A successful social media campaign can transform a product into something more than a product. It can be a Facebook application, a YouTube phenomenon, or a Twitter trend. These companies used social media and the Internet to not only create awareness, but to push some products and get people excited about them. Here are my top five social media campaigns of all time.

5. Target’s “Bullseye Gives” Campaign


When It Launched: May 10, 2009

What It Is: Target allocates five percent of it’s income to charity. Roughly, that’s $3 million a week. Target decided to bring this initiative to the public. They created a Facebook app that allowed users to vote on what charity they wanted to see money donated to. Then, when a user voted, they could publish it on their newsfeed. This of course allowed for even more people to see the cause, and to cast a vote.

Why It Worked: People want to have a say. In this case, everybody wins. The charities received donation money based on the percentage of people that voted for them.  The St. Jude Children’s Hospital received over 77,000 votes, which led them to $797,123 in charitable donations. And while a good deed is happening, Target also reaches out to new customers via Facebook.

Results: In just two weeks, 167,000 voters let their opinions be heard. During the campaign, the Target page added over 97,000 new fans, and a mind blowing 3000% increase in wall posts.

4. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” Campaign


When It Launched: 2006

What It Is: The relatively unknown Blendtec was a company that made blenders. Pretty bland. Then they launched numerous YouTube videos, all under the title “Will It Blend?”. This fun, game show like format showed objects of virtually every shape, size, and price range, being grinded into piles of dust. Hearing aids, crowbars, sneakers, and even an iPhone 4.

Why It Worked: People don’t get excited about blenders. It’s a tough product to hawk. But what Blendtec did is genius. They humanized their brand by creating somewhat goofy videos. They gave their brand an identity and created fantastic brand loyalty. And at the same time, while you are watching in horror as a $200 iPhone is annihilated, you can’t help but think, “Wow, this blender is pretty good.”

Results: Blendtec saw a $40 million spike in the first year of this video campaign. The videos have millions of views. Specifically, their channel upload views have nearly 150 million hits. Their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have a combined hundreds of thousands of followers, over 400,000. Not bad for a blender company.

3. Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice”


When It Launched: January, 2009

What It Is: Burger King hatched this devious scheme with the intention of giving away free Whoppers. There was one catch. In order to receive a voucher for one free Whopper, you had to defriend 10 people on Facebook. Sounds pretty good, right? What made this application different from normal Facebook practice, however, was the notification. When a friend was “sacrificed” for a Whopper, they received a notification telling them they had been dropped for a hamburger. Also, a post would come up on the newsfeed saying, “Lou sacrificed John for a Whopper”.

Why It Worked: This is as creative a campaign as they come. Burger King generated considerable buzz, for a product that has been around for decades.

Results: When it comes to pure return on investment, there is no real way to tell how Burger King made out after this campaign, which only last a couple of weeks before Facebook had enough. However, this campaign did create a tremendous amount of buzz, something social media marketing has a great capability of doing. 233,906 friendships were ended as a result of this campaign. That’s loyalty to the King.

2. Blair Witch Project


When It Launched: 1998

What It Is: Social media as we know it today was not yet born in 1998, and the Internet was still in it’s infancy. Three amateur filmmakers with very little money and no studio backing created this film, “The Blair Witch Project”. By using the Internet, they targeted their audience, which were mostly college students. Their marketing strategy was simple: don’t actually sell the movie, sell the story. They tried to make their story as realistic and believable as possible. They released fake “missing” posters, evidence, pictures, all sorts of media to really make it seem like three youths had gone missing looking for the famed witch. And they did all this without their own website, at first. By using message boards and open forums, they branded their product. Then they released Blairwitch.com. It received over 10 million hits before the film release.

Why It Worked: Whether you like the movie or not, the story is captivating. The filmmakers knew this, and knew they could easily make this story seem real. The Internet was still somewhat mysterious and unexplored at this time, and the young filmmakers exploited the marketing capabilities. This is the best early example of social media marketing. Quite simply, the story was original, and the grassroots campaign eventually went mainstream.

Results: The movie only cost $22,000 to produce. The movie was initially only released to 27 screens nationally, and took in $1.5 million in the first weekend. When it was released everywhere, it made $29.2 million. 1999 was a year filled with Hollywood blockbusters, and “The Blair Witch Project” finished tenth in revenue for the year, behind such notables as “Star Wars: Epsidode 1”, “The Sixth Sense,” “Toy Story 2”, and “The Matrix.” Pretty good considering the film cost about as much as a new SUV.

1. Old Spice Guy

When It Launched: 2010

What It Is: Everyone knows the Old Spice Guy. It’s a phenomenon. First, there were the television commercials. The man, Isaiah Mustafa, is “The Man You Wish Your Man Could Smell Like.” Then came the YouTube domination. Over 180 videos were recorded in response to comments from all over the Internet.  Old Spice’s campaign was wildly successful, and yet overwhelmingly simplistic. Even more striking, the real focus was on the man, not on Old Spice itself, particularly in the response videos. The campaign ended about six months ago, yet Old Spice continues to prosper.

Why It Worked: Who knows why this was so successful. “The Man” was just a likeable guy, with a funny hook, and he was omnipresent. But above all, it was just fun. It’s deodorant and body wash. It’s a commonplace product that isn’t really supposed to get people excited. But Old Spice found a way to make their product stand out. They made it funny and worth watching. Maybe people want to see a company that isn’t entirely about making money. Maybe they want to see a company that has some human interest, a sense of humor.



Results: Staggering. Adweek‘s Eleftheria Parpis has this summary: “According to Nielsen data provided by Old Spice, overall sales for Old Spice body-wash products are up 11 percent in the last 12 months; up 27 percent in the last six months; up 55 percent in the last three months; and in the last month, with two new TV spots and the online response videos, up a whopping 107 percent.” The Old Spice YouTube videos have a combined 180 million views. Over 1 million people “Like” it on Facebook. More that 120,000 people follow Old Spice on Twitter. Old Spice’s use of social media was done to perfection. They created buzz, took it mainstream, and saw a huge profit soaring. And that’s why it is number one on this list.