How you, too, can start #winning at social media

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 11 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

Congrats! You’re a brand on social media. You’re mingling with the public, listening to them and talking to them. They treat you — a product owned by a company owned by a corporation owned by an even bigger corporation — like a living human being. You’re their friend. Bang the gong.

Ah, but how do you stay friends? It’s a never-ending 24/7 commitment to the proactive ideation of authentic content. Easier said than done.

What you need, brand, is a plan. And here’s a tried and tested four-step scheme for any brand to #win at social, from an ad vet who has been “socializing” online since before most of you were adults.

Millennials, millennials, millennials
Repeat it a thousand times; you can’t say it enough. But never say it in the social space because it isn’t really a real “thing.” You know that, right? How do you #win millennials? Easy. Make each one of them feel like the unique flower they are. Like so:


Ray-Ban’s “Do You” campaign launched last month on Instagram (agency: RXM Creative, NYC). Gap’s came soon after, but they grabbed the hashtag: Ray-Ban—#Losing. (Also, the anarchy button is a bit much, RXM.)

Come up with a tagline that’s “[One-Word] You” and you’re on fleek with millennials. See: Nike’s “Unlimited You.” Gap and Ray-Ban are on fleek here, the same exact fleek, but there are no new ad ideas. Reebok was letting “U.B.U.” back in 1988. Anyway, social is not about “original” or “creative” thoughts. It’s about pure thoughts. You feel me, feed managers?

Post, post, post
No day is never not a good day to post. No ideas? No problem. Just connect, bro.


Look at woke Dove, making at least 10 people feel less guilty about not going to the gym. That’s not just engagement, baby; that’s immersion. Dove is in their lives. There are bad and less-bad methods to retweet-grub. And woke Wheat Thins racked up responses by simply treating their followers like actual people. David Ogilvy would approve. Both posts = #Win.

What if a major catastrophe/death takes over social? Don’t tuck tail and hide. You should add your brand’s voice to the conversation. The squeaky wheel gets the metrics.


Let’s ignore the Crocs post for a sec and focus on the Ali death Facebook update by a U.K. life insurance seller. It’s not the greatest post of all time, but hey — free insurance for a year is a knockout prize. You’re not exploiting death, you’re celebrating life! #Win.

Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling
Who says you can’t write a story in 140 characters? Let Hemingway show you the way. And anyway, anything, literally anything, can be a story on social and anyone — not just an overpaid arrogant prick copywriter — can tell one.


Look at how cheesily Huffington Post turned President Obama’s 55th birthday into an “Insta-Story” for ages 2-125. KFC honored the country of poets with a “story” that cleverly rhymed “Nantucket” and “bucket.” We can’t call it a limerick since it’s metrically and anapestically a mess, but good effort! #Win #Win

Optimize, optimize, optimize
“Optimizing” your social used to mean specious keyword seeding and such. But today it means something different for every brand. It might mean “get a cat in there somehow” or “spell all the words right.” For Chipotle, it means anthropomorphizing its famous burritos.

But do they love being eaten by me, or are they silently screaming in my mouth?

For Surf laundry detergent, optimization means shirtless studs. Why not? They’re much cheaper than real models and they make every post a mini-sexy-story. #Win


By using hunk-vertising, reimagined lyrics, and dirty British slang, Surf smartly targets women, gay men, and male masturbators — all proven key purchase deciders. Does Surf remove bodily fluid stains? Bet on it.

There ya go, brands. Get busy #winning or get busy #losing.

NOTE: This optimized piece of genuine content could not have been ideated without the good folks @ Condescending Corporate Brand Page. Follow them to find out exactly how (not) to do social.

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