With content marketing and social publishing more important than ever, we take a look at which brands deserved recognition for their innovations this year.
2016 has been an interesting year, for the world, and for social media publishing. This year, more brands integrated content marketing into their strategy, and social distribution became a big way to reach new audiences.
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s report for 2016, content marketing was increasingly vital to brands. A majority 76 percent of brands relied on content marketing this year, and 50 percent of brands increased their budget for content.
How did that focus pay off?
In CMI’s recent 2017 survey, 62 percent of B2B marketers and 63 percent of B2C marketers said their approach to content marketing was more successful than a year ago. Both groups attributed better content creation to their success.
So what did that look success like for brands? There were many viral opportunities, around Brexit and the US Presidential Election, PokemonGo, the Rio Olympics, and the Mannequin Challenge.
Let’s take a look at who we felt deserved a 2016 Whippie for their innovation and engagement in social publishing.
Best Brands on Social
We took a look at NASA’s social media empire back in September. With over 500 distinct accounts, including a newly launched Giphy channel, NASA treats social media like the next frontier.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/NASA/videos/10154624732691772/” bottom=”30″]
The brand’s genuine curiosity comes across in all of their content — as NASA seeks to inspire, educate, and entertain the next generation to look beyond Planet Earth. When we surveyed NASA’s top 15 Facebook pages, 75 percent of the top 100 posts were photos and 25 percent were videos.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s superman! No, it’s a #Supermoon! Nov. 14 the moon will be closest to Earth since 1948 https://t.co/Kdlj0aaLT6 pic.twitter.com/MJSQUAOgc0
— NASA (@NASA) November 13, 2016
NASA’s willingness to innovate on social makes the brand our top contender. Active on Snapchat, Facebook Live, Tumblr, and pretty much everywhere else, NASA immerses its followers on every platform, to take them out of this world.
Red Bull has continually topped our brand publisher rankings. The brand has transformed a beverage brand into a turbocharged media powerhouse. Through thrilling visuals, extreme stunts, and daring stories, Red Bull has incorporated adventure into their brand.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/redbull/videos/10157224453875352/” bottom=”30″]
This video was one of Red Bull’s top shared posts on Facebook for the year, with 721,000 likes and reactions, 503,000 shares, and 53,000 comments.
Rather than simply advertising the Red Bull product, Red Bull’s content entertain and wows their followers. The brand has established a definitive brand voice that sets a tone, through usage of on-point slang, hashtags, and gifs.
Taco Bell is another instance of a brand that has gone beyond its product. While Taco Bell is yes, all about the tacos, the brand’s content is quirky, different, and entertaining.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/tacobell/videos/10154652899089697/” bottom=”30″]
There’s even a Taco Bell blog, with posts like “How to Eat Vegan at Taco Bell” and “8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Taco Bell Packaging“.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/tacobell/posts/10154304735489697?match=c2VuaW9y” bottom=”30″]
All-inclusive, Taco Bell doesn’t ignore platforms like Reddit or Tumblr. Taco Bell’s new “Taco Tales” on Youtube come from ideas from fans on Twitter and Reddit, and are then turned into short videos.
Best Sports Brand
Before the Cubs took home the World Series and broke their 108-year losing streak, we wrote about their infectious enthusiasm on social media.
Despite having the least amount of Facebook posts for MLB teams from January through March 2016, they were the most shared team — with an average of 2,214 shares per post to a league average of 478 shares per post.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/30530605658/posts/10154448294710659″ bottom=”30″]
This trend only continued as the Cubs made their way to their legendary World Series win. Their use of video content, inside peeks into the team, genuine appreciation for their players, and a jovial, good-natured personality that came through in all their posts, makes them our top sports team of 2016.
The last few times we looked at basketball, we focused on the underdog story of the Golden State Warriors, which propelled them to the top of our rankings over and over.
