From Twitter’s increased character count to the launch of Spectacles, 2017 has been a game changing year in the social media landscape. Brands also got a slice of the pie, going all in to engage fans and share their positioning through storytelling.
While some companies faced a significant backlash from fans for muddling the message, many others soared on social with their strategies. Here’s a look at six brands that stepped it up and the initiatives they took to get to the next level.
1. Halo Top
Their game-changing strategy: Disruption through advertising.
How it upped the social media ante: How did a company that got its start in 2014 catapult past long-standing brands in the freezer aisle to become the #1 pint seller of ice cream in the United States? Inside every pint of Halo Top is ice cream packed with protein and low on sugar and calories. Pair that with strong word of mouth via social media sites like Instagram along with a compelling brand voice and fans are spooning it up, allowing the brand to grow its following and sales substantially. In keeping with the unique brand is further disruption through advertising. Halo Top’s “Eat the Ice Cream” commercial spooked audiences while making them laugh at the prospect of a brave new world where bots force-feed us ice cream. It was voted one of AdWeek’s 10 best ads of 2017, but never steered far from the company’s digital native roots with YouTuber Mike Diva directing the spot.
Their game-changing strategy: Deepening how users can creatively engage with the platform.
How it upped the social media ante: How do you raise your social media game when you are social media? The answer is to continue to take the user experience one further. The launch of Stories in 2016 proved to be successful all throughout 2017 with brands and users everywhere creating slideshows of their offerings and “a day in the life” worlds without the fear of being skipped over for posting too frequently. Now, there’s a new option available for users on the app to follow hashtags. In the long run, this could change how data is targeted. But in the short run? Welcome to a near-endless way to keep exploring all of the topics you care about.
3. National Geographic
Their game-changing strategy: A micro-storytelling boost.
How it upped the social media ante: For nearly 130 years, National Geographic has been taking readers on a global journey around the world without ever leaving the pages of their publication. But where does social fit into their mission? National Geographic is aware that they are what they share and commit to keeping their engagement high through micro-storytelling. The company continues to give audiences content they like while playing around with how the story is told — through every method from photography to 360-video to (in the near future) VR.
Their game-changing strategy: Understanding their audience and their own relevancy.
How it upped the social media ante: When a new show is slated to release on Netflix, social media is leveraged around that show’s launch — we kind of take that as a given at this point, since it’s just good marketing to do so. Netflix understands both its audience and the brand’s relevancy, allowing it to put a spin on releasing internal statistics in a clever manner. If you were one of the 53 people who watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days, you know what I mean.
Their game-changing strategy: Standing by their values and ethics.
How it upped the social media ante: One of the unfortunate side effects to social media is that many brands will see hashtags trending and try to glom on the trend for an added engagement boost, even if the hashtag doesn’t tie in with who they are and what they do. Environmentally-conscious Patagonia has opted to stand up for what they believe in, filing a lawsuit against President Trump and publicly speaking out against his policies regarding a decision to withdraw the protected status of land in Utah. In a year where speaking up has been encouraged across the board, Patagonia’s choice further unites their brand with consumers and deepens their own commitment to their mission and values.
Their game-changing strategy: Making the most of the moment with relevant content.
How it upped the social media ante: #NuggsForCarter, anyone? Few fast food restaurants have been on fire this year quite like Wendy’s, which dabbled in a bit of every kind of social media commentary from savagely roasting competitors to helping a young man realize his dream of free nuggets through retweets. What made, and continues to make, Wendy’s stand out has been their ability to create and publish content in a timely manner. Waiting too long can easily cause a brand to accidentally miss the moment — see Beyoncé when she name-dropped Red Lobster.