doesn’t look so silly anymore!
4. The Oscar Selfie by Samsung
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is known for many things, including playing the forgetful regal tang Dory in Finding Nemo, hosting one of the most-loved talk shows on TV and, perhaps most notable of all, orchestrating the Oscar selfie at the 86 Academy Awards in 2014 that she was hosting.
It was the second time DeGeneres had hosted the Academy Awards (the first time being in 2007), and after treating the star-studded audience to pizza, she managed to take a selfie with a group of stars including Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, and Meryl Streep. The resulting photo of 12 celebrities was uploaded onto Twitter and, within 40 minutes, broke the previous retweet record which was held by Barack Obama in 2012 with 778,801 retweets. By the end of the Oscars ceremony, the selfie had been retweeted over 2 million times and it even temporarily disabled Twitter.
However, while the selfie might have seemed spontaneous, it wasn’t quite unplanned. Technology giant Samsung had spent $20 million on ads during the ceremony’s breaks and negotiated to have its Galaxy Note 3 smartphone integrated into the show – the phone Cooper used to take the now-famous selfie.
5. Ice Bucket Challenge by the ALS Association
Before 2014, not many people had heard of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS), a rare disorder that involves the death of neurons and that affects about 5,600 Americans every year. However, the ALS Association in Washington, D.C. changed that with their Ice Bucket Challenge, and they became one of the few nonprofit organizations to raise global awareness of the cause they were supporting.
Participants were challenged to film themselves having a bucket of ice water poured over them, post the video on social media, and then nominate a minimum of three other people to perform the same challenge or make a donation to fight ALS, or both. By August, over $70 million had been donated, and the ALS Association reported to having tripled donations for the entire year of 2013 in just five weeks. A number of celebrities, politicians, and athletes took part in the challenge, most notably Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Pratt, the New York Jets, George W. Bush, and – heck – even the Goddess of TV herself Oprah Winfrey (see above).
The Association tried to revive the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2015 in hopes to make it an annual occurrence but, sadly, only managed to raise $1 million by October. By the same time the previous year, the campaign had raised $115 million.
Can you think of any other cool social media marketing ideas that are worth stealing for your own marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with fellow entrepreneurs!