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30 brands with excellent social media strategies – Econsultancy

From brand storytelling to new commerce opportunities, social platforms offer brands an unmissable opportunity to reach and engage consumers today (social media users passed the 3.5 billion mark in July 2019, as reported by WeAreSocial).

Strategy is not always easy to get right, especially when it comes to the tricky issue of attribution. With that said, there are certainly quite a few brands who seem to have mastered it.

Here are 30 examples…

1. Boohoo

Fashion retailers have felt the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but Boohoo Group (which includes PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal) has been one of the very few to thrive. Boohoo’s sales were up 45% in the quarter to the end of May 2020.

There are many factors involved, of course, but Boohoo’s social media strategy has always been integral to its success, with influencer endorsements enabling the brand to target and engage a young audience on Instagram in particular (where it now has 6.6m followers). In 2018, Boohoo reportedly spent £80m on influencer marketing; a strategy it has since continued.

Alongside favourite influencers, Boohoo cleverly engages its audience with its fun, relatable, and pop-culture-fuelled content, which is always delivered with its similarly friendly and laid back tone of voice. The ability to adapt its content (and tap into current trends) is also key, proven by its recent pivot to #BoohooInTheHouse – a hashtag related to ‘stay at home style’ during lockdown.

This, and its many other social campaigns, proves that Boohoo is a brand that knows how to stay relevant on social media, irrespective of the state of the wider retail industry.

2. PlayStation

With a whopping 18.7m followers, Sony’s PlayStation is the most followed brand on Twitter. According to UnMetric, PlayStation has seen 376% growth in followers in the past five years alone, adding 12 million followers from 2014 to 2019.

One of the reasons for this is how active it is on the platform, continuously posting a mix of content to engage fans including new game trailers, gaming footage, and streaming events. PlayStation recently generated positivity on Twitter with its #PlayAtHome initiative, encouraging users to stay at home by downloading its ‘Unchartered: The Nathan Drake Collection” and “Journey” games for free. According to reports, more than 10m people download the free copies.

3. The Royal Academy

Even if you’re not really into art, The Royal Academy is a worthwhile follow on Twitter – which certainly says something about its social media strategy.

This is apparently thanks to its Social and Content Editor, Adam Koszary, who previously worked for the Museum of English Rural Life. You might remember one of his viral tweets in particular, which involved an image of a muscular ram alongside the caption: “look at this absolute unit.”

Koszary’s knack for juxtaposing historic and often high-end subjects with relatable and modern-day humour has helped elevate The Royal Academy’s socials.

The RA has also created a number of fun and interactive campaigns recently, such as the #RAdailydoodle challenge, which encourages users to draw at home. Now with over 441,000 followers on Twitter, the Royal Academy is an example of how clever use of social media can breathe life into the cultural sector, making it fun and accessible for all.

4. Depop

Described as ‘part Instagram, part eBay’, Depop is a social selling app that has generated huge success on the back of its young and enthusiastic community of 15 million fashion fans. It is largely made up of Generation Z, who typically view Depop in the same vein as Snapchat and TikTok. In other words, it is a place to hang out as well as buy and sell second-hand fashion.

As reported by Marketing Week, the brand’s head of digital marketing, Yoann Pavy, suggests that user generated content is key to social success. “A lot of our content on Instagram is just reposting the coolest shit that is on Depop for people to see.” He added: “At the core, that’s our strategy. And then we add a little bit of influencer marketing, we have paid marketing on top of that and everything is interlinked.”

By continuously promoting what’s hot on its own platform, Depop inspires ‘FOMO’ in its users, ensuring that they are always desperate to head back to Depop.

5. Chipotle

Chipotle was one of the first brands to take a chance with TikTok, but it’s an investment that’s paid off for the restaurant chain.

Most of its content involves the TikTok trend of challenges. Its first, #ChipotleLidFlip, generated over 240 million views on the platform. Its second, #GuacDance, was even more successful with 430 million video starts in six days.

@chipotle

TFW guac is free. Online/in-app only 7/31 #GuacDance Terms: chip.tl/avoday

♬ The Guacamole Song – Dr. Jean

By creating fun and unique content on TikTok, Chipotle has once again become relevant to younger consumers, succeeding in engaging them in this increasingly popular channel. Chipotle announced digital sales growth of 88% and revenue growth of 14.6% to $1.4bn for Q3 2019 – a rise that has been partly put down to its renewed focus on social.

6. Warby Parker

Warby Parker has generated a large amount of its success through word of mouth marketing, spurred on by clever social content. Recently, the brand has enjoyed a bit of extra exposure from its ‘Spinnies’ – a spinnable pair of glasses supposedly created by the US comedian, Jimmy Fallon.

