“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” –Charles Caleb Colton

2016 was the biggest year for brand trendsetters from the entrepeur to international names like American Express and Everlane are building on their successes.

No one wants to be behind the curve, especially when it comes to marketing and brand recognition. However, you can learn a lot by watching what major players are doing and then giving their ideas your own unique twist. Whether you’re offering cupcakes or computers, homemade keychains or high-performance aftermarket engine parts, you can build a unique image that gives your business the momentum it will need to break the sales barrier and catapult you to the top of your field. Let’s look at some examples of social media campaigns your business can build on!

1. Keep it simple.

In 2016, L’Oreal’s anti-sexism social media campaign  “The #WorthSaying campaign is rooted in the brand’s iconic tagline, ‘Because You’re Worth It,’ and the belief that all women have something worthy to say,” Karen Fondu, president of L’Oréal Paris told AdWeek. They used Golden Globes sponsor and influencers like Jennifer Lopez to push the campaign with the simple hashtag.  The campaign managed to win the hearts, eyes, and wallets of the Internet. Think about how going basic and using your a simple image to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Slick advertising can only take you so far, which is why simple may be the “new black”.

become a brand trendsetter red lips worthsaying


2. Don’t follow the crowd.

L.L. Bean is world-famous for their outdoor wear. You’ve probably seen the catalog, passed by their outlet in your local mall or at the very least seen them online. In 2015, the company diverged from market logic and instead of showcasing their products like many of their competitors, used sharp rustic images such as campfires and log cabins to link their brand irrevocably to the outdoors in the minds of viewers.

Consider what your competitors are doing and how you might move away from what they’re showing, offering and doing to create an attention-grabbing plan for your marketing.

3. Basic can be a winning strategy.

“Yogurt” isn’t exactly synonymous with “exciting” in most people’s minds. Chobani, one of the biggest makers of yogurt in the world, set out to change that. Artfully composed, simple (are we seeing a trend here?) images of their yogurt being used in various recipes and settings helped drive their brand to a dominant spot in the market, making their owner one of the planet’s newest billionaires and helping drive the global yogurt consumption up 2,500% over 2010, according to the Huffington Post. Many Internet viewers are suffering from a combination of “banner blindness” and information overload.

Can you simplify your marketing to combat this while still driving sales? Chobani shows that yes, you can!

4. Does your brand have a social conscience?

Every year Suburu includes social responsiblity as part of thier marketing strategy.  They commited  to donating a portion of car sales between November and January.  Suburu ook their outreach one step further, incorporating nationwide donation they enlisted local dealiships acroos the country to donate to local charies and voluteer their time connecting with the local comunity and pushing the campaign on their small business social media and making it easier than ever for people to help support their work and company. This same thinking can work for your brand if you have a favored cause or charity your company supports. Social marketing is evolving beyond “Buy my stuff!” and brands that give back to the community in some way are more likely to make a favorable impression on consumers.

How could you do something similar with your outreach campaign while applying your own unique spin?


Subaru Share The Love – Gabe

It's the season for sharing, so help us get into the sharing spirit with Subaru of America, Inc., which launches its annual #ShareTheLove campaign today! Subaru will donate $250 for each new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of participating charities, including Make-A-Wish America, through January 3 with a minimum donation of $250,000. Stay tuned for ways you can help share the love! a.wish.org/ShareTheLoveMAW

Posted by Make-A-Wish America on Thursday, November 17, 2016

5. Show viewers your heart and soul.

What makes your company work? Chances are, right now you’re thinking of the people you employ. Before you have viewers, interested leads or customers, you first have to have the people and logistical support to make your business run smoothly. Fashion trendsetter Everlane put their people front and center in a unique way by tailoring each of its social media campaigns to showcase a different side of their company, from the culture to the uniquely personal feel of their customer communications.  They used this philosphy in their Black Friday ads by focusing on how they would give back to thier overseas factory workers in Vietnam. Note the video also shows the working conditions of the inside of their factories which I think is a brillant PR move.

How could you adapt this idea to your own company to give customers a better idea of what your company is all about?


