12 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2012

social media campaigns 2012

(Editor’s 2013 Note: View the 13 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2013)

Social media marketing has continued to evolve, grow and become an integral part of any cohesive digital strategy for many of the top brands. In 2012, we saw many companies roll out innovative and creative campaigns via multiple social media platforms.

Here’s a look at 12 of our favorite successful social media campaigns from the past year:

Grey Poupon – The Society of Good Taste

grey poupon social mediaIn the 1980s, Grey Poupon rolled out a memorable ad and marketing campaign that promoted the image of the mustard as being a premium condiment enjoyed by the likes of rich guys who get chauffeured in Rolls-Royces.

After a long quiet period on the marketing front, Grey Poupon launched a new marketing initiative via social media this past fall. The creative campaign aimed to refocus on positioning the brand as one of high class and good taste.

Grey Poupon created a Facebook app that would check would-be fans profiles to see whether their proper use of grammar, taste in art, restaurant check-ins, books and movie combined for a high enough score to merit membership in the “Society of Good Taste” (become a fan of the Facebook page). In an age where most brands clamor to amass as many fan likes as possible, the move to disqualify some people from becoming a fan seemed counter intuitive.

However, the reality was the campaign was exclusive, on-brand and smart. Not only did the unique campaign gain a lot of media attention, but Grey Poupon also curated a smaller, but more engaged fan base.

Sephora – 15 Days of Beauty Thrills

sephora social media I recently mentioned another Sephora social media campaign in my post, “Creative Social Media Holiday Campaigns,” but their holiday-focused campaign wasn’t the only way the beauty emporium successfully marketed themselves online last year.

Turns out, the brand has proven itself to be very savvy when it comes to digital and social (and blending the two together). After rolling out a mobile friendly overhaul of the website in April, the company wanted to find a clever way to drive traffic there via social media.

In order to achieve this, Sephora rolled out their 15 Days of Beauty Thrills sweepstakes, which partnered with its partners in the beauty business to furnish the “thrills” for users. Thrills (such as small gifts, shopping sprees and more) were given away to those who participated via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On Facebook, fans were able to learn about the next day’s thrill at midnight, incentivizing people to “like” the Brand Page in return for these exclusives.

The campaign was a success – growing the fan base grew six times the normal rate, and there were more sales linked to the Facebook than ever. Website traffic was also up.

Nike – #MAKEITCOUNT

make it count social media campaign Nike rolled out its successful Make it Count campaign with the release of their Nike FuelBand earlier in 2012. The campaign kicked off with a viral video posted on YouTube by Casey Neistat and Max Joseph, who instead of creating the agreed-upon commercial, set out with the money they received from Nike to “Make it Count” in the way they defined the term… they traveled 34,000 miles, visited 16 cities in 13 countries on 3 continents.

However, the success of the campaign centered on the consistent social media campaign that followed the video and launch of the FuelBand. They promoted the #makeitcount hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram – and got millions of consumers to promote the hashtag by uploading photos and sending out tweets.

>>Read more about building a brand using user-generated content.

Honda- Pintermission

pintermission campaign When Honda launched it’s Pinterest account earlier this year, they wanted to find a way to drive awareness to the account as well as build better relationships with their followers.

Honda offered $500 each to Mashable’s list of the most active pinners to take a 24-hour break from Pinterest (a “Pintermission”) to go out and do what they’ve been pinning about doing. Each pinner received a personalized invitation and, if they accepted, they had to set up a personal #Pintermission board where they shared photos of their 24-hour Pinterest break.

While Honda got some criticism for dissing the same social platform they were using to market themselves, the campaign was successful in getting highly influential and active pinners to create great content for the brand.

Melbourne Transit Authority – Dumb Ways to Die

The public transit authority in Melbourne, Australia launched an extremely successful viral campaign earlier this year, when they release a cutely animated and catchy song “Dumb Ways to Die,” promoting safety tip around their public transportation system.

As of typing this blog post, the video already had over 34 million views on YouTube. Without any media spend, the transit authority was able to get huge exposure to their campaign by using clever social tactics.

In addition to making sure the song was very catchy, the transit authority used multiple platforms to spread their message – originally posting the video on YouTube, offering the song for download on SoundCloud, creating a separate Tumblr and launching an interactive site.

While it’s difficult to measure the results of the campaign (behavior change is not an easily measurable target – there is no conversion rate, and only time will tell if it is effective), there is no doubt that the campaign got a lot of attention and views without dedicating budgets to media spend.

Cadbury Eggs – Chocolate Facebook Thumbs Up

cadbury + social media It’s well-known that only 16% of a typical brand see content from their Facebook page (some claim that number is as low as 8%), so last year Cadbury decided to launch a campaign before Easter that aimed to up their engagement rates on the their page.

Despite an impressive 1 million Facebook fans, Cadbury wanted to find a way to game Facebook’s prioritization algorithms and have their content appear in a higher percentage of their fans newsfeeds. With this goal in mind, the candy brand embarked on a campaign to improve fan interactivity by engineering a giant chocolate hand giving the infamous Facebook “thumbs up” as a thank-you to their fans.

