Too often when scrolling through our Instagram feed, Facebook notifications or hundreds of tweets, we’re only half engaged. This inner urge to “stay up to date” on all things social media has become so mundane that we find ourselves absentmindedly scanning the posts of the people, brands and groups we follow.

That is until that one Instagram post jumps out and grabs our attention, evoking strong emotions and at times, even calling us to act. But what was it about that brand’s post that enabled it to stand out from the rest?

The ability to break through the noise and capture each and every user so they’re called to act is what makes for an excellent social media campaign. A strong and effective social media campaign is creative, engaging and profitable.

Creating the best social media campaign for your brand

Brands that don’t take advantage of social media to market their products and content are missing out on an extremely viable means of generating leads and building relationships with partners and influencers. As such, it’s no surprise that 78 percent of businesses now have teams that work entirely on branding and marketing through social media.

So what are these teams doing to ensure that theirs is the top social media campaign out there in the world of information overload?

They’re crafting thoughtful and intentional social strategies.

These teams design images, infographics, videos and emotive content that can be shared across a number of channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. However, even the highest quality infographic or the most intriguing short film won’t capture users if the material, message and people don’t resonate with the target audience.

Drawing on the demographics, interests and lifestyles of your target audience, the most effective social strategies utilize influencers to capture audience attention.

For some brands, using an influential role model to tell a story that resonates with users is the best way to foster engagement. Some others will find that a celebrity in a relatable role, completing a relatable task, is the best way to evoke emotion to garner a response to a product or message.

At the end of the day, if you haven’t hit the mark on your target audience, you won’t have an effective social media campaign. Humanizing the campaign to reach your target persona is crucial for its success.

The brands with the best social media campaigns over the last year were effectively able to relate to users and consumers, foster a sense of community and drive growth.

We took a deeper dive into the top five campaigns to see what worked:

1. Make-A-Wish

One of the most recent social campaigns leaned on its longtime partnership with the globally-known and recognized Disney.

Launching the viral campaign #shareyourears, Make-A-Wish was able to raise $2 million over the holiday season by engaging fans and followers in content. The campaign success was based on asking its audience to take photos of friends, family and even pets wearing the famous Mickey ears. They were then asked to actively post these images to social media platforms using the Share Your Ears hashtag.

❤️🍕Pizza Queen 👑❤️

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“The more unique photos you share, the more money raised,” promised the campaign.

By partnering with Disney, the magical and awe-inspiring family brand, Make-A-Wish, has continued to engage with a quite diverse audience. This partnership began years before the first tweet was ever pushed live, dating back to 1980, according to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The mission of providing terminally and critically ill children with a wish resonates with users across the board. Incorporating that sense of giving back with fun user-generated photos rocking the iconic Mickey ears during the holiday season was an excellent social strategy for garnering support.

This works because the campaign engaged users with a real human element and helped them feel part of a larger community by unlocking $5 donations for each post. Followers were called to photograph themselves with Mickey ears that reflected one of three themes. Share Your Ears posts ranged from puppies with the classic black and white ears and little kids at Disney World to a woman using colorful lollipops as ears and one man standing in front of upright car tires to look like ears.

Key takeaway:

The original goal was to generate 100,000 hashtags. This campaign was successful because both Disney and the Make-A-Wish Foundation were active in responding to the social media community using and spreading the hashtag. This helped the hashtag go viral, shared by nearly 200,000 users on social media. Moreover, the conversation is still growing, meaning that it the strategy left a lasting impression.

Initially pledging small donations up to $1 million, Disney ended up doubling its donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping the organization reach and pass its goal.

2. Mr. Clean

As a result of its successful use of Facebook and Twitter to create suspense surrounding the release of its commercial, the 2017 Mr. Clean Superbowl Ad was named one of the top five best social media campaigns of the year by the Digital Marketing Institute.

Within just one minute of the air date – during the Superbowl nonetheless – the Mr. Clean content went viral. That was in thanks to the daily video ads posted to Facebook and Twitter leading up to the big game, a strategy that helped create a true online presence. The video usage helped to garner anticipation and excitement of the final product. Across the two aforementioned platforms and Instagram, the brand notched 11,700 mentions within 60 seconds.

“By seeding your main campaign assets in advance of a big public event or occasion through teasers, you can significantly increase engagement and reach,” wrote Dan Hughes in his article for the Digital Marketing Institute.

It only makes sense that the commercial reached such a wide audience. As Nielsen Insights reported, while 111.3 million people viewed Super Bowl LI last year, 48.3 million people logged on to tweet or post about the event across a variety of social media channels. These users generated 190.8 million interactions on social networks – a huge opportunity for brands everywhere. So while the reach of the game certainly helped the Mr. Clean commercial soar, it was the enhancement and romanticized nature of the cleaning product that helped it stand out.

Moreover, the brand used Twitter to share a YouTube link to the commercial itself, with a catchy phrase, “If you thought my ad was sexy, wait till you see how well my products clean. Watch it again.”

The post received more than 1,000 likes and 590 retweets.

Key takeaway:

By creating a hype for the commercial prior to its release, airing it during the Super Bowl and using Twitter and Facebook as vehicles to promote the ad, Mr. Clean successfully generated a conversation about its product that drove awareness.

