Social Media

3 of the Best Social Media Campaigns of 2018 (and What We Can Learn from Them)

5 years ago

Billions of people around the world are active users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There is a continued growth in monthly users and influence on such platforms, meaning that social media is mandatory for any business wanting to remain relevant, and connected to their customers.

A good social media campaign should reach, influence and engage both current and prospective customers, reinforcing information or a belief about your service, product or brand as a whole. Effective social media campaigns can also create and maintain brand loyalty, increase website traffic and drive sales from prospects all over the world.

When devising a successful social media campaign, you should keep specific, measurable outcomes or goals in mind, to ensure that your efforts are effective as possible, and address specific wider business goals - for example, to drive more website traffic.

To inspire your next big social media campaign, we’ve pulled together a small selection of (what we think were) the standout social media campaigns of 2018, and have proposed what we can learn from these top brands.

1. Twitter - John Lewis #NotARetailStore

Every single year in the run up to Christmas, when the iconic John Lewis Christmas television advert is released, thousands of people mistake the UK retailer for a computer science educator based in Virginia, USA, named John Lewis.

Bombarded with Twitter notifications, Mr. Lewis accumulated hundreds of thousands of followers, becoming famous for his witty responses to customer requests. Then, last December, Twitter capitalised on the social media bustle, creating a Christmas advert starring the real John Lewis, named #NotARetailStore - referencing Lewis’ bio on Twitter: ‘Computer science educator, father of four, social liberal, atheist, and not a retail store.’

Parodying a typical John Lewis advert, the ad shows Lewis patiently responding to tweets and ends with Twitter inviting people to ‘Join the conversation’ this Christmas - even if ‘by mistake’. By jumping on the existing conversations on its own platform, Twitter was able to create not only a Christmas advert that rivalled the retail favourites such as the likes of John Lewis and Sainbury’s, but the tweets by both John Lewis and Twitter UK received over 100,000 engagements, stirring conversation both on and offline.

2. Spotify - #2018Wrapped

Launched in 2015, Spotify’s ‘Wrapped’ marketing campaign returned at the end of 2018, transforming user data into unique, witty billboards and personalised playlists, customised emails and a microsite that revealed each user’s listening habits from the last year. Listeners were encouraged to ‘be brave enough to share their listening history’ with a social graphic that summed up the highlights of their year in music, using the hashtag ‘#Wrapped2018’.

My Spotify #2018Wrapped ‘Top Songs’ playlist… I like musicals okay?!

In addition, similar social graphics were created for the musicians that stream their music on the platform, revealing how many listeners they had around the world and how many hours fans had spent streaming their music. These too were shared all over social media.

The beauty of this campaign is that Spotify listeners were always going to share the content on social. People ‘love to share things that sum up who they are’ and by taking advantage of their internal data, Spotify tapped into a universal interest (music), and allowed its users to share and compare their favourite artists, songs and listening habits.

Incorporating musicians into the campaign only widened the reach of the campaign, further encouraging fans to share their own listening habits and join in the conversation, and this has resulted in the #Wrapped2018 hashtag reaching far and wide come December every year. Last year, the #2018Wrapped campaign resulted in a 20x increase in Twitter mentions, with Spotify’s Twitter profile being mentioned over 100,000 times.

3. Iceland - #NoPalmOilChristmas

Also launched in time for Christmas 2018 - it appears that Christmas is a common time to launch a successful social media campaign - was Iceland’s ‘A Christmas Without Palm Oil’ advert. The short video turned into a viral social media campaign, when the original TV advert, which was created in partnership with Greenpeace, was banned for being too political. There is debate on whether the controversial ad was a result of the major supermarket sticking true to its values, or whether the whole thing was just a (fantastic) PR stunt.


Either way, when the news of the TV ban broke on social media it completely exploded - within 24 hours the brand had received over 105,000 engagements, as well as receiving over 850,000 signatures on an online petition to release the banned advert.

Iceland had committed earlier in the year to removing palm oil from all its own label foods by the end of 2018, in response to continued deforestation. With this in mind, this campaign not only reinforced the known values of the brand, but also appealed to a wider social environmental cause, that many of their consumers clearly resonated with.  

In summary, I believe the following key components explain why these three viral social media campaigns in 2018 were as successful as they were:

  • Using a clear brand voice and tone that reinforces the values and social causes supported by your brand
  • Creating personalised content that customers or followers can explore, share and use to engage with other users
  • Timing - react or build on the momentum of something that is already happening and current in the media or wider landscape
  • Incorporate humour and wit into campaigns and the online ‘voice’ of the business where possible - the most loved brands on Twitter are personable, funny and quick-witted

Remember these top tips from previous successful campaigns, and you too can manage your own social media campaigns, in order to build your brand recognition and customer loyalty online. Rather outsource your social media? Then read our article on the pros and cons of using a social media management agency, or get in touch for a chat!

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