In the year when a blue & black dress caused controversy over its colouring, and Back to The Future Day (#BTTF2015) set the internet alight, there’s no doubt that 2015 was another successful milestone for social media. More than ever 2015 confirmed social media is not simply a platform where people share information about their own lives, but also an area in which they may show their support of other communities in times of trouble and success. 2015 saw the destructive events of the Paris terrorist attacks take over our entire social media world. Hashtags #JeSuisCharlie and #PrayForParis demonstrated the power communities can gain from platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Facebook took an alternative approach, allowing users to show their support for Paris victims by choosing to place a French flag filter over their profile picture. Similar actions occurred when marriage equality was achieved in the US and Ireland this year; numerous hashtags were produced to support the news including #LoveWins, and a Rainbow Flag filter was available on Facebook. Both events highlight how people will stand up on social media and support minorities whose own voices alone may not be loud enough to be heard.
However, social media doesn’t always go to plan, and last summer saw US retailer Target as one of its main casualties. Mike Melgaard fashioned a fake Facebook account and pretended to be a target customer service advisor on Target’s Facebook page. Having the profile name as AskForHelp and profile picture as the Target’s classic bull’s-eye he began his 16 hours’ worth of damage. Mike began to reply to complaints on the website with comically sarcastic comments. His fake account was eventually shut down, but his humorous actions made this one of the big fails of 2015.
Last Halloween Adobe reached out to their Facebook followers with a mystery. This social media campaign united and activated their fans worldwide by creating the Murder Mystery; ‘Who killed Professor Photoheim?’ (#PsMystery). Photoshop (PS) knew their current Facebook fans included those people who are avid PS users including graphic designers, students, photographers and creatives alike. PS appreciated their users often display their work on the page and was mostly centred on gothic flair; what better way of activating this group than addressing a campaign with a heavily-layered-murder-mystery Photoshop file! On day one, Photoshop released the crime scene (Photoshop file) and users were able to ask questions about the mystery on the Ps Facebook page. Within 3 days the campaign had made over a million impressions, the file had received an outstanding 22,000 downloads and positive sentiment increased from 15% to 76%!
Some advertisements just get it right. Last year’s Super Bowl, as always, saw fierce competition amongst companies to create the most social buzz during ad breaks. Without a doubt, this year’s winner goes to P&G’s #LikeAGirl campaign. The message focused on female empowerment and tackled the issue of how women’s confidence in being themselves declines as they grow up. By turning the normally dismissive phrase ‘like a girl’ into a strong and powerful statement the advert reached over 400,000 mentions, 84% of which were linked to joy and admiration.
In 2015 WWF used their initiative when they created their #EndangeredEmoji campaign. The WWF objectives were to increase brand awareness and to introduce younger audiences to the WWF’s conservation work. They introduced the concept of an endangered emoji keyboard. When looking at the emoji keyboard WWF realised 17 endangered species are actually presented as an emoji i.e. the panda emoji would represent the endangered species of the giant panda. The concept for those that signed up was a small donation ($0.10/£0.10 per use) would go towards the WWF on every ‘Endangered Emoji’ you tweeted. At the end of every month WWF would send you a summary of all the endangered emojis you had used that month, at this point you could donate this total or put in your own amount.
“Emoji is the first truly global language. We can tell quite detailed stories in emoji and anyone around the world will get what that story is about” – Adrian Cockle (WWF’s digital innovation manager)
Amongst all the success there were unexpected results. Some influential Tweeters misunderstood how the campaign worked e.g. a Banksy fan account announced to 1.3m followers all they had to do was retweet the campaign, not instructing followers to sign up; this lead to 31,000 retweets, though a large majority didn’t even sign up. Subsequently, Cockle advised other brands if in the future they are planning on a mass market campaign on Twitter, they should think about prior instructions being provided to influential users on how the campaign works, thus avoiding the unanticipated events that occurred during ‘#EndangeredEmojis’.
Snapchat is another company which never ceases to amaze us all. In 2015 they announced their whole new approach to selfies with Lenses. These apply a filter whenever you’re taking a selfie, allowing you to select from a range of humorous animations including monocles, moustaches, and holiday-themed lenses. Lenses have proven to be such a massive hit they are now used in over 10 million snaps a day! Despite Snapchat providing a small selection of free lenses, the large majority of the lenses cost £0.79 to download, which is now acting as the company’s newest source of revenue. Furthermore, by allowing brands to “sponsor” lenses Snapchat are clearly aiming high. It was predicted Snapchat’s revenue in 2015 reached over $50 million, but the question remains: will this success continue into 2016 or will the app need to diversify even more to keep up with the other platforms?
Social channels are using a variety of different approaches (sometimes unintentionally) to get their brand on the map. At the end of the day one of the core objectives of social media in business is bringing people closer to the brands they love, whether by expanding current social media channels or having a greater focus on their target market. But if 2015 proved anything it’s the importance of being unique and not to worry about being disruptive. After all, it’s already looking like 2016 will be the year of The Puddle!