Social media has been increasingly demonstrating a profound power to affect change for brands and consumers alike. Since day one, it's been clear that social sharing could be used to both spread brand messages as well as promote powerful messages of social good. It's not the first time a new mass medium has been used in this way, and it won't be the last -- but we're confident that social media is going to remain a powerful force in the future, both as an impetus to make the world a better place, and tool to help us get that done. Here's a few ways that marketing has been used to get across something a little more substantial.
1) Coca Cola “Share a Coke” Campaign
Coca Cola played off of its decades-old theme of wanting to “Give the World a Coke” by removing its logo from one side of the bottle and can and replacing it with popular names and aspirational titles like “Superstar." Alongside the massive number of #ShareACoke selfies we shared across social media platforms, Coke launched shareacoke.com where users could share virtual bottles and purchase actual bottles customized for their friends and family. People love #ShareACoke because it makes them the center of attention both deliberately through their site, and randomly at the store.
2) Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign
Earlier this week, we alluded to this campaign in our post about B2C blogging - and that one-off video became a widely-shared social media campaign to showcase the inner beauty of women. Although it’s been met with criticism as being a coldly corporate effort to increase sales, the campaign also made a genuine impact. Thousands of women were moved to see women just like them portrayed as beautiful, subverting established standards of beauty.
3) Under Armour “I Will What I Want” Campaign
Under Armour has been producing provocative and body-positive advertising for years, but the 2014 “I Will What I Want” campaign partnered with African-American Ballerina Misty Copeland to show how greatness overcomes adversity. Although the campaign also features supermodel Gisele Bundchen, it was Misty Copeland that caught the world’s eye and both Under Armour and Copeland ran with it. She was able to use her new notoriety outside of the ballet world to widen her influence and make us think differently about how we see the Prima Ballerina, even as Under Armour brought home a point about perseverance.
4) Always #LikeAGirl Campaign
Similar to the Dove campaign we talked about earlier, Always put together a moving video about what it is to be a woman by re-appropriating the phrase “like a girl” and creating a hashtag to put a positive spin on a pejorative saying. Although this was just another corporate gambit to play on the sensitivities of women, it did get women talking about how doing things #LikeAGirl shouldn’t be used as a negative.
5) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
What started out as a silly game among teenagers was swiftly attributed to the ALS Foundation - which was more than happy to start leveraging it for donations. The Ice Bucket Challenge went on for almost all of summer 2014, with everyone from small children to Tom Hiddleston dumping buckets of ice water over their heads and pledging to donate to ALS research. This fun and charitable challenge turned into summer 2014’s biggest social media campaign.
6) Make-A-Wish Foundation #SFBatKid
The Make-A-Wish foundation regularly grants wishes to children with severe illnesses, but rarely do they make such a splash. The SF BatKid’s wish was to be Batman for a day - and boy did Make-A-Wish make it happen. The Batkid, alongside Batman, raced around San Francisco and temporarily crowned Gotham City to save it from various bad guys. The entire city got involved, including the SF Police Department and the local news, and the hashtag #SFBatKid trended across the country, with videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. BatKid day has helped to draw attention to childhood cancer research because we were all there watching and rooting for Miles BatKid every step of the way.
Creating the right conditions to make your campaign “go viral” on social media can be tricky, but sometimes the internet surprises everyone and chooses to push a fun game into an international phenomenon all on its own - or ignores the campaign you carefully crafted to make it big. Social media trends can generally be predicted, but not always relied upon, so it’s good to plan your social media with the hopes that you’ll be entertaining and informative, but without relying on a burst of viral energy.