2016 was a big year for social media. Vine got the axe. Instagram launched its “Stories” feature. Facebook Live saw a huge surge in popularity. Twitter became the president elect’s preferred method of communication. As usual, businesses have been quick to jump on the latest social trends in the hopes of finding the next big win for their marketing strategy, and 2016 wasn’t short on success stories.

As the year comes to a close, let’s look at some successful social media campaigns from the past twelve months and see what we can take away and implement in 2017.

Dance Craze Battle: Facebook Live streaming video

Despite an ever-growing penchant towards digitizing, manipulating, and filtering images, one breath of fresh air emerging in the world of online social media is live video. Taking marketers back to the primal, live TV roots of “whatever happens, happens”, live video in the form of Periscope, Facebook, and most recently, Instagram, really took off in 2016.

Facebook Live has seen an especially big surge in usage, and brands have readily jumped on board, taking full advantage of and getting creative with the interactivity that live video offers.

Always one to stay atop the trends, Buzzfeed showcased its creative chops on Facebook with its Dance Craze Battle: Live, getting its staff to participate in a live dance off while Facebook viewers could watch, suggest dance moves, and vote for their favorites.

This rare inside look into one of the internet’s most highly trafficked sites gave fans the chance to get to know the people behind the publication, encouraging participation and grasping people’s attention by asking for viewer suggestions throughout the 30 minute broadcast.

  • 2017 Takeaway: Live video doesn’t just have to be for silly events; it can showcase your product, prompt a discussion, or give a behind-the-scenes look into your company. The key is interaction– take advantage of the fact that you’re live and get your viewers involved with the direction of your broadcast. In order to keep up with the conversation in real time, a tool like Agorapulse can help you keep track of how people are commenting so that you can react accordingly.

#BallotBriefcase: Snapchat stories

Despite whispers of Snapchat’s demise when Instagram launched its near-identical “Stories” feature earlier this year, Snapchat continues to be a way for marketers to flex their creative muscles with unique marketing campaigns. Notably, it’s also one of the only social media apps that offers direct messaging functionality, a huge dark spot in many current marketing platforms.

An unsuspecting Snapchat success story this year came from financial firm PwC. One of PwC’s more glamorous yearly jobs is being responsible for the Academy Award ballots, delivering the results to the awards ceremony in LA via briefcase. This year, the company took to Snapchat to document the journey of its #BallotBriefcase as it made it’s way from NYC to the Academy Awards.

The story and hashtag #BallotBriefcase garnered lots of support from viewers, introducing PwC to a whole new demographic of budding accountants while increasing its social impressions on Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

2017 Takeaway: You don’t need to be a “cool” brand to use Snapchat, but you should probably appeal to a demographic in the 18 to 35 range if you want to get the most traction. As always, the more ‘raw’ feel of Snapchat means that although you do need a strategy, you don’t need fancy marketing materials or a big budget to execute. Mark Suster is another good example of someone turning a seemingly “boring” topic into an exciting one via Snapchat– the venture capitalist gives lessons in finance via the ephemeral messaging app.

#EsuranceSweepstakes: Twitter sweepstakes

Twitter’s been getting lots of flack this year; from cutting its workforce, to axing Vine, to executive exits, the unstable future of Twitter has been a consistent topic of conversation in 2016. Yet, it’s still proven its worth for social media marketing throughout the year (just ask Trump).

Another unlikely contender when it comes to successful social media campaigns is insurance company Esurance. Giving away a total of $1 million to 17 lucky winners during the 2016 Superbowl, Esurance encouraged retweets of its #Esurancesweepstakes hashtag in order to win the big bucks, calling the winners via Facetime and sharing their video reactions on Twitter.

How successful was it? Consider this– despite not actually running an ad during the Superbowl, Esurance was the most talked about brand on social media during Superbowl 2016.

2017 Takeaway: Twitter’s not dead– yet. The hashtag is still a powerful tool for circulating content on Twitter, and becomes even more useful when it’s attached to a marketing campaign. Notably, the B2B marketing world still relies heavily on Twitter for sharing content, where it’s still considered a key metric of success (albeit a questionable one). If you need help following the conversation, Hootsuite is still one of the best tools for being able to track mentions and hashtags as they occur in the Twittersphere.

Like my addiction: Instagram curation

Although Instagram is slowly transforming itself into a Snapchat alternative (first stories, then disappearing direct messages, now stickers), it’s main appeal continues to be its perfectly curated image stream. For businesses, having a curated profile and using the right hashtags is still a great way to get brand exposure, as well as share marketing messages with your followers.

This power was demonstrated this year by Addict Aide, a French organization aiming to help those with addiction. The company created a viral campaign called “Like my addiction” on the sly– under the guise of an Instagram “it” girl living the life in Paris, Louise Delage became an almost overnight sensation on Instagram, racking up 16,000 followers in only a few months using hashtags, bots, and influencers. The feed showed Louise on boat parties, visiting Berlin, and at frequent dinner parties, among other glamorous locations. The hitch? She was holding an alcoholic beverage in nearly every photo. The campaign hoped to bring awareness to addiction in young adults, and while few commented about Louise’s alcohol consumption over Instagram, it garnered huge media attention once the authenticity of the account was finally revealed.

After all was said and done, Addict Aide saw 5x more traffic to their site, over 140 articles written about the campaign, and became a trending topic on Twitter in France.

2017 Takeaway: Images still hold the power of influence. While making a fake account as part of a larger campaign may not be right for your company, finding the right influencers, using hashtags, strategically using bots to find and follow the right people, and most importantly, posting the right images, will get you a long way on Instagram. Try using a tool like Falcon.io to find the right influencers, hashtags, and audience.

Tasty’s video recipes: Facebook video

It’s been the buzz for at least two years now, but video is finally living up to its high expectations as one of the key marketing strategies to attack in 2017, estimated to be an industry worth roughly $12.3 billion by next year.

Buzzfeed yet again showed its prowess in creative video this year with it’s food arm Tasty. Giving quick recipes edited to short 1-2 minute videos, the channel has garnered almost 2 million YouTube subscribers and 77 million likes on Facebook, with the videos being perfect for Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

2017 Takeaway: Not doing video is out of the question if you want to be a leader in online marketing in 2017; the key is to be creative with the way that you approach it. Much like content marketing, video content will quickly become saturated, and you want a way for your videos to stand out but also to keep the attention of your viewers. On that same note, shorter videos show more engagement than longer pieces, so keep that in mind for your 2017 video strategy.

Create your own successful social media campaigns

2017 holds a lot of potential for social media success. Whether you’re using live videos, creating small productions, or posting on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter, you’re sure to have your own successful social media campaign in the coming year if creativity (and the right tools) are at your disposal.