A real-time video feed of the construction process drove tremendous fan engagement. The result was a whopping 250,000 people actively involved in the campaign with a bonus of 40,000 new fans gained.

Toyota – Prius Goes Plural

prius goes pluralToyota’s key to social media success for their “Prius goes plural” campaign was understanding that nothing gets conversation going, attention and engagement than controversy (even if its false controversy).

Instead of launching a campaign focused on the new models of the hybrid vehicle, Toyota promoted a campaign on the grammatical debate over the plural of the word “Prius.”

Toyota used several different tactics and platforms to promote the campaign, including creating a web video, doing outreach on their Facebook page, and using promoted tweets to help spark conversation.

When promoted hashtags are usually bland and uninteresting, Toyota was able to stand out and spark actual conversation and interest from people in the social media world. The trend caused a fair amount of debate while pushing people over to Facebook, YouTube and their official webpage for you to learn more, share, and take part in the debate.

During a time when Toyota was suffering from some serious PR problems, the campaign was perfect – sometimes it is just better to change the conversation than keep responding to it. Toyota made a fake controversy and got people interested and excited about it. The real topic is a complete non-issue and simply starts building up buzz for the new Prius V with one question. No response to recalls, no PR, just a simple question.

Waggener Edstrom/ Tenfour – Tweet-a-Beer

tweet a beer It’s hard to stand out and get any buzz at Austin’s SXSW conference, so tech companies and agencies are often looking for new and creative ways they can rise above the noise. In an effort to generate buzz and awareness about Tenfour’s mobile capabilities in advance of the conference, the creative agency partnered with Waggener Edstrom to create an application that would best fit the target audience in Austin for SXSW. Tweet-a-Beer was the winning concept, and allowed people with Twitter and PayPal accounts to send beers to each other via Tweets. Built off the Chirpify API (a twitter commerce platform), Tweet-a-Beer was immediately successful in the social media world.

Local press and the Twitter community jumped on the app, broadcast media picked up the story, blogs wrote about the app, and Mashable wrote in-depth coverage, which lead to mainstream outlets like CNN to pick up the story as well. As a result, Tweet-a-Beer became a number-one trending story on Linkedin, Facebook and Mashable.

According to Tenfour’s website, traffic to the agency websites doubled, and they have been “invited to speak at conferences, fielded dozens of business and sponsorship opportunities and have been invited to sit down with many large brands to discuss their mobile initiatives since launching Tweet-a-Beer.”

NBC – The Voice

the voice social media Anyone in the television or sports marketing world knows that social media has completely changed the viewing experience – and that used correctly it can greatly amplify the reach and ratings of a show. The people behind NBC’s The Voice understood that, delivering a highly engaging social co-viewing experiencing that helped make it one of the top-rated shows of the season.

According to the show’s supervising producer, Nicolle Yaron, incorporating social media and digital aspects to the show was very important from the beginning. Rather than just using social media as an awareness and marketing tool, its integration is core to the show. Coaches live tweet the show and tweets from fans and coaches alike are shown during broadcast.

Heineken Brazil – One Like One Balloon

heineken brazil one like one balloon Heineken Brazil wanted to direct more people to their Facebook page at the beginning of 2012, and developed a clever and popular campaign in order to do so. Dubbed “Um Like Um Balao” in Portuguese, the campaign promised to blow up a new green balloon every time the page got a new Like. Starting with an empty office, the space was quickly filled with green balloons in just one day.

Heineken Brazil staff also made fun, informal videos they posted on YouTube throughout the day the campaign ran. The affordable, short campaign generated thousands of new likes in a short amount of time; got mainstream media attention, and the videos got tens and thousands of views on YouTube.

Heinz – Beanz Campaign

heinz social media While Heinz is well know for their ketchup, the brand also produces a variety of other food products, none of which have as much recognition or dominance in the market. In order to promote the new Heniz “Beanz” Facebook page, the brand focused on using humor to acquire and engage fans.

In order to promote their Five Beanz product, which is intended for adult consumers with a sophisticated palette, the brand created a “My Grown Up Beanz” game. Facebook users were asked a series of questions about their personality traits and told which of the five beans they had grown up to become most like.

Five winners were selected every hour, receiving their own “personalized bean.”

Participants were encouraged to invite 10 of their friends to play to win a free goodie bag, which gave the campaign a significant viral boost. The campaign generated 22,000 quiz participants and 30,000 new Facebook fans.

Snickers – You’re Not You When You’re Hungry


The candy bar campaign that included several star studded and popular television ads extended its reach using social media – specifically by sponsoring celebrity tweets to help promote the campaign. In order to fit into the concept of the advertisements (which claim that you don’t like yourself when you’re hungry), Snickers had celebrities send out uncharacteristic tweets, followed by a tweet showing them eating a snickers bar.

snickers social media For example, supermodel Katie Price tweeted about global economics followed by a tweet with a photo of her eating a Snickers bar and the slogan. Soccer player Rio Ferdinand tweeted about his new knitting hobby, followed by a similar Snickers tweet. With each of the stars boasting hundreds of thousands of followers, Snickers was able to amplify and extend the reach of their campaign across social media through a few influential outlets.

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