How to create an award-winning social media campaign

No matter the scale of your business or the industry you operate in, there is always opportunity to integrate your brand into social media channels. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are breaking new ground with billions of users who enjoy their content and services on a daily basis.

In the sea of posts, events and discussion that take place within their news feeds are common denominators that most laypeople often overlook. A social media campaign doesn’t have to receive official recognition and rewards for being effective in bringing people together.

However, these campaigns are pivotal to the continued rise in popularity of social media and businesses that advertise their products and services through them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several social media campaigns that can and should be considered “award-winning”. Learning from examples will allow you to craft much more effective and groundbreaking content for your brand’s wellbeing going forward.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Before we get into the examples of how to create an award-winning campaign for your brand, let’s take a look at why you should do so in the first place. Remember that each marketing endeavor should only be taken up if it yields benefits for your company, brand awareness or overall industry position.

  • Brand humanization, local and global recognition
  • Customer profiling and market research
  • Audience segmentation and streamlined profile targeting
  • Low-cost exposure and overall high return on investment
  • Increased site traffic and engagement, leading to better SERP positioning
  • Industry partnership and investment opportunities attraction

Share Your Ears (Instagram)

It’s no secret that Disney is one of the most influential media conglomerates in the world. With dozens of animated and live-action movies under their belt as well as the growing list of television networks, Disney is no stranger to creating disruptive influence. One of their latest social media activities used Instagram and hashtags to make ends meet.

“Share Your Ears” started as a photo-sharing campaign which promoted raising funds for children’s charity funds. Over the years, it became an annual trend, one that has brought over 250k pieces of content for Disney’s Instagram page. “Share Your Ears” belongs in the award-winning social media campaign category not only for its ingenuity but also the social impact it created.

Amanda Sparks, marketing specialist and contributor at TopDownWriter had this to say on the topic: “A combination of good cause and brand publicity can lead to effective company positioning on the market. Whether through social media or traditional marketing outlets, public wellbeing should always be advertised as the main “selling point” of a marketing campaign.”

While not every brand has a Mickey in its stables, it’s easy enough to come up with a catchy hashtag and start a similar campaign on any number of social media platforms.

Melt the Ice (Facebook)

Live video sharing has become the norm among numerous social circles, friends and B2C marketing as a whole. However, making the most out of the options provided by Facebook and its live sharing features takes some ingenuity. Such is the case with Wix and its “Melt the Ice” campaign that took place recently.

The idea behind the campaign was to attract as many engagements as possible for the duration of the live event. Each comment, share or like would then attribute to the speed at which the iced-over football would melt on live video. Added to the post was a promise of a monetary reward of up to $50,000 for random commenters and people who engage with the campaign for its duration.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade explains: “Live engagement is one of the best tools at our disposal as digital marketers. Clients and customers love the attention they receive from companies they utilize, which results in brand loyalty and recurring sales over time.”

The combination of cooperation between football fans and live video engagement with the company itself proved to be highly successful for Wix. You can create the same award-winning formula through live video social media campaigns through simple copywriting tricks.

Platforms such as Canada-Writers and Hemingway can help you create engaging, trending hashtags and catchphrases for your upcoming campaigns. All you have to do is come up with a creative concept which will engage people enough to stick around for the duration of your live event.

Tweeting Bra (Twitter)

Don’t let the name fool you – Tweeting Bra is more than just a simple Twitter joke. What started as a social experiment quickly evolved into a Twitter account dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in a witty, approachable manner. While the account isn’t as active as it once was, its repository of Tweets and content serve as a reminder for brands to look outside the box with their social media marketing.

An item as simple and mundane as a woman’s bra has become a centerpiece on a Twitter account that accumulated 5,000 followers. James Daily, content editor and author of Brainished shares: “Originality truly is hard to come by in today’s age of digital media. This forces us as content creators to turn even the most ordinary items into digital marketing gold. In terms of Tweeting Bra, I believe that nothing stands in the way of clever marketers and catchy hashtags to make their mark on the industry.”

Even though your company may not support a cause as noble as the fight against breast cancer, anything that involves social impact can become a part of your campaign. As we’ve mentioned before, you will often have to do or provide something for the local or global community first and foremost.

Once people are content with what “they” (as a collective) receive, they will be much more receptive to any sales pitches or product portfolios you present them with. Also worth noting is the role of editing and proofreading platforms in this matter – Evernote, TopAustraliaWriters, and Grammarly are a good place to start if you don’t have a professional editor onboard.

Mistakes to Avoid

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what makes an award-winning social media campaign work, let’s take a look at some mistakes worth noting. These won’t bury your campaign by any means but they might severely hinder your social media performance and impact as a result.