Another classic example is its April Fools Day ‘Warby Barker’ spoof, which saw the brand fools its customers into thinking it was launching a set of eyewear for dogs. And despite this stunt dating all the way back to 2012, it is still alive today in the form of the @WarbyBarker Instagram account, which is populated with user generated content.

A user generated strategy has always been key for the brand on social, with hashtags like #atwarby and #warbyhometryon helping to promote both the Warby Parker in-store and online experience. The latter hashtag now has over 24,400 posts on Instagram.

7. Gymshark

With nearly nine million followers across three Instagram channels, Gymshark is one of the most visible fitness brands on the platform. The brand’s growth – which includes a 73m rise in turnover for the year ending July 2019 – is largely down to a shrewd understanding of social media and the fitness influencers who dominate it.

Gymshark sponsors many big name fitness influencers (also known as brand ambassadors or Gymshark ‘athletes’), in order to capitalise on their combined audiences. Nikki Blackketter, for example – an influencer with 1.8m Instagram followers – is a popular ambassador who has gone on to release a number of her own collections with the brand.

Alongside organic content, Gymshark has also invested in paid social ads. To promote its 2017 Black Friday sale, Gymshark’s paid campaign saw a 6.6x return on ad spend, and resulted in 40% of its sale purchases coming from Instagram.

8. Greggs

In what turned out to be a stellar year for Greggs, 2019 began with the release of a YouTube ad to promote the bakery chain’s now famous vegan sausage roll. Building on traction from the ad, which parodied Apple’s famous commercials, Greggs’ generated even more attention with a cheeky response to a tweet from Piers Morgan. The reply went on to receive over 140,000 likes and 20,000 retweets.

According to YouGov, Greggs’ Buzz Score (a net measure of whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about the brand in the last fortnight) spiked after the vegan sausage roll launch in early January to +8.2, reaching its highest point since the previous March. Marketing Week also states that Greggs’ like-for-like sales were up 9.6% in the first seven weeks of 2019, which included the period of the vegan sausage roll launch.

Since, Greggs has continued to display a shrewd understanding of social, with the brand’s humorous tone of voice continuing to resonate with its target audience. While Twitter is often used as a customer service platform for brands, Greggs’ organic and entertainment-led presence means it delivers much more.

9. Pinduoduo

In May 2020, Pinduoduo overtook JD.com as China’s second-most valuable online retailer. Pinduoduo is a social shopping app that allows customers to secure low-price deals if their friends purchase the same item. The more people, the lower the price.

In her article on the app, Bex Sentance writes: “Even in China, you could argue that no company has quite harnessed the “social” part of “social commerce” quite like Pinduoduo.” This is largely because of Pinduoduo’s integration with WeChat, which allows users to shop and share products from the platform without ever leaving WeChat. This accounts for how a large percentage of customers discover Pinuoduo, as friends become eager to share around the very best deals.

10. KFC UK

As well as creating winning content, a good social strategy also requires knowing how to respond well on social platforms – particularly in the face of a PR crisis. In 2018, KFC showed how its done with its response to the now infamous chicken shortage, which happened when KFC switched to a new supplier and was unable to meet demand.

Instead of shifting blame, however, KFC took it in good humour. The brand launched a “find my chicken” bot on Twitter, allowing customers to locate their nearest (stocked) branch.

More recently, KFC has also won praise for its ‘Ain’t No Small Fry’ social media campaign, which involved paying for Twitter ads that promoted criticism of its old chips (with the aim of bringing attention to its new and improved chip recipe). Results show that the initial Twitter campaign had three million impressions. Meanwhile, prompted awareness of the new fries hit 62%, which was well above the brand’s original target of 50%.

11. National Geographic

With 138m followers, National Geographic is the second most-followed brand channel on Instagram, second to only Instagram itself. Patrick Witty, National Geographic’s deputy director of digital photography, attributes this level of popularity to the brand’s visual storytelling on the platform. He states: “Through @NatGeo we help people experience the planet and cultures as seen by our photographers—a special, unfiltered view.”

By giving its photographers a level of creative control, National Geographic’s content is both unique and authentic. This is also heightened by the fact that captions are written by photographers, allowing each post to come from a different perspective.

