The summer before my sophomore year in college, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw my friend dump a bucket of ice water on herself.
When I read the status update, I realized she was doing the Ice Bucket Challenge in an effort to promote awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease.
This was in 2014 when the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and raised $220 million worldwide.
That's what a successful social media campaign looks like.
As a marketer, paying attention to these social media campaigns is important, especially since 45% of the world population is active on social media.
Although every social media campaign can't reach the same viral attention as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there are several things you can try to improve the results of your social media efforts.
Below, let's review the top social media campaign ideas to try this year.
Social Media Campaign Ideas
- Build social proof
- Post offers and discounts online
- Showcase happy customers
- Host contests
- Create calls-to-action on your posts
- Encourage engagement with polls
- Put together an influencer giveaway
- Go live
- Have a takeover
- Publish behind the scenes content
- Livestream events
- Design a viral campaign
- Write event hashtags
- Interact with your customers
- Use the holidays as inspiration
- Provide educational content
- Repurpose high-performing content
- Curate content
- Participate in popular trends
- Adopt new social media platforms
- Plan “caption this” contests
- Design geofilters on Snapchat
- Generate hype for your launches
- Come up with human interest campaigns
- Develop entertaining segments
1. Build social proof.
One of the main benefits of social media marketing is that you can build social proof online. Your online reputation is one of the most important aspects of your brand. On social media, you can personify your brand and speak directly to your customers.
To build social proof, you might start a hashtag for users to submit testimonials. For example, P90X is an at-home training program that uses the hashtag #p90xresults to gather customer results.
This helps build social proof that their product works without seeming promotional. Additionally, you can share posts and interact with customers who mention your brand to spread awareness of the positive results your customers' get from using your product or service.
2. Post offers and discounts online.
To complement your marketing campaign, you can promote discounts and offers on social media. In fact, there's even a special section for offers on Facebook.
Discounts can help spread awareness and bring in new customers who might not have tried your product or service.
For example, a video game store, Play N Trade, uses the Facebook offer section to promote a free year membership:
3. Showcase happy customers.
The best people to promote your brand are your current customers. Using social media, you can showcase happy customers and their stories by liking or sharing posts of them using your product or service.
You can encourage customers to share photos of themselves with your product and create a hashtag to promote it.
For example, Coca-Cola started a marketing campaign called Share a Coke. The hashtag #shareacoke became a place where people would take pictures of the new product. This promoted their campaign and drove more customers to purchase their product so they could find a Coke with their name on it.
4. Host contests.
People love winning free stuff and getting discounts — which is why a content is such an effective social media campaign idea.
Hosting a contest on social media is an excellent way to drive engagement, traffic, and create brand awareness.
You can run several different types of contests including asking followers to tag a friend in the comments, answer a question in the comments, or send a photo of themselves with your product or service.
Additionally, if you're creating an ad campaign, you can host a casting contest and feature your customers in your ads.
5. Create calls-to-action on your posts.
Just like in the real world, being mysterious doesn't get you far. If you want your customers to do something, ask them to do it.
A call-to-action (CTA) does just that. By including a CTA on all your social media posts, people are more likely to interact and engage.
CTAs can be simple -- like asking people to sign up, subscribe, learn more, or comment below. A CTA can increase your click-through-rate (CTR), engagement, and success of your social media campaigns.
6. Encourage engagement with polls.
Who doesn't love a good poll when you're scrolling through your social media feed? Personally, I vote in every poll I see. I'm even tempted to vote in the ones that don't apply to me -- although I try not to because I don't want to ruin the numbers.
With polls, you'll learn more about your audience and increase engagement.
For example, TurboTax used the polls feature on Twitter to see if people considered rideshare drivers self-employed:
If you're running a social media campaign, or any campaign for that matter, you should consider adding a poll to your social accounts.
7. Put together an influencer giveaway.
Influencer marketing isn't a passing fad.
In fact, the influencer marketing industry is set to reach $10 billion by 2020. Additionally, 80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective for their businesses.
That's why you should consider putting together an influencer giveaway social media campaign. Working on your relationships with influencers in your industry will help increase brand awareness and build social proof.
After researching the influencers in your industry, contact them and suggest a giveaway.
8. Go live.
When you're putting together a social media campaign, don't underestimate live videos.
In a recent survey of 1,000 respondents, 80% said they would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video to social media posts.
You can use this to your advantage.
Try hosting a live stream, talking to your customers in real-time, or asking and answering questions. This will help you connect with your audience in a way that personifies your brand. By personifying your brand, people are more likely to feel connected to your company in the same way they feel connected to a friend.
9. Have a takeover.
Takeovers is an opportunity to keep things interesting in your Stories section of your social profiles. You can have employees, partners, or guests host a "takeover" for the day. This entails having someone else — apart from your social media team — regularly post content on your social media page(s) for a day.
For example, every day The Skimm has an employee take over their Instagram Stories. Typically, they show followers what they do in a day, discuss what their job is, what their responsibilities are, and give career advice. This helps with branding and also promotes their workplace culture.
If you're running a social media campaign, adding a takeover to your promotion can help increase engagement — additionally, having a guest or partner takeover your account can help your brand reach their audience, as well.
10. Publish behind-the-scenes content.
Behind-the-scenes content is one of the best ways to connect with your audience.
By showcasing a behind-the-scenes look, you can keep current and prospective customers up-to-date, brag about your team, and create an emotional connection that makes you relatable.
With any social media campaign, behind-the-scenes content can show off your personality and broaden your content.