  • Starting a social media campaign with no content plan or long-term strategy
  • Spamming already-published content over and over in hopes of added reach and engagement
  • Lack of SEO keywords involved in hashtags, campaign titles, and catchphrases
  • No customer profile, target audience or an idea of who may or may not want to engage with the campaign
  • Lack of commenter engagement and a generally one-sided approach to social media marketing
  • Talking about your brand and product without introducing real-world application or purchase benefits

In Summary

The secret to creating a social media campaign worth rewarding comes from continuous research and outside-the-box thinking. Don’t follow industry leaders and the trends they set if you want to differentiate your brand from the crowd. Pave your own way to the audience that desperately seeks brands worth following and you will be on your way to create disruptive social media presence worth sharing, tweeting and talking about.

Image source:

Natalie Andersen is an editorial writer and enthusiastic blogger. She believes that everyone’s life has to be the result of the choices they make, but a helping hand is always welcomed. You can connect with Natalie on LinkedIn here or follow/tweet her @getgoodgradecom.

Top Social Media Award Events

Getting recognized for a great social media campaign is a fine feeling. It’s an affirmation of your team’s skill and talent, a sign that your time and effort pays off beyond delighting your clients.

But getting an award isn’t just about chasing that warm fuzzy feeling. It’s about showing clients, both existing and prospective, that you can deliver results. Here’s a rundown of some of the top social media awards and organizations that you need to look out for in 2019.

Social media award shows to watch for in 2019

Social Buzz Awards
Hosted by the marketing media machine the Drum, the Social Buzz Awards celebrates those brands and individuals who own and innovate social media communications.

The Social Buzz Awards were founded in 2010, and features categories such as: In-House Client Team Of The Year, Best Use Of Live Video, Best ROI, and the Social Buzz Rising Star, to name but a few.

Previous winners include Acne for Ikea, whose humorous response to the infamous Balenciaga bag netted them the Best Use Of Imagery award in 2017, and the AV Browne Group for their 2016 Giant’s Causeway Sleeping Giant social stunt.

The most exciting category though has to be Most Innovative Use of Social, highlighting those that use social media in new and exciting ways to grow their brand. This year’s winner was #Romanovs100, whose exquisite online photo-puzzle sprawled four different social platforms to tell the story of Russia’s final royal family.

Applications for the Social Buzz Awards are free.

Corporate Social Media Awards
From business intelligence company the Incite Group comes the Corporate Social Media Awards, celebrating the social media manoeuvres of big brands such as Qantas Airways and Dell.

Categories include Social Agency Of The Year, Best Social Customer Care, and Most Innovative Use Of Social Media, judged by CEOs and directors from organizations ranging from Ogilvy and Comcast to Mashable and Whole Foods Market.

How to apply: the Corporate Social Media Awards are free to enter. Find everything you need to apply here.

The Facebook Awards
Facebook’s dominance as a social platform is such that it warrants its own awards, hosted by Facebook themselves. The Facebook Awards celebrates the finest creative ads on the platform, highlighting those pieces that change the way brands use Facebook.

In their own words, they seek to honor “the most creative, innovative, and effective marketing that makes use of the Facebook platform.” 2017’s categories were, appropriately, Laugh, Cry, Wow, Love, and Act, with winners including J. Walter Thompson’s ‘Anonymous Friend’ ad for Alcoholics Anonymous and Airbnb’s ‘We Are Here’ campaign.

How to apply: entrance to the Facebook Awards is free. Click here to sign find out more.

The Shorty Awards
Perhaps the most renowned of all the social media awards, the annual Shorty Awards recognize those brands, influencers, and agencies that truly shine on social.

The Shorty Awards has more than 130 different categories, spanning everything from brand redesigns and mobile campaigns to multi-platform influencer campaigns and live event coverage.

The Shorty Awards also celebrate those brands and agencies that truly own individual social media platforms, from brands killing it on Twitter to those excelling in Instagram marketing. The award for the latter this year went to GoPro for their savvy use of user-generated content, using clips of surfing, skating, and parachute jumps to expand their reach online.

But what sets the Shorty Awards apart are their diverse winners beyond simply brands and agencies. Nestling alongside industry names such as Swiftic and Phear Creative are Taylor Swift, Malala Yousafzai, and NASA. It’s a dizzying variety that highlights only the best of the best of social media.

How to apply: entry fees start at $399 for early entry, increasing to $499 and $699 for regular and late entry respectively. Click here for the application form.

The AVA Digital Awards
As the name suggests, this one is all about digital. The AVA Digital Awards touch on everything from video and audio to web and social media, with winners receiving the iconic AVA statuette.

Categories for this reputable award include digital marketing, video creation, and audio production, communicated across web, mobile, and social platforms. These are further subdivided into individual awards, with the digital marketing category laying claim to the best social campaign award.

How to apply: entry fees start at $110 for single applicants, increasing to $175 for bigger submissions such as campaigns or apps. Pro bono work is free when entered alongside a paid submission. Click here to apply.

SMPS Marketing Communications Awards
Whilst not solely aimed at social media, the Society for Marketing Professional Services Marketing Community Awards still highlight some of the best social media marketing campaigns out there.

