If you’re an online business, and you’re not on social media, you could be losing out on a goldmine of leads and sales. Without a doubt, social media marketing (also known as social marketing) is one of the most effective ways to get your business seen by the most people and drive growth.

Here’s our list of the top 21 social marketing campaigns that you can browse for inspiration.

1. Wendy’s tweets 

Wendy’s experienced a meteoric rise in 2017 which has continued unabated, and it’s easy to see why. Much of the love, appreciation, and attention this brand has received was because of its witty one-liners, sharp comebacks, and savage roasts on Twitter.

Twitter users would even take to Twitter to solicit the brand’s roasts because they wanted the pure unadulterated fun of getting roasted by Wendy’s.

Wendy's roast 1

Wendy's tweet 2

Wendy’s Twitter strategy succeeds because of the team’s unique sense of humor and perfect comedic timing, plus the fact that they are consistently engaging on the platform. While Wendy’s takes to roasting competitors on a regular basis, it is never done in a mean-spirited or crass way.

Wendy’s is a great example of how to leverage Twitter if humor, people skills, and a consistent brand presence are what you can bring to the table in your social media campaigns. Wendy’s strategy has led to a current Twitter following of 3.8 million users.

2. IHOP “changes its name” to IHOb

When the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) wanted people to know they had burgers on the menu too, they went about their social media strategy a little differently. They resorted to “changing their name” to IHOb, a move that split their fans into two camps of people who were in support of the name change and the rest who weren’t.

ihop ihob social marketing campaign

Nevertheless, the campaign on Twitter, which centered around fans guessing what the ‘b’ stood for in IHOb (i.e. burgers), produced phenomenal results. By the time the campaign had ended, IHOb achieved “42.5 billion media impressions, 28,000+ media stories, and $113 million in earned media.” Burger sales also quadrupled.

It just goes to show that attracting attention the right way, engagement through inviting users to guess what the ‘b’ stood for, and the resulting social discussions are fail-safe methods to run effective social marketing campaigns.

3. OREO “Dunk in the dark” on Twitter

OREO’s “Dunk in the dark” tweet is a thrilling example of clever and spontaneous marketing that was able to capture attention, and elevate brand awareness, all in one breath. During the Super Bowl in 2013, the Superdome in New Orleans experienced a power outage that left fans literally in the dark. Meanwhile, in the OREO marketing camp, the team saw a golden opportunity and almost immediately released this tweet:

oreo dunk in the dark campaign

The tweet was shared over 13.8K times,  resulting in phenomenal brand reach. Great marketing is timeless, and this tweet and the OREO brand, in association, get talked about even today. It’s also an example of why speed is of the essence in marketing.

4. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In 2014, the ALS Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the incidence of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease also called Lou Gehrig’s disease) came up with the Ice Bucket Challenge to create awareness about the disease. The challenge in itself was pretty simple.

It required participants to either pour a bucket of ice water over their heads or have someone else pour it over them and share a video of it. Each participant was asked to nominate others. Then, the nominated participants had to create a video of them completing the challenge within 24 hours or provide a donation to the ALS Association instead.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


The Ice Bucket Challenge enjoyed tremendous success around the world through multiple social media channels. According to Wikipedia, the challenge “raised over $220M worldwide. Its combination of competitiveness, social media pressure, online narcissism, and low barriers to entry led to more than 2.4 million tagged videos circulating on Facebook.”

The ALS campaign is a great example of how a simple concept with mass appeal for social media users can result in massive visibility and word-of-mouth marketing.

5. Chicken sandwich battle: Popeye’s takes on Chick-fil-A

When Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen launched their first chicken sandwich on Twitter to rival Chick-fil-A’s, they were simply unable to meet the demand. The sandwiches were getting sold out, and fast. Popeye’s went on a temporary hiatus with the sandwiches but promised they would come back.

In the meantime, they continued to milk the popularity of the sandwiches through social media content showing customers clearly enjoying their sandwiches and the ‘sold out’ signs across multiple locations.

