The advertising landscape has changed drastically over the last few years as the popularity of social media has boomed and created new tools for businesses to share their brand and their ideas over the internet. Many of the most successful social media marketing campaigns have been those that have relied heavily on user interaction and even allowed users to create a majority of the campaign’s content themselves. In this article, I’ll take a look at a few successful campaigns that have done a great job inspiring user-created content. I’ll also explore what components help spawn a strong user-driven campaign.
Volkswagen’s Fox at Planet Terra
In 2010, Volkswagen launched a highly successful Twitter campaign in Sao Paulo, Brazil, promoting their sponsorship of the Planeta Terra Music Festival. This was a campaign to promote their car, the Fox. Volkswagen hid tickets around the city before the event, and shared a Google map of their whereabouts. The only thing was, the map would only zoom in on the location when someone tweeted a message with the hashtag #foxatplanetterra. The more people tweeted the hashtag, the more the map would zoom in. Within two hours, the hashtag was a trending topic in the country.
This was a brilliant and successful campaign for several reasons. The mechanic is so simple and easy to understand. And it gives users a reason to want to spread the word about the Volkswagen Fox, whether it’s so they can find the tickets first or to help their friends.
Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice
Burger King’s infamous Whopper Sacrifice campaign did a great job of creating a buzz and controversy. The campaign, by Burger King’s inventive advertising agency, Krispin Porter & Bobusky, had a simple premise: Facebook members could unfriend 10 of their Facebook friends for a free whopper. Each user who was defriended in this way would receive a post from BK informing them of the reason for the termination of their ill-fated friendship. Facebook eventually asked BK to alter the app fueling this campaign for privacy concerns, but Burger King chose this time to end the campaign, after it had ended almost 235,000 friendships. This early end only helped create more buzz around the campaign.
Friends of Iceland
The Friends of Iceland campaign was run by social media marketing gurus Takk Takk for the Icelandic tourist board. A remarkable feature of this campaign is that there is not a reward or particular incentive driving user contributions, other than the friendship of the quirky online persona of Iceland. Facebook has been a huge part of this campaign and has passed over 87,000 likes, but Iceland has established an online persona on many different social media sites. The message of the campaign is consistent across all platforms – and it’s both informative and entertaining.
Iceland only posts a few times a week, but it makes a point of responding to user interaction and being a “friend” to its followers. It’s a fun, simple campaign that wins on its charm and consistent execution. The attention paid to its followers keeps them coming back and interacting with the island, and it’s presence on multiple sites has allowed it to share a range of information and target very different sets of demographics.
Iceland’s Vimeo page is where this campaign really scored with the user-generated content. Iceland releases only a few of it’s own videos, but encourages users to create video featuring the island, and shares them in one place. Essentially, it has assembled an almost entirely user-driven and free collection of tourist videos within a community that shares an interest in Iceland and travel.
Features of a Successful Campaign
These campaigns used very different platforms and techniques, but there are a few features they have in common. They all implement very simple and familiar social media mechanics, and provide incentive for user participation. They also encourage users to spread the word about the campaign, whether it’s Burger King informing the unfriended, Volkswagen’s hashtag sharing helping people towards a common goal, or Iceland just being quirky, engaging, and fun to interact with in public social media forums like Facebook.
Each of these campaigns engaged users by offering some kind of incentive to encourage user interaction. Even though the Friends of Iceland campaign offered no actual physical reward, the “Island’s” posts and interaction have been entertaining and engaging enough to pull friends and fans in and want to share their own videos and stories about the country. Each of the incentives for these campaigns cost the companies little compared to traditional advertising, but provided social media users enough reason to get involved and share the message with others.
Each campaign used a very simple and clear message that users could understand quickly. Volkswagen simply offered rewards that could only be attained with large-scale social media interaction. Burger King put your friendships to the test. AndIcelandis just a charming, quirky island. Each campaign had a clear and consistent voice.
Standing out From the Crowd
Another crucial component of each of those successful campaigns is originality. They are each based from a creative idea that is unique and memorable. In the crowded market of social media marketing, originality and creativity goes a long way in standing out. The mechanics and the message of the campaign should be simple enough to understand, but the content has got to be different enough to get noticed amidst the thongs of other tweets and posts and comments.
If your campaign stands out and is engaging, fun, and memorable, users will want to share it. Once it reaches enough users, it has the potential to go viral, and your message could be entirely propagated by the users. So don’t be afraid to stand out and try something different. For a social media marketing campaign, experimentation and originality can offer the greatest rewards – it’s the crucial first step to getting your campaign noticed.