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The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2018 (Part 1)

Can you believe another year has flown by? And not just your average fly by, the year went by with lightning speed, times 8 billion ... if that's a thing, I guess.

Another 365 days passing by means we have been exposed to 365 days of brands launching social media marketing campaigns. The good, the bad, and even the ugly have all gone live (and maybe pulled) over the past year.

I wanted to take a look at the best of the best, the champions of social media marketing campaigns in 2018, so I called a few friends ... 12 marketing experts to be exact.

These 12 individuals have shared their favorite social media campaigns of 2018 and now I will share them with you. *SPOILER ALERT* these are some awesome campaigns.

Let's take a look...


Prerna Sharma - HP Diwali Ad

One of the best social media campaigns has been done by HP on Diwali (Indian Festival) where they have shown how this festival is not only about celebrating but also helping others. Showcased is a lady vendor who sells Diwali decoration items and her efforts behind that.

Mordecai Holtz - Alexa Lost Her Voice & Lemonade AI Insurance vs. Competition

A whopping 70% of millennial consumers are inspired by peer-driven content, and YouTube is the 2nd most influential social platform for influencing decisions.

Amazon went super creative by launching an influencer marketing video campaign. This one-two punch had the potential to drive awareness about the brand. Putting the Alexa-powered Echo at the front gave the stage to a wide range of celebrities to take over during peak season, the SuperBowl.

The ‘Alexa Has Lost Her Voice’ campaign was funny, creative, and leveraged influencers by placing the value of Echo's technology at the front of the videos.

The video campaign earned over 47 million views and went viral as a result of its ingenuity, but it cemented the value of influencer marketing done well.

"When life gives you lemons it makes lemonade"

In an unprecedented move, State Farm created a video that positioned the new, tech driven, AI-focused Lemonade as an 'outsider' with “RoboAgent, featuring James Harden and The Office actor, Oscar Nunez. It basically mocks using bots and tech in insurance. In many ways, it's the same as PC vs Mac ads of old. Rather than highlight the value of people, State Farm went on to attack artificial intelligence, automation, and tech in general. We all know how that ends up...

What did Lemonade do? They were fast on the response via Twitter.

If the poignant Twitter response wasn't enough, what they did next completely disrupted the entire marketing industry. Lemonade picked up the tab and sponsored their competitors' YouTube and other social ads. Lemonade’s co-founder and COO Shai Wininger said “today we’re making history. We’re running and paying for our competitors' attacks ads - we’ve decided to pick up the tab and run it on our own dime.” Why? Because this Israeli startup realized that the competition is actually threatened by their innovation and that Lemonade actually is positioned better than expected.

Lisa Boyles - giffgaff's Small's A Community Series

giffgaff (a UK-based mobile network) is a community-first business which champions the small.

In September 2018, we launched our ‘Small’s A Community’ series. Using different content for each channel, we have seen immense success with our Facebook/YouTube mini-documentaries and Instagram photography.

So far in 2018 we’ve featured a volunteer organisation which helps the elderly to use tech, a Horror Book Club, a local gaming shop, an adoption charity, and our upcoming December content will feature amateur dramatics.

By placing community, optimism, and hope at the centre of this content, we’re smashing industry benchmarks and our own stretch targets - with an average of 30% VTR on 2-3 minute documentaries and 14.5% ER on our photography series.

While I wouldn’t go as far as saying 2018 was a transformative year for social media, there were some defining moments and trends that shaped how marketing, branding and digital communication are approached. Video, chatbots, and influencer marketing, to name a few. And, sure, there were many social media campaigns that successfully leveraged these tools to grow visibility, reach, increase sales, etc. However, when we talk about what constitutes a great social media campaign, we have to look beyond the tools. What 2018 campaign, best understood it’s audience, brand voice, product, content, medium, purpose, goal?

From their “We Beefin?” mixtape to their cheeky response when McDonald’s accidentally tweeted out “Black Friday ****Need copy and link****,” Wendy’s stands out. Why? They have managed to humanize their brand, in a way that allows them to connect authentically with their target. Humor, video, music, visuals, personalization — they’ve built a brand on creativity and innovation! That allows them to differentiate themselves in a way that keeps them both relevant and top of mind with consumers. They are incredible social listeners and their audience insight is spot on, which makes for great branding and effective marketing!

Returning for a fourth year, the REI #OptOutside Black Friday campaign provides a call to action for people to shun a consumer capitalist culture and instead, spend the biggest retail day of the year outdoors. REI also pledged $1m for research on the health benefits of enjoying nature, remaining committed to their goal of encouraging outdoor participation. The #OptOutside campaign encouraged people to share photos and videos of their favorite places and activities for others to discover. As an avid outdoor enthusiast myself, the brand campaign resonated with me as I spent most of Black Friday hiking along the Rocky River.

Every year a cluttered holiday season bombards consumers with endless advertising, yet REI drastically stands out from other brands with a fresh and creative approach. The campaign reinforces the REI core brand identity, “We are passionate about the outdoors and committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.” REI’s social media campaign is a part of its brand storytelling, but it also highlights the importance of demonstrated action. The #OptOutside campaign created an outdoor community that reinforced REI’s core purpose and brand identity. This type of brand authenticity sent a strong and powerful message, which greatly resonated with consumers.

Joe Martin - KFC, Wayfair & Adobe Experience Cloud March Madness

2018 was a year full of great social activations. KFC follows only 11 people, all the spice girls and people name Herb. 11 Herbs and Spices.

Wayfair immediately started incorporating buy options into its Instagram feed after it became available. That creates new opportunities for social to prove direct revenue.

I am a HUGE March Madness fan. I loved how the Adobe Experience Cloud team provided a way to help pick your brackets by using Adobe Analytics to scour through mountains of data for each team. If you used the Hack the Bracket tool to pick all of your picks you would have ended up in the 99th percentile on ESPN. Since I figured I was smarter than the computer, I made my own picks and ended up in the 67th percentile. I won't make that mistake again next year.

I expect 2019 will be full of social campaigns that can tie directly to revenue. With a lot of companies capping out on paid search, social is becoming more of a viable demand gen channel. That will lead to creative ways to use it to produce leads and revenue.


Well that was an impressive list of campaigns, right? Many of which I watched launch and was in awe, but some I was just learning about today and absolutely love!

The common theme threading through all of these campaigns is the consumer-first mindset/strategy. Social media and other marketing professionals need to think of the customer first when planning and executing campaigns. This is definitely what made all the campaigns above successful.

These were only the thoughts of 6 marketing experts, please check out Part 2 of the Best Social Media Campaigns of 2018 to see even more amazing campaigns!


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