It was around this time that Chick-fil-A came out with a tweet that seemed to be taking a jab at Popeye’s. Popeye’s responded and from then on came the Twitter wars, none of which caused any dips in the popularity of Popeye’s chicken sandwiches.

popeyes chicken sandwich twitter campaign

According to QSR Magazine, post-chicken sandwich launch, “Popeyes same-store sales skyrocketed 10.2 percent in Q3 2019, a period where the chicken sandwich was in stores for a mere two weeks of the entire quarter. With supply issues fixed, it returned November 3 .. and Q4 sales ended up rising 37.9 percent, year-over-year.”

6. Coors Light’s America #CouldUseABeer campaign

Coors Light’s marketing efforts for its #CouldUseABeer campaign deployed the giveaway method. The light beer brand promised to give away a six-pack of beer for anyone who would tweet the #CouldUseABeer hashtag back to them for a limited time only. Who doesn’t love a good giveaway?

The campaign in itself wasn’t created in the marketing lab. It was conceived after the brand gave away 150 beers for free to a locked-down 93-year-old woman, who had posted a request for beer on her whiteboard and held it to the window during the start of the Covid pandemic.

Inspired by the appreciation received from the community at large for this ‘cool’ gesture, Coors decided it would give away 500,000 more cold beers and the America #CouldUseABeer campaign was born.

Coors Light #coulduseabeer

Customers love free value. They are also compelled to act when the value is available for a limited time. Coors leveraged both aspects to create one of the most successful social media campaigns in the recent past. The resulting brand loyalty is immeasurable.

7. Pantone #BigGameColorCommentary (2020 Super Bowl)

Pantone partnered with ad agency Huge Inc. to come up with the unique and exciting concept of “replacing subjects with a PANTONE color code in [their] Big Game (aka SuperBowl) Color Commentary tweets.” It capitalized on the fact that the two teams playing that day, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wear very similar shades of red.

 During the game, Pantone live-tweeted out their take on the action, complete with their color codes for team jerseys, referees’ flags, and even popular big game snacks like burgers and seven-layer dip.

 Here is an example of one of the tweets that Pantone sent out during the timely campaign that not only helped it link to the Super Bowl but also helped it leverage its key USP – knowledge of color.

pantone super bowl color commentary

Pantone, incidentally, is known for its PANTONE Color System,  a standardized way of matching colors that is used in many industries around the world.  

This is an example of successful commercial marketing where the product/brand is connected to a trending topic (the Super Bowl, in this case). In the process, Pantene was also able to generate brand awareness among fans in the sports niche.

8. The Getty Museum Challenge

When the Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Museum had to shut down because of COVID-19, it still found a way to be relevant on Twitter. The Getty Museum challenged followers to recreate works of art with objects and people from their home.

The challenge caught on quickly. It resonated with locked-down followers who wanted to do something different and get the opportunity to share their creations on social media.

getty museum challenge

Thousands of users uploaded their images to Twitter, and the Getty Museum challenge has been immortalized online ever since.

9. Disney’s #ShareYourEars

To coincide with 90 years of Mickey Mouse, as well as to support the Make-A-Wish foundation for the third year running, Disney launched their #ShareYourEars campaign in 2018. Visitors to Disney stores could decorate a pair of Mickey Mouse paper ears and post a picture of them wearing the ears with the hashtag #ShareYourEars. Others could post their favorite pair of Mickey Mouse ears from the Disney parks, or any “creative ears” that resembled Mickey’s, to join the campaign.

Disney would then donate $5 for every post to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This campaign is another example of how tugging at the heartstrings for a good cause can move and engage audiences to want to connect with the brand.

shareyourears social marketing campaign

According to a case study carried out by students at the Penn State University, these were the outstanding results: 1.77 million posts and 420 million social impressions for Disney, with a 330% increase in reach and 554% increase in engagement for Make-A-Wish.

shareyourears stats

10. Dove’s Project #ShowUs

Dove is a veteran in cause marketing. The brand’s Campaign for Real Beauty (launched in 2004), which challenges stereotypes of what constitutes beauty in a woman, still gets talked about today. Their more recent Project #ShowUs campaign is a collaborative project carried out in association with Getty Images and Girl Gaze.

The concept is a library of female-identifying and non-binary individuals, raw and unfiltered, from 200 photographers across 41 countries. As of now, the library has more than 14,000 photos, and more continue to be added regularly. The images can be licensed out for creative projects.

