6 Social Media Marketing Wins & Losses to Learn From

By Lauren Austin, Nurain Alicharan & Ashley Reed in BKV Seal of Approval on March 12th, 2015

The rapidly changing landscape of social requires marketers to continue to evolve and adapt to social media marketing trends to meet and exceed consumer expectations. However, some brands are more successful than others. Here's what you can learn from recent social media hits and misfires. 

social media marketing hits & misses

Top 3 Social Media Winners

1. ALS Association: Ice Bucket Challenge

This campaign doesn’t need much explanation – if you haven’t heard of it you may have been living under a rock last summer. The concept was simple; a video was created that challenged supporters to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads and dared others to donate and do the same.  
This was one of the ALS Association’s most successful fundraising campaigns, raising over $100 million in donations compared to the same time period in 2013.  
Why was this so successful? It was FUN – really fun (we would know...we participated!). Watching your friends’ reactions as a bucket of freezing cold water is dumped over their heads is highly entertaining. It just doesn’t get old. And, it was simple. It didn’t require users to take multiple steps or jump through several hurdles. What we love about this campaign was that it was started by supporters who were recently diagnosed with the disease.  ALS Association noticed the uptick in donations and partnered with the creators of this viral sensation to capitalize on the momentum. 

What should brands learn from this campaign?  Keep it simple and fun.  Additionally, non-profits, specifically, should consider the unique opportunities that align with their cause that tap into peer-to-peer fundraising by partnering with their their most loyal supporters to lead the way. 

2. Coca-Cola: #ShareACoke

social media marketing coke

Coke’s #ShareACoke campaign was a great example of an integrated marketing campaign across multiple touch points: in-store, social, digital, mobile, out-of-home, and physical events. The campaign, which first launched in Australia in 2011, sought to reach young audiences, replacing the Coke logo with the 250 most popular first names among teens & millennials. Consumers were encouraged to find their name or friends’ names on Coke bottles across the U.S.  
Coke used social media to get fans more involved, promoting #ShareACoke across all of their social channels – YouTube, Facebook, tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. Followers were urged to visit shareacoke.com to personalize virtual bottles and share them with friends. Users included the #ShareaCoke hashtag, posting their stories and photos for the chance to be featured on interactive Coke billboards across the U.S. They even leveraged their Freestyle mobile app to allow consumers to scan a QR code on the fountain dispenser’s screen and send a friend a coupon for a $1 off a Coke.
The results were impressive - not only from a social perspective.  It even led to a bump in sales.

  • The campaign received over 125K social posts
  • 96% favorable/neutral sentiment
  • Sales volumes were up 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year, and sales dollars were up 2.5 percent overall

What made this campaign a hit was the personalization – how cool is it to see your name on a Coke bottle?! The shareability was also an important element of success – Coke made it easy for their fans to share the experience with a friend. What brands can learn from this is that consumers want a personalized experience tailored for them. We have access to more information than ever about who our customers are, and what they like through Advanced Analytics, and as marketers we need to put this to use with truly customized messaging and experiences.

3. Volvo: The Greatest Interception Ever (2015 Super Bowl campaign)

Volvo made a splash by taking a different approach to their Super Bowl advertising strategy this year. Instead of paying $4.5 million on a 30-second TV spot like competitors Kia, Mercedes and Toyota, they turned to social media. The ask was simple: intercept car commercials by tweeting with #VolvoContest to nominate a deserving friend or loved one win a free Volvo.     
The video received over 2 million video views, the hashtag trended on Twitter and over 52K mentions took place during the night of the Super Bowl.

Marketers should take a lesson from Volvo’s book and identify creative ways to break through the noise and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Top 3 Social Media Losers

1. Victoria's Secret: The Perfect "Body"

social media marketing Victoria Secret’s

This campaign was for Victoria Secret’s “body” bra, and while it wasn’t intended specifically for social media per say (the ads were in-store and online), the backlash certainly took place on social.

UK consumers responded by creating a petition on Change.org, and recruited over 33K supporters in response to the campaign which called for Victoria Secret to apologize and “change the wording on their advertisements for their bra range Body, to something that does not promote unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty.” The Twitter hashtag #IAMPERFECT was used to rally support, and in the end, Victoria Secret changed the slogan to “A Body for Every Body,” although they did not make a public apology.

Brands should take away a few lessons from Victoria Secret’s fail.

  • Know your target audience. In Victoria Secret’s case, they should have known better.  The campaign sought to tap into our culture’s unachievable body standards for women. When in doubt, conduct a focus group, or use social media to gain feedback on potential campaigns. Better yet, ask your social fans to get involved by voting on campaign concepts.
  • Take responsibility. While Victoria Secret did change the slogan, they should have offered an apology for offending their audience. If 33,000 women took the time to sign a petition, our guess is that thousands more were put off by the ad. When you make a mistake, admit it.
  • Learn, and avoid making the same mistake in the future. Victoria Secret missed the boat on this; we have yet to see any Victoria Secret ads that feature models with varying body types - they are all tall, super thin women, with almost identical body weights, shapes and heights.

2. CPAC: Tweet your Questions Campaign #CPACQ

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) asked Twitter followers to submit questions they would like to see asked at this year’s conference in February. The suggestions weren’t exactly what the organization expected, and this hashtag campaign turned into somewhat of an embarrassment. The lesson here? Understand the risk of inviting feedback on social and try to anticipate the reactions of audiences who may not share your same views.

cpac social media strategy

social media marketing

3. Dr. Oz: Tweet Your Questions #OzsInbox

Another Hashtag campaign that asked viewers to submit their questions, the Dr. Oz Twitter Q&A was also a fail. The hashtag was taken over with users accusing Oz of endorsing unsafe weight loss products on his show, after he had recently gotten into trouble with lawmakers over this practice. Marketers should be wary of launching a social campaign surrounding such negative press.

social media marketing oz

Keep these social media best practices in mind whenever implementing new social campaigns, and don't miss the opportunity to integrate your SEO and SEM efforts for stronger results. Use analytics to dive into valuable data about your consumer audience and measure the success of your campaigns.

BKV can help your social media campaigns work harder! Get in touch with our social team today.

What have been your favorite social media campaigns lately? Who do you think missed the boat? Let us know in the comments below!