The best and worst social media of 2015

Published: 22 December 2015

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Best and worst social 2015

The best and worst social media of 2015

It seems that just about every business and brand jumped on the social media bandwagon in 2015, with Facebook announcing a 45% rise in advertising revenue year-on-year by Q3 of this year and Twitter seeing a staggering 60% uplift.

And 2015 proved to be no exception when it comes to the results of those social media efforts, with campaigns that soared and campaigns that epically failed. As we prepare for a new year of social media marketing, let's take a look at what we can learn from the good and the bad of 2015.

The Best of Social Media

Taking social targeting to the next level

When car maker Lexus wanted to launch its new NX model it could have produced one great car ad, shown it to the masses and hoped that that one ad could appeal to everyone. But instead, using techniques traditionally reserved for email marketing, Lexus actually produced 1,000 highly targeted ads which were shown to Facebook users

Knowing that different aspects and features of the vehicle would appeal to different audiences, depending on their age, gender, lifestyle and many other characteristics, Lexus used the powerful user data available through Facebook to show different versions and combinations of imagery to different target groups.

The results: 11.2million Facebook users were reached, their videos gained 10.8 million views and Lexus boosted its Facebook engagement by a staggering 1,678%.

The power of targeting your messaging, your imagery and even the information you choose to share to meet the needs of individuals rather than the masses can never be underestimated. Lexus are one of the first to really harness the power of Facebook data to this level and we can expect to see it happening more and more in 2016.

The Oreo Eclipse

On March 20th 2015 the biggest solar eclipse of the sun in 16 years took place in the UK and many brands were quick to jump on the story, releasing topical posts and content. But it was the biscuit brand, Oreo, that owned the day with its #OreoEclipse campaign.

Using astronomical data to plot the exact timing and trajectory of the sun and moon it created 10-second time lapse videos of a giant Oreo biscuit eclipsing the sun. Various video were released, filmed at different locations across the UK, all within an hour of the real eclipse completing. The brand also 'eclipsed the sun' in a second way, by purchasing an advertising wrap-around that 'eclipsed' the cover of the Sun newspaper.

The campaign was a success and really paid off for the brand. More than 20 million people in Britain saw the Oreo eclipse and sales of the chocolate biscuit rose by 59% year-on-year, with the brand enjoying its biggest sales month to date in March.

This is a great example of a brand spotting an appropriate and fun opportunity in a topical event and developing a clever, thought-out campaign that resonates with the public. All too often brands make the mistake of using tenuous or even inappropriate links to events or news in a bid to get some publicity, often with negative results.

Providing useful tools

High street clothing brand Top Shop partnered with Pinterest, creating a tool that would allow its users to identify their 'colour DNA' by spotting the dominant colours in the ideas and pictures they share across the social network. Users could then browse Topshop's collections and get suggestions based on their own unique colour pallet.

The brand used the capabilities of a social platform to produce a tool that is both useful and encourages users to shop their brand. When it comes to capitalising on the functionality social tools have to offer, brands often make the mistake of investing in an app or developing technology that either has a direct marketing focus but is of little interest to the public, or garners the attention of the users but does little to aid in selling its products or brand.

Topshop successfully combined the two; creating a tool Pinterest's users would engage with but at the same time promoting their products in a highly targeted manner.

Cat videos

Any roundup of social media would not be complete without a funny cat video. There is a strange obsession with the public at large over cutesy videos of cats doing funny things and this one was no exception.

GoPro struck gold when it discovered Diga, the skateboarding cat. Originally a rescue cat, Diga was trained by her owner, who filmed and edited the feline's skateboarding tricks and skills. GoPro saw the opportunity, giving Diga her own GoPro and the result saw GoPro achieve its highest engagement score on Instagram of the year.

This video worked well because of its authentic nature and the suitability of the topic to the brand's products. Diga the cat was already an internet sensation; GoPro simply provided it with the means to do what it was already doing better, and capitalised on the publicity and the brand visibility as the video was watched and shared.

The Worst of Social Media

The importance of getting your facts right

In June of this year a BBC journalist mistakenly tweeted that Queen Elizabeth II 'has died'. The journalist mistook the corporation's technical rehearsal for royal deaths as the real thing and made the tweet on her Twitter profile. According to the BBC, the tweets were picked up by news outlets worldwide before the journalist realised the mistake and deleted the message, tweeting 'false alarm'.

Responding to the story, the BBC Trust described the tweets as 'a grave error of judgement' and stated it 'profoundly regretted any distress that had been caused'.

The fast-paced nature of social media makes us want to get breaking news out there faster than anyone else, but it's important to make sure you have the facts straight first. If you're trying to build your brand by commenting as an authority figure on the property industry or you want to be the first one to release breaking news in real estate, take a moment to research your facts first.

Can you take the backlash?

When SeaWorld in America launched its #AskSeaWorld questions and answers session, its aim was to encourage people to ask questions about the care of its killer wales. What it got in response was a tirade of negative comments from animal rights campaigners and internet trolls who hijacked its hashtag.

Questions and answers sessions are a great way to build engagement with your audience and to build brand awareness but should be avoided like the plague if there's any whiff of getting negative kickback from it.

User-generated content

NYPD came up with the idea of asking New York residents to post pictures of themselves with police officers. The line on Twitter read: "Do you have a photo w/a member of NYPD? Tweet us and tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook".

The aim was to get a little bit of publicity for the police department and build their positive reputation. But instead of pictures of happy residents, posing with police officers the public jumped on the hashtag and began posting pictures of police brutality. Other cities joined in too and began tagging their own police departments.

User-generated content is a great way to get your audience to engage and to spread the word across social media. But remember, you have no control over the response you will get. As with Q&As, if there's a chance your user-generated content cause a negative backlash avoid it in the first place.

Inappropriate connections to events

Back at the start of the year American football team, the Seattle Seahawks decided to use the annual Martin Luther King Jr holiday day as a topical link when it beat rivals, Green Bay Packers and made it to the Superbowl.

"We shall overcome #MLKDAY" was accompanied by a tearful picture of one of the quarterbacks, accompanied by a quote from Martin Luther King. The Seahawks were forced to delete the post and issue an apology after an outcry from the public ensued.

Linking your social activity to topical events, seasonal holidays or stories of interest in the news can be a very effective technique for getting your posts noticed. But 'appropriateness' is key here. Be wary of exploiting events or emotional stories to your own gain. There are countless stories since the dawn of social media, where brands have fallen foul to this, from crass links to tragic events to using existing hashtags without first checking out the topic properly.

When social media is planned and executed effectively the results can really pay off but when something goes wrong the effects can be far reaching. It's easy to become absorbed in a social media campaign when you start to develop it but always take time to step back and look at the bigger picture.

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