Dove Project Show Us

The campaign has had a far-reaching impact globally since its launch by simply leveraging UGC (user-generated content). A few of the many impressive achievements it has achieved is reported here:

  • 900+ companies in 40 countries have downloaded images from the collection
  • 100% positive sentiment.
  • 62% of women believe #ShowUs images better represent how most women in their country look.
  • 66% say they’re more likely to use/purchase brands that use #ShowUs images.

11. Spotify Wrapped 2020

Every year, Spotify creates a personalized ‘Wrapped’ for its users which is a list of the user’s most streamed music and podcasts for the year. The 2020 version featured a stories theme, similar to what Instagram has on its interface.

Having your own personalized list generated for you at the end of every year is like getting a Christmas present. Plus, the data gets ‘wrapped’ in eye-popping color graphics, which are highly shareable on users’ social media channels – no-cost organic and word-of-mouth advertising for Spotify.

spotify wrapped social marketing campaign

The Spotify Wrapped product led to an increase in downloads of Spotify’s mobile apps by 21% in the first week of December alone.

12. Planters’ Death of Mr. Peanut (#RIPeanut)

In a bizarre twist of mascot fate, snack brand Planters announced the death of its 104-year-old icon Mr. Peanut through a tweet, and then later through a video explainer on YouTube. The idea for this concept came from the tremendous fan reaction to the death of Marvel character Iron Man. The creative team came up with an imagined scenario where Mr. Peanut would sacrifice his life to save his friends in a dramatic storyline.

death of mr peanut

While this approach can seem a morbid way to do marketing to us mere mortals, the death of Mr. Peanut generated considerable buzz on social media, even spawning a slew of memes in the aftermath. The Mr. Peanut Twitter account gained 24,000 followers following the death announcement, a jump of 45%. Within a day, the video also received 1.5 million views on YouTube.

13. Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” campaign

In a sense similar to what Dove strived to do with its Real Beauty campaign, Gillette’s cause marketing campaign was geared towards promoting positive behaviors in men. It showed how the best men don’t bully or harass others, and are careful with what they say.

The campaign, which involved a short YouTube video, was not without controversy. While on the one hand, it received much applause for calling on men to be more, on the other hand, there were objections to the theme because some people felt it  belittled masculinity.  

gillette we believe

Regardless of the controversy, Gillette’s campaign was still able to make an impact. The video has had over 36 million views online, and here’s how it did performance-wise, based on a survey by Morning Consult. Notice how, after watching the ad, 42% of adults agreed Gillette shared their values, a 23% jump compared to before watching the ad.

gillette stats

14. Starbucks’ “Tweet-a-Coffee” campaign

Starbucks has had numerous social media success stories, including the massive engagement around their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte promotion. But for this article, we’ve chosen to highlight the Starbucks ‘Tweet-a-Coffee’ campaign of 2013, which was all about giving. All you needed to do was tweet the handle of your gift recipient to the Starbucks Tweet-a-Coffee Twitter account and the gift recipient gets a $5 digital e-gift to redeem at any Starbucks store.

This campaign was successful because it encouraged appealing human values like kindness and spontaneous gift-giving. Users needed to have accounts on both Starbucks and Twitter to take advantage of this offer. It was a great way to engage with consumers and ingrain positive brand sentiment.

starbucks tweet a coffee

The results achieved, according to Keyhole, were as follows:

  • Over $180,000 has been spent to date [5 Dec 2013, date of the report], with users buying almost 37,000 gift cards
  • More than 27,000 unique users bought gift cards for friends, and 34% bought more than one gift card
  • 32% of the gifts were bought on the first day
  • Starbucks achieved a tie-in between the Twitter accounts + credit cards + mobile devices + their customer list, and they had it for 54,000 people both gifters and recipients.

15. BuzzFeed’s Tasty

Tasty has built a cult-like following for it’s snackable bite-sized video recipes optimized for the Facebook viewing experience. Tasty’s videos are short, snappy, and visually attractive, showcasing the creation of the recipes in the most appealing manner possible.

This is one of the social media marketing examples where consistent high-quality content is the superstar. The key takeaway here is to produce audience-attracting content regularly so that you can build your audience, following, and engagement over the long term.

buzzfeed tasty

The brand has over 90 million likes, and over 105 million follows on Facebook with great engagement on all the recipe posts. The Instagram account has over 39 million followers. The brand has also branched into branded cookware as of 2018.

