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9 Top Successful Social Media Campaigns of the 21st Century

Joanne Arguelles
Written By
Joanne Arguelles
Published On
Feb 01, 2022
An overlay shot of various social media marketing terms & symbols with people

According to We Are Social, there are now 4.20 billion social media users around the globe and this grows by 13% every year. This means roughly half of the world’s population is on social media and the number just keeps rising. 

Therefore, social media definitely is the place to be for businesses that want to reach their customers in a more meaningful and personal way.  But how do businesses stand out from the noise while also contributing to the social media experience?

In this guide, we look into examples of successful social media campaigns and the elements that made them great. Let’s begin!

A cropped image of a woman using her phone and laptop to engage on social media

Successful Social Media Campaigns From Recent Times

We’re all on the same page when talking about “recent times.” Though the pandemic may have impacted multiple aspects of life (and business) as we know it, some social media campaigns still shone, spreading joy and excitement to social media users everywhere.

1. Zoom | Virtual Background Contest

In 2020, Zoom launched a campaign that increased brand awareness and encouraged people to install their software in a fun way.

In the Virtual Background Contest, Zoom invited their community to share a photo or video while using the Zoom app’s virtual background feature. They then chose winners and gave branded items as prizes. Numerous entries are submitted showing clever, funny, and amazing uses of the feature.

User-generated content was and continues to be one of the most powerful tools used in social media marketing, as shown in this brilliant campaign. 

2. Apple | #ShotOniPhone

Through the #ShotOniPhone campaign, Apple was able to showcase the authentic photographic capabilities of their phones while also giving their community members a special space to shine. 

In the #ShotOniPhone campaign, Apple invited their community to submit their best photos with the hashtag #ShotOniPhone. From these submissions, Apple chose images to display on over 10,000 billboards around the world. 

The hashtag was mentioned over 16 million times on Instagram. Brand exposure – check. Community engagement – check. User-generated content – check. It’s clear why this campaign was such a massive success.   

3. HelloBC | #ExploreBCLater

HelloBC has been known for sharing stunning visual content across its social media platforms. But when the pandemic came along and travel restrictions set in, where did that leave them?

Well, through their campaign #ExploreBCLater, they were able to show up as a socially responsible brand by communicating the importance of postponing travel plans. However, they also gave their audience something to look forward to by continuing to post beautiful visual content. 

The result? In just a few months, their social media posts got around half a million engagements.  It’s truly amazing what sensitivity to the times, a personal touch, and a dash of hope can do.  

4. Getty Museum | #GettyMuseumChallenge

The Getty Museum took to the online space in style with a campaign that tapped into the creativity of their community. 

In the #GettyMuseumChallenge, Getty Museum invited their community to choose their favourite artwork, find three items from the house to recreate that artwork, and then share the finished product with them. 

This challenge went viral. It had over 78,000 mentions and nearly half a million engagements. Amazing!

Examples of user-generated content for the #GettyMuseumChallenge social media campaign

Unforgettable Successful Social Media Campaigns That Still Inspire Us Today

5. Burger King | Snap King

Back in the time when Snapchat was taking over everyone’s lives, marketers everywhere were still trying to make sense of the platform. But Burger King Argentina adapted quickly, thought outside the box, and executed a truly memorable campaign.  

In Burger King’s Snap King campaign, they invited fans to “flame grill” photos of competitor burgers by doodling grill marks on the patties. These can then be sent to the Burger King Argentina account (@BurgerKingArg) in exchange for vouchers for a real flame-grilled burger from Burger King. 

The social media campaign got the attention and engagement of over 4 million fans. This was a serious “burn” for the rivals, indeed! 

6. Peruvian Red Cross | Hashtags for Life

For the first time in history, hashtags saved lives at a phenomenal scale. 

Hashtags for Life was a social media campaign executed by the Peruvian Red Cross that took the unimposing hashtag and used it to expand the Red Cross donor database in Peru. This social media campaign was a solution for the ongoing crisis at the time. 

Peru had a population of over 30 million with only 1250 blood donors. By empowering the people to enlist themselves as a donor using “#[yourbloodtype]Peru” on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the Peruvian Red Cross saw an increase of 1800% in their pool of potential donors. 

By all accounts, 1800% is an incredibly impressive increase, don’t you agree? 

7. MJ Bale Suits | Unsuitable Journey

The Unsuitable Journey by MJ Bale Suits is a successful social media campaign that showed how powerful storytelling can be (especially in real-time) – plus, it had a strong and clear insight. 

This insight was summarized by the CEO of M.J. Bale who said, “ With Australian men travelling longer and further for business than any other nation, arriving looking as good as when you left is a struggle. We want to help gents stay looking impeccable… no matter how many miles they’ve covered.”

The campaign was shown in real-time on Facebook and Instagram. The model wore the suit through a 5-day non-stop cross-continental journey. At the journey’s end, the result is a remarkably fresh-looking suit, a kinda tired-looking male model, a long-term increase in brand awareness, and an epic story that many cite and talk about to this day.  

8. Taco Bell | #TacoEmojiEngine

Taco Bell was largely responsible for the addition of the Taco emoji to the Unicode Consortium through its petition. But the story doesn’t end there. 

Once they won this battle, Taco Bell celebrated in style. Through their campaign, the #TacoEmojiEngine, they invited fans to combine the taco emoji with another emoji, there at the brand’s Twitter account. As a response, the fans then got a personalized GIF that creatively combined the two emojis they sent. 

It’s fun, memorable, and encouraged engagement. It’s no surprise that within the first 5 days, this campaign got more than half a million tweets

9. Oreo | Dunk In The Dark

Though this was years ago and is more of a marketing moment than a full-blown social media campaign, the Dunk In The Dark tweet from Oreo deserves a place here because it is the epitome of perfect timing, quick thinking, creativity, and simplicity. 

During this particular Super Bowl, there was a blackout and immense confusion that followed. Moments later, Oreo broke the tension with an ingenious tweet saying, “Power out? No problem.” and a simple graphic with the text “YOU CAN STILL DUNK IN THE DARK.”

Within moments, this tweet (unsurprisingly) gained thousands of likes and retweets. And the next day, the Huffington Post stated, “one of the most buzz-worthy ads of the Super Bowl on Sunday wasn’t even a commercial – it was a mere tweet from Oreo during the blackout.”

Effortless Social Media Marketing Success

And that wraps up our list of successful social media campaigns! From these examples, we see that social media marketing is a delicate art and science. Oftentimes, it can take numerous cycles of planning, execution, and optimization to get the results you want – but there’s an easier way. 

When you leverage the experience of social media marketing experts, you can effortlessly launch successful social media campaigns and have polished social media assets where it matters the most. In no time at all, you can make your business stand out from the competition and gain customer preference. You can even be a part of a story that people will talk about for years to come. 

Ready to boost your social media marketing? Contact us today to learn more!

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