All-time Social Media Hits To Get Inspired From

With digital consumers spending an average of 2 hours 22 minutes per day on social networks – the social landscape undoubtedly provides a big opportunity to businesses looking to connect with their existing users & reach new audience.

Over here we discuss some of the famous social campaigns that garnered engagement from the users, influenced the sales jump, and accelerated the company’s growth agenda. 

1. Nike: 

Nike’s association with American footballer Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem instead of standing, to protest racial injustice in the US, triggered tons of conversation online and offline. Some took to social media to upload videos of them burning Nike products, whole others applauded the brand for taking a strong political stance. The ‘Just Do It’ campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick was released on the brands’s 30th anniversary in 2018 and pushed the brand’s mention on social media by 135% in a week. It garnered  2.7 million mentions of Nike within 24 hours of the announcement made by Kaepernick.

It was reported that Nike saw a nearly 17% increase in foot traffic at 242 stores in the country during the week after Labor Day compared to the same period in 2017. The company witnessed a 31% increase in its online sales. 

Expert Observation: 

It can turn some people off for sure. And it can turn some people on…Nike wins in either case, because they’re burning something they already paid for.

Ed Castillo, former chief strategy officer at Arnold Worldwide and TBWA/Chiat/Day

2. Oreo:

Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet ‘You Can Still Dunk In The Dark’ shows the power of real-time marketing.  When the power went out in the Superdome during a Superbowl match during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII Oreo tweeted saying ‘You can still dunk it the dark’. Within one hour it got 10,000 retweets.

Expert Observation:

It’s textbook example of how Twitter can be used in real time to tailor a product message.

Bob Dorfman, a creative director at Baker Street Advertising

3. Dove:

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches Campaign that aimed to show women that they were more beautiful than they though they were. An FBI-trained sketch artist was asked to make sketches of women whom he couldn’t see. The portraits were based on the descriptions the women provided and the descriptions provided by strangers. The resulting sketches—the ones based on strangers’ descriptions were more beautiful and and looked more like their subjects than the ones that were based on the descriptions provided by the women themselves. The idea was – women are too critical of themselves; hence, the tagline: “YOU are more beautiful than you think!”

In the first month of the launch, the video was watched 114 million times. And the campaign was the most watched internet video of 2013. The campaign has generated almost four billion PR and blogger media impressions. 

Expert Observation: 

I think what made this campaign perform particularly strongly is the content, which elicited the intense emotional responses of ‘warmth, ‘happiness’ and ‘knowledge’ from its target demographic — one of the key factors behind a video’s sharing success…But, more importantly, we are really seeing social motivations behind sharing becoming a lot more important. Brands have to give people a reason to share the video.

David Waterhouse, the global head of content and PR Unruly Media in his interview to Business Insider 

4. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

Launched to raise awareness for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease and to raise funds, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involved people to pour a bucket of ice-cold water over their head and three other people to do the same or make a charitable donation towards the cause. The campaign went so viral that in just eight weeks it managed to raised $115 million. With celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey taking up the challenge, the campaign got viral across social media platforms. Between June 1 and August 13, 2014, the campaign was mentioned nearly 2.2 million times on Twitter. Over 1.2 million videos were posted on Facebook of people taking up the challenge.

Expert Observation :

It makes you look good to be part of this movement. There is also the challenge aspect of it…. It’s almost like a duel: You’re calling out a friend of yours and it’s very hard for the friend to say no. It’s a signal of who they are so they want to step up to the challenge…. It’s almost the best type of chain letter in that respect.

Jonah Berger, Wharton marketing professor

5. Old Spice:

Old Spice’s ‘Smell Like a Man, Man’ campaign launched just prior to the 2010 Superbowl became a viral video sensation. It’s received more than 50 million views on YouTube.  5 months after the campaign was launched, Old Spice came up with a Response Campaign, as they wanted to engage with their users on a more personal way. On the morning of July 13, 2010, Old Spice posted a simple message on their social channels which said

For the next two days, Isaiah Mustafa, dubbed as “Mr Old Spice,” responded to the tweets with the help of nearly 200 personalized video responses which were posted on YouTube. More than 2,000 users sent queries which included Ashton Kutcher, Digg co-founder Kevin Rose, and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos. The “response” videos received super positive response, they were viewed more than 46 million times. In fact, in the first 24 hours the response videos were viewed more times on YouTube than President Obama’s 2008 election-night acceptance speech.

