Two 2011 social media campaigns had immediate and measurable success. One came from The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), Christopher Nolan’s follow up to the wildly popular 2008 film The Dark Knight. The second came from Volkswagen (VW) Brazil.

TDKR is one of the most anticipated movies of the decade. In May of last year, Warner Brothers set out to release the very first image of the film’s villain Bane. When the movie’s website went live it was comprised solely of a black screen and clip playing an ominous chant. Soon after, it was discovered that the chant was actually the hashtag #TheFireRises. When fans discovered @TheFireRises Twitter account, they found links to another site where they could click “Add Me.” From then on, fans that shared the hashtag #TheFireRises got their profile image added as an individual pixel to a mysterious mosaic. Once enough fans had “lit the flame” the mosaic revealed a very intimidating Bane to the world. Not only could fans help “build” the image, the mosaic also provided a zoom option where they could try to find themselves within it. The hashtag exploded on Twitter and everybody knew what challenge their beloved caped crusader would face next.

The second campaign took place in Sao Paulo courtesy of VW Brazil who was sponsoring the massively popular Planeta Terra Festival to promote its Fox model. Giving away tickets is certainly not ground breaking but the way that they did it was. VW hid tickets across the city and displayed their location using a custom Google Map on a microsite. Each time someone tweeted #foxatplanetterra the map zoomed in a little closer to the pinpoint location of the actual tickets. From there it was a race (in the real world) to get to the tickets first. It took barely 2 hours for the hashtag to become the top trending topic in Brazil where it remained for four days.

Though the campaigns differed greatly both figured out what their fans wanted and made them work for it, and they utilized social media in very creative ways. When approaching any campaign the first question must be “what is the goal?” to be followed up with “if we reach our goal, what will we gain?” Both campaigns had clear goals and clear benefits. In the new social world, the only limiting factor is imagination.

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