The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2016

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that user-generated content is pivotal to a buzzworthy social media campaign. For brands that rely on other types of strategies, it’s key to make content relatable and authentic.

There were a few brands that really rocked it this year, creating campaigns that made heads turn. Looking for a little inspiration for 2017? Here are a few of my favorite social media campaigns of 2016.

1. Loreal Paris – “Worth Saying”

Does this hashtag sound familiar? Closely linked to the longstanding “Because You’re Worth it” brand slogan, the #WorthSaying hashtag was created as part of a campaign to get the female population talking about things that mattered to them.

The timing of the campaign was a major factor in its success. The brand took advantage of the fact that they were sponsoring the Golden Globes to get people talking. Such people included celebrity influencers like Jennifer Lopez, who even posted about it on Twitter.

Just why was this campaign so successful? During such an extremely high-profile event where so much emphasis is placed on the way a woman looks (from hair to makeup to outfit…), the “Worth Saying” campaign aimed to switch the focus from appearance—to words.

2. Disney – “Share Your Ears”

This year, Disney paired with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise money and awareness for children suffering from terminal illnesses. For every photo posted to social media with the recognizable Disney mouse ears and the #ShareYourEars hashtag, $5 was donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The campaign succeeded in raising awareness for Disney, while simultaneously raising both awareness and funds for the children of Make-A-Wish Foundation—a total win-win all around.

3. Standing Rock – “No DAPL”

In the effort to support Sioux tribe members fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their land, social media users across the nation came together. The hashtag #NoDAPL was generated on social media, with users checking in to Standing Rock on Facebook to stand in solidarity with the activists and mislead the authorities that were closely monitoring the check-ins.

All of this led to extensive media coverage and thousands of signatures to petition against the construction, ultimately leading to the project being put on hold. Now that’s a powerful social media campaign right there.

4. GoPro

Not so much a single campaign as an ongoing social media strategy, the GoPro Instagram account really seems to know what it’s doing. Their 11 million Instagram followers surely agree.

Composed of adventure-themed photographs taken by GoPro users, the account shows off the very best of user-generated content. GoPro uses Instagram as a platform to showcase the exciting lifestyle that comes with a GoPro camera, rather than promote the camera itself.

The taunting photos almost seem to say: look at all of the exciting activities you can do in all of these beautiful places…if only you have a GoPro camera…

5. Hilary Clinton – “I’m With Her”

Even though she didn’t win the election, Hilary Clinton’s social media campaign definitely won my vote. Just what made it so strong? Simple, shareable infographics and powerful quotes overlaid on images were used to relay her beliefs and get her point across. The #ImWithHer hashtag became one that was widely used across social media for all those in favor of the first female Presidential candidate.

In a clever attack on competition, the campaign even created a tool called “Trump Yourself,” which let fans add unfavorable Trump quotes to their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures.

6. Hotel Tonight – “Visit, Don’t Stay”

When it comes down to it, shareable content must be relatable. Finding ways to relate to your audience, while staying true to brand values, is not always easy. In their most recent social media campaign, Hotel Tonight found a way to do both—and nailed it.

You see, not everyone likes going home to family for the holidays. Hotel Tonight capitalized on this idea, taking a humorous approach to the fact that for many people, going home for the holidays is actually a tiresome, draining experience.

Many campaigns around the holidays are sentimental and nostalgic; Hotel Tonight ventured from the norm, instead creating a lighthearted, comical holiday campaign that many people could relate to.

The images are simple and the accompanying captions are witty, with the clear message being: visit relatives and stay in a hotel nearby—using Hotel Tonight, of course.

To top it off, they engage their audience by encouraging users to share their “crazy family holiday stories” for the chance to win $500 with Hotel Tonight.

7. Airbnb – “Live There”

One of my personal favorites, Airbnb’s “Live There” campaign is based on the fact that “86 percent of its users pick the platform because they want to live more like a local.”

For younger generations in particular, traveling as a tourist is just not enough anymore. Nowadays, people crave “local” experiences. People want to see a place through the eyes of a local, rather than the eyes of a tourist. Airbnb remains cognizant of this through a social media campaign that encourages people to “Live there. Even if it’s just for a night.”

Like Hotel Tonight, Airbnb succeeds here because it manages to find a way to relate to its audience, while also clearly conveying its core values.

So that just about sums it up. Now tell us…what were your favorite social media campaigns of 2016? And why? Share with us in the comments below.