The team’s success extends to the entire league: NBA had the top shared sports league Facebook page this year so far, with 18.5 million shares. Looking into the metrics, NBA also saw the most Wow reactions.
NBA’s video content lets basketball fans relive the most thrilling moments of their sport over and over. The above video saw 1.5 million shares, 847,000 likes/reactions, and 102,000 comments from passionate fans. NBA’s other top 2016 content celebrated fan-favorite athletes like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. These basketball superheroes create a narrative for fans to follow.
Your content should add to your followers’ lives. Social media has become as significant a screen to sports fans as the television. Fans turn to social media to enhance their experiences before, during, and after games.
Our top pick last year, Manchester United kept up the engagement in 2016. On social, Manchester United comes across as loud, bold, and personable. Like the Chicago Cubs above, a strong brand voice is a way to make sure content on social genuinely resonates with fans.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/manchesterunited/videos/10153832088567746/” bottom=”30″]
This video from Manchester United drove over 17 million views, 345,000 reactions and likes, 97,000 shares, and 11,000 comments. The visual nature of sports already translates well to social media. Rather than reading an update of scores or play-by-play of a match, users can relive the top glory moments of their favorite team.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/manchesterunited/videos/10153490807097746/” bottom=”30″]
Manchester United’s humor comes through this video they partnered up with Marvel to produce in February. By incorporating this cheeky superhero into their lineup, they show that they’re attuned to things that their fans enjoy and that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Honorable Mention: WWE
Whether you consider it a sport or a form of scripted entertainment, the raucous WWE is dynamite on social. Through their use of storytelling, going as far as promoting certain athletes as ‘good’ or ‘bad guys’, they’ve created a decades-long narrative that has fans hooked.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/wwe/photos/a.63953746442.86152.7175346442/10153671754336443/” bottom=”30″]
This post saw nearly 800,000 reactions, 17,000 shares, and 15,000 comments. Though not all positive, it certainly indicates the level of passion WWE sparks in its fans. We also wrote about WWE’s social media success earlier this year.
Active Community and User Engagement
When we looked at auto brands on Facebook this year, Nissan was winning by a long shot. The bulk of their content comes from high-quality photos from Nissan enthusiasts.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/238312155374/posts/10157686573385375″ bottom=”30″]
When we spoke to TBWA and Nissan United, they told us how this passionate community and feedback loop of user-generated developed organically. From there, they’ve cultivated a strong user base, made up of influencers, celebrities, and just dedicated Nissan fans.
TBWA Chief Engagement Officer Evan Weissbrot told us, “It’s a pretty incredible thing, when you let the voice of the community do the talking for your brand.”
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/238312155374/posts/10157591593095375″ bottom=”30″]
In addition to focusing on UGC, Nissan’s social channels have actively involved community managers who have the autonomy to respond in real-time to fans. Being able to reach a fan and create a genuine moment with them is paramount to Nissan’s strategy.
Is it any surprise that Starbucks made it into the Whippies? The brand is omnipresent on social media, sparking press for Pumpkin Spice Lattes each fall, and its festive red cups each holiday season.
View this post on Instagram
Red cups are back. Show us your creativity by tagging your photo #RedCupContest for each week's theme. Week 1: Cozy up to Red Cups. (Three weeks, three themes.) Open to Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) and Canada, 18 years or older. Enter Contest by: 12/10/16 at 11:59 p.m. PT. For Official Rules, including prize descriptions, see our link in bio. Nine $500 grand prizes up for grabs. Void where prohibited.
Starbucks’ fanatic following is encouraged across their social channels. Above, the brand asks users to take part in their #RedCupContest. Starbucks shares fans’ content that mention the brand and speak to the brand’s voice.
Starbucks caramel brûlée latte makes me feel like I’m laying in a soft bed with scented candles burning while surrounded by puppies #heaven
— Katheryn (@kakidakoala) November 14, 2016
Starbucks retweeted this poetic tribute to its caramel brûlée latte.
