Five brands that got social media right in 2015

 

Posted on Jan 06, 2016

It was the year social media marketing finally started to grow up. In 2015 advertisers began switching serious percentages of their total media investment into channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and alongside that came a new degree of scrutiny and best practice. By the end of the third quarter, Facebook’s advertising revenue had jumped 45% year on year to $4.3bn , while Twitter’s was up 60% to $513m (which confusingly still disappointed investors).

It is, however, a hollow victory for many early social evangelists – the shift hasn’t happened because senior marketers finally bought into a new world of conversation and “engagement”, but because social platforms started to show they could play by the rules of traditional advertising. Facebook went so far as to launch a TRP tool to sell its reach in the same way as TV, and just about every platform you could name went heavy on video, an inherently passive and one-way format.

While crazy innovations and meaningless engagement numbers may still grab marketing headlines, the real winners on social in 2015 were much harder to spot. They were brands that stopped chasing engagement, posted less often but with far more scale and impact, told rich brand stories in increasingly personal ways, and realised they were doing it all on mobile. I would say that, though, because that’s what I recommended a year ago. Here are five brands that I think really got it right this past year.

1 Lexus, Beyond Utility

I picked this as my overall favourite advert of any kind last year, mostly for the glimpse of the future it offers. Not truly one single advert at all, but more than 1,000 subtly different creative executions shown to different people based on personal targeting. Facebook’s US reach offers advertisers a Super Bowl scale moment every single day, but this campaign proved you could tap into that without having to play by TV’s homogeneous rules. It also shows that the days of thinking about Facebook as a way to talk to your fans are over; you can now truly reach anyone with any message you want.

 

2 Nike Women, #BetterForIt

I picked this as my overall favourite advert of any kind last year, mostly for the glimpse of the future it offers. Not truly one single advert at all, but more than 1,000 subtly different creative executions shown to different people based on personal targeting. Facebook’s US reach offers advertisers a Super Bowl scale moment every single day, but this campaign proved you could tap into that without having to play by TV’s homogeneous rules. It also shows that the days of thinking about Facebook as a way to talk to your fans are over; you can now truly reach anyone with any message you want.

 

3 Clash of Clans, Revenge

The past year was the year of video on social media, with some great examples of classic storytelling playing out online. I have, however, shamelessly picked the No 1 most viewed advert of the year as one of my favourites. Notably, it isn’t one of Unruly’s 10 most shared videos of the year, so while people were perhaps happy to see it they didn’t love it enough to share it. It goes some way to dispelling the myth that “viral” videos are always truly viral when you understand that 80 million views could have cost the best part of $4m in paid media (based on an achievable $0.05 cost per view). That may sound like a huge amount but it’s less than a 30 second Super Bowl commercial, and a tiny portion of Coca Cola’s last known $3.5bn ad global budget. Regardless, to date it seems upstart digital businesses are showing up the more traditional brands when it comes to embracing new media channels.

 

4 John Lewis, Man On The Moon

Christmas adverts are the UK’s Super Bowl moment, and John Lewis has once again proved hard to beat, though the competition is tough this year. What most impresses me is their maturity and restraint, understanding that they have a great piece of storytelling content, plus a powerful underlying social message, and that they don’t need to complicate that. In previous years, The Bear and The Hare orMonty The Penguin have slogged away on Twitter to limited effect, entertaining just a handful of followers (who presumably all work in advertising). This year John Lewis used their main account on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to ensure that just about everyone had seen the fantastic story itself, using related videos to bring specific product stories to life to hundreds of thousands of people.

 

5 Oreo, #OreoEclipse

I work with the Oreo team globally, but it was their UK media agency, PHD, that spotted the opportunity the solar eclipse offered. While many brands tweeted funny responses to the day’s events, Oreo owned the day’s promoted trend on Twitter, had a cover wrap around the Sun, had real time digital billboards and showed content to millions of people on Facebook. For the most part “real time marketing” has become a trap for lazy brand content to get lost in the noise, but the brand that arguably invented it showed that if you’re going to try and do it, you have to go hard or go home.