COM0015: Social media savvy – Companies that soar and others that need to clean up their act

The difference between the strong and the weak is awareness of what’s happening around you and knowing your audience. The minute a company decides it’s the authority on a subject, even its own product, and attempts to own it too much, their messages fail.

One company that’s doing it right is WestJet. In its advertising WestJet uses the hashtag #ownerscare to convey the message that, as owners, they have a vested interest in how the airline operates and will go the extra mile to ensure excellent service and promote a positive corporate culture.

In total, there have been five annual campaigns including last-year’s tribute to the people in Fort McMurray who had to evacuate because of the wildfires. While all the campaigns have been meticulously executed, I think the campaign from 2013 as my personal favourite. The sheer logistics involved were, in the pure sense of the word, awesome. And, while it may not have been a “miracle” per se, it gave off all the warm feelings associated with the wonder of Christmas.


The award-winning campaign was an immediate hit which garnered over 35 million views on YouTube and exceeded its goal of 500,000 views by 7,000%. It trended in Canada for two days and received 3.2 million Facebook impressions and 42.2 million Twitter impressions specific to #WestJetChristmas and related key words. (Source:

Once an organization has actually listened to what its markets are saying, it can then transition to participating to become a trusted brand. One of those ways is to use key influencers – those whom other people trust – to help pass along or reinforce your messaging. Another way is to simply be aware of what is happening and be in a position to react, to show your markets that you’re involved in the same things that they are interested in.

One of my favourite examples is from Oreo and its famous tweet from the 2013 Super Bowl. To start with, it has a significant presence on social media, considering it’s a cookie. It uses its social media channels to consistently promote the cookie and its paring with milk in various ways. It has recruited Shaquille O’Neal and Christina Aguilera as brand ambassadors, which is an interesting combination of personalities and sub-audiences. It is a social media-savvy brand that was proven during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout when the tweet below generated 8,000 new followers and was re-tweeted over 15,000 times.


The same image on Instagram grew its followers from 2,000 pre-game to 36,000 with over 16,000 photos submitted for a contest, which was tied to its Super Bowl ad. (Source:

It was a situation where the social media team was present and keenly aware of what was happening at the time. They went from watching what was happening at the time, to participating in the conversation about the blackout. It played on the feelings that were happening at the time and won the Internet over with the simplicity and timeliness of the ad. And, it was able to tie in an existing marketing initiative to generate more interest.

Dove, however, is a company that seems to have lost its way in its social media campaigns. It started out a unique, by communicating that all beauty is in everyone through its “Campaign for Real Beauty.” In 2015 its campaign #speakbeauty won a Shorty Award It used real people as models, not industry stereotypes. It made its social justice causes known and it had a pretty good line of products. Then over the past two years, the brand has slipped. It’s as if it wants to hold on to the original spark of the beauty campaign but can’t figure out how to do it. The first slip was redesigning its product bottles to resemble shapes of real women. People hated it mostly due to the fact that the bottles were difficult to handle in the shower – Talk about losing sight of your users needs.


The most recent one being so awful it was forced to apologize for it.


It’s clear that Dove needs to take a step back and reconnect with its target audiences and be aware of the world around it.

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