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3 Brilliant Social Media Marketing Campaigns & Why They Worked

Photo courtesy of GoodNCrazy via Flickr

As marketers, we all want our videos to go “viral” or our marketing campaigns to garner a life of their own. We don’t just come up with an idea and hope it works…we come up with a strategy and implement it and react as the campaign progresses. How do we make our campaigns go viral? That’s the million dollar question, and unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all answer, but there are plenty of examples of brilliant campaigns. Here are three of my favorites…

Jay Z’s South by Southwest Amex Sync Show

American Express went to Jay Z to help them promote a new Twitter tie-in with their card. Since JayZ is known for dropping references to the credit card company and its “black cards” who better to go to? They put together an interactive 90 minute event that was broadcast live in Austin, on You Tube, on the VEVO mobile and tablet platform, and on-demand through Xbox LIVE and the American Express Twitter account and You Tube channels.  The campaign promoted a new American Express and Twitter relationship that lets customers sync their Amex card and Twitter account and earn discounts for sending tweets with particular hashtags. At the SXSW conference, cardholders could sign up for Sync to get access to JayZ’s show.

“We set out to mix technology, commerce and music on a stage like no other and we think we nailed the perfect artist, the perfect time, the perfect place and the perfect audience,” Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, told Mashable. “The engagement on Twitter during the stream was massive.”

Why it worked: American Express gave their audience a reason to participate: a free JayZ show. And, JayZ pulled off the promotion for a product launch without making it feel like a gimmick. The discussion of and excitement over the campaign spread to the rest of the country and those that weren’t able to attend the show were able to see it on-demand, which kept the buzz going. In the campaign, there was something for everyone: publicity for Amex, Twitter and JayZ; Amex cardholders received coupons from brands, and those brands may receive more consumer interest and sales; Amex gave its customers something useful for their everyday lives (grocery coupons not airline miles!);  and Twitter gave their users another reason to return to its platform.

Hunger Games

Yes, I’m a huge fan and am obsessed with Suzanne Collins books. However, I’m also a fan of the social media campaign that Lionsgate used to promote the movie. For the past year, they’ve been targeting content platforms embraced by young audiences including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. They’ve launched Facebook contests and Twitter scavenger hunts, put casting news on Facebook, aired a one minute sneak peak on MTV.com, dedicated a Tumblr blog called Capitol Couture dedicated to the movie’s fashions, shared iPhone games, featured live Yahoo streaming from the premiere in Los Angeles and announced ticket giveaways. If fans discovered TheCapitol.pn they could make digital ID cards as if they lived in Panem, the movie’s society. Another Twitter campaign allowed those ID makers to campaign online to be elected mayor of various districts of Panem. If that’s not enough, Lionsgate is introducing a new Facebook game and a virtual tour of the Capitol in a Web partnership with Microsoft this week.

Why it worked: Yes there was a built-in fan base for The Hunger Games; it didn’t hurt that more than 26 million copies of all three books in the trilogy, plus three movie tie-in titles are in print in the United States alone. But the promotions constantly gave people something new to get excited about and it allowed fans to feel as if they were discovering a film, they were a part of something. Fans shared the books, contests, giveaways, etc. with their friends and so on and so forth. Lionsgate also knew exactly where to look for their target audience: online.

For an in-depth look at The Hunger Games’ marketing strategy, check out this New York Times article.

KONY 2012

The KONY 2012 video made by Invisible Children, a U.S. non-profit organization, is now the most viral video of all time! The video is a 30 minute documentary produced to raise awareness about a brutal Ugandan warlord and his army of children soldiers. You can see the video, which has over 83 million views, here.

Invisible Children is using social media to engage young people who will see and share the video, spreading the message. The campaign targeted 20 celebrities and 12 politicians by encouraging their fans and followers to reach out to them via social media. They had a carefully planned strategy which is explained by Lana Swartz, a member of the Civic Paths research team:

“The ‘Movement,’ as Invisible Children calls its US-facing work, includes visually-arresting films, spectacular event-oriented campaigns, provocative graphic t-shirts and other apparel, music mixes, print media, blogs and more. To be a member of Invisible Children means to be a viewer, participant, wearer, reader, listener, commenter of and in the various activities, many mediated, that make up the Movement. It is a massive, open-ended, evolving documentary ‘story’ unfurling across an expanding number of media forms.”

They also keep their social networks updated with photos, videos and progressive information about the campaign.

Why it worked: KONY 2012 had a clear call to action. It invoked an emotional response that was enough for people to share the video, make donations and get involved. Invisible Children built a group of passionate advocates and focused on their biggest fans instead of trying to engage with every person who visits their social networks and web site.

Anthony Wing Kosner, a contributor at Forbes, wrote a great article, 12 Lessons from KONY 2012,that not only sparked my blog post idea, but also gives great examples of social media lessons we can all learn from this campaign.

What do you think makes a successful social media campaign?

Tags : social media

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