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Marketers at Oreo have been generating a lot of buzz about their cookies these days, and they're using social media to do it. The techniques they're using are extremely innovative, and they're not that difficult to replicate. 

Although this popular brand of cookie is known for its black-and-white striped appearance and its customers tendency to twist it apart or dunk it in milk, the brand is a social media powerhouse:

Over the past few months, Oreo has hit more than a couple social media home runs. Their tweet during the Super Bowl, the 100-day “Daily Twist” Facebook campaign, the "Cookie Vs. Cream" videos on YouTube, and their spur-the-moment Twitter banter with their arch enemy, Kit Kat, demonstrated true mastery of social media. Let’s consider the promotions, then consider the lessons to be learned.

Oreo's Super Bowl Tweet

When the lights went out at the New Orleans Superdome during the Super Bowl, much of North America came to a halt. Football players shuffled about the sidelines in the barely lit arena, while tens of millions of television viewers looked for something else to do during the 34 minute blackout. Here's what Oreo did:

Oreo’s marketing executives and agency, 360i, were already gathered watching the game from a social media war room of sorts. In five minutes, the team had composed, created, approved, and tweeted a simple, blackout-related ad, showing a picture of a single Oreo cookie against a dark background with the tag line, “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark.” Brilliant.

The ad generated more than 16,000 retweets and was seen by tens of thousands on Twitter. The media lauded it for being one of the best Super Bowl ads bar none. The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other publications wrote articles about it. 

Oreo's Daily Twist Campaign

Each day from June 25 to October 2, 2012, Oreo released a whimsical image of the cookie redesigned to commemorate something that had happened on that date.

On September 27, an Oreo was shown with referee stripes noting that the National Football League’s referee strike had ended. On August 5, half a cookie with red cream and tire tracks symbolized the Mars rover landing. You can see them all here

The campaign was housed primarily on Oreo’s Facebook page and managed to increase customer engagement 110%, according to the company. Oreo also added nearly 5 million likes during the campaign’s run.

Oreo's Cookie Vs. Cream Video Campaign

Oreo's 'Cookie vs. Cream' videos are a clever campaign housed on their YouTube account. They feature wildly elaborate machines that are designed to split Oreo cookies into two pieces and remove the cream filling. The first video from this ad campaign shows a seperator created by physicist David Neevel, and in three weeks it received over 4 million views. 

Oreo went on to produce three more videos featuring creative seperator machines. The four videos have been seen over 5 million times and have generated thousands of positive comments. 

Twitter Tic-Tac-Toe

A couple weeks ago a playful banter between Oreo and Kit Kat occured. Oreo is owned by Nabisco, and Kit Kat is owned by Nestle - so they are direct competitors. It all started when someone Tweeted this:

 Two days later, Kit Kat's social media marketers responded with a clever challenge to Oreo:

Several hours later, Oreo responded with a checkmate: 

Apply Oreo’s Strategies to Your Business

The social media campaigns outlined above are some of the highest quality found anywhere to date. They can generally teach us five important lessons how to run a successful social media strategy:

1. Be Timely and Topical

Terms like “newsjacking” and “culture-jacking” have been applied to both the Oreo Super Bowl tweet and the Daily Twist campaign.

Newsjacking is the idea of interjecting a business’ marketing message or ideas into a current news story in order to garner additional attention from both customers and the media. Culture-jacking has a similar definition, but centers around events like the Super Bowl.

The Daily Twist with its 100 topical designs and the Super Bowl tweet were, in part, a success because they were timely and topical. They spoke to current events. 

To apply this lesson, make a calendar of holidays and upcoming events, and plan posts around them. For example, April 5 is National Walk to Work Day in the U.S., a perfect opportunity for retailers selling shoes or health and fitness products. April 10 is Golfer’s Day and another opportunity for some retailers to post timely and topical updates.

2. Promote Consistently and Frequently

Consistency and frequency played a big role in the success of both the Super Bowl tweet and the Daily Twist campaign.

Consider that Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” message could not have been a viral success if no one had seen it in the first place. If Oreo had 82 Twitter followers instead of 82,000 the ad, however clever, would not have made headlines. Rather Oreo had laid the foundation for Super Bowl success with about 5,000 simple tweets, posted at a rate of about three or four a day, incrementally engaging its customers and building an ongoing dialogue.

Similarly, the Oreo Daily Twist boosted customer engagement because as regular as the sunrise, Oreo fans knew that each day Oreo would post a new graphic and new twist on its image. To apply this lesson, plan to regularly engage on social media. Try to post at least a couple of times each day, and build up your social community. 

3. Use Graphics, Simple Concepts

All of Oreo's social media campaigns have relatively high production quality. Instead of simply tweeting about the Super Bowl blackout, they knew it was worth waiting a few extra minutes (risking the lights going back on) to produce a well designed image that they could share. The image was nicely designed and had a clear tagline making it easy to understand. 

Same goes with the game of tic-tac-toe with Kit Kat. They had a graphic designer edit the Kit Kat bar and add the Oreo logo to the image.

With the Daily Twist campaign, Oreo designed 100 different cookies to release a new one each day. The campaign was so simple, just show people a new picture of a cookie every single day for 100 days. The simplicity paired with the exciting visual element in these social media campaigns made them easy for viewers to understand and share. 

Apply this lesson to your company by using more high quality visuals, and simplifying your message. 

4. Have Fun

Social media is supposed to be social, so it should be no surprise that people enjoy entertaining and fun-loving engagement. Every one of Oreo's social media campaigns outlined above were mean't to make people smile.

Their Super Bowl tweet amazed people with its speed of execution. Their Daily Twist images delighted their customers with a fun little surprise each day. The separator machine videos are just plain hilarious. And their Twitter battle with arch enemy Kit Kat was playful and took a lot of guts. 

When you're interacting with your social community it's vitally important to have fun, so long as your business type allows it. If you can make someone smile, do it, and you'll notice your following will immediately begin to grow.