Originally social networks were never truly designed as platforms for brands to market to consumers, however, in recent years, consumers have become more accepting of brand presence in these spaces. As a result, social networks are now populated with brands attempting to create relationships and increase brand awareness. Social media marketing is an increasingly popular element in the marketing mix and over the past six months we’ve saw some interesting campaigns take the limelight.

One of the most talked about campaigns of 2014 so far was Cancer Research UK’s #NoMakeUpSelfie, which went on to raise an amazing £8 million pounds in just six days. Initially started by consumers and not the charity itself, this campaign leveraged user photos shared through social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram of themselves without cosmetics followed by a donation and nomination for their friends and relatives to do the same. The objective: to raise awareness and funds for a fantastic charity, Cancer Research UK.

Stemming from social media users on Facebook, this became an overnight success with Twitter and Instagram users following suit. Additionally, after media coverage, a number of A-listers became involved, Beyoncé, Charlize Theron and Cara Delevigne to name a few. After a surge in donations and exposure in the media, Cancer Research became aware and displayed some great reactive marketing taking the reins themselves, encouraging their social media fans and followers to become involved with the trend. This campaign also made the most of mobile technology and put social media on the map as an integral part of modern fundraising efforts. A fantastic campaign set up for an amazing cause, we ‘Like’.

A little further afield, Doritos wowed us with their #CrashTheSuperBowl ads in the US and after setting out to increase brand awareness they became one of the most talked about brands of 2014’s SuperBowl. Doritos have impressed the world with their firm understanding of the importance of co-creation and creating user-generated content, and adopted this approach in this excellent social media campaign.

Via social media channels, Doritos encouraged fans and followers to create their own ad, which, if they were a winner, would be aired during the SuperBowl. Initial upload of the video had to use the Doritos hashtag and when shared or retweeted, the Doritos brand name was broadcast further out into digital space. Fans voted for the winner socially and the winning ad was aired during the SuperBowl show. Although the campaign ended by displaying the winner to 111.5 million viewers worldwide, it was the user-generated content and excellent social sharing which made this campaign such a great success.

Esurance on the other hand adopted slightly different tactics on SuperBowl evening by airing an ad directly after the SuperBowl offering viewers the chance to win £1.5million dollars. To enter, Twitter users were required to use the hashtag #Esurancesaves30. Through the adoption of this approach, it is estimated they saved the £1.5million dollars that would have been spent on TV ad space during the SuperBowl. As a result, the hashtag was used 3.8 million times and they were one of the most talked about brands of the SuperBowl 2014. Although stemming from a television ad, this campaign illustrates the gradual transition from traditional advertising to online/social forms of promotion. Not only was this a money saver but it led to increased brand awareness for Esurance in both the media and on a number of social networks. Although stemming from a television ad, this campaign illustrates the gradual transition from traditional advertising to online/social forms of promotion. Not only was this a money saver but it led to increased brand awareness for Esurance in both the media and on a number of social networks.

The not so good

Most of us will have seen the events of Oscar’s night - Ellen De Generes, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey and a host of celebrities in the Samsung mobile phone selfie. Although termed “Brilliant marketing from Samsung” by Mashable, others are of the view it wasn’t the most effective way to increase awareness for the Samsung brand. The intent of the “selfie” was declared (break the current retweet record), it was fun and it didn’t feel at all promotional, which is partly where the problem lies. In the outset, this was a unique way for a brand to promote on social media however Samsung has fallen somewhat by the wayside, as it is the A-Listers that will be remembered for this stunt, not the brand who spent millions of dollars to achieve it.

Each of the above campaigns prompt action from the consumer and takes into consideration the importance of co-creation from the consumer as key to success. Additionally, the campaigns from Cancer Research UK and Doritos are very unique, fun and offer the audience something worthwhile becoming involved in. Cancer Research is raising money for an amazing cause, Doritos – the winner will have their ad aired for the world to see. Successful social media campaigns will aim to provide some form of value for the user, whether it’s a prize, a deal or simply useful information. So, if you have a unique campaign concept, creative content that your audience can engage and become involved with, then you’re onto a winning social media campaign!