Great examples of start-ups and small businesses doing social media right

Social media is an essential marketing tool to promote your website. Take inspiration from these online companies who are killing it on social media.

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In 2024, you’ll struggle to find an online business that isn’t on social media. However, just simply having a social media presence is no longer enough to attract customers and get them to visit your website.

Today, successful social media marketing strategy is all about making your business stand out. We know this can be tough given how quickly the terrain is changing, with vertical videos, TikTok marketing, the metaverse, influencers, and more.

Being active on social media is a must-have to get your business noticed and, therefore, drive traffic to your website. However, you need to do a lot more to get users to buy into your brand.

To inspire you, we’ve compiled a list of some successful social media campaigns. Here’s what each one taught us in short:

  • The UN’s #EmpowerMoves campaign tells us about the power of TikTok and why it’s important to understand where your audience resides
  • Starbucks #WhatsYourName campaign shows the importance of value-driven marketing and using catchy hashtags
  • Spotify’s #YearWrapped demonstrates why personalisation can be at the heart of any campaign’s success
  • AirBnB's OMG! campaign shows why it’s important to respond to consumer trends and behaviour
  • Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll launch campaign reminds us about the value of being witty on socials and how influencing can be an important marketing tool to wield

If you’d like some help getting your social strategy up, running, and thriving in your social media campaigns, use our quick and free quote comparison tool to find the right professional support for you.

To help guide your social media strategy and for inspiration on utilising social media to attract visitors to your website, we’ve highlighted a number of social media strategy examples from fast-growing UK startups and small businesses. These brands are nailing social media – so you can do the same.

The UN’s Empower Moves TikTok Campaign

Launch year: 2021

The UN Women’s Council launched a TikTok dance trend to help spread the word about self-defense moves. Using the hashtag #EmpowerMoves, the UN worked with a self-defense expert and a choreographer to create a TikTok dance routine. The sequence featured four simple, memorable defense moves that made it easy for users to replicate the moves and upload their own content. Influencers and media personalities jumped on the trend, creating a chain reaction.

The campaign got 130 million video views, with an earned media coverage of 4,924% ROI.

Why did it work?

  • The UN wanted to reach out to young women and launched the campaign on a platform where they could easily reach their target audience
  • They packaged an educational campaign in a fun, interactive, and trendy way that was very appropriate to what the social media platform is all about

@karlamura_

Feels like this is the kind of dance we need right now #EmpowerMoves ✨ DC: Me 🥰 #dancechallenge #dancetrending #newdancetrend #newdance #newdancechallenge

♬ Good Things (R3HAB Remix) - Wafia

Did you know?

55% of people learn about brands from social media and the average internet user spends 397 minutes per day online, and much of this is spent on social media sites

Starbucks UK: #WhatsYourName

Launch year: 2019

Starbucks UK partnered with Mermaids, an organisation to support transgender and gender-diverse youth to raise awareness about trans rights. The campaign leaned on a very common experience of any Starbucks customer — having your name written on a cup. Overall, the coffeehouse used this aspect to show the importance of respecting the names that customers want to be called by. As part of the campaign, social media users were encouraged to use the hashtag #WhatsYourName on Instagram to talk about their experience with gender.

The YouTube ad got 804,000+ views with less than a thousand subscribers on its channel, and the Instagram post got 1,000+ comments. For reference, the average comment rate on a Starbucks UK Instagram post is 40.

Why did it work?

  • The team behind the campaign created a simple and clear campaign hashtag
    They led with their values, which gave the campaign a clear, real, and emotional impact
  • The campaign demonstrated the company’s investment in diversity and created a sense of community, tapping into value-driven buying

Spotify: #YearWrapped

Launch year: 2019

You’ve probably heard of this one as it tends to consume social media towards the end of each year since its inception. Spotify launched the campaign allowing listeners to see the most prominent musical highlights of their year. It lets you access your most-streamed artists, genres, songs, and other fun pieces of data that can be shared on your social media.

Spotify automatically creates shareable posts for Instagram Stories and Twitter, giving you the chance to show off your musical taste and tag your favourite artist of the year. Spotify also automatically creates a Wrapped playlist with your top songs of the year. Data showed that there were nearly 3 billion streams from Wrapped playlists.

According to Twitter, the campaign was mentioned in at least 1.2 million posts in the launch month and more than 60 million users engaged with the in-app story experience.

