5 Creative Ways Brands Are Hacking Social Media


The social media landscape is saturated with content, and trying to stand out with bigger ad spending can actually harm your brand. In order to rise of above the noise, savvy brands are finding ways to "hack" social media - to take a platform and use it in a way other than its original purpose. Here are five creative ways that brands have hacked social media:

1. Target Goes Trick-or-Treating
Last Halloween, Target made a splash on Instagram by leading its followers on a virtual trick-or-treat adventure.

Target created a series of interconnected accounts, then tagged those accounts in pictures with two houses. Users could choose 'treat' houses, which led to Halloween-themed recipe pages, or 'trick' houses, which led to do-it-yourself project pages.

Other brands like Mercedes and Old Spice have since followed with their own choose-your-own-adventure Instagram campaigns.

2. Warby Makes YouTube Real-Time
Social media is a go-to source for customer service. Eyeglass company Warby Parker went above and beyond by responding to inquiries with short YouTube videos.

YouTube is not normally a real-time content platform like Twitter. Creating videos in real-time gave Warby Parker's service a personal touch, and established its social channels as a gold standard in innovation.

3. The Atlanta Hawwwwwwwks
Midway through the 2014-2015 NBA season, a long winning streak gave the Atlanta Hawks' Twitter account a chance to shine.

Early in the streak, the account started adding an additional 'W' to its display name. After 17 wins, the name exceeded Twitter's name character limit, so the team uploaded a new avatar with additional letters in it.

The stunt - which ended at 19 games - earned positive national attention, and it gave the team a new content series as they documented their efforts to lengthen the name.

4. Inc. Magazine Makes LinkedIn Their Distributor
Most companies use LinkedIn's 'Update' section sporadically, but small business publication Inc. Magazine has transformed their page into an extension of the home page of their website.

Inc. publishes a new story on their LinkedIn page almost hourly during the workday. By taking advantage of a platform not typically known for content publishing, Inc. has established themselves as one of the most influential brands on the platform.

5. Taco Bell Goes Dark
To bring awareness to its ordering app, Taco Bell shocked its followers and the industry at large by wiping away its social presence.

Taco Bell went dark and erased all content on its Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages. In its place was one message, #onlyintheapp. A day after the app launched, 75 percent of Taco Bell restaurants had processed a mobile order.

With 70% of marketers expected to spend more on social this year than they did in 2014, the need for brands to rise above the noise will only increase. Expect to see more brands look for new ways to hack social media, especially as new opportunities on platforms like Snapchat give them more options than ever before.