13 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2013

Best Social Media Campaigns

Another year has passed and social media marketing has become even more important for digital marketers. In 2013, we saw many brands create innovative social media campaigns via multiple platforms and establish new best practices.

Here’s a look at 13 of our favorite social media campaigns from 2013:


Human Rights Campaign – Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality Social Campaign

In one of the most highly visible Facebook campaigns of the year, the Human Rights Campaign changed it’s iconic logo on their Facebook page to red to show support for the marriage equality discussions around Proposition 8 that were being held in the Supreme Court in March of this year.

The red logo immediately went viral as people everywhere shared the photo and changed their Facebook profile photo to the image in support of marriage equality. The original photo was seen by over 9 million people and shared over 70,000 times, and the overall reach of the red logo was seen by millions more.

While Facebook might not be perceived as the hottest social network anymore, this viral campaign goes to show that Facebook still is a very important part of people’s self expression, especially when it comes to heartfelt & emotional movements like the HRC was able to pull off.


Dove – Real Beauty Sketches

Dove created one of the most talked about social experiments of the year. As shown in the video above, Dove had a professional forensic artist draw women’s’ faces as they described themselves without him being able to see them, and then compared that photo to one of a stranger describing the same woman.

The video was a part of a larger campaign in the Real Beauty Sketches microsite which featured additional video content from the women in the video as well as the actual pictures that the forensic artist drew; all content primed to share.

The video was an immediate sensation, eliciting emotional responses both in support of the campaign and against it for Dove’s portrayal of beauty and the importance of physical attractiveness. All the media attention around the campaign spawned several parodies and added more fuel to the popularity of the video.

Some amazing statistics from the campaign:

  • Over 114 million views – the most viral video advertisement of all time
  • 3rd most shared ad of all time
  • Uploaded in 25 languages and seen in 110 countries
  • 1,800 blog posts written about the campaign
  • Awarded the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes Lions


General Mills – Hello Cereal Lovers

Cereal Lovers Social Media

General Mills launched the Hello, Cereal Lovers campaign in October of this year during (newly created) National Cereal Lovers Week. In an effort to boost lagging cereal sales, the campaign encourages cereal consumption “outside of the bowl” like new recipes from celebrity chefs and crazy concoctions like Cinnamon Toast Crunch Fried Ice Cream.

The campaign had a large social presence with dedicated FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and Tumblr pages. The brand took the social campaign into the real world as well by hosting a “cereal pop art” exhibit at the Wine & Food Festival in NYC. The exhibit featured cereal artwork and visuals highlighting retro boxes and classic cereal collectibles, fashion inspired by famous pop art designs and interactive exhibits.


Kmart – Ship My Pants

While not widely known for being a social savvy brand, Kmart knocked this viral video out of the park. This clever tongue-in-cheek ad campaign is a bit of departure from the 50 year old retailer’s image, and that is exactly what they were trying to accomplish.

The video is the 4th most popular ad of the year and has been watched over 20 million times and shared over 3 million times on Facebook alone. While some might say that it was risky making such a juvenile-humor video, it clearly payed off and helped make Kmart relevant again.


Kenneth Cole – 30 Years Bold

Kenneth Cole Social Hub

To celebrate it’s 30th anniversary, Kenneth Cole created a dynamic social hub with the #30yrsbold hashtag to represent the brand’s cultural and social boldness. They aggregated social content from Twitter, Instagram, and Vine and used it drive engagement and encourage fans to participate and share their own brand experiences.

Kenneth Cole sweetened the pot with a hashtag sweepstakes where fans could win a $500 gift card as well as a customized prize like a street-style photoshoot or a night out in NYC with a special gallery tour.

This campaign is a great example of how user-generated content can bring a website to life and have a social impact across multiple platforms.


Urban Hilton Weiner – Pay With a Selfie

This little know South African retailer created one of the more creative social campaigns this year when they gave visitors to their store a $10 coupon if they tweeted a selfie of themselves trying on some clothes and used the hashtag #urbanselfie.

This a great campaign that accomplishes everything the retailer wants: getting more people in the store, trying on clothes, and sharing their outfits with their social network. Look for more retailers to follow suit and take advantage of the selfie movement.


Breaking Bad – Name Lab

Breaking Bad Social Media Campaign

The critically acclaimed show Breaking Bad not only dominated the airwaves, but Facebook as well with an outstanding Facebook app. The app transformed a person’s name with element icons like the iconic logo, and allowed people to set it as their Facebook profile photo.

The app was a huge success garnering over 4.1 million impressions and was used by over 800,000 people. The success of this app and previous personalized apps like Elf Yourself and Mad Men Yourself prove that this kind of engagement works really well on Facebook and is a strategy that other TV shows can follow.