3. Glossier

Gaining momentum each and every day, influencer marketing is a strong strategy to adopt for your social media campaign. Leading bloggers, entrepreneurs, celebrities and even stay-at-home moms with a large social media following are continually being used by brands as influencers to reach a target audience and gain new followers. Instagram is an especially great platform for utilizing influencers.

One such brand following suit is Glossier. Skin care and beauty products “inspired by real life” is the motto of this startup company headed by CEO Emily Weiss. Drawing on that motto, Weiss and her team partner with all kinds of women to bring that message home to her Glossier community. Scrolling through the brand’s Instagram you won’t find the likes of Kendall Jenner or Jessica Alba. Instead, the page is filled with real woman using real products. Fun, feel-good posts advertising good-for-you beauty products and tips are the driver of this campaign.

“What’s very motivating to us is this idea of every single woman being an influencer,” Glossier CEO Emily Weiss told Sensei Marketing. “That power of the individual person – just the girl – is infinite.”

In fact, just 10 percent of company revenue comes from paid marketing spend. The remainder of Glossier’s revenue is gained from its loyal and actively engaged group of followers.  To date, Glossier has 925,000 followers on Instagram.

Key takeaway:

Finding an influencer that will resonate with your audience can have a much bigger impact than using an employee or local model for a photo shoot. For this brand, the social media campaign strategy works because it resonates with “real women.”

4. Domino’s Pizza

Even before the dawn of social media, Domino’s was utilizing marketing tools to fortify itself as the No. 1 biggest pizza delivery business worldwide, with over 5,700 shops around the globe. From the beginning, Domino’s has excelled at fostering consumer engagement through its pizza-tracking campaign that began online and has since spread to all mobile devices and social media platforms.

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Traditionally, to order a pizza you would make a phone call, place an order and receive an estimated wait time. The voice on the phone may tell you 20 minutes, yet the pizza wouldn’t show for another 40 minutes.

But why leave delivery time up to guess work?

Domino’s has continued to outpace its competitors by providing real-time delivery updates via technology and social media domains to let consumers know exactly when the pizza was put in the oven, when it was boxed and loaded into the delivery car and when it will be at your doorstep.

Via dominos.com

 

Domino’s Pizza Builder made for yet another engaging and entertaining strategy. Customers could use online tools to “make” their own pizza, select toppings and watch it be put into the oven. The Pizza Profile and Domino’s AnyWare campaigns have also gained popularity, generated conversation and obtained mentions, follows and replies. Moreover, all of this content is shareable, helping to elicit lead generation and engagement.

The strategy has worked. As SEO Noble reported, the social media campaigns that went into Domino’s marketing efforts garnered over 2,000,000,000 media impressions. As a result of the campaigns, the pizza company was able to significantly increase digital sales.

“We leverage social media to proactively and reactively engage with Domino’s loyalty members, whether they’re posting positive or negative remarks about the program,” Steve Kennedy, Director of Loyalty at Domino’s, told Loyalty360. “We view each opportunity as a chance to build better relationships with our members.”

Key takeaway:

Kennedy credits the use of technology across a number of platforms – enabling customers to order a pizza from their smartwatch, car capabilities, Alexa by Amazon and smart TV to name a few – as a driver behind the boost in digital sales. This successful use of media and Domino’s own engagement with customers has helped create hundreds of thousands of loyal followers, as well as the support of those loyal followers.

5. General Electric

Segmentation of audience on social is essential for a great social media campaign. One brand that has successfully found its target audience – and as a result, increased its number of job applicants by 800 percent – is General Electric. An American conglomerate founded decades ago, GE is largely recognized for its appliances. The company doesn’t sell flashy cars or luxury homes and can often be conceived as boring. The brand can sometimes be a tough sell and historically, the field of science and technology has been largely dominated by males – another obstacle in reaching an intended audience.

Last year, the company launched the “Balance the Equation”campaign, an effort to raise awareness of the gender gap in the field of STEM. In addition to starting the conversation, the strategy involved a lofty goal of employing 20,000 females in tech roles at the company by 2020. In a minute-long ad, scientist Millie Dresselhaus is portrayed as a celebrity.

Prior to the commercial, it was unlikely many outside the field of science and technology knew that Dresselhaus was the first female to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering. The ad uses storytelling that resonates with viewers to flip the stigma and inspire an audience of young girls. The video closes with the real faces of a number of women already working in the field, along with the hashtag #BalanceTheEquation. The clip on YouTube has drawn 989,624 views and 3,000 likes, while the hashtag gained thousands of mentions.

GE’s other successful campaign  – that helped increase applicant numbers by a staggering percent – is a series of videos that feature the character Owen, a programmer. As the AMA explained, the campaign works because it’s honest. Owen attempts to explain to family and friends how much of a difference he could make in the world by working at GE, despite their lack of interest. It’s another example of a social media campaign that works.

Key takeaway:

This method has been a success for GE because the brand leverages characters with real attributes and traits to make a rather boring – yet real – scenario funny and engaging. GE makes it relatable.

The most viable social media campaigns are ones that stick with users long after they’ve clicked, liked or retweeted. Implementing effective social strategies can unlock the door to increased growth and engagement for your brand.

Claire Martin is a Brafton writer based remotely on the island of Nantucket. When she's not creating content, you can find her exploring a new country, trying out a new recipe or enjoying a quiet morning at her local coffee shop.