5 Brilliant Holiday Social Media Campaigns

5 Brilliant Holiday Social Media Campaigns

A simple #HappyHolidays won’t cut it for a social media holiday campaign these days. With all of the noise online, it's important to stand out with campaigns that are a little more creative.

Here's how five brands created impact with large-scale holiday social media campaigns. Think about how your small business might apply some of these ideas on a more local level.

1. Starbucks #redcupcontest

Campaign: Starbucks has become known for its red cups during the holiday season (it’s been doing it for 18 years now!) but received a lot of backlash over the past few years for not being so festive with its cups. So in 2014 and 2015, it hosted a #redcupcontest on Instagram that encouraged customers to jazz up their cups and then share and tag photos of them for a chance to win one of five grand prizes.

Why it worked: Starbucks was on to the fact that effective user-generated content marketing is all about creating the opportunity for conversation and participation (prizes don’t hurt either) to prove that it’s not just the brand that can create great content. That, coupled with customers’ growing preference for storytelling on social platforms, was the key to success.

Results: A #redcupcontest photo was shared every 14 seconds on Instagram and garnered a total of 40,000 entries.

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2. Acura #RaceYourHeartOut

Campaign: Acura used the once-popular slot car hobby — racing powered toy cars that are often modeled after actual automobiles — to create a friendly competition for its winter sales event. The company made two miniature 3D-printed Acura TLX slot car models and gave each its own social media account.

Acura’s social media followers were then invited to follow one of these car accounts on Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming video platform, and press the “heart” button on the screen as many times as they could to digitally power the slot cars. The more a viewer “hearted,” the faster that slot car would go. Acura used a multicamera broadcast and real-time announcers to record the live event, and the winning car of each race raised $500 for charity.

Why it worked: The brand took a favorite pastime and capitalized on the excitement around an iconic toy. It coupled that with the joy and nostalgia of getting a new car to create an interactive campaign on an emerging social platform for a real home run.

Results: After two hours and 20 races, Acura raised $10,000. The race drove 60,000 “hearts” per hour. Acura’s Periscope audience increased by 190 percent, and the #RaceYourHeartOut campaign introduced a new audience to the brand in a first-of-its-kind social media campaign.


3. My Tales of Whisky Yule Log

Campaign: In an effort to attract a younger consumer to its brand and prove that scotch whisky isn’t just an old man’s drink, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky partnered with Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman to shoot a 45-minute reel of the actor sitting next to the traditional holiday Yule log while sipping a tumbler of Lagavulin in complete silence.

The team secured an exclusive with Elite Daily, a popular news source for Gen Y-ers, to preview the video. Lagavulin also added a video teaser to its Facebook page to trigger shares and conversation. Within hours of launch, the video went viral and became a trending topic on Facebook.

Why it worked: Holiday tradition (Yule log) + celebrity appeal (Nick Offerman) = instant YouTube sensation using the perfect influencer and a strategically executed campaign.

Results: Two million YouTube views over the course of one week and a 400-percent increase in YouTube channel subscribers.


4. M&M’S Red Nose Day

M&M's Red Nose Day Campaign: M&M’S rallied its enormous fan base to help make someone laugh for the Red Nose Day fund. Every time a consumer made someone laugh and then shared that story on social using the hashtag #MakeMLaugh, M&M’S donated a dollar to the fund.

Why it worked: This multifaceted campaign used celebrities, sponsorship, and major media outlets to help spread the word. Social media was king in this campaign, and M&M’S partnered with a wide swath of influencers, but a big part of the campaign’s success was the integration of user-generated content that made consumers feel responsible (after all, every time they posted, dollars went to the cause). This is a great example of using cause marketing, emotion, and social responsibility to involve an audience.

Results: M&M’S was able to donate $1.25 million to the Red Nose Day fund (a campaign that raises money for children and young adults living in poverty). The campaign generated almost 270 million social media impressions and 2.9 million engagements on $MakeMLaugh content (this hashtag was used more than 78,000 times).


5. WestJet Christmas Miracle

Campaign: WestJet’s Christmas Miracle called on WestJet customers to perform and submit (via social channels) 12,000 mini miracles (aka acts of kindness) over a 24-hour period. From London to Hawaii, each mini miracle submitted with the #WestJetChristmas hashtag was tracked in real time and promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, and WestJet’s website.

Why it worked: Another example of the power of heartwarming campaigns during the holiday season, WestJet’s Christmas Miracle worked because it involved its community for the greater good.

Results: 31,793 mini miracle submissions; 1.4 million organic Facebook impressions; 220,000 likes, shares, and comments on Facebook; 3,456 Instagram photos using the #WestJetChristmas hashtag.

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