Brands on Social Media: Great Power and Great Responsibility

Pedrom Pourkashanian | August 22nd 2014

This week we saw the value of quick-witted brands on social media as Greggs turned what could have been a sticky situation into a positive piece of PR through their actions on Twitter. The story, which eventually made the national press, highlighted how they were switched on and reacted calmly to a piece of negative SEO which could have threatened their brand image.

Every day we’re exposed to brands who are actively trying to engage with us; we’ve previously looked at the growing role of paid advertising on social media but with so many brands attempting to get their voices heard in what is becoming a cluttered marketing space, it is important that any attempted engagement is delivered well.

Look at how Greggs very publicly dealt with their Google knowledge graph profile image being cheekily manipulated by an SEO-savvy prankster:

Greggs Google

Greggs Google Plea

Greggs Google Reply

Greggs Google Thanks

Internally the PushON team have recently been discussing the campaigns which have caught our eye:

Pedrom” I was lucky enough to be one of the winners involved in the campaign Mercedes ran for their new A-Class in 2012 during the commercial break on The X Factor.

To launch the new A-Class, Mercedes-Benz produced a video asking the viewer to ‘Drive their Story’. The interactive TV campaign built in a social media element, inviting the audience to drive the story via Twitter. This appeared at the end of the advert, when the driver in the video was faced with a dilemma of either hiding or evading the police. Viewers were then asked to steer the action by tweeting with their choice of #Hide or #Evade.

The results shown below speak for themselves as a successful execution of multiple channels of marketing and introduced more social-led TV adverts such as the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes advert shown during the World Cup.

In addition to this, Mercedes-Benz even tweeted me back with a personalised photo and sent me a framed A1 copy of my photo.”

ITV Mercedes Results

Pedrom Pourkashanian, Social Media and Online Marketing Consultant 


“I’ve enjoyed Old Spice’s presence within social media of late. We’re all familiar with their use of traditional advertising and their television adverts with Terry Crews. However, with their use of social media, they’re one of the true success stories and pioneers of re-inventing their brand to appeal to a younger demographic than they have traditionally targeted in years yonder. Coupling both Twitter and Vine and targeting Oreo, they have delivered yet another instance of what is known as their trademark humour – and a great example of brands communicating through the use of Social Media.”

 Daryl Burrows, Paid Search Executive

CharlieBrrrrrr … Imagine having a bucket of ice water thrown over you. The shock as the liquid, just above freezing point, momentarily triggers a burning sensation before the temperature plunges to a deep chill. But you were nominated – you couldn’t say no – and at least you’ve been able to nominate a love/hate figure (a Cowell, a Clinton, a Ronaldo) of your own. And it’s all for a good cause. 

Now imagine that bucketload of cold isn’t felt by a person – but by a car. Yes, a car. A lump of metal.

It’s a bit like Adam “Man v Food” Richman challenging to fill his car boot with Scotch bonnets. I.e, it’s not quite the same as stuffing them down his gullet.

OK, let’s not knock a company for doing something for a good cause; Vauxhall has tweeted that a donation has been made to the MND Association (albeit with a broken link to the charity’s site). But it just seems to be missing the point somewhat, and is typical of a company that can’t let a craze pass by without grabbing for its rear bumper and trying to get some mileage out of it (see Shake, Harlem).

Vauxhall Ice Bucket

Charlie Hankers, Copywriter

“The campaign I’ve enjoyed most recently was Three’s #stopholidayspam. Whilst it has been supported by wider billboard and video advertising (as well as a dedicated website, it was delivered on social media. It worked well as it was topical and fairly tongue-in-cheek, playing on something that people generally find annoying so were likely to get on board with and share. Although it was directly promoting their low overseas charges it never felt overly sales-driven, which helped make it a well received social campaign.”

Jonny Pennington, Senior Online Marketing Consultant

“Not ones to shy away from a controversial publicity stunt, Paddy Power decided to show their support for the England football team at the world cup in Brazil by tweeting an image with a message for the squad in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest. While a few suspected that this could be a Photoshop, the response to this tweet was massive, as outraged Twitter users and journalists showed their outrage that Paddy Power had knocked down so many trees in the endangered rainforest. On this occasion, this stunt was a step too far, even for Paddy, and the following day it was revealed that the photo was a fake (and they were certainly quite proud of how they had done it!). Still, their point was valid as they launched a campaign to save the rainforest, declaring that a much bigger area is destroyed each day which gets little to no response”

Paddy Power - England

Paddy Power - Reveal

Nikki Stasyszyn, Online Marketing Team Leader

“Weightwatchers #simplestart tapped into New Years’ resolutions and how people break them when trying to do too much, so broke down progress into little tweet tips through the #, got everyone involved with their own tips, developed its own little community of support and lots of attention.

NASA did a #globalselfie for Earth Day which is beyond anything we could do but pretty cool. Got people tweeting their selfie on that tag, asking ‘where on earth are you right now’ and then used 36422 images to create a mosaic over the Earth, which people could zoom into.

Airbnb made a video entirely out of content generated on Vine, four mins long, asked people to submit and offered them £100 if their clip was used.”

Carl Eden, Online Marketing Consultant

“Adidas’ #allin World Cup campaign was a huge success and made them the most talked about brand on social media during the competition. They showed that they really understood the reactive nature of social media by creating a ‘Content Bible’ of 1,000 images and 160 videos a year in advance – ready to be used at the perfect moment. With 1.6 million interactions across Twitter, Facebook, blogs and Tumblr, 917,000 mentions of its #allin hashtag, and 6 million new followers across all major social platforms, I think it’s fair to say they knocked it out the park. I’ve not seen a social campaign with that level of meticulous planning and preparation before, and I think they’ve set the bar for future big brand campaigns.”

Adidas #Allin

James Whitelock, Online Marketing Consultant

Brands will use any means at their disposal to do their marketing and PR, and social media seems like too tempting a target to ignore. Whether it’s a big splash campaign or a regular drip-drip of love for their customers, it works best when it feels natural, fits the social medium they choose to use and doesn’t simply hitch the caravan onto a passing bandwagon.

If it raises a smile, creates engagement or guides a customer to a sale it can be considered a success. There’s plenty of good social media being done by brands – but there are also bucket loads of damp squibs.