April 24, 2018 • Grant Weber
Social media has become the great equalizer when it comes to promoting company anniversaries. The biggest brands with the largest budgets no longer have the loudest voices during an anniversary year. Instead, it comes down to creativity. Take, for example, MoonPie, a small but iconic snack brand that became the top social media brand during its centennial anniversary year.
Social media gives smaller companies a free platform for story-gathering and a cost-effective way to create buzz leading up to the anniversary year. It is not just an effective component of an anniversary campaign, but essential. Here are eight ways you can use social media to promote your company anniversary before, during and after your milestone year.
How did a 100-year-old marshmallow treat became everyone’s favorite millennial Twitter personality? A single tweet.
On its 100th anniversary, MoonPie dubbed itself the official sponsor of the 2017 solar eclipse. When Hostess encroached on MoonPie’s celestial sponsorship, its response, pictured here, accounted for more than 1.1 billion impressions and helped make its centennial year one of its most profitable years. In fact, for the month following the eclipse, MoonPie’s sales were the highest on record in the company’s 100-year history—and social media played a huge role.
“Sales are up 17%. And this is a brand that’s had no new product innovation, no significant distribution increase, and no discounting going on. And there’s no TV advertising. So all of these increases can be attributed to what we’ve been doing on social media,” lead social media strategist Dooley Tombras said in an interview with FastCompany.
It made sense for MoonPie to harness the solar eclipse hype: The inspiration for the product came from a coal miner looking for a snack so large it could block the sun. For other brands, it might not prove as straightforward. MoonPie figured out that a critical component was a tone in social posts that resonated with its audience. Having the attitude that “we are in on the joke,” as long as it’s consistent with your brand, could open up a range of trending topics to use when you promote your company anniversary.
These days, a hashtag is a no-brainer—especially when promoting your company anniversary on social media.
An anniversary hashtag can be as simple as #[companyname][year], or something a little more creative, depending on your goals. For the 60th anniversary of LEGO’s patent on the self-locking brick system the toy manufacturer used #HappyBirthdayBrick, which highlights the product and rolls off the tongue smoothly.
LEGO’s #HappyBirthdayBrick became a yearlong campaign that enabled a dialogue, not just around the anniversary but for creators young and old to connect and share their love for LEGO.
The hashtag started a movement that yielded LEGO social media content for use both during and after its anniversary year.
A critical step to follow when you promote your company anniversary is to gather the stories necessary to flesh out your anniversary campaign. If done right, social media can play an important role in the story-gathering process.
Hashtags have become the universal language of social media. As a result, they have become a quick way to follow trending topics and search for archived social media content. One way to gather stories internally is to encourage employees to use a hashtag. Searching a company hashtag can quickly lead to authentic anniversary content.
Another way to gather anniversary content is to use your company’s intranet. Platforms such as Facebook Workplace, Slack and Quip are specifically designed to facilitate internal communications. As such, they are excellent tools to help build up a repertoire of stories, anecdotes, photos and videos.
Facebook Workplace, in particular, has been adopted by more than 300,000 companies, including brands like Walmart, Heineken and Spotify. It is more than a chat platform—it is the documentation of an internal community. While goofy stories and personal anecdotes on a company’s private Facebook page might be meaningless on their own, put together they have the potential to provide truly authentic content to build out your anniversary messaging and storylines.
Moreover, engaging on these platforms can serve as a way to reach your entire pool of employees quickly as well as establish a rudimentary archive of internal stories.
Now that smartphones have become the norm, and the quality of recordings on smartphones continues to improve, it is not unreasonable to request short-form video and even oral histories, especially from seasoned employees with a more detailed or broader story to tell.
Recorded oral histories can be shared externally if treated as an event rather than a formality. For its 50th anniversary, ISACA, a professional association with chapters worldwide, adopted the tagline “Honoring the Past. Innovating the Future.” The tagline was best put into action when the company tweeted behind-the-scenes footage of the oral history it conducted with its very first employee.
Your social media cover photo is a free billboard for your brand. Your cover photos on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should promote your latest project, so if it’s your anniversary, use your free billboard! If you company has a shiny new anniversary logo, update your social media profiles to show it off.
Live-tweeting at anniversary events is becoming an increasingly common practice. It’s a pretty straightforward process, as long as you follow a few basic best practices:
Twitter and Instagram now allow users to create polls to engage with followers. This is a great way to put to work the interesting things you’ve found in your company’s history.
Take Pacific Life, for example. During the research phase of its anniversary campaign, the insurance company found that the founder of the company was quite the renaissance man, which it then used to broaden awareness of its heritage.
When constructing your Twitter poll, keep in mind that you can set a time frame. Results can be tallied in minutes or over an entire week. Plan your polls around specific dates and times.
Your anniversary is more than a trivia game. Your Twitter and Instagram polls should be a reflection of your company’s anniversary-year goals. A Twitter poll can be a useful tool for learning more about audience preferences and measuring the success of your anniversary campaign.
Don’t be afraid of low engagement. More often than not, companies avoid using Twitter polls because they fear the results will show that no one’s listening. Feedback is feedback, and the more accustomed your followers become to seeing your polls, the more likely they are to participate. The key is consistency. Twitter polls surrounding your company’s anniversary offer a good excuse to regularly test your audience.
Instagram Stories are becoming an important means for promoting your company anniversary. As of November 2017, Instagram Stories have over 300 million active users, or 60 percent of Instagram’s overall daily users. The eyeballs are all there.
Instagram Stories provide an excellent way to share content in bite-sized chunks and in rapid succession. Using Instagram Stories to share a company timeline would be a dynamic way to convey your corporate narrative and promote your company anniversary.
The very idea behind social media is to create a space for interactions. For its 50th anniversary, Peet’s Coffee did just that. The craft coffee brand created a microsite devoted to “The Peetnicks”—the company’s die-hard fans. Loyalists poured their favorite stories onto the site while the Peet’s social media team populated the thread with interesting facts. The community quickly became a warm place to share coffee “firsts.”
Social media is ones of many ways to promote your company anniversary message. If you are interested in learning more about how we help world-leading companies use their history for authentic content in social media, feel free to give us a call.
For more ideas about how to mark your corporate anniversary, check out our comprehensive Guide to Celebrating Your Company Anniversary.