Welcome to Sprout’s Social Spotlight, where each week we’re diving deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.

Marshalls’ #MarshallsSurprise

It could easily be argued that ecommerce has taken a lot of the fun out of shopping. In this Social Spotlight, we take a look at how discount retailer Marshalls is reviving the feeling of running across a surprise find in a physical store for the social era and turning a potential brand negative into a powerful brand asset.

Netflix uses social to create a brand experience

The same savvy that’s served Netflix well on the product side extends to marketing, especially social. There the brand has leaned hard into a “fan’s fan” persona by hiring movie and TV buffs to man its accounts. The resulting brand voice is approachable, clever without trying and authentic to the reason Netflix is beloved in the first place: people love to talk about what they’re watching.

Air Jordan or A/R Jordan

How do you make a living legend come to life for an audience too young to remember what made him legendary? If you’re Jordan Brand, you augment the present with one of the most extraordinary moments from the past. Meet A/R Jordan.

A lesson in social storytelling from The New York Times

The New York Times adjusted to the demands of social storytelling by identifying the disconnects between their distribution model and the expectations of a digitally engaged audience. The Gray Lady has come into her own in part by redefining the role of social media in compelling and accessible journalism.

How GoPro fuels brand loyalty with UGC

Few brands have as successfully embraced UGC as GoPro, and with good reason; when your product makes great images and video possible for your consumers, showing is better than telling. Making it easy for fans to share (and be rewarded for sharing) via social has been key to expanding the brand’s reach and generating loyalty.

#FreshXIngridNilsen: A social influencer success story

Getting influencer marketing right can be tricky. Finding an influencer your audience will identify with, find aspirational and take at face value – all at the right, mutually-beneficial price – is a challenging process without a guarantee. Fresh Beauty is one brand that got it right when it partnered with beauty vlogger Ingrid Nilsen to create an authentic, relevant connection between the brand and its target audience.

Everlane and the impact of zero impact

More than ever, consumers want to put their money where their values are, but social media is riddled with brands that have attempted purpose-driven marketing and failed due to presenting only a surface-level PR commitment that rings hollow. But when a brand builds purpose into the very fiber of its business, the marketing is the easy part. Take fashion brand Everlane, which uses social not for flashy content meant solely to sell, but for deep and authentic storytelling about the purpose-driven business it’s built.

How the ASPCA uses social to inspire action

We all know social is a powerful platform for great storytelling, but the real secret sauce is when that great storytelling is paired with the immediate connection social offers. This is especially true for nonprofits like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA, which uses social to tie the stories of the animals it helps (and the humans who love them) to actions of support: donations, adoptions, lobbying and awareness.

REI’s #OptOutside and how a campaign becomes a movement

REI has proven that there’s something to be said for focusing on a specific moment in time and owning it like no other brand ever has. In an age where 70% of consumers indicate that it’s important for brands to take a socio-political stand, finding a social good angle to support with your campaign has never been so vital. REI answers the challenge of how you keep the momentum going from that initial splash to build sustained equity for your brand.

Square and the power of focus

Square has found B2B social success through a laser focus on its primary buyers, which allows the brand to go deep with the stories it finds and champions. Making payments processing more human is no easy task, but Square has found a way to create connection by using beautiful photography, videography and custom illustrations to reveal the people behind the business and tell stories with maximum relevance to their target audience.


Michigan State University and creating community in this ‘new normal’

Michigan State University is using their social strategy to tackle the challenges of creating a sense of community when faculty and students are dispersed and using e-learning as their primary shared experience over the traditional college experience of shared spaces and community events. MSU is connecting students and alumni as a larger community around the school’s shared mission.

Talkspace and how to build a community of support

The idea of what “community” means for brands on social media has shifted more in 2020 than it has in a decade. A primary example of how brands are helping build a new kind of community online is Talkspace, the asynchronous, chat-based therapeutic and mental health app. Talkspace has helped destigmatize discussion of mental health and therapy by turning its channels into a platform of togetherness, belonging and a mutual desire to be healthier and happier.

Visa and how to pivot with empathy during a crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, brands are being challenged to determine how to best support customers while also ensuring that their businesses can survive a global economic threat. The world’s biggest brands also have the added scrutiny of public opinion about how they conduct themselves. Visa has been able to demonstrate both empathy and optimism by making quick, thoughtful and appropriate adjustments to its social strategy.

The Trevor Project and how to establish, evolve and empower your community

Like many organizations have in 2020, the Trevor Project has had to be agile in its messaging and digital programming to make up for loss of in-person touchpoints with its audience during the global pandemic. The isolation many LGBTQ+ feel has been exacerbated by mandated quarantine, but the Trevor Project has found even more effective ways to connect with the individuals and groups most in need of its services through social media.

Ben & Jerry’s and how to take an actionable stand on social

For years companies have faced increasing pressure to take a stand on social and political issues. And while some have succeeded in rising to this challenge, recent events indicate that brands still have a ways to go. One brand succeeding with authentic messaging is Ben & Jerry’s, which has proven that it’s willing to lose money in order to gain ground in the fight against injustice.

Nike and how to outpace the competition on social

The competition for attention is fierce for brands on social. On top of that, consumers are also more informed, more selective, less trusting and less patient than ever before. At the time of writing, Nike is the most followed brand on Instagram and boasts global name recognition. So what’s their secret? Consumers and social marketers agree that a brand’s social media presence stands out from the competition when it’s creative, memorable and impactful.

VSCO’s #BlackJoyMatters shows social issues through a new lens

While the VSCO app has evolved over the past 8 years, the company’s main focus remains the same: giving creators the tools, spaces and connections to express themselves authentically. One experience that has received a lot of love and attention from users and media alike is a photo collection titled #BlackJoyMatters, which features the work of Black photographers and artists.

Peloton and how to get your community to speak for itself

For many Peloton users, the friendly competition, connection and motivation from fellow riders is a big reason they continue to clip in day after day. But this virtual community doesn’t just live on the streaming service. In fact, it truly thrives on social, where a mix of owned media, influencer/instructors, and user communities help create connection.

How Airbnb kept the lights on when everyone was home

A deep dive into Airbnb’s social activity during 2020 quarantines and travel shutdowns gives us some insight into how the brand was able to recover from a 90% drop in bookings to a 22% YoY increase in consumer spending in July 2020, plus filing for its initial public offering.

Why creativity is just the cherry on top for Jeni’s Ice Creams

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ whimsical, creative and scroll-stopping visual branding manages to capture viewers’ attention on multiple levels. In this Social Spotlight, we take a look at some key ways this ice cream brand scoops people’s hearts with a clear point of view, putting their customers before their advertising and being unafraid to go all out to tell a story and spark a connection in people’s feeds.

How Universal Standard commands the fashion space with inclusive content

With a radically clear viewpoint and a reputation for leveraging social in innovative ways to garner an audience, Universal Standard is a treasure trove of social insights. The fashion retailer shows us a social strategy that’s less calculated and more human. Their inclusive branding, customer-focused content and broader real-world impact are elements of their social presence that stand out beautifully and are underscored with intention.

How Zendesk became the champions of keeping it human

Zendesk’s work makes us at Sprout’s Brand Creative and Social teams want to be better marketers and creatives. There’s a very real struggle for computer and software brands to create compelling content, and connect to their audiences on a deeper, more emotional level. This can be a challenge especially if your product, service or industry is more dry or technical. Find out how Zendesk highlights a culture of helping in their social presence.