Best of 2015: A few of our favorite (social) things

2015 has already been a whirlwind… and we’re only four months into the year.

A few weeks ago, I was following the live birth of a giraffe at the Dallas Zoo, livestreamed in partnership with Animal Planet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I was alerted to this stream via Twitter’s hashtag #TeamKatie. I was driving at the time, so my mom held my phone and gave me a play-by-play of the baby’s every move.

When the newborn calf finally arrived, we pulled over and watched the livestream together as he started to stir and his mom began licking him. It was my mom’s first introduction to a livestream, and the power of social media. Social can quite literally bring things to life. Amazing.

If the start of 2015 is any indication, social media innovation is alive and well.  It’s been packed with new social technologies and inventive campaigns. Here are a few of our faves:

Discover NatGeo

A SKYDIVING DOG? Sign me up. Although I was an early adopter, I never fell in love with Snapchat, but our content manager is a big fan. She loves National Geographic’s content mix on the platform, using photos, video, and quizzes to tell stories about travel, wildlife, and adventure. National Geographic has always been known for its breathtaking visuals, so Snapchat is  a perfect place for the brand to reach new audiences.

Within the Discover feature that launched January 27, Nat Geo is one of 11 brands that gives a more in-depth look into its brand story by sharing content unique to the platform. Through Snapchat Discover this week, I learned about blue jellyfish-like creatures washing up on beaches in the Pacific Northwest and met many animals of the Galapagos. It’s a great way to discover and consume short-form content.

Disclose, disclose, disclose

The Lord & Taylor Design Lab dress was an interesting case in the power of Instagram to influence purchase, as well as a cautionary tale about influencer relationships. At the end of March, Lord and Taylor hand-picked 50 fashion instagrammers to post photos wearing the same dress as an introduction to the retailer’s Design Lab collection. Most of the posts received at least 1,000 likes and the dress sold out almost immediately.

While this was exciting news at first—yes Virginia, social DOES drive purchases—people noticed that many influencers had not disclosed the fact that the content was sponsored, a violation of the 2013 Federal Trade Commissions disclosure rules. While it may seem “obvious” to the average user that this content was provided by Lord & Taylor, people who promote content for a brand are required to make the sponsorship clear by marking Tweets and Instagram posts with language like #ad, AD:, #spon, or Sponsored.

We’re still blown away by the campaign (in a good way!) but the controversy reminded us that social media is all grown up. If you’re planning a similar campaign using influencers, remember to be transparent and require your influencers to disclose.

Starbucks + = #StarbucksDate

The Starbucks and Match.Com Valentine’s campaign married two of our favorite things: branded partnerships and fully integrated campaigns. The two brands worked together to add a “Meet at Starbucks” feature on close to Valentine’s Day that encouraged singles to meet up at the coffee chain for a first date.

Bringing the experience in-store, Starbucks and Match held “The World’s Largest Starbucks Date” on February 13th,  offering coffee and snack promotions as well as photo props to encourage customers to share photos on social using the hashtag #StarbucksDate.

We love seeing how social can be a part of a full on and offline campaign, and #StarbucksDate was a great example of how well it can work. Plus we love the clever partnership between these two brands.

New Horizons

There are two things I'm focused on over the next few months: incorporating new content formats and staying on top of my professional skills.

Meerkat hit us all hard a few weeks before SXSW and Periscope launched around SXSW this year. Being in Austin, our marketing team was very active at SXSW, attending panels and events across the city. These apps were EVERYWHERE. I nearly died when Julia Louis-Dreyfus documented her entrance to her panel using Meerkat.

Yes, exactly that. You could not escape. Interestingly enough, chatter about Meerkat cooled off in the past month while Periscope gained popularity. Now brands and media like L’Oreal, Spotify and CNN Politics use the app to share live content. What’s to come for Meerkat and Periscope? I expect to see more brands navigating the privacy concern and lack of control inherent in live streaming to take advantage of this exciting new medium.

When it comes to staying on top of my professional skills, I'm constantly asking how people learn and keep their knowledge sharp. Since what seems like the beginning of time, friends in marketing and tech fields have always recommended to me. When LinkedIn acquired the company in early April, I was ecstatic. LinkedIn is an incredible partner to Spredfast, and I'm excited to see how work with the team to educate professionals like me.

What are you most excited for this year in the social world? Tweet to me @SnackMantis and let me know. Wondering how to find success in channels like Twitter and Instagram? Download our 6 Blueprints for Social Success.

Laura Baker's picture

Laura Baker

Laura is the Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, leading strategy and analytics for Spredfast's digital channels. A Kansas City native, Laura loves barbecue, Jayhawks, Boulevard Beer and Bo Jackson. In her free time, Laura trains dogs at a local animal rescue, writes for a classic movie review blog and tweets (frequently) at @SnackMantis.