In the battle for social media domination, some brands always seem to come out on top. Take a closer look at how four major brands knock their social strategy out of the park.

Oreo

America’s favorite cookie is also one of America’s favorite social brands. Although Oreo’s star has been rising since its famed Super Bowl tweet, creating social and digital gold isn’t new for the brand. In 2012, the “Daily Twist” campaign sent social channels abuzz with its 100-day stint of creative cookie images, while the #cookiethis vs. #cremethis promo (also for the Super Bowl) pulled in 46,000 submissions and helped Instagram followers jump from just 2,200 to over 85,000. Most recently, Oreo got into a good-natured Twitter battle with KitKat, which showcased their clever, “think fast” appeal once again.

Why It Works:

• Creativity: As marketers, we know that images rule social content; a concept Oreo and their agency, 360i, clearly understand and run with. The brand is also genius when it comes to thinking of on-point copy to create a fun, lighthearted brand tone. With consistently unique images and content incorporated into their social campaigns, it’s easy to see why their fans find Oreo’s posts so delicious.

• Awareness: Oreo is great at tuning in to their audience and selecting key current and historical events to build their campaigns and individual posts upon. This keeps them relevant within the social sphere itself, as well as where it really counts – with their fans.

Starbucks

Starbucks creates social content that gives everyone an instant snapshot of who they are. With a heavy focus on community and current events, Starbucks easily connects with their target customer and garners big-time engagement. Starbucks’ person-centric outlook has worked in their favor – in a 2012 analysis, they beat out 3,400 other food brands to be “most loved” on social media.

Why It Works:

• Community: Starbucks works on building their relationships with “super influencers” and creating a custom experience in stores and online, harnessing programs like My Starbucks Rewards and the power of Instagram and Pinterest to engage users on a personal level. They also place a big emphasis on sharing, offering frequent promotions that give engagement a huge boost.

• Giving back: Known for being a charity-focused brand, Starbucks is great at getting their fans involved in causes close to their heart. People enjoy seeing the human side of a brand, especially when they can be a part of it.

Target

This brand proves that even a massive retailer can target (no pun intended) content to make fans feel like they’re connecting with a local store built just for them. Additionally, Target does a fantastic job at publicizing their community involvement in a thoughtful way that really speaks to fans.

• Local focus: Instead of creating mass-produced posts for millions of fans all over the world, Target focuses social efforts on specific geographical audience segments to ensure their content is as relevant and well-received as possible. 

• Spread the word: Like Starbucks, Target is often recognized for giving back to charitable organizations. They leverage social media to amplify their fundraising efforts – for example, in a 2012 “Give With Target” campaign, the brand utilized Facebook posts to get users to engage and share for a cause. For every vote the posts secured, Target donated a dollar toward gift cards for schools.

Zappos

Zappos has long been regarded as a leader in social media, and for good reason: they reward their fans and consistently make them a part of their brand story. 

• Reward the “Like”: Anyone on Zappos’ Facebook page can see general posts and information, but fans get a backstage pass. Once a Facebook user “Likes” the Zappos page, the company provides exclusive access to special content, multimedia material, contests, and promotions. Zappos gives their social media fans value in return for their loyalty, creating better relationships and building brand integrity.

• Make it personal: Zappos ensures their fans get plenty of face time with contests like “Fan of the Week.” Fans are asked to submit Zappos-centric photos, which other fans can vote on via social channels. The winner gets their photo showcased all week long. When fans know their input is valued and they have the chance to personally connect with a brand, they’re much more likely to want to engage.

You don’t have to be a multinational brand with millions of fans to put these tips to work – personality, integrity, and creativity count when cultivating any social media presence. What other strategies are essential to your brand’s success?