Heineken – Crack the US Open

Heineken Instagram Contest

Heineken created one of the most innovative Instagram campaigns of the year, re-imagining how to use the Instagram platform for a fan contest. Heineken created a new Instagram profile for the contest, @Crack_the_US_Open, and stitched together a panorama using hundreds of photos depicting tennis fans sitting in the grandstands.

Heineken started the massive photo hunt by posting a clue and codeword on their Instagram account and fans had to search for the correct fan and comment on the correct photo with the codeword to win a pair of tickets to the US Open.

Over the course of 3 days, 1,500 people participated in 7 photo hunts and grew Heinken’s Instagram follower count by 20%. One-off campaigns on new social accounts like this one are a great way to run social media contests that can be more creative and don’t clutter or disrupt the strategy of official accounts.


AT&T – Be The Fan

AT&T wanted to capitalize on the incredible passion of college football fans so they launched a season-long #BeTheFan campaign starring Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet. As ‘Coach,’ Stonestreet issued weekly gameday challenges to fans that they could respond to by uploading social media content on Twitter, Vine & Instagram with the #BeTheFan hashtag. The challenges and winning fan photos were featured at ATTBeTheFan.com.

Here are some impressive numbers that resulted from the campaign:

  • 80%-plus higher engagement rate on Twitter
  • 400% increase in sweepstakes entries over the past year
  • Social buzz was up 271% over the previous period
  • 200 million consumers engaged in the program across all of the social networks.


Lay’s – Do Us a Flavor

Do Us A Flavor social campaign

For the first time in Lay’s 75-year history, Lay’s created a social media campaign to let fans create a new flavor of chip. With a $1 million prize for the winning flavor, Lay’s went all out in incentivizing fans to participate in the contest. And participate they did with over 3.8 million submissions between July 20 and Oct. 6 in 2012. Lay’s then narrowed down the choices to the top 25 flavors which they manufactured and tested, and then finally landed on the top three of Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha.

In 2013, fans were able to purchase these three flavors in stores, and then vote on Facebook or on Twitter for their favorite flavor and decide the million dollar winner.

This campaign was a massive undertaking, and a little risky when you rely on the public to decide the best flavor, but Lay’s executed it flawlessly and should be commended for involving their fans so much in their product. A 12% increase in sales doesn’t hurt either.

And if you are curious, Garlic Cheesy Bread was the ultimate winner.


Make-A-Wish – SF Batkid

SF batkid social media campaign

One of the most viral moments of 2013 was when the Make-A-Wish Foundation transformed San Francisco into Gotham City so a 5 year old boy battling Leukemia could feel like a superhero for a day. What was initially going to be a small production turned into a nationwide feel-good story as #SFbatkid went viral and people everywhere learned of the story and work that volunteers were doing to make one kid’s dream come true.

While not a traditional social media campaign by Make-A-Wish, the viral reach of #SFbatkid was astonishing. 545,576 #SFBatkid/#Batkid tweets were generated and the
total potential reach on Twitter was 777,453,544! On Instagram there were 16,000 photos tagged with #SFBatKid and the total impressions on Instagram were 23.6 million.

Not only was a young boy’s day made, but the publicity from the event helped the foundation increase donations made the following month by 26%.


Wendy’s – Pretzel Love Songs

A campaign so hilariously bad its awesome, Wendy’s encouraged fans to use the hashtag #pretzellovestories when they tweeted about the their new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and then turned those hashtagged tweets into love songs with the help of celebrity Nick Lachey and other singers.

This is another great example of using user-genreated content, curating it, and making it hilarious with the help of lounge singers. These types of campaigns encourage people to use official hashtags even more, spreading the reach of brand content.


Oreo – Superbowl ‘Blackout’ Tweet

Oreo Superbowl social media

While technically not a campaign, it was the tweet seen ’round the world during this year’s SuperBowl when the power went out at the Superdome. Hailed as “the best ad of the game” and “The most powerful bit of marketing during the advertising industry’s most expensive day”, Oreo’s real-time social media marketing stunt won a prestigious Clio award and had lasting effects around the advertising industry.

Because of the tweet, real-time marketing has become the “it” thing in advertising, prompting brands big and small to invest in social media monitoring, community managers, and social agencies. The expectations of social brands everywhere have been magnified tenfold to react and capitalize on real-time events.

hashtag analytics

Alan Cassinelli
This entry was posted in Hashtags, Social Media Marketing by Alan Cassinelli.

Alan Cassinelli is the Marketing Specialist for Postano. A graduate of Oregon State University, Alan is an avid fan of sports, technology, and good beer. After working in sports marketing for three years at UC Santa Barbara, he moved back to Portland and got into the tech/start-up scene by participating in the Nike+ Accelerator powered by Techstars. • Follow Alan on Twitter