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The Best and Worst of Twitter 2012

Ross Wilson.

2012 has been an exciting year for Twitter and social media marketing in general. More and more companies have been creating budgets for social media and there have been some really creative uses of social media platforms for marketing.

Let's take a look at the top Twitter marketing campaigns from this year along with those that failed to get the right response from Twitterverse.


The Four Best Twitter Campaigns of 2012

1. Tweetphony

This campaign was such a cool and innovative combination of technology and art. When the Dutch jazz and pop orchestra Metropole was facing budget cuts, they had to get the word out and quickly build a buzz about themselves again. So they started this brilliant Twitter campaign, where people could go to the website, compose music with a digital piano, and then have the music converted to tweet form and sent to the Orchestra's Twitter account. The orchestra then picked the best of these musical tweets and performed them.

This campaign was so successful because it was simple and fun for users to contribute. Also, the user contributions had clear and defined guidelines. Not every piece would get performed, but the ability to contribute with this creative use of the Twitter platform was clever and entertaining. It definitely helped build some buzz about the Metropole Orchestra.

2. Snickers: You’re Not You When You’re Hungry

Creative UK marketing agency AMV BBDO built a great Twitter campaign out of Snicker's advertising slogan "You're Not You When You're Hungry." The campaign successfully utilized the power of Twitter and celebrities. They had big UK celebrities post five very out-of-character tweets and end with a tagline and a picture of the star posing with a Snickers bar. Supermodel Katie Price tweeted about global economics and soccer player Rio Ferdinand started tweeting about his new hobby of knitting. After ending with the tagline and a celebrity picture with a Snickers, the celebrities' Twitter accounts returned to normal.

The tweets continued with additional celebrities, which helped bring the campaign to many different audiences. The campaign was slightly controversial and inspired complaints about the use of celebrity Twitter feeds for advertising purposes, but the Advertising Standards Authority cleared Snickers. The tweets built such a buzz with shares and re-tweets that, according to AMV BBDO, the campaign reached a total of 26 million people.

3. Mercedes Benz #YOUDRIVE

In October, Mercedez Benz UK launched this creative and interactive Twitter Campaign with the hashtag #YOUDRIVE. Through a series of ads that ended up playing out like a choose-your-own adventure book, viewers could tweet the hashtag to direct the course of action in an ongoing story during the advertisements over the course of an episode of X-Factor.

This campaign was simple and easy to interact with, and it did a great job of immersing viewers into the series of ads. Another strength of this campaign is the way that it combined the older form of television advertising with new social media marketing ideas. This helped make the campaign an inviting, accessible entrance point for viewers who might not be familiar with social media and this form of marketing.

4. BOS Ice Tea: Twitter Powered Vending Machine

This is another great example that engages mobile users while they are out and about. Creative advertising agency CowAfrica created a vending machine in Capetown that was powered by tweets. People could tweet the hashtag #BOSTWEET4T to the vending machine's @bos twitter account, and the machine would serve them a free ice tea.

This campaign was fun, simple, and interactive. Even though this campaign did not have the same reach or number of viewers compared to the other campaigns on this list, it was successful. Aimed locally, the campaign succeeded in building brand recognition with free samples and guaranteed free publicity for every sample that was given out.


The Three Worst Twitter Flops of 2012

1. McDonald's #McDStories

McDonald's quickly learned its lesson in January this year when it tried to launch the #McDStories hashtag campaign. The premise of the campaign was that Twitter users would post and share nostalgic happy meal memories at the fast food chain under the #McDStories hashtag. As it turned out,  the hashtag quickly became a platform for retelling horror stories from previous employees and gross experiences from former customers.

The one thing this campaign succeeded in doing was to get people talking. However, before asking users to contribute to a social media campaign, it's worth considering first just what the public might have to say.

2. Waitrose's #WaitroseReasons Campaign

UK's upscale supermarket chain Waitrose ran into a similar problem when they tried to launch their #WaitroseReasons hashtag campaign. Waitrose invited customers to tweet why they shop at Waitrose but the campaign quickly turned into a platform for poking fun at the grocery's posh image. Twitter users finished the sentence "I shop at Waitrose because..." with responses like "I hate poor people," "the butler's on holiday," and many more hilariously offensive tweets.

It was clearly not the response Waitrose was hoping for, but they managed to recover well and had a sense of humor about the campaign's backfire.

3. Toyota's #CamryEffect Campaign

Toyota planned to run a Twitter campaign during the Superbowl this year in the hope of engaging users by tweeting directly to their accounts about a chance to win a 2012 Camry. The campaign quickly backfired as users complained about spammy advertising on their feeds. This campaign failed because of its content. Rather than engaging users and giving them a reason to retweet and share, the self-serving promotional messages annoyed the community. A good social media campaign engages and uses the community to propel its message, rather than employing a one-way communication strategy of direct advertising.

What Can We Learn from 2012 Twitter Campaigns?

The strongest Twitter campaigns from this year are those that succeeded in engaging the audience with interesting content or interaction. Novelty and creativity stand out above the crowd. People are much more inclined to share and talk about fun, original ideas. User engagement is a critical part of a social media campaign, but the guidelines to this interaction should be well planned. Giving the community too much of a voice in a campaign can easily backfire, as was the case with the #McDStories campaign.

The social media age of marketing vastly redefines the old way of thinking, and it shines when marketing a brand becomes a two-way interaction between a company and its target audience. In 2013, I expect we will see agencies get a lot more creative with their campaigns, and we will see a lot more ideas like BOS's vending machine, targeting mobile users and calling for user interaction while people are out and about.

How do you think Twitter marketing campaigns will continue to evolve in 2013?


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4 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Twitter 2012

  1. Anthony

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am not familiar with all of these various campaigns, as I am a student really just getting into social media marketing and advertising, but I can see why certain ones backfired and others were a success. The McDonalds one is actually funny to me. They had such good intentions but I could see why it never worked. I know many people that work or have worked at McDonalds that absolutely hate/hated it. The food is also notoriously bad for you, so I am sure there are plenty of horror stories to go around. Good read!

  2. Anthony

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am not familiar with all of these various campaigns, as I am a student really just getting into social media marketing and advertising, but I can see why certain ones backfired and others were a success. The McDonalds one is actually funny to me. They had such good intentions but I could see why it never worked. I know many people that work or have worked at McDonalds that absolutely hate/hated it. The food is also notoriously bad for you, so I am sure there are plenty of horror stories to go around. Good read!

  3. Shreyasi Ghosh

    This is an excellent read. Thanks for this.

    The McDonald's @McDStories backfired on them even though in retrospect, I feel it was a gamble that could have paid off. Do you think only those campaigns might work which engage consumers in activities and interact with them and don't require them to voice their opinions on social media?

  4. Shreyasi Ghosh

    This is an excellent read. Thanks for this.

    The McDonald's @McDStories backfired on them even though in retrospect, I feel it was a gamble that could have paid off. Do you think only those campaigns might work which engage consumers in activities and interact with them and don't require them to voice their opinions on social media?

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