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Every company — from your grandma’s hairstylist to Pepsi — now has its own social media presence, but there is no denying that some brands are way more successful than others. These nine companies have taken risks when it comes to social media, and their approaches have paid off!

Why Are Brands Drawn Towards Social Media?

In today’s world, having a social media presence for your company just makes sense.

Creating a profile on any of the major social media networks (such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr) is free, posting content is easy, and there is the potential for any post to go absolutely viral — sharing your brand far further than any television, radio, or print ad ever could.

With that being said, there’s more to advertising on social media than just having a profile – companies have to understand the tone and purpose of the platform they are trying to use.

These six brands and companies are worth highlighting because their use of social media completely fits the social media niche How Do You Use Social Media? A 20-Something's Theory of Social Media Niches How Do You Use Social Media? A 20-Something's Theory of Social Media Niches With widespread use of social media platforms, it can be hard to understand why new ones are created. Could this be because each social network actually only fills one or two specific niches for users? Read More of each of the sites they use – they change their advertising to fit the kind of humour most common on the platform, target users based on the kind of content they are used to seeing, and craft their posts so that their format is in-line with other posts on the platform.

Using Social Media to Engage Customers — Denny’s on Tumblr

DennysTumblr

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Denny’s rarely comes to mind unless you are absolutely desperate for cheap breakfast food.

However, their social media engagement on Tumblr, of all places, has done a lot to build visibility of their brand and engage potential customers (who, let’s face it, line up perfectly with Tumblr’s major demographic of young adults who love cheap breakfast food).

What has really set Denny’s apart is their ability to integrate with Tumblr’s (admittedly odd) sense of humour and stylization rules, leading to posts that regularly gain thousands of likes and re-blogs and the restaurant gaining a huge number of followers on Tumblr How to Gain Quality Followers on Tumblr How to Gain Quality Followers on Tumblr Tumblr is difficult to break into. But whether you are an author or artist, fan or creator, the recipe for Tumblr success remains the same, and it's a recipe we're willing to share. Read More .

Denny’s also interacts with other Tumblr users, commonly answering questions and adding commentary to related (and sometimes completely unrelated) posts.

Using Social Media to Showcase Products — IKEA on Pinterest

IKEAPinterest

IKEA’s reputation normally falls into the grey area of “recent college graduates desperate to have adult furniture”, but its social media presence may actually be changing that.

Pinterest has given IKEA a chance to make its products be seen as aspirational and inspirational rather than purely functional and affordable, and the boards that IKEA has curated demonstrate their dedication to this new perception of their brand.

Best of all, Pinterest is actively moving towards a design that promotes shopping online Pinterest Tries Out A New Gifts Feed To Entice The Online Shopper Pinterest Tries Out A New Gifts Feed To Entice The Online Shopper Pinterest gives the inveterate shopper another thing to gaze at – a Gift Feed. The gift feed is a collection of Pinterest's Product Pins, with a listing of products that are in-stock and available. Read More , giving IKEA an opportunity not only to showcase their products but also increase their distribution and sales — distribution that is driven entirely by Pinterest’s user base, and doesn’t cost IKEA a thing.

Using Social Media to Make a Difference — Make a Wish Foundation

BatKid

It’s going to take a long while for the internet to forget Batkid, the five-year-old undergoing cancer treatments who wanted to be a superhero for a day for his “Make A Wish” gift.

The Make A Wish Foundation used social media (initially e-mail, but then expanding to other forms) to rally support from people in San Francisco to help them make Batkid’s day in November 2013.

As news spread on social media via Twitter (#SFbatkid What Do We Care About? The 7 Most Memorable Twitter Hashtags of 2013 What Do We Care About? The 7 Most Memorable Twitter Hashtags of 2013 From natural disasters to the death of a great man, from the end of an immensely popular TV show to a 5-year-old boy's biggest wish coming true, 2013 has seen it all. Read More ), Instagram, and live reporting, an incredible number of people became involved — By the end of the day, stories about Batkid had reached hundreds of millions of people, the website for Make A Wish had crashed due to the influx of visitors, and Batkid’s wildest dreams were able to come true.

