Forbes has a nice slide show of the “Best-Ever” social media campaigns. There were some unsurprising entries (Old Spice Guy from Old Spice, Subservient Chicken from Burger King) and some feel-good successes (Pepsi Refresh, VW’s “Fun Theory“), but there are 2 things to notice here:
1) Many of these were done several years ago, before the fast-impending age of social media marketing fatigue. It’s difficult to know if the same engagement levels would occur with these campaigns now, now that social media spaces are becoming more and more saturated by brands. For instance, we have yet to see a social marketing campaign for movies with the same level of success as The Blair Witch Project in 1999, which many say marks one of the very first-ever viral campaigns.
2) Most of these campaigns included some element of personalization. Whether it’s VitaminWater’s create-your-own-flavor campaign, BMW’s “What drives you?” graffiti contest, or OfficeMax’s Elf Yourself, the best social media campaigns usually have some element of advanced engagement. “Views” don’t always cut it; for a campaign to work, users have to be able to own it in some way. In fact, the Old Spice Guy’s biggest success was not just in video/commercial views, but through popular question-and-answer engagements on Twitter and other outlets.