Top Viral Social Media Marketing Campaigns Of 2015

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Social media marketing can be a tough nut to crack, but for many brands, having a single viral marketing campaign can prove wonders for brand awareness and gaining a following.

But what is it that makes a marketing campaign go viral? And how can you help your content get shared via social media marketing? Well, there’s no single answer; but there’s certainly a right way of doing things. Whether you’re looking to improve your social media marketing, or help your next campaign go viral with more shares and clicks, then it’s time to take inspiration from how other brands have created memorable viral campaigns.

Below we have listed some of the best social media marketing of the year so far. But what can we learn from what these brands did to create their viral campaigns, and how can we replicate their success?

Dove – Choose Beautiful

Dove have a long-standing campaign for “Real Beauty”, and this latest short video demonstrates great social and moral values at the core of their brand.

The video shows women given the choice to walk through doors labelled either “average” or “beautiful”, with the focus being on reinforcing self-esteem in women. This appeals directly to their core audience, and shows that real woman should see themselves as beautiful; as those who choose “average” then decide they should have opted otherwise.

Aside from the viral marketing side, the video itself has emotional appeal, it directly tackles issues at the heart of the core audience, and is a genuinely interesting psuedo-experiment to watch. Needless to say, the video went viral, and Dove got a lot of exposure from it; whilst also bolstering their overarching “Real Beauty” moral values. Simple, effective, and ultimately something you would actively choose to watch.

Fortitude – Polar bears on the tube?

This was a rather elaborate marketing technique, but it certainly worked. Social media and the web was shocked at an image of a life-sized polar bear on London’s Underground.

Now, there’s plenty of strange things to be seen on the tube, but this really takes the cake. After the image garnered the attention of readers, it’s revealed to be an 8-foot animatronic puppet created as a publicity stunt for Sky Atlantic’s now-poplar show Fortitude. The reasoning was that polar bears are one of the fiercest threats to the characters in Fortitude, and it gave a chance for Londoners to get up close and personal, and get a feel for what this may be like. Albeit, with less ferocity and fear than a real encounter would be.

Fortitude polar bear viral marketing

Netflix Watch

Although the launch of the Apple Watch was known before, this can still be considered agile marketing in a sense; as it was developed with the idea it would manage to steal the spotlight from the main event of the Apple Watch launch.

The buzz of the Apple Watch paired with the widespread online enthusiasm for Netflix created a nice amount of brand awareness, even if the product in question is a joke. It makes fun of itself, the Netflix viewers, and wearable tech; despite the fact I would bet there are many people who would genuinely like a Netflix Watch.

Burger King – Flame-Grilled Cologne

Touted as an April Fools’ gag when it was announced back in March, as it was available for just one day (April 1st) in Japan, it actually turned out to be a real thing. Only 1000 limited edition bottles were made, surprisingly.

Burger King most likely knew that announcing this weird fragrance would spark both curiosity and controversy online; and it seems very convenient that the fragrance was set to launch on April Fools’ day.

It’s said to smell like tacos, rather than the hamburger it tries to emulate. Either way, I’m not sure why you’d want to smell of any form of fast food, but it certainly created a buzz online, and kept Burger King in the hearts and minds (and noses) of the public.

burger-king cologne viral marketing

Ex Machina on Tinder

This year at the popular technology-based SXSW festival, there were a number of people coming across a young woman named Ava on the infamous Tinder dating app.

Ex Machina is a movie from Alex Garland which tackles what makes us human, and what we consider to be artificial intelligence.

The lovely lady on Tinder echoed the plot, by asking users what made them human, and whether they had been in love; and after a while, would send through a link to an Instagram page which revealed all about this new form of marketing. Very clever, and very in keeping with the times. Needless to say, once the word spread, the concept and the conversations went viral; which created a lot more publicity around the film than the initial advertising ploy itself.

Ex Machina Tinder Marketing

PlayStation Flow

With the rise of the web and social media, April Fools’ day has essentially become Christmas for marketers. Here’s a day where you can do something outside-the-box, and essentially throw out everything people know about your brand; all in the name of comedy.

This year, one of my favourites was PlayStation Flow. Whilst there were many other notable examples, this had a lot of thought go into this rather elaborate “product reveal” video.

It came at the right time, due to the fact that wearable tech and virtual reality headsets are ready to come out into the mainstream. It also shows Sony are still light-hearted despite the many controversies it has faced recently; and now that PlayStation is a cornerstone of their business objectives (and a household name), it’s certainly an area they are willing to have fun with.

Ant-Man Billboards

Across Australia, a number of small billboards have been popping up, which are there to promote the Ant-Man superhero movie from Marvel. If you’re unaware, the protagonist of this film can shrink down to the size of an ant. An odd superpower, but a superpower nonetheless.

If you were a Marvel fan, and came across one of these ant-like billboards, you’re going to upload that straight onto every social media channel you can find. And there is how Ant-Man manages to spread the word with a creative form of marketing that is much cheaper than traditional billboards.

In a similar way to which Starbuck’s employees misspell your name on purpose (so that you upload them onto social media for your friends to see how some people just can’t seem to spell your name), these Ant-Man billboards weren’t directly uploaded as a viral marketing campaign for social media; but they at least had that intention. The public are start that off.

It fits with the film in question, it’s unique, it’s creative, and it’s a brand that people hold dear to their hearts. Finding something that isn’t instantly obvious also has a treasure hunt vibe to it, which further encourages people to share the images online. Nobody would upload a photo of a normal size billboard, because many other people would have seen it, and it’s also not extraordinary in any way. This was a great idea, and it had already sparked a lot of popularity; with the below image being shared across Reddit and imgur.

Ant Man Billboard Viral Marketing

For more inspiration, read our blog below:

Facebook Awards 2015 Highlights Top Social Media Campaigns for Inspiration

How do I get started with Social Media Marketing and Viral Campaigns?

So what can we learn from these viral social media marketing campaigns? For the majority, it’s not trying too hard. Many of these relied on creative marketing techniques, which by their nature, made perfect sense for people to share and upload.

Generally however, the trick to viral marketing is to create original content that people genuinely wish to engage with. Whether it’s an article, a video, or any other form of media; if people want to read it, then they will want to share it, and it can spread like wildfire from there.

Otherwise, all of these campaigns are consistent with their image, and what makes their brand or product so special. Whether it’s a funny video or a serious article, all content should align with what makes your business stand out from the crowd.

Despite the fact many of these campaigns are from big brands, that doesn’t mean smaller brands can’t achieve the same success. Even then, if you achieved a quarter of the exposure one of these hugely popular campaigns provide, it would most likely mean more to your business than Dove or Sky.

If you’re wondering what’s next in line for social media in 2015, we have a blog to read below:

What’s next for Social Media Marketing in 2015? 

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If you need a helping hand in generating new ideas for digital marketing campaigns, or for social media marketing in general, then get in touch with the team at Xanthos and see how we can help.

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