The Best and Worst of Facebook 2012

The Facebook platform has developed tremendous new opportunities for businesses in 2012, with the addition of global pages and timeline integration for company pages. Facebook pages have also become more vital in SEO rankings, so it is more important than ever for companies to maintain a web presence on the social media platform. In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the best uses of Facebook for branding and marketing over the last year, as well as a few efforts that missed the mark.

Most Successful Facebook Marketing of 2012

Old Spice

This multi-tiered social media campaign featuring the Old Spice Man offers a great deal of clever content that is legitimate entertainment – not just advertising – and is easy to like and share.

The Old Spice Facebook page is the hub for much of the campaign’s various forms of content. The reason this campaign makes the top of the list is that it continues to find new ways to reinvent itself and breathe new life into the Old Spice Man campaign, giving fans plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

Currently, their campaign features the protagonist of the campaign, Old Spice Man Dikembe Mutombo, saving the world in a series of retro style school video games. Their Facebook page content is varied, and it manages to be hip, relevant, and creative, while successfully sharing and developing the Old Spice Brand.

The key to Old Spice’s successful Facebook branding is entertainment. They utilize marketing content that engages the community, rather than attempting to push advertisements on it. This creates dynamic, memorable content that builds not only strong brand recognition, but also brand loyalty.


Coca-Cola has been a top performer on Facebook ever since the soft drink company took over the highly popular fan page created by two fans and brand evangelists. In 2012, the company continued to be successful on the social network by keeping fans at the core of their page.

Coke’s Facebook page describes itself as “a collection of your stories showing how people from around the world have helped make Coke into what it is today.” The page achieves this by sharing lots of user-generated pictures and content, and by being globally minded. The page shares content from fans around the world, but it isn’t solely limited to user-generated material. Contributing to Coca-Cola’s image as a socially conscious company, their Facebook page includes information about altruistic initiatives for important causes, many of them sponsored by the soft drink company.

Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy is a sort of lifestyle branding that is accessible to the masses. The brand image conjures nostalgic good times – with a Coke. Coca-Cola strengthens this image on Facebook by having fans from around the world share their good times – it makes the brand feel universal, and more accessible to anyone.


The year 2012 saw many Facebook pages become more image and media heavy, and British clothing retailer Burberry has been on top of this trend from the start. Burberry has long been an early adopter of social media outlets, and has become one of the most successful clothing lines, not to mention luxury brands, on Facebook.

Burberry’s page is the most sales-driven on the list here – most posts are directly related to products, yet the page has managed to garner over 14 million likes. Although most of the posts on Burberry’s Facebook page are updates about new clothing lines and products, there are also sponsored music videos with the Burberry Acoustic app, and news spots relating to the brand.

All of the content is well suited to the company’s image. Burberry’s page succeeds because the company understands what its fans like about the brand, and it creates the sort of content that fans want to like, share, and talk about. It projects itself as a luxury brand, and it knows that fans and people who buy Burberry are proud to own the brand’s products. Burberry uses this to its advantage by creating posts about products that fans want to own, and are proud to share and talk about when they do.

How To Market Your Horse Business

Admittedly, How to Market Your Horse Business (HTMYHB) is a bit of an oddball in the group, but I wanted to discuss a small business that really gets it right as far as Facebook marketing strategy is concerned. Despite the name, HTMYHB provides great advice for any small business or entrepreneur, and it has established an engaging community forum for small businesses.

The HTMYHB Facebook page uses a horse business as a case study to show how to implement online marketing in any field. Even though most followers probably aren’t in the livestock industry, it’s a perfect example to show that any niche business can gain a lot of traction with a well executed social media strategy.

Posts on the HTMYHB Facebook page contain a mix of horse-industry news, small business news, and how-to articles. The posts cue readers on information about how sharing with other businesses in related fields can help build a customer base. The page also encourages small businesses to contribute their ideas, thoughts, and questions to the forum.