Here’re some interesting numbers to look at 

  • 1.2 billion earned media impressions, including features on national broadcast networks and international media outlets
  • 2700% increase in Twitter followers
  • 800% increase in Facebook fan interaction
  • 300% increase in traffic to the Old Spice website
  • Old Spice has become the #1 Most Viewed Sponsored YouTube Channel


Expert Observation: 

There’s never been a campaign that has answered users’ questions so personally and so quickly…It just it wasn’t just that, it’s the way that they did it. The writing was brilliant. The acting was brilliant.

Matt Fiorentino, senior marketing analyst for Visible Measures,

6. Share A Coke 

Share a Coke has been one of the most successful digital campaigns of Coca-Cola. The brand gave people the opportunity to order personalized bottles of Coke through a Facebook app and people shared the images of Coke bottle with their names on it on social media. The campaign was originally trialled in Australia in 2011 and produced some amazing results.

Let’s look at the numbers –

  • In Australia, young adult consumption increased by 7% during the campaign. It earned a total of 18,300,000-plus media impressions.
  • Traffic on the Coke Facebook site increased by 870% and the Facebook page grew 39%.
  • In Australia,  seventy-six thousand virtual Coke cans were shared online and 378,000 custom Coke cans were printed at local Westfield malls across the country. 
  • Globally, Coca-Cola has seen its Facebook community grow by 6.8%.
  • The hashtag has also been used 29,000 times on Twitter (Brandwatch, 2013).

Sources –……

Expert Observation:

People loved that this campaign spoke to them directly by using their names, or those of their friends and family. They were also engaged in the participative element of the campaign, particularly by sharing images of the personalised Coke bottles on Twitter and Facebook. Share a Coke spoke to them as individuals, while making them feel more connected to the brand and to one another – and that is the secret to its success.

Jane Carn, head of qualitative research at YouGov. 

7. Starbucks tweet a coffee

The @Tweetacoffee program lets users in the U.S. buy coffee for friends on Twitter. Users had to sync their Starbucks account to their Twitter account and tweet to @tweetacoffee and the Twitter handle of the friend they wanted to gift the coffee to. Starbucks then sent the recipient a $5 digital eGift. The recipients could redeem the Starbucks Card e-gift at the participating stores in the U.S.

The program was a follow up to Starbucks Facebook eGift service which let users send gift certificates to other Facebook users.

Let’s look at the results of the program

In just over a month after its launch, the program generated $180,000 in purchases, as per the research firm Keyhole. Their research also found that 32% of the purchases happened on the first day of the program. Also, more than 27,000 fans used the program and 34% of users bought multiple gift cards, the research firm said. 

Expert Observation: 

The real coup for Starbucks is that it now has linked 54,000 users Twitter IDs to their mobile phones and customer IDs. Here’s proof that direct-response [marketing] works on Twitter.

Saif Ajani, co-founder of Keyhole

8. Burger King’s Net Neutrality Ad 

Burger King explained net neutrality by using their famous hamburger, the Whopper. The ad shows a Burger King store implementing Whopper “fast lane” – $4.99 for slow Mbps, $12.99 for fast Mbps, and $25.99 for hyperfast Mbps where Mbps means “Making burgers per second.” A very clever use of words that resonated with today’s digital savvy consumers.

And the numbers say it –

With more than 4 billion impressions, it’s the brand’s most shared ad ever.

Expert Observation:

The Whopper Neutrality experiment and campaign falls in line with consumers’ expectations for brands to take action. The video aims to educate consumers on how they could be impacted by the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Net Neutrality and encourages them to sign a petition to save it.

Erica Sweeney, MarketingDive

We’ll keep updating the list with examples from brands that got the social media game right with the right insights and right content. So, keep watching this space!