Starbucks builds real-time hype by teasing events and new products on its channels, and community managers respond to fans in comments. An extremely “on” brand, Starbucks recognizes holidays on social media, uses gifs and emoji in relevant ways, and shows genuine appreciation for fans.
Brands that lend themselves to specific interests, be it sports, automobiles, gaming, fashion, or anything else, have a base of zealous hobbyists to activate from the start. Urban Decay motivates and joins in on their followers’ passion on their social channels.
On Instagram, the brand has 7.1 million followers. Instagram’s aesthetic nature makes it a great community platform for visual brands. On Urban Decay’s profile, the brand encourages users to tag the brand in their posts and possibly be ‘re-grammed’.
The brand posts giveaways, sneak peeks of new coveted products, and inspiration photos of beauty influencers. On Facebook, there are localized Facebook pages for their various international communities.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/1378560005776639/posts/1420408464925126″ bottom=”30″]
Even when the brand’s Facebook page was recently hacked, they addressed their users in a post and responded good-naturedly.
Honorable Mention: Ancestry
Another ‘hobby’ brand, Ancestry is known for recording family trees and disseminating DNA. On Facebook, this has become an active community around genealogy, and more powerfully, memory.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/7483836629/posts/10154046215471630″ bottom=”30″]
Ancestry engages their community through posts that ask users to share anecdotes and their personal family history. This is an effective way to activate on that popular social media tactic, nostalgia.
Top Newcomer Brand
When we looked for the most engaging brands over the year in NewsWhip Analytics, one brand stood out in our top 15 most-shared brands on Facebook. Chubbies, a men’s clothing brand founded in 2011, has found fame for an authentic, confident and unapologetic approach to social media.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/212377122105873/posts/1295286003814974″ bottom=”30″]
Social media has torn down walls between brand and consumer. Social media users want to feel part of the conversation, not like they’re being preached to.
Chubbies shares content of ‘real people’ wearing the products, not just models. In fact, the Daily Dot attributes Chubbies as having unofficially started the ‘dad-bod’ craze. Across Chubbies’ channels, the brand shares not only its product, but content that oozes confidence and self-acceptance, short-shorts and all.
A Mighty Girl
Play around in the brand category in Spike, and you’re likely to see A Mighty Girl pop up. A series of empowering books, movies, and toys for young girls, the brand has sparked an active community across social media and through its newsletter.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/316489315054055/posts/1102424123127233″ bottom=”30″]
A Mighty Girl’s top content on Facebook comes from enthusiastic retellings of legendary women’s lives. These stories are digestible, illustrated with photos, and link to further information. Other content tackles gender roles and other diverse issues.
Rather than just sell a product, A Mighty Girl is posting stories that parents and teachers can share with children. The content drives tens of thousands of shares, reactions, and comments from people sharing their own diatribes and ideas.
Another top brand in NewsWhip Analytics, Boost Juice was one of the most-commented brands this year on Facebook. Diving into the brand’s content, it’s easy to see how this healthy juice brand is creating impactful social media connections.
Australia-based (though, Boost Juice has set a brand voice through goofy fruit graphics, snarky and witty banter, and culturally relevant posts. In numerous giveaway posts on Facebook, the brand has launched a community through asking followers to share personal anecdotes or creative ideas. Sassy community managers are quick to reply to users’ submissions, which makes fans feel heard, and not ‘advertised at’.
Community, curation, connection, and creation are some of the key pillars of a successful social media ecosystem. Boost Juice accomplishes this, showing that it’s not just the global brands that can spark such passion.
That’s a Wrap for 2016!
These brands whipped it good, real good, this year. As content and native advertising becomes more important, a data-driven strategy will be key to success. More consumers are using ad blockers and rejecting traditional ads. Content needs to be genuine and interesting to spark attention and connections that will last.
Keep an eye out for our Whippies Awards for top publishers on social, and our awards for best uses of specific formats and platforms.