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#SimplySocialAwards: Best Overall Social Content Strategy

Welcome to Week 2 of the #SimplySocialAwards!

Simply Social AwardsLast week, we collected your votes for Best Instagram Strategy. The winner was Tone It Up. 

But now it’s Week 2, and we’re asking you to vote on Best Social Content Strategy. This week features brands that do it all, creating head-turning social content across multiple networks and delivering a cohesive message to their target markets. One thing that the majority of these brands have in common: a strong focus on Instagram and exemplary engagement from that network.

Our marketing team narrowed our nominees down to four brands with exceptional social content strategies. Now it’s up to you to decide who will be crowned winner. We’ll be tallying your votes until Friday, so get ’em in!

Can’t decide? Here’s why these brands were nominated.  

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines ranked highest in airline customer satisfaction among traditional carriers for the ninth consecutive year in the J.D. Power 2008-2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. The airline also recently bought Virgin Airlines.

Alaska Airlines savvily uses its presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to: 

Amplify PR Efforts 

Alaska Airlines generates massive engagement and meaningful interaction by using Facebook to spread the news about employees and company events. Just look at one of the many laudatory comments Alaska Airlines received from the above Facebook post:


Note Alaska Airlines’ personalized response to Lindsay, both in content and signature. This built and amplified the goodwill of the airline’s audience (188 Likes on Lindsay’s comment, and 68 Likes on Alaska Airlines’).

Location Highlights 

Alaska Airlines recently announced a major expansion into San Diego. It’s no accident that one of its recent (and highest-performing) Instagram posts featured this city.

Plane-spotting hour. 📷: @alec_basanec #iFlyAlaska #AvGeek #Planespotting

A post shared by Alaska Airlines (@alaskaair) on

Instead of trying to repurpose content and fit a square peg into a round hole, Alaska Airlines tailors its content to the medium it’s working with. For Instagram, this means making sure photos are visually stunning, keeping captions short, tagging the photographer, and using relevant, resonant hashtags.

Tweet for a Treat 

Alaska Airlines recently rolled out this little campaign as part of its Alaska x Virgin partnership awareness campaign.

Alaska Airlines has run other campaigns like this in the past to drum up engagement on Twitter and keep it from becoming a solely customer service–focused channel.


Unsurprisingly, Instagram is Maybelline’s strongest social channel, due to its inherently visual nature and “right fit” with a younger female demographic. 


Maybelline uses Instagram creatively to:

Showcase Product 

This is Maybelline’s most engaging post–across any social channel–in 2017 so far.


Leverage Partnerships 

Maybelline leverages relationships with major makeup influencers to highlight what its product can do and expand its audience.

Solicit Specific Engagement Types 

Instead of asking for a Like or comment, in this post Maybelline asks for a specific emoji and tag from its audience.

Maybelline’s #DareToNeon campaign got just three Malaysian Instagram “cliques” and relied on their extensive follower base. From just that, they “surpassed brand expectations” by snagging a staggering reach of 250 thousand – per clique.
dare to neon maybelline contest

But that’s not all: Maybelline has experimented with Snapchat, running 5- and 10-second ads during New York Fashion Week on the network and giving customers short glimpses of real experiences with Maybelline products.

And, more recently, Maybelline launched a video campaign for its new Volum’ Express the Colossal Big Shot mascara, featuring two makeup artist vloggers known for their massive social media followings, Manny Gutierrez and Shayla Mitchell.

The videos began airing in January 2017 on Maybelline’s YouTube channel, website, and digital ads, forming a truly integrated campaign with the theme “Lash Like a Boss.” Each video in the series received upwards of 5 million views.


Target is also strong on Instagram, generating much of its total social media engagement on that network. In 2017 so far, Target has racked up almost 750K in Instagram engagement from just 46 posts, increasing its engagement by 145%.

TargetTarget uses a playful tone to build this momentum on Instagram. Their top posts:

  • Capitalize on major cultural events, like the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day


A post shared by Target (@target) on

  • Feature product in creative and visually stimulating ways

The legends are true. Unicorn hot chocolate is for real! ☕️: @cremeandsugaroc

A post shared by Target (@target) on

  • Take advantage of user-generated content

Stay magical, @shoesandmacarons! #🦄

A post shared by Target (@target) on

But that’s not all: Target uses Facebook and Twitter to promote its AwesomeShop platform:

The AwesomeShop platform collects all the different posts featuring Target products on Instagram and Pinterest and allows you to shop directly through the platform, making the link between conversations and conversions.



NASA has successfully kept its audience engaged with over 500 accounts on various channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr, to name a few.

Between Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, NASA has over 53 million followers (and growing).

NASA activated their Instagram account a little over three years ago, and already has a following of over 17 million, which is almost as many as their Facebook page, which has over 17.8 million. Behind this astounding growth is NASA’s brilliant digital strategy, solid understanding of each platform’s strengths, and strategic use of each platform to its advantage. As Jason Townsend, one of the social media leads at NASA, said about digital media:

We’re constantly evaluating and trying out new tools, and trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t work, how can we use this to better tell NASA’s story.

NASA tells a good story using these tactics: 

Science + Storytelling 

NASA  makes a conscious effort to create descriptive and compelling captions for their Instagram posts, weaving scientific information with visual storytelling to clearly communicate interesting information to their followers, explaining what they are looking at and why it looks that way.

Facilitate Further Exploration 

Facilitate Further Learning and Exploration

Instagram does not allow clickable links in the captions, but NASA puts them in some of the posts anyway, guiding their followers to explore more (for example: the post below includes a link to their YouTube channel). They know that those who are interested will copy/paste the link in their browsers to learn more. Such steps tie in very strongly to the fact that the agency has a mission to educate people about space exploration in every way possible; they are not just interested in just building traffic to the site.

They also make sure to include the most relevant hashtags (both related to the agency and general hashtags) in their images on the platform to help guide the audience to more posts/information based on their interests.

Facebook as Content Delivery Mechanism 

NASA’s efforts to educate the world about space don’t stop at Instagram. On Facebook, the agency utilizes the platform’s flexibility with number of characters to post descriptive content accompanied by compelling images. This helps their followers understand what the post is about, and NASA provides links to their website for more facts and figures.Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.54.48 AMThey also link their posts to other channels like Tumblr, where their followers can find further information and explore more. Cross-promoting other social channels is a great way to guide their audience to other places where they can find relevant and interesting details about space and aeronautics.

Twitter as an Engagement Engine 

On Twitter, words are limited, so NASA experiments with more gripping and succinct write-ups, making sure to add links for more information or hashtags to facilitate discovery.

The agency is always experimenting with new tools to be able to reach out to a wider audience and spread the information. Twitter has been one of the platforms with the highest audience adoption rate. Hence, the agency utilizes this opportunity to the fullest with a number of accounts on the platform, from space stations to astronauts, and even one for Robonaut, the robot on the International Space Station who tweets regularly.

And their Tweets aren’t just limited to space exploration. They also post about how NASA’s work is helping transform people’s lives for the better back home, here on Earth, inspiring the audience about how science and technology can help change lives.

Don’t forget to cast your votes above! We’ll announce our winner on Monday, April 3rd. Tune in next week to vote on the best video strategy!

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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