Using Social Media to Offer Customer Support — Xbox on Twitter

XboxTwitter

What good is it having your favourite brands easily accessible through your phone or computer if they don’t answer back?

Xbox takes their Twitter support to the next level, offering live Twitter support 7 days a week from 6am to midnight. The responses are far faster than most email queues, and their technicians use a polite tone no matter the tone of the users that they are assisting.

What’s great about Xbox’s Twitter account is that they don’t just direct you to their FAQ or to a helpline — they use Twitter directly as a troubleshooting platform, and work you through all of the steps you need to get back to gaming.

Using Social Media to Change How Products are Perceived — Old Spice on Instagram

OldSpiceInstagram

There should be literally nothing exciting or compelling about deodorant.

And yet, here we are.

Featuring a deodorant’s Instagram page.

Even though having a Instagram page for a brand of deodorant shouldn’t work, it does, and a big part of that is because of how well Old Spice tailors their posts to Instagram users.

If you spend time looking through Old Spice’s page, its images are the perfect blend of ridiculous, elaborate, and hilarious with witty captions at every opportunity. Because of this, it’s no surprise that Old Spice has nearly 36,000 followers on Instagram alone.

Without a doubt, Old Spice’s use of social media is changing how it is perceived. Instead of just being another deodorant on the shelf, it is now “that hilarious brand with the great Instagram account”  and that matters when it comes to purchasing decisions!

Using Social Media to Educate — NASA

NASAFacebook

NASA has always had a bit of a mysterious and exclusive air around it, but the last few years have seen that change dramatically with the use of social media.

NASA has many different social media accounts The Social Frontier: Great Ways To Explore Space On Social Networks The Social Frontier: Great Ways To Explore Space On Social Networks For all you techie star-gazing wanderers out there, we've compiled a list of the best social media accounts you should follow for exploring space without having to leave your own home. Read More  and has fully embraced tailoring their content to each one.

NASA’s YouTube channel offers live streams of educational material and near-daily postings of videos on any subject available, their Facebook page features short summaries of research that are linked to longer reports, and their Vine account offers six-second peeks into the lives of astronauts.

My personal favorite of all NASA’s accounts remains their Twitter account dedicated to the Curiosity Rover Curiosity Has Landed - 5 Ways You Can Follow What The Mars Rover Is Up To Curiosity Has Landed - 5 Ways You Can Follow What The Mars Rover Is Up To Let’s rejoice because Curiosity overcame the eight months space hop and the seven minutes of terror to land safely on Mars. Now, it will go about its business of finding out if Martians really exist…or... Read More , which has spent the last two years tweeting about the Rover’s adventures on Mars from a first-person perspective.

Social media is often seen as “mindless entertainment”, making NASA’s dedication and success at turning it into a useful and popular educational tool for its missions and research nothing short of incredible.

What About You?

I confess, even though I loathe voluntarily participating in advertising, I definitely just went and followed half of this list on my personal accounts because of their humour, education, or customer benefits.

There’s a huge difference between annoying Facebook ads Why Am I Seeing This Ad? How Social Media Ads Target You Why Am I Seeing This Ad? How Social Media Ads Target You Every social media site out there shows us ads. But sometimes, those ads can get very specific towards you, often showing you ads that seem creepy and stalkerish. How do they do that? Read More and the purposeful, engaging content featured in this article.

This is because advertising on social media isn’t just a free way to re-purpose your print and television ads — it’s an incredible way for companies to interact with consumers, change how their brand is perceived, and market products creatively in the entirely separate mediums created by different forms of social networks.

While social media opens a lot of doors for advertising, advertisers need to understand the purpose, users, and unofficial rules for each of the platforms they wish to access – but once they crack this code, their reach is almost unstoppable.

Are there any brands or companies that you follow? Why do you follow them?

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