16. Procter and Gamble’s #DistanceDance on TikTok

Global consumer giant Procter and Gamble (P&G for short) tied up with TikTok mega-influencer Charli D’Amelio (over 50 million fans) to create a dance challenge video to raise awareness of and encourage social distancing. There are many elements to this campaign that have made it hugely successful. In terms of numbers, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon either.

p&g distance dance Charli D'Amelio

Partnering with an influencer who has a strong following is a strategy that many brands use to leverage a partner’s existing fanbase. P&G also chose TikTok to push its campaign because the platform is ideal for short-form mobile videos that are both educational and fun. Last but not least, who doesn’t like a fun dance challenge?  

The campaign reportedly resulted in over 8 billion views in the very first week of launching and currently has over 16 billion hashtag views.

17. WWF’s “Endangered Emoji Index” on Twitter

In 2015, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a 3-day campaign to highlight the cause of endangered species, talk about issues like deforestation, and encourage donations. The creative ad used emojis of 17 endangered species and encouraged retweeting, with the promise of converting the amount of retweets to a specific donation amount.

wwf endangered emoji social marketing campaign

The use of emojis was not accidental. The marketing team behind the campaign wanted to engage audiences and encourage social sharing through the use of a language that everyone could relate to. At the last count, the ad generated in excess of 38K comments, 30K retweets, and 10K reactions.

18. “Know Your Lemons” by the Know Your Lemons Foundation

Creating awareness for a potentially life-threatening illness is certainly not easy, but the Know Your Lemons Foundation (formerly known as Worldwide Breast Cancer) has set a precedent in the way we can promote discussion on public health topics in an engaging way.

The campaign, the brainchild of founder Dr. Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont MFA, Ph.D, was created with the intent of ‘ teaching about the symptoms of breast cancer and the process for detection’. Here’s the star creative of the campaign:

know your lemons!

This campaign is one of the best social media marketing examples we have that showcases a brilliant reworking of a common euphemism for breasts. It takes away the fear, but also educates how to perform a breast self-exam in a friendly manner. At the last count, according to the foundation’s website, the campaign has already reached 1 billion people.

19. Always ‘#LikeAGirl’ campaign

Probably one of the more inspirational social marketing examples we have from our list, the #LikeAGirl campaign was about challenging stereotypes around the negative usage of the phrase “like a girl,’” as in, “you throw like a girl,” or “you run like a girl.”

The phrase is so ingrained in our culture and so much a part of everyday parlance, that this video did wonders to encourage social change around why doing anything like a girl is nothing to be ashamed of.

always likeagirl

While the campaign was launched in 2014, as of it today, the video on YouTube has received 69 million views, over 40K comments, and over 300K engagements. D&AD reported a change in perception with 76% of viewers post-video, and also that 2 out of 3 men post-viewing the ad, said they would “now think twice before using “like a girl” as an insult.”

20. Visit Norway’s #SheepWithAView

When Norway wanted to promote tourism, it took a rather unconventional route. It fitted sheep from 4 different areas in Norway with cameras so that we could get insights into the beautiful country through their eyes. The campaign, pushed through Instagram and Facebook, tied in neatly with Norwegian culture that allowed both people and animals to roam free with nature.

visit norway sheep

The sheep ambassadors, Lars, Frida, Erika, and Kari, received worldwide recognition and a lot of brand appreciation from followers, besides contributing their bit to promote visits to Norway.

The campaign reportedly achieved a reach of 6 million in the UK alone within the first 2 months, over 849K views, 84K engagements, and 14.3K Instagram follows. Campaign sentiment was recorded at 98.8% positive.

21. Burberry Cat Lashes Pinterest Campaign

Declining sales meant that Burberry had to look for innovative ways to market their new product, Cat Lashes mascara. They turned to Pinterest in partnership with Sephora, hoping to tap into its huge market of users. The concept they came up with was to create personalized boards for its users, where they could upload and save pictures of them doing product tutorials and offering tips.

Each pin would then get advertised as a promoted pin that would redirect viewers to where they could purchase the Cat Lashes product. This campaign is again a fantastic example of why user engagement is a powerful way to generate brand visibility and increase sales.

