Facebook has over 1 billion users. Twitter has over 500 million, Instagram more than 150 million and Google+ somewhere in between. With numbers like that, social media is something that brands are starting to take seriously.
Some are doing it well, and some – well, not so much (#McDStories, anyone?) But several companies made headlines this year by finding social media success in creative new ways. Let’s take a look at 10 of them here.
Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet
People have called it the “Tweet heard around the world,” and rightfully so. Oreo’s daring Super Bowl stunt took about two years to plan. In case you missed it, Oreo released a well-timed Tweet that coincided with the power outage in the stadium. The tweet read: “Power out? No problem.” The accompanying image reminded us that we can still “dunk in the dark.”
The tweet was a culmination of Oreo’s efforts to engage its fans on social media in a more meaningful way, and it succeeded: it was the year’s best real-time social media reaction, boasting more than 16,000 retweets.
HRC’s Viral Facebook Campaign
This year, the Supreme Court oversaw two groundbreaking marriage equality cases. In the weeks leading up to the cases, the Human Rights Campaign launched a hugely successful endeavor to raise awareness about the issue.
Facebook users were challenged to use the iconic HRC logo as their profile picture, to bring the message of the HRC to screens all across the country. And it worked – Facebook reported a 120% increase in profile photo updates during the campaign, and more than 2.7 million users displayed the image on their Facebook page.
Dove’s Real Beauty Video
After achieving 114 million views, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” is not only one of the best social media moments of 2013 – it’s one of the most successful viral videos of all time.
In the video, Dove used an FBI sketch artist to draw women based on their descriptions of themselves. Those sketches were then compared with sketches of the same women, this time dictated by strangers – who were generally much kinder. The end result? A hugely popular affirmation that women can be their own worst critics – and that all women are beautiful.
Grey Poupon’s Brand Revival
When you’ve had a successful ad campaign going for decades, it’s not an easy decision to change it up. But this year, Grey Poupon decided to take a risk and revamp its 1981 commercial, which showed two stuffy aristocrats sharing the French mustard.
In a commercial that first aired during the Oscars and then continued onto YouTube, Grey Poupon unveiled the hilarious “Lost Footage” of the 1981 mustard exchange.
To date, the YouTube video has scored nearly 1.8 million views, big media buzz, and major social media accolades.
MySpace’s Radical Makeover
MySpace’s epic rise and even more epic fall represented a tale of caution to all social media sites. But this year, the site unveiled a radical redesign in an attempt to win back users. The site is more modern, more functional, and more focused– and it has superstar Justin Timberlake at the helm, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
MySpace did more than just switch up its design, too: the site made the bold move of totally changing its purpose. It’s now a destination for music fans to interact with their favorite artists in a more meaningful way than ever before.
Foursquare’s Ad Integration
In what has been hailed as the best integration of advertising in 2013, Foursquare’s partnership with the NFL and Verizon.com has helped recapture some of the public’s goodwill toward social media ads. How did Foursquare do it? By turning ads into something useful for users.
Foursquare ads are geo-social and location-specific, making them more relevant to users. And people who check in on the app won’t only see ads. Users in D.C., Baltimore and Boston will see incentives, contests and the chance to win free NFL tickets and upgrades.
Seamless’s Stellar Customer Service
Twitter is quickly moving ahead as one of the best mediums for brands to provide quick, helpful customer service. It’s immediate and easy – and it’s often more convenient than calling a customer service hotline. But Seamless, a U.S.- and London-based food delivery service, takes it to the next level.
People take their food seriously. And many of them take to Twitter to complain about issues, whether it’s a late delivery or a malfunctioning website. Seamless is one of the best at responding to customer complaints and issues quickly and enthusiastically, no matter the time of day.
Water is Life’s Hashtag Turnaround
Everyone’s familiar with the hashtag #firstworldproblems. The satirical tag, used to describe problems-that-aren’t-really-problems, spawned memes, sites, articles and dozens of Twitter accounts. But Water is Life turned the hashtag on its head this year for a great cause.
The charity, which provides clean water to those in need, posted a YouTube video called “Hashtag Killer” in June. It showed Haitian children and adults reciting common “first world problems,” including “My phone charger won’t reach my bed,” and “I hate it when my leather seats aren’t heated.” The heartbreaking video contrasted “first world problems” with real problems – and it spurred the donation of 1 million days’ worth of clean water to the charity.
Snapchat Makes Waves
Snapchat is one of the newest social media services, and so far, it’s proved pretty difficult for brands to utilize. At its core, Snapchat is a video and photo messaging service. The catch? Anything that’s shared on Snapchat disappears between 1 and 10 seconds after it’s opened.
A few innovative companies, including Karmaloop and Taco Bell, used Snapchat with great success this year. It’s a great medium to advertise products and offer promotions to an elusive, hard-to-impress group – millenials.
Honorable Mention: BuzzFeed
We know, BuzzFeed isn’t really social media. But the constantly-updated, always-hilarious lists and GIFs are so catchy and shareable, we thought they deserved a shout out. Our favorites: 24 Wonderful Ways to Celebrate Pi(e) Day, 22 Reasons Why The Octopus Is The Biggest Badass In The Ocean, and The 33 Dumbest Things That Happened In 2013.
Image credit: Esther Vargas via flickr