The SMPS Marketing Communications Awards has a distinctly corporate-leaning angle, and past winners include GreenbergFarrow for their 2017 social media rebranding strategy.

Another winner of this year’s award was GO Strategies, whose quirky A/E/C Marketing Myths netted them the Merit Award in the social media category.

How to apply: submission fees for the SMPS Marketing Communications Awards vary wildly, ranging from $105 to $395 depending on the size of your company. Click here to apply today.

UK Social Media Communications Awards
Celebrating the very best of social media across the pond is the UK Social Media Communications Awards, née abbreviated to the Some Comms Awards.

The awards are open to UK-based brands, individuals, and agencies in industries everywhere from corporate and creative to design and PR. Categories include platform-specific awards, Best Social Influencer Campaign, and Best Use of Social Media in a Crisis.

This latter category was won this year by broadcaster UKTV, whose channels were wiped by Virgin Media earlier this year. Its handling of the issue on social was measured and precise, truly earning it the awards.

How to apply: to apply for the UK Social Media Communications Awards, you or your business must be based in the UK. Entrance fees start at around $150 plus tax, rising to $190 plus tax for late submissions. To sign up, click here.

The Sockies
Moving onto the UK’s Gaelic neighbors, the Sockies (aka Social Media Awards) celebrate the very best of Irish social media communications. Categories for the Sockies cover the usual platform-centric fare, but also focus on smaller businesses, with a separate category entirely for SMEs.

The awards have grown hugely since their inception, expanding to include new categories that cater to the changing social media landscape. And a particular standout category is Úsáid Na Meáin Shóisialta, for use of social media in the Irish language. It’s a nice addition that celebrates Ireland’s rich heritage, and makes the Sockies a social media awards event well worth watching.

How to apply: submission to the Sockies is free, but late entries cost €200, rising to €500 for even later submissions. For submission details and to enter, click here.

PR News’ Social Media Awards
Public relations and social media go hand-in-hand, and recognizing this are the PR News’ Social Media Awards. Its categories are diverse, covering everything from Best Twitter Marketing Campaign to Best Use of a Filter on Snapchat.

The awards are open to anyone from anywhere, so previous winners have come from a range of industries. For example, the winner of last year’s Best PR Campaign on Facebook NCR Corporation, a B2B tech company.

With a focus on social media campaigns that bolster good public relations, the PR News’ Social Media Awards are well worth watching for inspiration for your own strategy.

How to apply: each submission costs $425, with an extra $275 for submission into further categories. Late submissions receive a surcharge of $275. To enter the PR News’ Social Media Awards, click here.

Canadian Social Media Awards

And last, but not least, is the Canadian Social Media Awards show which was held in Victoria BC, from 2011 through 2014. They took a short hiatus for a few years and will be making a comeback to help celebrate Canada’s largest social media conference and the 10th annual Social Media Camp in April 2019.

Social Media Award Organizations to Watch

The Drum
Arguably one of the biggest names in marketing media, the Drum proudly believes that “marketing can change the world”. Their dedication to this belief is reflected in its work, as it hosts dozens of awards covering everything from agency business to customer experience.

And with 23 awards of their own under its belt, the Drum has earned its place in the marketing world. It consistently recognizes those brands that shine, as well as highlighting those rising stars making their way in the marketing world.

Sawhorse Media
The relatively unsung heroes behind the Shorty Awards, Sawhorse Media describe itself as “uncovering the best of the social web”. Based in New York’s SoHo, Sawhorse Media has come from tiny tech startup to one of the most influential software agencies in the world.

As well as hosting the Shorty Awards, Sawhorse Media also manages Muck Rack, a journalist/PR marketplace with clients as diverse as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Dallas Mavericks.

Society For Marketing Professional Services
Founded way back in 1973, the Society For Marketing Professional Services is a vibrant community of marketers and business professionals.

The SMPS focuses specifically on the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, helping connect professionals from a variety of industry roles: planning, construction, interior design, consulting firms, and more.

With such a powerhouse of talent behind its wheel, the SMPS know a thing or two when it comes to marketing, so keep a watchful eye on their picks when awards season comes around.

The Incite Group
Priding itself on “helping large corporations serve their customers better”, the Incite Group is a London/New York-based business intelligence agency that offers brand marketing, mobile product development, and customer experience services.

As well as hosting the Corporate Social Media Awards, the Incite Group hold runs a series of conferences around the world by brands, for brands.

Bringing together industry professionals from the worlds of social media, marketing, and digital, these conferences deliver cutting edge thought leadership and insightful market analysis to help corporations excel and delight their customers.

You’ve put time, effort, and love into your social media campaigns this year, and you’ve turned out some sterling work that you, your team, and your clients are proud of. So shout about it! Put yourself or your colleagues forward for the awards above to give yourself a chance to shine the spotlight on your business.