The results were simply staggering. More than 30,000 personalized boards were created, generating over 1 million pins. The 5000 samples offered as incentives for pinners were lapped up within the first 5 days of the campaign.

7 must-haves for successful social marketing campaigns

To make your social marketing campaigns as super-effective as our top 21 examples of social marketing, they must accomplish these 7 specific goals:

1. Capture the target audience’s attention to raise brand awareness

Increasing brand awareness is the first step towards getting consistent leads and sales. The best social media marketing campaigns that have generated leads have 3 core strategies in common – appealing content, focused engagement strategies, and most important of all, a consistent brand voice.

But at the end of the day, it’s about making the effort to reach out to customers and letting them know you have a product or service that’s worth exploring. It’s also about showcasing your benefits in such a way that they speak to your customers’ needs.

2. Communicate your brand values and voice, without being “salesy”

Given how frequently consumers are bombarded with marketing messaging online, it’s safe to say that the overtly salesy approach no longer works. Successful marketers focus on relationship-building as the first order of business. Customers need time to get to know you, trust you, and figure out whether they’re doing the right thing by purchasing your products and services.

To avoid the salesy approach, provide tons of free value in terms of tips and advice, share solutions to your audience’s most pressing problems, and highlight the benefits of your offers.

3. Provide the content type your target audience is looking for on social

Different social media platforms have their own unique audience and style. Some platforms are more professional and business-like, such as LinkedIn. Meanwhile, others can be fun and youthful, like TikTok. The tone of the platform can give you ideas on what style of content you should be putting out. Use the platform that most authentically matches your brand voice.

Also, review the types of content that are the most popular and trending on the social networks you’re interested in. Does the platform-specific audience want humor, are they interested in trends, do they want to help support a cause, or do they want more personalized interactions? If you need a help deciding, social media marketing companies can be a great resource to explore. 

This is one area where doing some in-depth research can yield rich dividends. The best approach is to match your core demographic with the platform they populate the most.

4. Promote engagement

When we talk about engagement, it’s not always about clicks and shares. The best type of engagement contributes to relationship-building, such as when you receive positive and relevant comments from your audience on your posts.  

To promote engagement, your marketing strategy should include proactive and ongoing engagement from the business side and timely responses to your audience’s comments. It’s also important to have a consistent brand voice.

Engagement is a metric that can be closely measured, and that’s something you want to do because if your audience isn’t engaging, it means you really haven’t caught their attention. Using a social media management tool for scheduling social media posts at the right time will also help you increase your engagement.

5. Encourage social sharing of your brand among your audience’s friends (word-of-mouth)

Getting social shares is a great way to get tons of free traffic and raise brand awareness. Aside from having irresistible content, you should also encourage sharing overtly, and place social sharing buttons prominently on your content. Also, consider making use of social media management tools that can do a lot of the heavy lifting, data collection, and data analysis for you. This way, you’ll be able to figure out just how much social word-of-mouth you’ve drummed up.

6. Prompt website visits

Every piece of content, whether it’s a blog post or an ad for your marketing, should have some form of call-to-action that redirects interested parties to your website. Social marketing campaigns are no different! On each social post, viewers should be prompted to take some form of action, whether it’s to visit your website, make a purchase, or subscribe. Your best marketing efforts are in vain if your most important digital asset isn’t collecting your customer data for long-term nurturing and further marketing down the line.

7. Increase sales of your products/services

Another measure of an effective social media campaign is simply whether it has helped you sell more products or services. All digital marketing campaigns have to lead to the achievement of a specific goal. If your campaigning isn’t helping you sell, it’s time to get back to the drawing board and find out where your efforts are going wrong.


We hope you found our top 21 best examples of social marketing campaigns useful and informative to set a marketing strategy for your business. While creativity is always a plus when it comes to marketing, having examples of successful campaigns to learn from at your fingertips can save you much of the learning curve associated with going big on social.

Another thing to note: Customer referral programs may not go as viral as the campaigns above, but they’re often more reliable ways to scale your word-of-mouth marketing (while not being as reliant on one-off or viral social posts). 

Looking for more ways to tap into the power of social media and increase word of mouth? Check out how to build a reliable word-of-mouth marketing engine with these resources.