#BlackFridayFund 2016

"Get home safe."A message we send and hear often, but it's rare that we truly need to worry. We found out some people do. This year our #BlackFridayFund is going towards making sure all 8,000 of the employees at our factory in Vietnam have a safe journey home. Let's do this. http://evrln.co/blackfridayfund

Posted by Everlane on Friday, November 25, 2016

6. Get up close and personal with your viewers.

What interests your viewesmall business saturday be a trendsetterrs? What makes them tick? Who IS your “ideal viewer?” In 2015, American Express’s OPEN website innovated the blogging experience by allowing users to obtain tailor-made content that speaks to their interests and needs by selecting the kinds of information that are most relevant to them. This year, they concentrated on small businesses with a “Shop Small” Small Business Saturday campaign outreaching to the small business owner with resources for the big day. This personal touch reinforces American Express’s emphasis on the customer first and foremost.

What could you do for your viewers, visitors, and clientele to make their visit to your page, blog or social media platform more personal?

7. Tell a story.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a story told well in social media marketing. Your brand’s image should give viewers a reason to care enough about your brand to want to know more, and the best way to do that is by telling a story. Microsoft’s blog design  is an excellent example of an online trendsetter. Their blog relies on storytelling, journalistic styling, and eye-catching, handmade drawings to get attention, and the results show that people are responding to and interacting with the brand in a way they haven’t since the first Xbox 360 hit the shelves.

What story do you want your brand to tell? How can you frame the story to interest your customers and attracts attention from people who may be on the fence about your brand?

8. Find your voice.

Every brand trendsetter on this list sets a distinctive and entertaining tone for their social media marketing. From fun and exciting to authoritative and informative yet zany and witty, social media marketing is starting to depend less on the product and more on the tone with which it is presented. While the importance of the standards of good design and brand unity cannot and should not fall by the wayside, setting a distinctive tone is a key point in setting your brand apart. Take a moment and consider what your brand’s voice is, and how you can communicate that to your viewers. Is your business fun, solid, passionate or somewhat wacky?

How can you use the qualities you want to convey in your business to help establish a dialogue with viewers and transform them into paying customers?

9. Give as much as (or more than) you get.

Practical information that helps the viewer has become the new social media marketing currency. People who feel like they get something of value for their clicks and reading time are more likely to convert to brand users and ambassadors. Autodesk used this to particularly good advantage, transforming their blog into an eye-catching, informative and often entertaining showcase of advice for businesses, framed as a story as unique as the companies they discuss.

How can you apply this principle to your social media marketing and make your viewers see real value in the information they get from your company? Remember, social selling today requires more give for the take, but the more you give, the more you stand to get.

10. Mix up your media.

Viewers on the Internet are starved for unique content, and video done right delivers a story, visual engagement, entertainment and information on a level that a simple article (like this one) just can’t compete with GoPro’s interactive 360 Facebook video, an example of video marketing (and completely cool) that grabs the viewer’s attention and make them look at the product or service in a different way.

GoPro Spherical: Tahiti Surf VR

Anthony Walsh and Matahi Drollet bring us inside some of the biggest barrels Tahiti has to offer in full 360°.For the most immersive experience, click and drag on your desktop, or move your iOS device in any direction.

Posted by GoPro on Thursday, November 12, 2015

If you did a video for your company, what kind of story would you want to tell? How can you apply these ideas to take your social marketing campaign in a direction that makes you stand out from your competition in 2017?

There’s no magic bullet or “one true and only way” to get your brand message across, but 2015 and 2016 made it clear that innovation, live video, entertainment, storytelling and taking the road less traveled pays BIG dividends. By asking how you can apply the techniques and tactics described here to your social media marketing, you can give your brand the edge it needs to stay competitive. But if you find yourself confused or unsure where to start we can help. Don’t settle. Be Incredible!

Also published on Medium.

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Angela Swanson

Angela Swanson is the Founder and Owner of Simple Solutions.io, a web design & web marketing agency dedicated to a holistic approach to the online presence. Angela’s forté lies in creative problem solving and go-getter strategies delivering amazing results to businesses and their brands--without sacrificing authenticity. With actionable steps, she helps businesses go beyond average and embrace their incredible potential. The outcome? Awesome sales and profits and a rockin' brand identity. With years of experience in marketing, organizational communication, and management, Angela brings a diverse and valuable skill set to her approach. She is also Founder and Co-Owner of Sweet Papaya Creative, a creative video production and editing company, in the portland, OR area.