As we ring in 2020 we enter not just a new year, but also a new decade. The past several years have seen huge shifts in the social media landscape and this year is sure to continue that trend.

Social Media has truly grown into its maturity as a marketing channel. Social now dominates the way people communicate, shop and interact with brands. Social is the primary thing people do online, and according to PwC’s study of 22,000 consumers, social media is the most influential channel for inspiring purchases.

While other channels continue to influence consumers, social media is a key ingredient to the overall success of a marketing strategy. In 2020, succeeding with social will mean thinking “social first.”

To get you inspired to create holistic social media campaigns, we’re sharing the top campaigns from 2019 that are already doing just that.

#1 Dietz & Watson Launches the First-Ever Meat Nut

The deli brand Dietz & Watson launched Dietz Nuts – “the first-ever meat nut” surrounding the 2019 Super Bowl. The marketing campaign to support this launch featured The Office actor, Craig Robinson, sharing zingers about the new product.

Rather than invest in the high price tag of a Super Bowl TV ad, Dietz & Watson ran this shareable video on digital and social channels. The result was a campaign that played into the Super Bowl hype, but still engaged consumers where they spend most of their time: on social media.

But the campaign didn’t end on social. Dietz & Watson created pop-up stores, in-store elements, and merchandise to support the virality of the video.

#2 Sodastream Parodies ASMR Videos with Jonathan Van Ness

Capitalizing on the internet trend of people watching ASMR videos to relax, Sodastream partnered with Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” to create an ASMR inspired video to help their audience destress during the holidays. Bringing Van Ness to the video not only makes the campaign humorous, but it also increased the potential for the campaign to be seen. Van Ness’ fan base includes 4.8 million Instagram followers, over 800,000 Twitter followers as well as viewers of the Netflix show Queer Eye.

This campaign is just one example of how parent company Pepsi (Marketing Dive Marketer of the Year) is focusing on a multichannel approach to their marketing as soda consumption steadily declines. Generation Z and Millennials are shaping the food and beverage industry – and Pepsi is getting its message out to these generations through a combination of TV, digital, social media, out-of-home, augmented reality (AR), charitable giving and more.

#3 The MTV VMAs Win Big on Social

Cardi B MTV Music Awards

Source: MTV

Watching TV has been on the decline for years, but MTV’s Video Music Awards are still thriving. MTV has grown the VMAs into more than an awards show – largely through social media. Before the VMAs started this year, social engagement with content related to the show was up 129% over 2018.

MTV leveraged new Stories features and IGTV to increase video views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. Further, they engaged this wide audience by allowing fans to cast award votes via direct message on Twitter and Facebook Messenger.

Organic social conversations were also up 331% over 2018, by tapping into the active social fan bases of performers and nominees. These impressive results show how social media can be used to bolster offline events.

#4 Spotify Wraps Up 2019

Spotify's Wrapped Campaign

Source: Spotify

The Wrapped Campaign from Spotify is a way for users to look back at their listening trends from the past year and the decade as a whole. While 2019 was not the first year Spotify ran ‘Wrapped’ it was notably more social-friendly this year.

For the first time, the data was available within the mobile app rather than a standalone website. The content auto-played for users as they opened the app. Spotify also presented the data in highly shareable Instagram and Stories graphics. Users took to Instagram to share their 2019 favorites, adding commentary and sparking discussion around Spotify.

The social activation is just one piece of this multichannel campaign, which includes out-of-home, billboard, and digital placements.

#5 White Claw Capitalizes on User Generated Content

The hard seltzer brand White Claw was launched in 2016, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the beverage really entered into the mainstream. This is largely thanks to viral user-generated memes and parodies like the video above from comedian Trevor Wallace.

While White Claw invested heavily in TV ads, they ultimately cut their budget thanks to the organic boost from consumers’ content. In fact, the memes were so successful that competitors like Anheuser-Busch have designed similar campaigns in an effort to replicate White Claws’ success.

White Claw was smart to rethink its advertising strategy given that its target audience is less interested in ads and more interested in brands that entertain them. By July, White Claw sales had more than tripled, to $327.7 million, leading the brand to declare a nationwide shortage.

#6 Popeye’s Takes a Jab at Chick-Fil-A

In November 2019, Popeye’s announced the return of the fried chicken sandwich after a quick sell-out over the summer. The brand announced the return with a video highlighting their Sunday hours. This video took a jab at competing fast-food chicken brand, Chick-Fil-A, which is closed on Sundays.

Spurred primarily by the online conversation of niche groups like #BlackTwitter, the sandwich sold through 2 months of inventory in just two weeks when it was originally launched. Popeye’s leaned into the buzz around this sell-out, encouraging customers to “bring their own bun” to make a sandwich of their own.

According to JP Maheu, VP of U.S. client services at Twitter, the brand received nearly $65 million in earned media during the launch period.

#7 Miller Time Goes Dark on Social

In response to the growing trend by social media users to go dark, Miller Lite launched a campaign that encouraged their followers to do just that. The campaign, which closes with the line “a few friends is better than a few thousand followers” encourages customers to put down their phones and have a beer with friends IRL.

In addition to the video above, Miller Lite also gave away free beer to up to 118,000 people (the number of followers Miller Lite had before this campaign) if they unfollow the brand on Instagram or Twitter.

While the move is risky, it was a targeted strategy to get the “Miller Time” slogan to resonate with a new generation of consumers.

#8 Reese’s Goes A LIVE with Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris + Reese's

Source: Reese’s

In October of 2019, Reese’s launched a social media campaign starring actor Neil Patrick Harris called “It’s A Live.” In the campaign, Harris encouraged his followers to vote on tricks and treats that would appear in a haunted house that the actor was building. This promotion led up to a live stream event that happened on October 24th – where viewers could watch as 32 select fans would be led through the haunted house.

This interactive campaign was successful at combining the experiential with the social. It gave social media users multiple ways to participate in the campaign – from designing the haunted house to the choose-your-own-adventure element of the live stream.

According to the National Retail Federation, the percentage of U.S. consumers who are finding inspiration for Halloween on Instagram has doubled since 2015. As more and more people look to social media for inspiration, Reese’s social-first campaign meets consumers where they are.

2020 will be a year of continued growth for social media, and a year of continued pressure for brands to stand out among the noise. The brands that will rise to the top will utilize social media as the powerful communication tool it is and build holistic, viral marketing campaigns around it.

Now that you’ve seen the best social media campaigns from 2019, you can get to work creating your own viral campaigns for 2020.

To learn more about the latest social media platforms, join us at one of our upcoming social media strategy conferences.