View this post on Instagram

Photo by @babaktafreshi | It’s amazing how we are all connected to this planet—every single life form. A sea turtle lays eggs under a breathtaking starry sky. The lights of fishing boats were out at sea, but much closer, on the shore, was the blue bioluminescent glow of plankton. These turtles are sensitive to bright light, and I was carefully using a soft, dim yellow light for this 15-second single exposure. Then I switched off, and spent a long time listening to the waves and watching the turtle under nothing but starlight. It’s critical to avoid using bright lights, especially white LEDs, in their environment. City and hotel lights affect them, especially the baby hatchlings. They often use moonlight reflecting off wave tops as a guide to the sea. But brightly lit coastal developments create false moons, drawing them inland to their deaths, often right after they are born. Today we know light pollution disturbs many other species, vital insects, billions of birds, and the human body as well. I was delighted to see how this beach at Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve in Oman is protected, kept naturally dark, and tourists are only allowed on guided tours. Explore more of the world at night wonders with me @babaktafreshi. #twanight #saveournightsky #seaturtle #lightpollution #rasaljinzturtlereserve

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

National Geographic also uses social media to raise awareness and educate its massive audience on important global issues, partnering with prominent brands in order to extend reach. For its ‘The Moment’ series in 2018, National Geographic partnered with Stella Artois for World Water Day, with its related content reportedly garnering more than 111 million impressions and 2.7 million engagements in a single day.

Its work with Land O’ Lakes for National Agriculture Day also garnered 95.6 million impressions and 2.3 million engagements across social platforms. These platforms include Snapchat, where National Geographic is able to reach and educate a young audience.

12. Dove

It’s an oft-cited example, but in an age of social media frippery, Dove’s steady and impactful social message still stands out as marketing that’s more than just marketing.

The ‘Real Beauty’ campaign has been refreshed multiple times since it first launched in 2004. It’s not been without its controversies, but in 2020, Dove once again highlighted the core message, going far beyond surface aesthetic to focus on the beauty of real human values. The ‘Courage is Beautiful’ campaign effectively honoured the healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Elsewhere, Dove’s #ShowUs campaign demonstrates how the brand is about more than just passive marketing. Along with Getty Images and Girlgaze – which is collective of female-identifying and non-binary photographers – Dove is working to build a stock photo library that is representative of real women, based on its wider commitment to share a more inclusive vision of beauty.

13. Nike

In recent years Nike has demonstrated that it truly understands how to tap in to the mood of the public, while simultaneously fulfilling its wider aim of inspiring people through the power of sport.

The recent ‘Play for the World’ campaign is just one example of this. The campaign, which was rolled out across Nike’s social media channels, stressed the importance of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Featuring both influencers and members of the public, the campaign was designed to reinforce the notion of togetherness.

As well as current global affairs, Nike is also adept at creating conversations around big sporting events; its social content throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup is just one example. As well as sponsoring 14 out of the 24 teams in the tournament (including the US), the brand ensured that it was at the forefront of the conversation on social as the tournament came to an end.

Nike released an ad celebrating the US women’s team just seconds after the winning final match. According to reports, it went on to generate almost five million views on YouTube, and more than 22.5 million views and 97,000 retweets on Twitter.

14. Glossier

Founder and CEO of the company, Emily Weiss, once described Glossier as “the first socially-driven beauty brand.” And while it’s true that many have now followed in its footsteps, Glossier was certainly one of the first real ‘Instagram brands’ – a company that not only uses the platform to build awareness, but to create one-to-one conversations with its audience.

Glossier often crowdsources product development, asking its Instagram followers what they’d like to see next. This level of customer interaction and involvement has created a cult following, which is further enhanced by Glossier’s clever influencer marketing strategy. An image of Beyonce wearing an un-named Glossier product created huge buzz on social in 2018, successfully building hype ahead of its new release.

15. Three

Mobile network Three has revamped its social strategy in the past couple of years. Now with a dedicated social content studio located in its Oxford Street store, the mobile network focuses on fun, interactive, and unique content that complements its TV advertising.

As well as planned activity, this means taking a more reactive approach to social content, and finding opportunities in whatever people are talking about online at the moment.

The below post, relating to Jennifer Aniston’s Instagram debut and Three’s ‘Phones are Good’ campaign, is a nice example.

16. Made.com

Furniture and furnishings is one of those areas of retail that is made (no pun intended) for social media. For Made.com, more specifically, user generated content enables consumers to feel more confident buying bit ticket items online, with consumers able to see how the furniture looks in real homes.

Campaigns such as ‘Design Your Happy Place’, which involves users uploading photos of Made products with the hashtag #MadeDesign, is an example of how the brand turns user generated content into marketing collateral. By asking influencers to also get involved in these campaigns, Made.com also ensures maximum reach and visibility. A single post from the influencer Coucou Les Girls (on her own Instagram account) generated 48,781 likes.

