When you think of brands on social media, which come to mind first? Wendy’s buzz-worthy sarcasm? Dove’s inspiring Real Beauty campaigns? Sprout’s TikTok? (Hint hint.)
People don’t remember brands or sales-y content—they remember stories. And great brand marketing on social is behind some of the most creative storytelling out there. From edgy social personas to posting fresh memes, storytelling takes many different forms. But it all comes down to a common goal—connecting with people. And it works; when brands use social media to spotlight their personality, 45% of consumers say they feel more connected to them.
Looking at clever uses of social media fuels inspiration for your company’s social presence. At Sprout, we obsess over the next big thing on social—we can’t help ourselves. So we asked a few members of Team Sprout: what brands are you watching for inspiration right now? Read what they had to say.
Brands we’re watching
Greg Rokisky: Nickelodeon, La Colombe, GoPro, Delta, Oreo
Nickelodeon: Instagram Stories
“Nickelodeon has at least a few Instagram stories up almost every day and they’re on-brand, creative, prioritize engagement and are constantly providing exclusive and behind-the-scenes content to encourage others to come back again and again.”
La Colombe: Relatable coffee content
“As someone who is over-caffeinated 99.9% of the time, this content not only speaks to a coffee lover’s heart, but also taps into any consumer who has a love for espresso.”
Delta: Twitter polls
“I love Delta’s recent experimentation of pairing Twitter polls with media. This method takes up more real estate and has definitely caused my thumb to stop scrolling, and has made me want to book a flight to an exciting destination.”
Where would you fly to see the best fall foliage? 🍂✈️
— Delta (@Delta) November 1, 2022
OREO: Inclusive and celebratory campaigns
“Having worked first-hand with the OREO team on past activations for the LGBTQ+ community, I love the thoughtfulness and creativity that goes into content developed for social around a campaign.”
— OREO Cookie (@Oreo) June 28, 2022
“From showing up as an ally to our loved ones to relating to cultural trends like a growing love for Pumpkin Spice, I love watching what OREO continues to do across their accounts.”
Olivia Jepson: PF Candle Co., Washington Post, Moment
PF Candle Co.: Audience engagement
“I love their stories where they use polls to gauge people’s aesthetics to recommend scents. Super creative way to get people engaged and also create a path to purchase!”
Washington Post: Clever content
“Washington Post’s TikTok, for so many reasons. They make news fun and digestible for a new audience, and break down really complex topics.”
Moment: Tutorials and reviews
“Moment’s tutorials and reviews are too good. I love that their reviews and tutorials are from the perspective of someone who is an actual filmmaker or creator. They’re super authentic and give a review from the perspective of their use cases.”
— Moment (@moment) October 31, 2022
“Rather than just talking about product features, Moment also shares a lot of examples and final images. They put their product to the test and I think they really make their content for their customers. Moment’s channels hit a fantastic social selling balance.”
Jonathan Zuluaga: McDonald’s, Bonobos
McDonald’s: Sparking conversation
“I’m always a big follower of McDonald’s and find that they’re able to always do something that sparks conversation. Their Twitter in particular is awesome, and they are creative with their use of threads and replies.”
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) November 10, 2022
Bonobos: Clever partnerships
“Recently Bonobos partnered with Nick Kroll in what is an unlikely partnership.”
“While they drew attention with a celebrity, they highlighted some of the benefits of their product like stretchiness of their pants and diversity of product.”
Ronnie Gomez: Letterboxd, The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, Morning Brew
Letterboxd: Movie news meets humor
“They strike the perfect balance between capital-F Film news and stan speak. I know I can trust their account for updates on upcoming movies, but also jokes. Also, their #LastFourWatched series is a really clever engagement play.”
— Letterboxd (@letterboxd) November 11, 2022
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife: Humor
“Their work on #GarWeek has secured a fan for life.”
Look at garrrrs,
look how they shine for you,
their scales are basically tooths,
✨yea he a gar fellow ✨ pic.twitter.com/RxYVGUoqL3
— Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (@OKWildlifeDept) November 2, 2022
Morning Brew: Posts with personality and substance
“I only accept finance/business news if it’s presented to me via Morning Brew social media posts. Their social presence has such a clear personality. I can recognize their content before I even look at the handle that shared it.”
For her upcoming tour, Taylor Swift is playing 52 shows. That means she will sell roughly 3M tickets, depending on stadium capacity each night.
Ticketmaster says she would need to perform a stadium show every night for the next 2 1/2 years to accomodate all her fans. pic.twitter.com/yI1GAiJKsi
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) November 21, 2022
“It’s really impressive considering they post about breaking news, trending topics, social media memes, content from in-house creators, etc. It gives me a better idea of how breaking business news impacts my life and world.”
Emmet Ward: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Lidl
“A brand that has captured my attention this year is UEFA, particularly their promotion of the Women’s European Championships. Through visual storytelling, they have managed to sell out the soccer matches, engage with a potential market exceeding 24 million people and created a whole new platform for the incredible women in the game through their active social media campaigns.”
🇩🇪 Germany celebrated 5️⃣0️⃣ years of women's football this weekend!
🏆 They have won eight European Championships, two World Cups and one Olympic title!
⚽ Did you know more than one million women and girls in Germany are members of a football club?
— UEFA (@UEFA) November 2, 2020
“With soccer being the number one sport in Europe, it’s so exciting to see the incredible female athletes receive the much deserved recognition as ambassadors for the sport.”
Lidl: Humor and personality
“Having been a previous employee of the European supermarket giant Lidl, I am always looking for inspiration from both it and its rival—Aldi. Both have an incredible presence on social media, filled with humor that totally engages the customer. Check out the hilarious billboard from Lidl Ireland referring to their rival store Aldi—literally positioned opposite them on the same street.
— Lidl Ireland (@lidl_ireland) October 26, 2022
“Both supermarkets have thrived and seen incredible growth throughout the pandemic with their witty social media presence often looping in other retail brands in lighthearted fun. This clearly resonates with their customers, with both taking first and second position over their flagship counterparts in popularity and use in 2019. Since then, they continue to grow strength by strength and their social strategies are genius! One to look out for inspiration indeed.”
Abigail Tan: Nike
Consumer-centered social content
“Nike uses their consumers as the center of their social media presence, making their content more relatable. From supporting social causes, highlighting athletes (even non-mainstream individuals) and showcasing different cultures. Just their IG feed alone is proof of this. This brand has also always been inclusive, challenging gender stereotypes.”
Following a new track & field rule banning athletes with higher testosterone levels from competing in her specialty, the 800 meter… Caster responded by training for the 3,000 meter race.
— Nike (@Nike) July 25, 2022
What brands are you watching?
Just as social media is constantly changing, so too is the list of brands known for having a show stopping—or scroll stopping—social presence.
Keeping up with the frontrunners on that list is a great way to spark creative social media ideas that will bring your brand to life on its channels.
The brands on this list are a great starting point. To dive even deeper, read our surprise and delight article to explore even more brands that are getting it right on social.
How social media consistency drives business resultsPublished on February 2, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
How to define and reach your target audience on social mediaPublished on February 1, 2023 Reading time 4 minutes
What is social media management? Everything you need to knowPublished on January 23, 2023 Reading time 10 minutes