Popular opinion says that 2016 was a tough year we should all be glad to see the end of, but the reality is that it wasn't all bad. Social media had a fine year, with some truly spectacular bright spots.
So, believing it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness, I'd like to highlight a couple of inspiring 2016 success stories in the world of social media campaigns. May the new year be a bright one, and may brands and agencies absorb the lessons of these examples and put them to work successfully in 2017.
1. Knorr's #LoveAtFirstTaste campaign
For its #LoveAtFirstTaste campaign, Knorr - a Unilever brand - matched singles with similar food preferences and then set them up on videotaped dates. The innovative, potentially awkward twist: the singles paired on blind dates could only consume the food by feeding it to each other.
The digital campaign included an interactive flavor-profile quiz, a campaign landing page, and a series of social videos. The core campaign video (above) has racked up over 60 million views since its publication in April.
Knorr is known for more reserved, product-centric marketing that doesn't feature much experimentation, but with this campaign the company succeeded in expanding into brand marketing by capitalizing on the tangible power of flavor. This added a different understanding of the brand, enabling them to connect on a more emotional level.
Knorr's achievement with this campaign demonstrates a few valuable lessons for marketers.
The first is that you shouldn't be afraid to try something outside your legacy marketing - it's okay to experiment on a smaller scale to find what works for your brand.
Also, "authentic" can sometimes mean awkward or uncomfortable, and you should recognize the power in that. Part of what made these videos work is that you can tell participants are genuinely uncertain as to what to expect. This elevates their experience beyond something scripted. Be willing to embrace discomfort, and to give up a bit of the polish in order to capture something real.
It's also the case that your customers should see themselves through your marketing. Casting matters, and making sure your participants reflect the breadth of your customer base is important when trying to make a play for authenticity.
2. Command's "Do No Harm" campaign
This ongoing campaign by the 3M brand Command turns to MC Hammer for assistance. The campaign's premise hinges on MC Hammer being "the only hammer who hates nails" to promote its damage-free hanging products. The integrated campaign includes a series of broadcast TV spots as well as a breadth of social and digital content. Campaign-related YouTube videos have racked up almost 10 million views.
Command's campaign succeeds by tapping into a timely trend in 90s nostalgia, with MC Hammer serving as a powerful cultural icon from that period. Using MC Hammer as a vehicle, the brand's able to talk about its products in a humorous but still tangible manner. Using a tongue-in-cheek hashtag like #StopHammerTime cleverly plays into a pop culture phrase, while still tying closely to the brand's product and message.
The takeaway from this campaign is that playing into nostalgia can be done right - if there's a connection with your brand that passes the sniff test. For Command, this meant a star with a catchphrase related to their product and industry. If used with care, cultural icons - even those that may have faded from the spotlight - can be a powerful tool.
Another lesson here is to go big and commit to your campaign. If this had been a blip in Command's marketing, it would have felt opportunistic. Instead, extending this campaign into a yearlong effort gave the brand time to fully develop individual content streams that offered different values and experiences to the customer. Giving yourself time to do the job right is key, even in the fast-paced world of social media.
By considering how to thoughtfully expand their established scope, demonstrate authenticity and an understanding of their customers - and perhaps enlist celebrated stars of fondly remembered eras - brands can construct fresh campaigns for 2017 that move them forward and succeed in driving effective results.