The Best Holiday Social Media Campaigns of 2011

The holidays are a time when we seem to connect more with our communities and our fellow human beings. It’s a time of reflection. It’s a time when charities see the biggest lift in donations. It’s also the biggest marketing and promotional time of the year. In other words, it’s the most perfect time for social media – however you use it. So, I thought I’d take a look at what are some of the best uses of social media this holiday season. And not just from my perspective. I got opinions from a wide range of sources, from some of the best practitioners in social media to some random question answers from LinkedIn. Here’s what I found.

MANta Claus Gives to the Entire World.

Seems everybody likes “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” otherwise known as Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa. Ford’s head of social media, Scott Monty, was the first to point to the new holiday campaign by Old Spice as one of his favorites, but he wasn’t the last. A lot of people I asked also listed the MANta Claus campaign. 

Last year’s social media darling is back in a new series of videos where he promises to give gifts to all 7 billion people in the entire world. In the first video, he explains the premise and picks one fan, @beautyjunkies to receive a custom-made pair of “lady shoes” made out of jewelry. In another, he picks out 25 of his “closest” twitter friends to give a bear shaped deodorant protectors that are formed by him staring at a Yule log. It’s all typical Mustafa silliness that has once again created incredible buzz for the brand. You can see a couple of the videos below.

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Maker’s Hits the Mark with Ugly Bottle Sweaters

Maker’s Mark Bourbon has done a great job of building a strong community of Maker’s Mark Ambassadors over the years. Every year, they give this group of brand evangelists a holiday present. This year, they sent each of them an “ugly holiday bottle sweater” and encouraged them to take pictures of their bottle of Maker’s wearing the sweater. What better way to engage your community that to give them a fun thing to do and post during the holidays? It has created a lot of buzz and you can find pictures all over the internet – on tumblr, flickr, Facebook, blogs, Instagram… wherever people post and share photos. I think it’s a brilliant way to encourage engagement and create buzz that is true to the brand personality and connects well with your core audience.

Coca-Cola Teams With WWF to Help Polar Bears

Brands aren’t just using social to create buzz-worthy and amusing content. They are also doing social good. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs points to the work Coca-Cola is doing on behalf of their long-time holiday icon, the polar bear.

“I like brands that look to do social good, especially at the holidays,” says Handley. “I particularly like what Coke is doing in partnership with the World Wildlife Federation to raise awareness of polar bear habitat endangerment/conservation. I first noticed their white Coke cans in the grocery aisles, and that led me to discover the “virtual arctic home” website they created.”

The site opens with a beautiful film showing polar bears in their natural habitat with brief facts. It then goes to a page where you can opt to donate to the cause or just explore the virtual landscape that correlates to the actual habitat and the bears there.

eBay Provides Virtual Giving in the Real World

One of the coolest uses of technology for social good I’ve seen this year is eBay’s Give-A-Toy Store. They created interactive store display windows in big cities on the coasts that had toys moving and jumping around in a fun large video screen display. Each one had a QR code price tag that you could scan on your mobile device, then pay for that toy and it would be given to Toys for Tots. If you didn’t live in one of the cities with the live display, you could go to the Give-A-Toy shop page on their site. There you see the video of the display window in the real world and click on the price tags below it to give toys that way. 

Give Coffee. Help a Village.

Then, of course, there is just using social media to do social good. Cd Vann of Ungeeked had this to say about social and technology in the holiday season, “2011 leaves us with some of the newest technology, social networks and social trends that shaped our lives both personally and professionally.  One of the best trends I’ve seen this year is the use of digital tools and social networks to lend a louder voice to social causes for children and their families.”

She goes on to talk about Jeff Powers and Pangeo Coffee working to help people around the world. “Jeff has dedicated a part of his life to helping poor villages in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Jeff has done a great job of building a Twitter following and using video to create awareness, educate and build community between those in the villages that he serves and the donors to his campaign.”

“The new campaign with Pangeo Coffee offers coffee drinkers an easy way to down our favorite drink while supporting a charity at the same time.  I cannot think of a better way to donate than being able to nurture my caffeine addiction along the way. I love their motto: Drink Coffee. Help Villages. Support our development work in poor villages by drinking our world-class coffee. Helping never tasted so good!”

Live Events Aren’t Dead

The holidays also gave us live social events from flash mobs to human Christmas trees. Yes, I said human Christmas trees. Cristina Falcão of Portugal told me, “It was a one-day event in Lisbon where we all were human Christmas trees, carrying one widget light around, shaking hands and reconnecting to the meaning of solidarity in very tough times. Besides making us all get out of our shells and actually recognizing that none of us is alone in these difficult times, we saved on trees, on electricity and we managed to contribute to one of the biggest charities in Portugal – “Banco da Fome” (Bank for the hungry) that feeds thousands of people each day.”

I asked her if there were any pictures of the event, but she said, “No, unfortunately no one remembered taking photos, we were so “children like” that day.” Sounds like an IRL event that transcended our need for technology to be connected. 

Those are just a few of the good things in social I see happening this holiday season. What are some of the things you’ve seen that you thought were innovative, amusing or inspiring? I’d love to hear some of your choices. In the meantime, have a very happy and social holiday season!



Mark photo by Roshan Vyas