Marketing Case Study: 3 Brands Rocking Social Media

social media bannerWe all need a little inspiration from time to time, which is why we thought we’d focus on three brands that rock social media…and what small businesses can learn from them. Here we go.

1. Red Bull. The key to Red Bull’s social media success is the staggering amount of quality content it shares. As Mashable so eloquently states, “Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage.”

And we’re not talking about publishing “typical” content, either. Red Bull has become an “immersive” brand, meaning it seamlessly immerses itself with other stories in order to tell its own story. One of the best examples of this was when Red Bull sponsored a space-diving project known as Red Bull Stratos. Back in October 2012, millions of people around the world were glued to their computers, tablets, and phones to see if skydiver Felix Baumgartner would survive his free fall from space. Talk about a “story” for a brand to immerse itself in, right?

The sponsorship resulted in a website that’s still live and active today, YouTube videos that have received millions of views, and people who can still name the sponsor of an event that happened nearly two years ago (seriously, think about that—can you name the sponsors of big-time events off the top of your head?).

Red Bull continues to capitalize on its marriage with extreme sports. Its channels are filled with interesting content featuring extreme water sports, motorsports, biking, winter sports, and more. It’s a perfect tie-in to the product itself, which is a sports drink that is supposed to turbo boost your energy levels when you need it most.

Why is Red Bull’s strategy so effective? Mashable sums it up best: “The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with—and return to engage with—the brand.”

Takeaway for small businesses: Don’t overlook the power of storytelling in every aspect of your business. Think of stories that can illustrate your key messages.

For example, if one of your messages is “personalized customer service that goes above and beyond,” consider focusing on this “service” message. Maybe you show—through video, images, blog posts, etc.—that the reason your company gives such great customer service is because your company is filled with people who practice compassionate service every day in their lives outside of the office.

You could create videos of your employees involved in a community project. Your company could sponsor service-based initiatives, like Habitat for Humanity or “into the streets” projects that many schools do. Tying your brand into service-related projects would subtly show why your company gives such awesome customer service: because your people and your company truly care about helping people to begin with.

And yes—then you’d deploy all this awesome content throughout social media for people to consume, comment on, and share.

2. Taco Bell. This company shows us that social media is supposed to be fun. And social. And did we mention FUN? Everything that Taco Bell posts supports its mission, which is summed up well on its Facebook page, “Sometimes, you gotta be the last one to turn in. Sometimes, you gotta switch things up. Sometimes, you gotta add some fire to your night. Sometimes, you gotta Live Más.” (In Spanish, “más” means more.)

Taco Bell posts plenty of product-related topics and pictures, but it does so with a cheeky irreverence that goes along with the “Live Más” spirit. For example, this past spring, it featured how its younger demographic used Taco Bell in high school prom proposals. Nothing captures a “live more” spirit quite like teenagers who are about to embark on one of the most important rites of passage in life, right? And being able to tie your brand into something so cool like that? Genius!

Takeaway for small businesses: The biggest mistake we see businesses making on social media is that they sound too “corporate.” Yes, Taco Bell is a consumer brand, but even b2b companies need to keep in mind that they’re selling to the people in other businesses. You need to sound human. And social media, by its very nature, provides a much more casual atmosphere than the corporate boardroom.

If you scroll through Taco Bell’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, the brand is rarely far from view. But the way it presents itself is key. It’s fun, flirty, light, and always promoting its key message “live more.” You can do the same thing: identify a key message that you want to focus on in social media. Then think about all the ways you can support that message through comments, updates, images, and videos.

3. Eat24. Understanding which social media platforms you should spend your time and money on is essential to social media success. One brand that has lived and breathed this mantra is Eat24.

After Facebook tweaked its algorithms earlier this year and brands watched their organic reach shrivel to almost nothing, Eat24 decided to take its social media business elsewhere. The company wrote a breakup letter to Facebook filled with Eat24’s trademark humor, and the company announced that it was deactivating its account, but that it would still be visible on all sorts of other platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, and so forth. A month after the deactivation, Eat24 posted an update and explained it had no regrets and that, if anything, its social engagement had gone up since the Facebook breakup.

Yeah, the free press surrounding the breakup certainly didn’t hurt, but we think engagement went up simply because Eat24 knows how to rock its other social media channels (and now has more time to devote to them). Just check out the mouth-watering photos on its Pinterest page and its sassy Twitter feed to understand how this brand uses its unique voice and POV to accomplish great things.

Takeaway for small businesses: You don’t need to “be everywhere.” And you don’t even need to be on one of the big guys, like Facebook or Twitter, in order to experience the benefits. No, we’re NOT suggesting that you ditch your Facebook page. What we’re saying is that you need to measure your social media ROI. That’s what Eat24 did and the company realized all the time and money spent on Facebook hadn’t delivered the results they wanted (and they tried everything). So they cut their losses and focused elsewhere.

What are some of your favorite brands rocking social media and what are the key takeaways? How is YOUR business rocking social media? Share, share in the comments!

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