With the considerable growth in social media users in 2012, more brands are wading further into the social media waters, allocating nearly 11 percent of their advertising budgets toward these channels this year -- three times more than 2011.
As brands get their social media sea legs, we are seeing increasingly successful campaigns defined by their ability to drive significant social media engagement among the brand's target markets. Three brands in particular stand out.
Cadbury: Despite an impressive one million Facebook fans, the brand was concerned that only 16 percent ever saw their content due to their low fan engagement levels and Facebook's messaging prioritization algorithms. As such, Cadbury embarked on a campaign to improve fan interactivity. That's when the idea was born to engineer a giant chocolate hand giving the infamous Facebook "thumbs up" as a thank-you to their fans.
A real-time video feed of the construction process drove tremendous fan engagement. The result was a whopping 250K people actively involved in the campaign with a bonus of 40K new fans gained.
Heinz: While known for its dominance in the ketchup market, Heinz produces a variety of other food products, including a line of beans.
A Heinz "Beanz" Facebook page was born, generating a community of 150K fans called "beaniez." In order to create engagement with a "bean" page, the brand knew a dose of fun and humor was needed.
One of the brand's bean products, Five Beanz, is intended for adult consumers with a sophisticated palette. The brand created a "My Grown Up Beanz" game for the product, where Facebook users were asked a series of questions about their personality traits and told which of the five beans they had grow up to become most like.
Five winners were selected every hour, receiving their very own "personalized bean." Participants were encouraged to invite 10 of their friends to play to win a free goodie bag, which gave the campaign a significant viral boost.
The campaign generated 22K quiz participants and 30K new Facebook fans. If you think your brand doesn't lend itself to significant Facebook engagement, imagine the uphill battle that Heinz faced with a can of beans.
Snickers: In the evolution of the "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign, Snickers paid celebrities to send uncharacteristic tweets. Supermodel Katie Price inexplicably tweeted about global economics and soccer player Rio Ferdinand tweeted about his new knitting hobby. Shortly thereafter, they tweeted the campaign slogan with a photo of them eating a Snickers bar.
The campaign built such a buzz with shares and retweets that it reached a total of 26 million people.
As 2013 approaches, more and more brands are finding creative ways to stand out in social media, with consumer engagement being the name of the game.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).