Made.com continuously refreshes its user generated strategy, most recently launching ‘Stay Grounded’ – a campaign centred around how to make the most of being at home during the coronavirus pandemic. As well as tips and advice from the retailer on space-saving furniture, this once again involved showcasing the various homes and gardens of customers.

17. BarkBox

You know a brand is doing social media right when even people outside of its target market engage with its content. For BarkBox, this means the large number of people who follow the brand but don’t even own a dog. Speaking to AdWeek, VP of brand reach and affinity, Allison Stadd said: “One of the things I think that we’ve done really well is not {being} afraid to lean on social to not talk about the things that we’re selling.”

This means creating or even just sharing content that is humorous – such as this viral video – as well as content that celebrates the love people have for their animals. BarkBox is also not afraid to experiment with new channels or creative formats; the brand has recently generated a decent amount of engagement on TikTok, which is a platform that nicely aligns with interest in a specific category or topic (such as pets, in this case). 

@barkbox

Taking good dog pics is easy!… if you gots treats ???? #greenscreen

♬ original sound – barkbox

18. Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty had 1.4m followers on Instagram within just four days of its launch in 2017. This hype has since evolved into real brand loyalty, with Fenty going on to build a 9.9m-strong audience on the platform. This is mostly down to Rihanna, the brand’s creator, as well as a number of influencers who also align with the brand’s values of diversity, inclusion, and body positivity.

Make-up tutorials remain one of the most popular forms of social content produced by the brand, but never more so when they feature Rihanna herself. The below example from April 2020 now has over 2m views. 

19. Zappos

Online retailer Zappos is famous for prioritising customer service, and it’s a strategy that underpins its entire company culture. This is evident if you take a look at any of the brand’s social accounts, with Zappos’ continuously working to reply to customer queries and resolve any outstanding issues.

This commitment is impressive enough, but Zappos’ tone of voice – which is super friendly and ‘human’ (as opposed to overly corporate or faceless) – also ensures that customers are left with a positive experience. 

20. KLM

The most recognised social CRM experts in all of B2C marketing? Yup, probably. KLM understands that customers want to be served in the channel they are using, not directed elsewhere. Innovations include Messenger integration, and being the first airline to launch real-time flight information on Twitter and WeChat.

More recently, KLM has been embracing longer form content on YouTube and Instagram Stories. One of its most popular series,’ ‘What the FAQ’, sees the brand answer technical questions related to air travel. This typically generates among the highest levels of engagement for the airline on Instagram, with a recent example receiving over 46,500 likes. This type of quality, well-produced social content is what sets KLM apart from competitor airlines, who can be guilty of churning out shallow or overly sentimental content.

21. Red Bull

Red Bull’s YouTube channel boasts over 9 million subscribers, and a further 3.9 million across its smaller channels. This is evidence of how the brand’s video-driven content strategy successfully appeals to all types of adventure sports fans. Videos include short documentaries, longer-form video content, and live-streamed events across motorsports, music, gaming, surfing, and snow sports.

Red Bull is perhaps most famous for its world record ‘Space Jump’ with Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner way back in 2012, with the event drawing over 2.6 million social media mentions on the day. Red Bull has continued to draw in even bigger views since; its ‘Last Call for Mr. Paul’ video now totals over 134m views.

This focus on experimental video, alongside subtle branding and clever partnerships, have become the hallmarks of its super successful social strategy.

22. Lego

Now with 9.46m subscribers, Lego’s YouTube channel is at the centre of its social media strategy, both in terms of branded and user generated content. According to Global Director of Social Media at Lego, Lars Silberbauer, this is because for every video that Lego creates and uploads to YouTube, its customers create 20 videos. This is evident in the popularity of channels like ‘Beyond The Brick’, which is a fan channel dedicated to showcasing Lego creations from around the world.

Of course, the brand’s own Lego Ideas is perhaps the greatest testament to the brand’s social commitment. At Lego Ideas, makers can submit their own creations which can ultimately lead to an official set being created. This involvement in product development is truly social and is just one part of brand activity that gives ownership of Lego to its fans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

23. Paddy Power

Now to what catches the eye on social – risky and humorous content.

Whilst many gambling brands take an irreverent tone, Paddy Power is arguably the best at it, and the most risqué. Its posts range from the puerile to the outrageous, but guess what – they get watched and shared an awful lot.

A recent example: Paddy Power’s campaign featuring Peter Crouch recorded over one million views in the first 12 hours of its launch.