The page may not be the flashiest or most polished page on the list, but it is well branded with a memorable color scheme, and succeeds in its goal by serving as  an engaging and useful resource for small business. The lack of polish actually suits this brand well – it’s a small business on a limited budget, after all, and their message is that any small business can achieve success through social media, even without big funds to back it. The message is clear, the content is useful to the target audience, and engagement is practical, since HTMYHB actually sets out to help other small businesses that get involved.

Least Successful Facebook Marketing of 2012

Facebook – Chairs are Like Facebook

Facebook celebrated reaching 1 billion users with this campaign featuring things that “are like Facebook,” using far-reaching examples like chairs. Facebook users quickly turned this campaign around on Facebook, mocking the lofty premise with far less attractive comparisons to Facebook.

The campaign aimed to create a nostalgic and emotional connection to the social media page, but fell completely flat in its goal. Instead, it revealed a disconnect between the site’s image of itself and the way users actually perceive it. This comparison concept might have been a platform for positive user-generated content, but the initial images used did not have a strong human connection, and instead felt forced and out of place. This made it an easy target for parody from Facebook community.

Barclays – Meet Dan

Earlier this year, Barclays attempted to introduce a brand ambassador on Facebook with Dan, a relatable everyman without great budgeting skills. The campaign followed Dan in everyday circumstances as he received money-saving advice from the bank, and though it seemed innocent enough, there were a few big issues that lead to the campaign’s failure.

The timing of the campaign was terrible – it came out just as Barclays faced the scandal of accusations of fixing market loan rates. The big bank made big profits through shady tactics, while their campaign gave advice about how to pinch pennies on a limited budget. Another issue is that the common sense tips and advice Dan receives are not necessarily pieces of information people would trust coming from a bank. Even without the timing, big banks are not well trusted in the public eye. Barclays’ attempt to create a relatable character just wasn’t very believable, and it did not vibe with the Facebook community.

Grey Poupon – Good Tastes

We’ve seen a campaign similar to this before, with Burger King’s infamous Whopper Sacrifice campaign. The premise of this campaign is that in order to like Grey Poupon’s Page, you will have to apply through their Facebook App, which will look through your post history to determine if you and your friends’ tastes are good enough to be part of “the most discerning page on Facebook.”

The concept is humorous, but it’s exclusionary, and while it may reinforce Grey Poupon’s upscale brand image, it creates self-imposed limits on its own ability to go viral. Another issue is that the app asks permission to make posts on your timeline, which can make most savvy Facebookers think twice before accepting the terms. It may serve the brand well to create some buzz, but it’s self-defeating in terms of what a brand can be capable of on the Facebook platform.

Cheerios – GMO Disaster

All was going well on Cheerios’ Facebook Page, until Cheerios manufacturer General Mills got politically involved, to the tune of $1.1 million, in a California ballot measure regarding the distribution of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). The Cheerios Facebook page became a political battleground over the issue, with user comments and complaints about GMO’s.

Cheerios’ ongoing problem is their inability to address or manage the issue. They have cleared away comments, and even designed a new feedback app, in the hopes of pushing complaints away from their main page. But they haven’t figured out a reasonable way to address the comments that continue to come in. Their Facebook community has a clear message for Cheerios: “No more GMO’s.” If Cheerios can’t address this issue, its Facebook marketing will continue to be dragged down by obvious user outrage.

Lessons From 2012 on Facebook

Each of these companies’ pages shows a range of approaches to Facebook marketing, but each also shows a strong understanding of how to make the most of the platform. The top Facebook campaigns of the year all have a strong understanding of their target market, however big or small this market is. They also understand how that demographic perceives them, and what they hope to get out of their social media connection with the brand. Both of the unsuccessful campaigns here failed to relate to social network users, and they attempted to brand their company in a way that did not resonate with their perceived image and user expectations.

The strongest campaigns on Facebook are those that succeed in building a community around their brand. Whether such campaigns are lifestyle or business-driven, or are purely for entertainment and special interest, those that understand and support their community are the ones that manage to draw the most feedback, user interaction, and loyalty to the brand.

Related Posts