Most small-business owners have embraced social media as a way to reach new customers, solidify their relationship with existing customers and highlight their companies’ products, services, culture and values. But with innumerable brands having established a presence online, creating content that gets noticed and gains traction is a constant challenge.
Here is a brief analysis of some recent social media ad campaigns that went viral, along with marketing tips that might be applicable to your car wash.
1) Be responsive and funny
Peloton generated buzz for the wrong reason during the holiday shopping season with its “The Gift That Gives Back” television ad, in which an actress is given one of the company’s high-tech stationary bikes and describes how it has changed her life. The problem? Many viewers saw anxiety and fear in the actress’s face, leading some to compare the ad with a hostage video.
Enter actor Ryan Reynolds and the liquor brand he owns, Aviation Gin, which created a new ad, “The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back,” using the same actress, Monica Ruiz, who toasts to “new beginnings” and downs a martini. Throughout the ad, Ruiz is flanked by two supportive friends who try to alleviate her fear and anxiety, at one point reminding her, “You’re safe here.”
The commercial caught fire, garnering more than 10 million views on Instagram and 6 million on YouTube. Danielle Wiley, Founder and Chief Executive of the Sway Group ad agency, said the commercial was “truly outstanding work,” telling Forbes that Aviation Gin “flipped the script on Peloton’s ad backlash.”
If people are talking about it, get in on it – while it’s still hot – and try to have a humorous take. Also, consider social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube if contemplating a video message; it is relatively inexpensive compared to TV, and the clock doesn’t stop at 30 seconds.
2) Align yourself with a worthy cause
The old saying, “Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are,” appeared to resonate with Staples and was reflected in its 2019 advertising campaign.
Staples expanded its reach – and gave back to the community – when it launched a back-to-school campaign in which consumers shopping in-store were encouraged to write a note to their favorite teacher on a Post-it note, stick it to a large community board, then post on social media using the hashtag #ThankATeacher.
The heartfelt notes of gratitude were shared far and wide, allowing Staples to connect its brand with valued members of local communities. When consumers posted online using that hashtag, their favorite teachers were entered into a drawing for one of 10 prizes, each worth $10,000 in school supplies for their school.
Thousands of customers submitted contest entries, and a video posted to Facebook in which one note of thanks is read to a teary-eyed teacher garnered more than a million views.
3) Get content from customers who identify with your brand
Sometimes customers can tell a brand’s story and illustrate its values better than that brand’s marketing department, especially when the brand has a long-established identity that customers recognize and embrace.
Volvo, which long has marketed its cars as the safest choice for families, encouraged drivers to take a selfie with their seatbelt on in a parked car and tag it #SelfieForSafety and @volvocars. It was a simple campaign that aligned perfectly with the brand’s identity. The push for user-generated content also addressed a key challenge for brands of all types: coming up with creative content with which to engage customers.
More than 2,000 people from around the world posted selfies with those hashtags even though they were offered no incentives to do so.
Photo posted by Twitter user Håkan Samuelsson
Customers who believe in your brand often are your best ambassadors, so tap into that goodwill as a resource.
4) Show a little sass
In 2014, Time magazine named Charmin the sassiest brand on Twitter, and since then, the toilet paper company has embraced that label and run with it. One of its memorable posts features our solar system’s planets lined up, with a roll of toilet paper taking the place of Uranus. The image includes the text, “Boldly go where no one has gone before,” and when the company posted the image to Twitter, it added the following message: “Scientists have confirmed that Uranus smells like ‘you know what.’ Seriously.”
The humor may be lowbrow, but it seems to work for a company that knows its audience. The consistent attempts to crack a joke have helped Charmin gain more than a million followers on Facebook, which is quite impressive considering that many consumers feel embarrassed when carrying a big package of toilet paper from their car into their homes.
We all have a second-grader inside of us who still enjoys juvenile jokes. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun.
5) Set a public goal
Last spring, the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant chain made a promise to customers who were disappointed when it removed spicy chicken nuggets from its menu in 2017.
“Y’all keep asking, so here’s your chance,” the company tweeted last May. “The people in charge say that if you guys can get our tweet (this one right here) to 2 million likes, they will bring spicy chicken nuggets back. Let’s freakin’ do this!”
Within two days, the tweet had reached that milestone, and last August, spicy chicken nuggets made a triumphant return to the company’s menu.
If you have a loyal customer base, give them a voice in how you run your business, and they just might rally around you.