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3 Stellar and Shocking Social Media Campaigns of 2016

September 28, 2016 Melinda LaFollette

In our field today, it’s impossible to execute a successful marketing or PR campaign without involving social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become as important (if not more, depending on your audience) as broadcast, print and traditional advertising.

With so many people diving into the digital marketing pool, you’re bound to find some who can swim – and some who flat out sink.

2016 isn’t over yet so there’s still time for more social media wins and epic fails. But here are some notable ones from the year so far:

miracle_mattress_911_tweetMiracle Mattress tries to capitalize on a national tragedy
One genius at a retail location for Texas-based mattress company Miracle Mattress thought it would be a great idea to run a promotional sale for Patriot Day, also known as 9/11. They made a commercial for their “Twin Towers Sale,” making light of this horrific day in our country’s history. It even went as far as stacking pillows into two towers in the background that they later fell into as they claimed “We will never forget.” What’s more, they posted this video on Facebook.

Surprisingly, when it came to social media this company had no form of checks and balances system in place. The owner of the company knew nothing of the video and did not approve its release. Instead, he found out about it when the rest of the world began shouting about its distasteful nature on Twitter. I wish I could say his problems ended there.

The daughter of said owner (and, plot twist, star of the disastrous video) tried and failed miserably at defending their creation. In response to Facebook users in Canada who voiced their oppostion to the video, she said the September 11th attacks happened in the U.S. so they need to mind their own business. Oy vey…

The owner issued a formal apology, and he will likely be apologizing for this for some time. And sadly, Miracle Mattress wasn’t the only retailer trying to capitalize on the significance of that day.

At times like these: it pays to hire professionals to manage a brand’s social media.

Total Beauty, total Twitter fail
This year’s Academy Awards faced its fair share of challenges even before they rolled out the red carpet. Adding to the conversation on Oscar night was beauty and fitness website Total Beauty. Their contribution for the evening? A tweet admiring Oprah Winfrey’s tattoos. You didn’t know Oprah has tattoos? She doesn’t, but Whoopi Goldberg does.

Needless to say, Twitter lit up with wisecracks and utter disbelief over this case of mistaken identity. Even Oprah herself got in on the action.

Food for thought: you may be up on the latest pop culture, but it never hurts to double (or triple) check your facts before you post.

Never ask users to ______.
After all the times McDonald’s has fallen victim to hashtag hijacking, you’d think brands would be more careful about how they try to engage users on social media. Unfortunately for ALDI Australia, they had to learn the lesson the hard way. Earlier this year ALDI’s Twitter account asked users to fill in the blank: I became an ALDI lover when I tasted _____ for the first time.

In an effort to keep this blog post suitable for work, I won’t elaborate on what words were used in response tweets.

Social Media Campaign Creation 101: never ask the social media universe to fill in the blank.

Thankfully, for every social media disaster there is social media gold.

skitles_candyRather than get political, Skittles stays sweet
You may have heard of the campaign graphic recently tweeted by the son of a certain presidential candidate, likening Syrian refugees to Skittles. While some brands would want to stay as far away from this as possible, Skittles stepped up and responded in such a way that garnered praise from the social media world.

Rather than backing away, the candy maker acknowledged the tweet, made it clear they did not support it and politely declined to comment further. And then, they moved on with their lives. Tweets congratulating Skittles on a “pitch-perfect response” flooded newsfeeds, and drove some to head to their nearest grocer to buy themselves a bag of the candy.

Moral of the story: as a brand you don’t need to shy away from social media controversy, but be highly strategic about how you decide to engage with it.

#ShareYourEars makes wishes come true
Disney teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and launched the #ShareYourEars campaign, asking users to share their best “ear photo” with the campaign hashtag. Mickey Mouse ears were not required, instead Disney asked participants to get creative. For every photo posted with the hashtag, Disney would donate $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1 million.

The result? The hashtag became a trending topic on Facebook and the campaign was so successful, Disney increased the donation total and gave $2 million to Make-A-Wish.

Want to make similar social media magic? Call on your friends. Partnering with other well-known brands, or charitable causes, gives users even more reasons to engage with a campaign.

L’Oreal Paris has something #WorthSaying
Do a Google search of the best social marketing campaigns of the year, and you’ll find L’Oreal Paris’ #WorthSaying campaign on practically every list. The makeup line used its tagline “Because You’re Worth It” to remind women everywhere that they all have something worthy of saying – no matter the topic. The campaign launched at the start of the year in conjunction with the Golden Globes, and included participation from famous faces like Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum.

It’s been nine months since the Golden Globes, and users are still inspiring and motivating each other with the hashtag.

The takeaway: expand recognizable elements of the brand, like a tagline, to start conversations with users who may not be regular customers.

What social media campaigns do you think nailed it or bombed this year?

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