5 Truly Creative Uses Of Social Media

The biggest news in the world of social media over the last few weeks has been the IPO of LinkedIn, the upcoming Groupon IPO, and the slew of floatations these two are likely to herald. And, of course, underpinning all of this has been the simple question of whether the valuations these companies are receiving mean that we are in a bubble.

Whilst I’m in no way qualified to answer that (though I tend to agree with the analysis by multi-media consultancy Broadsight that all of this activity suggest that we definitely are in a bubble), what I can say is that nearly all of these companies rely on marketing, if not direct advertising dollars, for their business models.

This worries me because at present all of them seem to be enabling, if not actively encouraging, incredibly uncreative communication strategies. As a colleague of mine, who had his doubts about social, once said to me, “Are there any great social marketing campaigns that don’t rely on bribing the user”. And, when you think about it, there aren’t that many.

Groupon is built on bribing, or buying, your customer’s attention (with all the dangers that brings of investing in acquisition with absolutely no guarantee of retention), whilst many other ‘famous’ campaigns are built on similar models: vouchers, competitions, etc…

If Facebook, Twitter and the like really want to meet their valuations they need to win TV budgets, and that means that agencies and marketers need to get much better at using social platforms and technologies to build lasting relationships with consumers, without resorting to financial rewards, and start creating truly innovative strategies.

So, rather than just rant about this, I thought it would be useful to give examples of brands that are doing exactly that, in the (almost certainly vein) hope that this might encourage others to do the same.

5 Examples Of Excellent Social Media Campaigns

1. Intel – Museum of Me

This was the campaign that made me decide to write this post. A stunningly simple mechanic (pulling data from people’s social graphs using Facebook’s API is hardly original).

But done in a truly beautiful way, that actually made me stop what I was doing and give my full attention to what was unfolding in front of me. And, in doing all of this, it subtly, but very definitely, hammers home the overarching brand message. This should win awards. Lots of them.

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2. First Direct – Live

Marketers often dismiss social, saying that it only works for cool brands, ones where people will want to get involved. So it would be impossible to use it for, say, a bank, right? Well, First Direct, to highlight the fact that unlike most other UK banks, were trusted by their customers, used social technology to surface consumer opinion, and then published it, on their own site, and broadcast it, in offline marketing. Again, an old tricks (it’s what movie studios have always done) but given an innovative twist, that won awards, and hit business targets.

3. Heineken – Star Player

Sponsoring major sporting events is an expensive business, yet so many brands go no further than slapping their logos on the bilboards and the ads around the games. Heineken went one better, and created an app that not only appeals to the target audience (football/soccer fans), but is truly engaging and, creates and facilitates live conversations.

4. Metropolitan Police – Choose A Different Ending

If you can’t use social for boring sectors, surely it can’t make a serious point? Well, the (London) Metropolitan Police proved otherwise with this interactive video narrative that allows youngsters to see the dangers of carrying a knife through a ‘choose your own adventure’ style YouTube platform. Gripping, engaging and perfect for the target audience. Truly creative, and true social work.

5. Burberry - Art Of The Trench

Another industry that has, for the most part, steered clear of social, and indeed digital in general, is the luxury sector. But fashion brand Burberry decided to grasp it with both hands, and the result was the highly successful Art Of The Trench, which has been followed with the world’s first 3D livecast of a catwalk show, with real-time Facebook & Twitter commenting.

It actually took me a while to come up with these, as so many, admittedly creative uses of social, rely on giving something physical back to consumers, whether in the forms of discounts or competition prizes.

So, help me out. Help me prove my colleague wrong. Help us prove that social media can be used creatively, without recourse to competitions, vouchers and give-aways, by giving your own examples in the comments.

* Heineken & First Direct are both Mindshare clients, though Mindshare was not involved in the creation of the Star Player app. I have tried to use non-US examples on purpose, to prove that great work does exist outside of America.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Head of Digital for Mindshare Ireland, as well as holding a global role for the media agency as Director, Emerging Media. At Mindshare he works with both local & multinational clients, helping them to integrate on & offline, and to utilise search, social, mobile & video in their broader marketing mix.

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  • Michelle

    I love the Intel one – did it the other day and thought it was totally cool. But it isn’t social. At all. Scraping the most popular social Network for data and then not having any sharing or engagement mechanism is the opposite of social.

  • http://SonicSEO.com Daniel M

    As more and more businesses rely on internet marketing and incorporating social media into their strategies, it’s going to get tougher to really stand apart from the crowd. Being able to come up with creative uses is going to be ticket to truly being able to use SM to get ahead of the game and really draw attention.

  • daniel@specialmoves.com

    Commendable work here.

    We (specialmoves http://www.specialmoves.com) have done some nice and slick Facebook api things, here’s a couple



    Does paypal count as SM? probably not. But if it did this site and payment mech we created for the kaiser Chiefs is being hailed as innovative. http://www.kaiserchiefs.com/

    Keep up the great work everyone!

  • http://www.goblinridge.co.uk GRL

    Thanks for bringing the Intel Musuem of Me to my attention, it is amazing!

  • http://www.globalseoresults.com Kathleen Dorsey

    I find fault in your friend’s line of thinking about needing to bribe people to engage them. Isn’t that what all advertising really does? Don’t TV ads, etc “bribe” you with their sales, new products, ” the 1st 50 callers … ” ? I think Social Media is so much more than advertising. It allows a true and honest engagement with a brand’s customers. It can also be used for effective customer service. As happened with email- we are communicating differently now. Yes- there are some people that still won’t use email (although they are now seen as eccentric). I believe the same will be said in 10 years about Social Media.. The train has left the station- Jump On for the ride on get left behind…

  • http://www.GoVisitCostaRica.com Go Visit Costa Rica

    We have a creative facebook approach and we do not have give anything away.

  • http://www.mindshareworld.com Ciarán Norris

    @daniel – I love, love, love Misfits. I thought about using it as an example, but wanted to steer clear of TV/movies, as it’s relatively easier to engage users (they’re more interested in that sort of content than banks/toilet cleaner), but even so, the Misfits work was brilliant.

    @Kathleen – no, I don’t think he was wrong. Obviously there is advertising that relies on discounts, competitions, etc… but truly great advertising only bribes us in that it provides us with 30/60/120 seconds of artistic brilliance, that makes us laugh/think/cry/whatever, in return for our attention. Yet for all of social’s much vaunted ability to drive conversation, most of those conversations seem to be about how much a check-in could save you on your next burger.

  • http://www.weboutsourcing-gateway.com/ Outsourcing Gateway

    Maybeline also used Facebook in promoting their latest product the -BB cream and it’s done in very creative way and interactive way. Facebook users can use their facebook accounts to log in and be part of the maybeline commercial with a known TV personality in the Philippines

  • http://SonicSEO.com Daniel M

    @Kathleen Dorsey – You’re absolutely right. Social media is so much more than advertising. When a business uses it, it provides a platform to really engage with potential and current clients/customers in a manner never used before. In fact there’s a good blog post from SonicSEO.com (http://blog.sonicseo.com/social-media-interaction/) that talks about using SM as a form of customer service. Because the potential of social media reaches far beyond advertising, businesses really need to take full advantage of its benefits.


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