24. Starbucks

Starbucks won a silver IPA Effectiveness award for its social strategy in 2018. It was the year before this that the brand had announced the launch of its now iconic ‘Unicorn Frappuccino’, a move that spurred on the trend of brands deliberately creating ‘Instagrammable’ food and drink.

This shrewd understanding of social media (and how young people are influenced by it) is the key to Starbucks’ success on social platforms. As well as one-off recipes, the brand continues to build hype around seasonal events and related drinks. Case in point: there are now 557,232 posts using the hashtag #PumpkinSpiceLatte.

Appreciation for Starbucks’ Autumnal beverages has also led to the creation of the ‘Leaf Raker’s Society’ – a Facebook community group that now has over 38,700 members – which helps to foster brand engagement and loyalty.

25. Wayfair

Wayfair is one example of a brand that has embraced Instagram’s shopping features, which allows consumers to find and shop the items featured in posts. A user can simply spot an item they like on Wayfair’s Instagram channel, and within just a few clicks, transition from browsing to buying.

These features has helped to ramp up site visits, even when the features were first introduced. In 2017, 5% of the consumers who arrived at Wayfair.com came from a social network, which is more than double the year previously.

Influencer partnerships have also helped to amplify this Wayfair’s visual content, such as the below post from the star of Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness.

26. Oreo

Oreo’s social media strategy has never strayed too far from its original formula. Entirely product-focused but always creative, the brand continuously finds ways to put its cookies centre stage.

This strategy was cemented by its 2002 ‘Daily Twist’ campaign, which saw the brand turn its Oreo cookie into something of cultural relevance for 100 days (to mark its 100th birthday), including Elvis Presley, a baseball, and a rainbow flag in support of Pride. The brand recently revived the latter example for Pride 2020.

Updating the premise for a millennial audience in 2019, the brand’s ‘Some People Will Do Anything for an Oreo’ campaign involved influencers modelling three-layered eyebrows shaped like the cookie, in a nod to outrageous beauty trends of the moment. The ad – which was rolled out in a six-second format on YouTube – was named as the third most popular Bumper Ad on the platform in 2019.

27. Coca Cola

Even the biggest brands in the world can struggle to maintain a cohesive brand image. This was why, in 2018, Coca Cola launched its #RefreshTheFeed campaign in which its social channels went momentarily dark before being replaced with a brand new image. The campaign also happened to coincide with World Kindness Day – an event that sets the tone for Coca Cola’s core themes of positivity and inclusivity.

#RefreshTheFeed drew a tonne of positive feedback on social, garnering more than 69 million impressions in one day, as well as 1.4 million engagements. Visits to the Coca Cola website were also 600% higher than average.

Continuing its mission to spread nothing but positivity, the brand revisited the campaign in 2019, this time enlisting a number of artists to create Coke-inspired images to align with the hashtag, #KindnessStartsWith.

28. Heineken

According to Marketing Week, 14% of consumers solely follow the UEFA Champions League through digital channels (a figure that represents 18 million consumers).

Consequently, social is an important part of the marketing mix for Heineken; sponsors of the League. Campaigns like ‘FANtastic’ and ‘World’s Most Shared Moments’ help to generate excitement among football fans, as well as build a solid connection in consumers’ minds between UEFA and the beer brand. Heineken continues this relationship between beer and sport with sponsorship of (and content related to) F1 and the Rugby World Cup.

29. Chanel

In 2017, Chanel was named the most influential luxury brand on social media. Since, it has continued to grow and diversify its content, contributing to consistent audience engagement on social platforms, particularly on Instagram.

One way it does this is through influencer partnerships. As a brand that strives for aspiration and exclusivity rather than accessibility, however, Chanel veers away from the typical (and mass-market) ’influencer marketing’ model, instead partnering with a select number of ‘house ambassadors’ such as Kristen Stewart and Margaret Qualley.

Chanel sees the most social engagement from video. A recent example of this is its short film ‘Over the Moon’, which generated over 74,000 views on YouTube in just two weeks, and over 469,000 views in just two days on Instagram. Alongside highly conceptual campaigns, Chanel also fosters audience engagement with behind-the-scenes content, as well as short and informative tutorials for its make-up category.

30. Pret a Manger

Pret A Manger has carved out a reputation in recent years for going above and beyond for its customers, which is something it often highlights on its social channels. This has also evolved into a pretty effective user generated strategy, with the brand tapping into its mentions to discover all the various ways Pret pops up in online conversations.

Naturally, there’s a lot of love for the brand online, which is also enhanced by Pret’s focus on giving customers what they want. The chain often crowdsources new recipes for its shops, but it recently allowed users on social to vote for a special Pret recipe to be released (so that people could make their own version during lockdown).



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