Article details

3 Blockbuster Social Media Campaigns from This Year and What We Can Learn from Them

December 2017

Social media is a powerful thing. When used correctly, it can help content spread like wildfire—whether it’s about a brand, an event, or something else. When used poorly, it can feel like screaming into the void. For businesses that have yet to establish a strong social media following, managing platforms like Facebook and Twitter can feel like a constant disappointment. So, what do you do? Learn from the masters. Here are three examples of game-changing, internet-breaking social media campaigns and the lessons to be learned from each of them.

Related: Using Social Media to Market Your Law Firm

1. #WomensMarch
The year started with a bang for social media campaigns. The Women’s March, an event advocating for women’s rights and equality, took place on January 21, the day after the presidential inauguration. An estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in Washington, D.C. Protests in other cities throughout the United States and internationally brought the worldwide participant total to around 5 million. It all started with a Facebook event page, followed by an inescapable hashtag. Unsurprisingly, the campaign won this year’s Webby Award for Best Social Movement. For businesses, this campaign proves the power of Facebook to spread news, educate people, and keep them engaged. It also inspired some brands to launch their own campaigns in solidary with the Women’s March movement. Western Union, for instance, created a campaign called #TheRaceIsOn, meant to “shine a light on the accomplishments of women.” The campaign was an example of a company taking a relevant social conversation and using it as the backbone of a clever, classy marketing strategy.

2. RetailMeNot
Want people to engage with your company on social media? Look to RetailMeNot as a shining example of excellence in this area. During the summer, the coupon site used a Facebook Live event to supercharge a major sweepstakes campaign. Followers could win prizes if they entered the sweepstakes, but first they had to do two things: 1) watch RetailMeNot’s Facebook Live video, and 2) comment on the video with their Fourth of July plans. The campaign racked up 157,000 views and more than 240 comments.

Businesses can learn several things from RetailMeNot’s campaign. It showed the value of the Facebook Live video platform. It emphasized the power of giveaways and promotions. It provided a masterclass on how to spur brand and campaign engagement. And it showed how easy it is to add a fun seasonal vibe to your social campaigns.

3. Breaking2
Breaking2 was the year’s most audacious social media campaign. Launched by Nike to sell running shoes, Breaking2 was a publicity stunt that centered around an impossible goal: finding a runner who could run a marathon in less than two hours. Nike assembled a team of world-class runners, tested them, pushed them to train harder, and invited its followers to track the action the whole way through.

Ultimately, the campaign fell just short of its goal. Runner Eliud Kipchoge finished the Breaking2 marathon in 2:00:25. In a lot of ways, though, Breaking2 was still a massive success. Kipchoge’s time is technically the fastest ever in the marathon—though the nature of the private Breaking2 race means it doesn’t count as a world record. Nike still got a huge amount of attention and positive PR for the stunt. The message for other companies? Be willing to go big and bold with your social media strategies. Even if you fail, you might succeed.