Why did it work?

  • Personalisation: Spotify Wrapped gives you a curated rundown of how your music taste evolved over the year, giving you the perfect playlist to relive all the key moments. Personalisation is a fantastic strategy to create social media engagement and spread brand awareness.
  • FOMO: everyone (and that means pretty much everyone on your social media) likes sharing their music. Spotify made sharing very easy with the Wrapped campaign as it already gives you downloadable material that you can easily repost on your social media. The moment everyone starts sharing their wrapped, you get sucked into doing the same to avoid missing out.

AirBnB OMG! Fund campaign

Launch year: 2022

Airbnb invited people to submit funky accommodation ideas that were ‘out-of-this-world’ places to stay. From a yellow submarine in the middle of the woods to a spaceship in the UK, users could submit their ideas for a chance to have it funded by Airbnb. A panel of judges then chose the winners according to originality, feasibility, and user experience.

The campaign was launched in response to consumer demand for flexible living and unexpected spaces that became destinations following COVID-19 lockdowns. As a result of the campaign, Airbnb created the OMG! category on their website, which covers quirky accommodation.

By the end of summer in 2022, the brand boasted a 22% YoY increase in consumer spending. Although not every small business has huge amounts of money to give out in competitions of this sort, the logic and mechanism can still be extrapolated to other smaller campaigns.

Why did it work?

  • The campaign was a response to quickly evolving situations and changing consumer needs
  • It followed data and trends
  • Tailored content on its website to give the campaign a sense of permanence

Greggs: #VeganSausageRoll

Launch year: 2019

What has now become a Veganuary staple, it all began with a clever social media campaign. Greggs launched its vegan sausage roll with a clever video ad that made a parody on Apple ads. Although the concept initially was witty and eye-catching, what really made the campaign big was that it got picked up (albeit negatively) by Piers Morgan.

Morgan mocked the launch of the vegan sausage roll, sparking controversy. Twitter became the host of a heated pro-vegan vs anti-vegan sausage roll debate. As a result, the vegan sausage roll became one of the most popular Greggs products of the year.

On Twitter alone, the Greggs vegan sausage roll conversation saw over 516 million impressions, according to Brandwatch. The announcement tweet was also retweeted more than 15,000 times and Greggs sales jumped 9.6% in the first seven weeks of the launch.

Why did it work?

  • The power of influencing, even if negative. If your campaign gets picked up by a big media personality, you’re bound to start a conversation and get onto the radars of consumers
  • Being witty on social media matters
  • Responding to comments and not taking yourself too seriously when doing so

Conclusion

The world-class social media strategy examples in this article teach us to lead with values, be witty and creative, respond to trends, and understand what customers really want from brands.

Although the examples we gave are from larger and more established enterprises, the principles they abide by are applicable to social media campaigns of all shapes and sizes. And remember that you need to throw lots of money into a social media campaign so that it can succeed – it all lies in your creativity and ability to understand what moves customers.

Your Startup Social Media Strategy Ideas Checklist

  • Social media is highly visual, so maximise the use of photos, videos and tools, such as Facebook Live, and Snapchat Stories
  • Celebrate your customers through testimonials, retweets, and shares posts – a great way to increase engagement
  • Give people a reason to engage – competitions and videos work well
  • Don’t just stick to what you know. Really think about what platform will work best for your business. This could mean pinning posts on Pinterest to creating videos for YouTube, etc.
  • Don’t overlook mobile users – optimise your content for mobile
  • Think about whether you want to manage your campaign in-house – if not, you can quickly check out how much it could cost you using our quick and free quote comparison tool.
  • Finally, always think creatively – even in times of crisis!
Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are some successful social media campaigns?
    Some of the most most successful social media campaigns include Spotify’s #Wrapped campaign, Dove’s #RealBeauty Campaign, and Apple’s #ShotOniPhone campaign
  • What are good campaign ideas?
    Social media is a great place to experiment with campaigns, but some ideas of good campaigns can be using User Generated Content (UGC), creating branded hashtags, or having an influencer giveaway.
  • What are the 3 types of campaign?
    There’s plenty of types of social media marketing campaigns, but the top three you can consider are creating brand awareness, rebranding, or creating hype around a product launch. The point is to create organic traffic towards your brand for effective impressions that can convert into sales.
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