1. Social Media Campaigns that promote social causes as well as brand…genuinely.

One of the cornerstones of GE’s “Balance the Equation” campaign, which aims at hiring more women in STEM positions, is to focus on successful female engineers and their stories. Print and online and ads, for example, featured National Medal of Science in Engineering winner Millie Dresselhaus.

GE introduced the hashtag “#balancetheequation” on twitter and created a website, GE-girls.com, aimed at connecting interested women with information and opportunities in STEM.

Professional footballer JJ Watt’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort is an example of utilizing personal branding and sports celebrity to spotlight an emergency effort. Watt did an excellent job spearheading a relief campaign immediately after the disaster and promoting the cause aggressively throughout his social promotion platforms.

Watt ended up raising nearly $40 million in a month!  But he started off with smaller ambitions, setting up a Houston flood relief fund on his personal website (with the initial goal of raising $200,000), and he announced its creation on twitter.

The cause gained traction immediately as A-listers like Ellen & Drake announced support on their own accounts. No doubt his effort was helped by the fact that he was already an NFL star; regardless, this was socially conscious campaign that garnered significant attention – and eye-popping fundraising results.

2. Timing is Essential: Integrating Current Events

Correlating your campaign to current events or news can be an outstanding mechanism to garner positive attention if the issue isn’t too controversial (and sometimes even then).

Chiquita’s ‘Banana Solar Eclipse’ advertsaired just before the solar eclipse of August 2017, featuring a graphic of the eclipse and humorously highlighting that the crescent-shaped portion of the sun not covered during a partial eclipse resembled a banana. (During the ad, the ‘banana-sun’ sprouts arms and legs and begins dancing.)

Chiquita created a website (TheBananaSun.com) devoted solely to banana-eclipse related content and updated it almost daily in the days preceding the eclipse. This is an outstanding example of a company successfully integrating a widely-publicized event into their marketing.  Chiquita also took to twitter to promote the campaign.

3. Humor Consistently Engages

Lighthearted and funny advertising is very shareable and popular among youth and millennials (compared to ads meant to strike an emotional chord).  There are several fast food industry examples that embed humor approach into advertising on social media and other channels.

Kentucky Fried Chicken launched a slew of funny commercialsfeaturing a rotation of popular comedians like Norm MacDonald, Jim Gaffigan and (singer) Reba McIntyre portraying the legendary Colonel Sanders.   KFC has also frequently employed humor in their social media profiles.  Here’s KFC promoting a new chicken flavor on twitter.

KFC has also used subtle “easter eggs” online to attract and engage young consumers. If you look at KFC’s twitter account, you’ll notice that they are only following 11 people: five original Spice Girls and six people with the name “herb.” Not coincidentally, that adds up to 11 herbs and spices, a nod to their recipe. It took an independent twitter user to notice and announce this news before most people knew.

Small details like that may not make an immediate first impression but many of my friends/peers appreciate obscure, hard-to-connect details like that, and willingly share the campaign to spread the love for the brand’s efforts.

Wendy’s tweets have been shared increasingly for good reason: they stand out. Even among humorous social media campaigns, Wendy’s approach is distinctive, funny, informal and unapologetic. They’ve become known as a twitter account willing to “roast” the competition, particularly for using frozen beef.

They have also embraced popular memes and are employing them in their quest to relate to young people.  Another one of their tactics, interacting back and forth with users, can do wonders for brand recognition.  One such exchange even ended with a user deleting his account in shame. Here is one example of Wendys’ engagement with users: Responding to an independent twitter user.

The tone of these tweets may seem risky for a company’s image. But Wendy’s tweets have paid off in a big way, inspired real-time enthusiastic sharing, and engaged a broader universe with the brand.

Social media in 2018 enables instant accessibility to thoughts and opinions of a huge sample of the population.  This rapid flow of information (and reaction) assists in developing appealing social storytelling that appears much more organic and helps engage young people not interested in standard advertising.  if a company can make their social media content funny and/or relatable, it can expand the brand’s audience exponentially.

Craig Giangiulio is a Bongo intern and senior journalism student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a career in writing.

Share This