What’s been a hit on social media in 2017?What hasn’t?

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Of course, we have to start this with the most successful social media campaign so far this year. Whether the multi-colored sugar tsunami made you gush or gag, there’s no denying the sheer volume of people who went ape for Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino.

Starbucks wins because it essentially made a product that was brewed for social media. Over the five days it was available (April 19–23), the Unicorn Frappuccino drew more than 132,900 posts on Twitter, 11,900+ Instagram posts, 690+ Facebook posts, 100,000+ images and 141,100+ cross-channel hastags (FlyingPointDigital).

While plenty of those posts were from adoring fans enjoying their beverage, others were pretty savage, with reviews calling it an ‘abomination’ that tastes like ‘orange trident gum and hot dog water’. There were even a few videos of them throwing their drink in the trash. And of course, we can’t forget one barista’s meltdown (original post since removed) imploring customers to not order the frapp.

Despite the naysayers, consider the results. People couldn’t wait to share their experience on social media, earning Starbucks potentially millions of dollars worth of free advertising. That kind of response resulted in a nearly instantaneous sell-out of the drink, which helped bump Q2 same-store sales in the Americas up 3%.

And the company’s CEO, Kevin Johnson, said more of these limited edition drinks are sure to follow. So stay tuned!

Mr. Clean Gets Dirty

Mr. Clean: Cleaner of Your Dreams Dirty…or at least mildly naughty.

The ‘Cleaner of Your Dreams’ Super Bowl ad was hands down one of the most popular of the night, due in no small part to Facebook and Twitter buzz generated by the brand’s social media campaign. Mr. Clean, a brand name and mascot owned by Procter and Gamble, released a number of teaser trailers on the social channels leading up to the game, which created a following. When the ad finally aired, it earned some 11,700 mentions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in one minute! The YouTube video went viral to the tune of more than 17 millions views.

A company teasing its Super Bowl commercial prior to the game isn’t a novel concept. After all, if you’re going to drop that kind of cash ($5–5.5 million for a 30-second ad during Super Bowl LI) you want to ensure a big splash. This just happens to be a textbook example of how to reap some serious rewards with a clever social media campaign at the perfect time.

#SaltBae and His Imitators

A guy carving up some steak. Simple enough.

A very dashing guy. In a T-shirt. And rock star shades. Ok, we get the appeal.

Why is he smacking the board with the knife? Seems kinda pretentious.

Great knife skills though. We just learned a new trick.

All right. The steak’s ready to go. So, what’s all the fuss abo-

via GIPHY

OHMYGODTHESALT!

And in that oddly gratifying moment, the Salt Bae was born. A quick Instagram video post from Chef Nusret Gökçe earned him more than 2.4 million views and 8,700 comments in 48 hours, not to mention legions of fans, a hashtag, and his first ever viral video…though it wouldn’t be his last.

Twitter user @lolalissaa reposted another Gökçe video in which he dangled a slab of cooked meat over a woman’s mouth. In two days, the video earned nearly 3,100 Likes and 2,500 Retweets.

Another Twitter user, @elBeardedBandit, posted his ‘You vs. The Guy’ meme which garnered more than 48,000 Likes and 33,000 Retweets in 48 hours. After the fans and the Photoshoppers had their fun, the imitators got into the game. An Instagram video post by @j.kube parodied Gökçe by carving several slices of bread before sprinkling, well…sprinkles…over his forearm.

Even a Russian blacksmith had a turn…

Borax Bae

For the record, Gökçe was already world renowned as co-owner of the very high-end Nusr-et Steakhouse, which has several locations across Turkey and Dubai. And while this might not have been a planned social media campaign in the traditional sense, his social media success generated so much popular demand that Salt Bae is planning his first restaurant in London. Boom…company growth

#knowyourlemons

A big part of a successful social media campaign is knowing how to reach your audience. If there was ever a perfect example of how more impactful and effective a picture can be over words, it’s the Worldwide Breast Cancer charity’s Know Your Lemons campaign.

The viral social media post used a picture of 12 lemons to illustrate the 12 key changes in breasts that may indicate breast cancer. The image has been viewed more than 3 million times on Facebook and has been shared more than 40,000 times. Media outlets in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Poland have also featured it.

The secret for success is it’s visual nature. In an interview with Medscape Medical News, the organization’s founder and director, Dr. Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont, said patients recall as little as 14% of what they are told. Additionally, many patients have what she calls ‘low health literacy’, and may feel uncomfortable talk about breasts or discussing cancer.

She said the friendly, approachable visual is easy to interpret, alleviates any hurdles of taboo, and eliminates the text that is easily forgotten.

Clearly, it worked. The lighthearted campaign gave people a platform to share their thoughts and stories, and helped Worldwide Breast Cancer exceed its fundraising target by 317% on Just Giving alone.

Liam Neeson Eats Here for Free

Here’s another one that isn’t necessarily a social media campaign. But one ambitious sandwich shop earned a big reward for its business with a little “social media” magic.

The Big Star Sandwich Co. in British Columbia caught wind that Liam Neeson would be in town filming for his new movie, “Hard Powder.” Rolling the dice, the shop displayed a sandwich board sign that read “Liam Neeson eats here for free.”

Yup. A sandwich board. It still counts as social media, right? Everybody walking by is an impression. If someone reads and smiles or laughs, we’ll count that as a Like. And a Share is just another name for word-of-mouth.

And it got the desired conversion! Later that day, Neeson showed up at the shop to collect his free sandwich.

liam neeson social media campaign

Before taking his food to go, Neeson posed for a few photos, one of which was posted on the shop’s Instagram page and has since acquired more than 4,600 Likes.

Big Star Sandwich hopes Neeson will come back for seconds and will try their newest addition to the menu, The Neeson – Lots of beef, a one-two-punch of bacon and hickory sticks, and spice that will get revenge on you tomorrow.

So, let that be a lesson to all you restaurateurs out there. Offer a celebrity free food and they just might show up!