What to learn from the Mashable 5 social media marketing successes

Let’s say you have a new product. It’s brilliance. Sheer brilliance. You begin to build and allow your imagination to take you to that World-Wide Cruise you’ve always dreamed of taking. What you have here will surely be the next big thing..people will talk about it more than they talk about the Ipad.

Before you start planning your vacation, start thinking about your marketing plan; specifically, your social media marketing plan. I know. Your idea rocks, you won’t need a plan. Its going viral, baby. And while it probably should, the cold hard truth is that even brilliant ideas sometimes need a bump that creates the energy that gets people talking.

Mashable just released a new list of the 5 successful social media campaigns. Here’s what they all have in common: a “thing”. But there is something else they all have in common, most of the campaigns supported their use of social media with other types of marketing. Which highlights the fact that best laid marketing plans are integrated. In some cases it was advertising, in some cases it was promotional partnerships.

While your budget may not enable you to make the next Mashable list, you can still learn some lessons from the leaders. One way to create a bump is to identify your “thing”. What makes you special? Why should people care?  Your “thing” is not a “Feature” its not a “Benefit” your “thing” creates an emotional reaction out of people that causes people to take action (share, buy, talk)?.  The “thing” is not your product.  The thing is about your “thing” is that it might not be about your product at all. Your “thing” might make your customers a star or let their true nature stand out. Your “thing” might infuriate, inspire, scare or amaze them. Your “thing” might make people laugh or cry. Whatever your “thing” is its designed to get people talking, which means its unique…which means you might have to take a risk.

In each of these 5 campaigns they all have something in common:

  1. The “thing” touches on a human emotion and increases the likelihood for action (talking, sharing, etc.)
  2. Content is King: each of these campaigns had ongoing content over a period of time, designed to keep the conversation going. Content varies from Tweets to videos to other media like songs.
  3. Very often, the campaign is supported with advertising or events.
  4. Empowerment: each of the campaigns maintained a conversational tone, which meant each and every tweet did not go through legal, communications and HR approval.


  • Edge – So Irritating Campaign: What do random acts of kindness have to do with shaving gel? In the case of Edge shaving gel the “thing” is to be less irritating by providing random acts of kindness to people who use the hashtag #soirritating. This campaign’s social element is exclusively done through Twitter, but they also partnered with somecards, known for their snarky and sardonic e-cards to promote the idea. Getting people to engage and discuss shaving cream is a tough task, but Edge felt is was a success, they increased their followers and engagement.
  • ToyStory3 – By fleshing out the persona’s of the various characters in ToyStory 3, Disney broadened its reach to many different types of people (adults). Their “thing” touched on childhood experiences of all people and created a universal appeal. One of the standout elements of this campaign is the collaborative nature of the campaign. Disney paired up with different partners to extend the reach and give the campaign extra legs. Like Disney, you might have a “thing” that someone else can benefit from, maybe its your own icon’s persona. Look for creative ways to engage other businesses by asking them “how could you benefit” and giving your partner an opportunity to have some skin in the game, increases your potential visibility.
  • The Old Spice Guy: Over 50 million YouTube views say this “thing” was successful. And if you have any doubt, ask yourself “before the Old Spice Guy – when did I last talk about Old Spice?” But the thing that really got people talking ABOUT the Old Spice guy wasn’t just the videos and commercials, it was the fact that the thing Old Spice Guy answered people’s questions and had fun with the audience in the social sphere. Old Spice committed fully to the project and today, a year later, they still appear to be reaping the rewards. Even the parody’s of the “Old Spice Guy”, which admittedly had different objectives,  considered their response campaigns a success. The Old Spice campaign shows what you can do when you actually interact with your fans, followers and viewers and fully commit to a project.
  • Internships.com: WOW. Talk about risk taking. Partnering with Charlie Sheen right on the heels of his very public melt down might take more courage than most businesses have. But, in terms of sheen sheer numbers, it worked. The “thing” here is the firestorm surrounding Charlie Sheen on social media. What’s interesting is that this is the one exclusively social media campaign. No other outside marketing support was created. Kudos for acting fast, not as many kudos for ignoring the obvious question: now what?
  • Reunited Again: Barbie and Ken: Again, some interesting risk taking here: Barbie and Ken’s actual users are children unlikely to have social media accounts, but those who buy Barbie and Ken dolls just might. Mattel didn’t ask its audience to contribute, it just created the personas behind Barbie and Ken in a social media way. The “thing” here, much like ToyStory3 is nostalgia. Integrating with Match.com was brilliant – and probably a nice coup for Match.com But perhaps the most brilliant element of this campaign is that its ongoing, leaving Mattel open for future partnerships, including (love this) Foursquare integration.
  • Ford & Doug: a “match” made in heaven: Perhaps the biggest reason this is even mentioned is because of its risk-taking nature. Ford made a sock named “Doug” its “thing”. Doug’s tweets don’t appear to have to go through the Ford marketing/PR approval process. Doug seems to say what he wants when he wants.  Doug has roughly 1500 followers, but Ford calls it a success. I think this is a great example of taking the long road of social media success and not making fans and followers the #1 metric.

Ok. Let’s say you’ve taken a deep breath, a little risk and identified your “thing”.

Giving birth to your “thing” isn’t enough, you’ve got to give it air. Much like a fire can’t spread without some oxygen, your “thing” won’t spread unless you give it the social oxygen it needs.

Once you’ve identified the “thing” that’s going to get people to take action, begin to consider how you can use this thing in advertising, PR and events. Imagine how your thing interactive?  Once you’ve answered these questions – begin implementing…and be prepared. To wait. Very few over night successes are truly overnight. Stay committed and be prepared to make slight changes to your plan based on its results.  Creating a social media “thing” is a lot like raising a child – you’ve got to give it a chance to live and grow and allow it to have a life of its own. Be patient and loving with your “thing”, nurture it. Give it time to return the love back to you!



Do you see any other similarities in these 5 social media marketing campaigns? Do you think any of them can apply to your business?