We are in a golden age of social media campaigns. There are so many organizations and personalities demonstrating a strong grasp of the principles of social media that are taking it into new and interesting territory. That said, there are still some out there that haven’t quite gotten it right.
Selecting two to highlight and one to poo-poo was a challenge, but these ones really stand out for me. All three happen to have the benefit of having a lot of money behind their communications.
20th Century Fox for “Deadpool” – The character Deadpool is so free and foul-mouthed that the marketers are able to get really creative and silly with social media. For example, they have created a series of fake movie posters that they put up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which make a wide spectrum of pop culture references (e.g. the painter Bob Ross, movies like Flashdance and Goonies). The posts also appear fairly regularly (every few days), and make use of timely hashtags. A great example of the campaign’s understanding of the importance of timing and relevant content was during the Superbowl, which saw “Deadpool” tweeting about the state of play in the game (“I loved Tom Brady in La La Land”) using both Superbowl hashtags (#SB52) and Deadpool hashtags (#DPtheSB). This increased the reach of the Deadpool tweets (putting the movie on the radar of anyone watching the game) and also enabled people following the @deadpoolmovie acccount on Twitter to read just his commentary.
In addition, actor Ryan Reynolds, who plays Deadpool, regularly posts from his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts using Deadpool’s “voice”. Reynolds already had a solid social media presence and approach before getting the role (try Googling “Ryan Reynolds good at social media” and you’ll see tons of examples of his strength as digital storyteller), which makes him a great amplifier of Fox’s Deadpool promotional efforts.
Disney for Star Wars – Yep, another movie example. I’m a big Star Wars fan (I’m still crying about the end of The Last Jedi), which is why I chose to highlight their social media strategy. The Star Wars social media campaigns appear on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, where are their posts appear with regularity (for example, about three posts every day on Twitter, one or two per day on Instagram, with more frequent posts in the run up to the release of new trailers or movie openings). In addition to using these platforms to show traditional promotional shots and trailers, they also show behind-the-scenes material, interviews with the cast and crew, fan art, and Snapchat filters. In particular, I find that the behind-the-scenes offerings are a great way to make the movie and its stars feel more accessible to followers, and the fan art is a great way to engage; it’s an easy way to generate content for the feed without the company having to create something new.
The tough part about spotlighting the disasters is that there are so many kinds of bad ones that you are more likely to tune them out/stop following them. There are the ones that post too often (I find that some journalists are really bad for posting too often), or whose posts are irrelevant or unfocused (I would argue that the Facebook group “Ontario Proud” is a good example of this, but as Jesse Brown noted in a November episode of the podcast Canadaland, called Inside a Right-Wing Meme Machine, while their approach breaks so many rules of good social media, it is proving successful, and has more followers than some mainstream newspapers).
And then there are the ones that are bad because they make a massive mistake on social media; these are the ones that are more memorable. For me, in recent memory, I would say that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) would benefit from a refresher course in social media.
As you may recall, back in January a tweet went out from the HEMA account saying that a missile strike was imminent, creating panic among Hawaiians. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it HEMA couldn’t figure out how to reassure followers that it was a false alarm for a full 17 minutes. The moral of this story is that if you don’t have staff or senior management that understand how to use the tool (or who can’t remember their passwords when it counts), no social media plan that you develop is going to succeed. This case also highlights the importance of building websites or selecting social media tools that are well designed, with the user in mind. In an interview for CBC Spark, Genco Cebecioglu, director of user experience at Junction Design noted that the HEMA incident “could have been avoided by employing good design principles… there are certain assumptions one can make when designing for usability. For example, when people look at a page, they see colours and shapes first instead of text. To improve upon the current design [of HEMA’s missile warning system], the options could be grouped more appropriately, with important and severe options color-coded or given an icon.”
What about the little guys?
As I mentioned off the top, the social media masters and disasters that stood out for me were backed by a great deal of money. But of course, the great thing about social media is that a strong strategy can be put together on a shoestring. So, who are some smaller organizations with tighter budgets that have caught your attention?