11. Livestream events.
A social media campaign is one of the best ways to promote your events. But the promotion shouldn't end on the day of the event.
Instead, consider live streaming certain parts of the event on social media. This will create more buzz about the event, encourage interaction with attendees, and is helpful for people who couldn't attend the event.
12. Design a viral campaign.
Creating a viral marketing campaign is an easy sentence to write, but a hard concept to execute.
When you're brainstorming your next social media campaign, answer these questions:
- Does it appeal to your target audience?
- Does it have strong visuals?
- Does it have an emotional appeal?
- Is it creative?
- Is it easy to digest, and share?
- Does the timing make sense?
Like the ALS challenge, creating some sort of online challenge that influencers can easily participate in will help spread the word.
13. Write event hashtags.
If you're hosting an event, don't forget to create a hashtag. With a hashtag, you can reply to attendees and keep track of questions.
For example, at INBOUND, the event hashtag is typically #INBOUND19 (or whatever year it is). This hashtag helps HubSpot curates content related to INBOUND, including attendees' pictures of themselves at the event, and attendees' testimonials/opinions on the event.
If you can get an event hashtag trending, then you'll be able to create more brand awareness and interact with your customers.
14. Interact with your customers.
Speaking of interacting with your customers, you can design a social media campaign specifically around talking to your customers.
For example, in 2014 Taylor Swift did something called “Swiftmas.” This is when she went on social media, looked for highly engaged fans, chose her top fans, and then sent them presents. She even coined a term for this process, called “Taylurking.” If she commented a Christmas tree on one of your posts, you're getting a present.
This is a great example of interacting with your audience in a way that doesn't feel promotional, yet still creates brand awareness.
15. Use the holidays as inspiration.
Similar to the Taylor Swift example above, you can use the holidays as an inspiration for a social media campaign.
You can use your social accounts to promote a holiday sale, a Halloween contest, or sell holiday products like ornaments.
When it isn't the holiday season, you can still use current events to inspire your social media campaigns. Remember, your social media posts don't happen in a silo. They're happening in the real world, and they should be timely.
16. Provide educational content.
It's easy to get in the habit of just posting your products or services on social media. But that would be a mistake.
Your content should be educational and create value. When you're creating a social media campaign, ask yourself what value it'll bring to your audience. That's how you'll brainstorm content ideas that could go viral.
17. Repurpose high-performing content.
Every time you run a social media campaign, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can use old content that has performed well in the past.
Do you have a podcast that has really high downloads? Or a blog that has the most views? You can repurpose that content for social media. Create a video for Stories or IGTV and summarize it in a caption.
Old content is a great way to boost your social media campaigns.
18. Curate content.
Your social media doesn't have to include content that's only from you. In fact, sharing other people's content is a great way to humanize your brand and create value for your audience.
If your social media campaign needs some more post ideas, consider curating content from other people that complement your promotion.
Again, you don't want your social media profile to feel too promotional. Your posts should have variety.
19. Participate in popular trends.
It's always important to remember that the world is still spinning while you're in your marketing meeting, brainstorming social media campaign ideas.
Consider trends, like popular hashtags, and participate in them. For example, #throwbackthursday still hasn't gone out of style. If your posts need a little inspiration, look for popular hashtags and trends and jump on board.
Customers like to see that the brands they follow are staying current.
20. Adopt new social media platforms.
If a new social media platform comes out, be an early adopter and run social media campaigns on it.
These campaigns are more likely to be seen by your audience because the sites haven't developed complicated algorithms yet.
Plus, you should always look for new places to engage with your audience and learn more about them.
21. Plan “caption this” contests.
A fun and unique contest, the “caption this" contest is especially helpful for those times where you have a very intriguing photo but are having a hard time writing a caption.
These contests encourage creativity and are a fun way to interact with your audience.
When you're planning a social media campaign, consider a "caption this" contest to encourage engagement.
22. Design geofilters on Snapchat.
Geofilters on Snapchat are an excellent way to increase brand awareness and create memories with your audience.
If your customers take a photo at an event, they'll appreciate the geofilter. By posting photos of themselves with this filter, your customers are a free, walking advertisement.
Again, the best way to promote your brand is through your current customers. Geofilters will help you do just that.
23. Generate hype for your launches.
When you're about to launch a product, service, or event, you should create a social media campaign to generate hype.
Previews of your product or contests to figure out what the product is will create excitement among your customers.
For example, in anticipation of the summer launch of Kylie Jenner's eye shadow palette, she posted swatches, videos, photos of her in the makeup, and tutorials on her Instagram.
This creates enthusiasm among her customers — as a result, she sold out almost immediately.
24. Come up with human interest campaigns.
At the end of the day, your audience relates to people, not companies. You should always try to humanize your brand in your social media campaigns.
To do this, include a human interest element in all your campaigns.
For example, when Kim Kardashian West launched her shapewear Skims, her social media campaign included videos of the models in her shapewear talking about how it made them feel more comfortable and confident in their skin. The human element in this campaign allowed followers to see the value in Kim's new product.
25. Develop entertaining segments.
You know how James Corden has fun segments on his show the Late Late Show, like Carpool Karaoke? Those fun, bite-sized segments are crucial elements to making his show as fun to watch as it is.
When you're creating a social media campaign, follow in his footsteps and create fun, entertaining segments just like you might for a TV show. After all, most social media has long-form video content like Facebook Watch or IGTV.
This type of content can increase traffic and engagement for your social media campaigns.
Brainstorming social media campaigns isn't always easy. However, you can use this list to get started.