A Month-by-Month Look at the Most Engaging Brand Content on Social Media in 2018

24 marketing moves that paid off, from Burger King to Harley Davidson

Jennifer Lawrence's Dior spot is approaching 64 million views on YouTube. Dior

Brands were more creative than ever in their social media posts this year and connected with audiences by raising awareness of social issues, according to social media analytics company Unmetric.

“Burger King enlightened fans with the importance of net neutrality, Stella Artois partnered with Water.org to bring clean water to developing countries, and UPS helped spread a movement that calls attention to the value of inclusion at schools,” said Unmetric CEO and co-founder Lux Narayan. “Brands took more creative approaches, such as with Lego’s ‘Build for Real’ campaign and Harley Davidson’s ‘Start ’em Young’ campaign.”

Video, Narayan added, “proved increasingly popular with its ability to engage and reach larger audiences across social networks.”

Unmetric analyzes Twitter, Facebook and Instagram data for brand posts to determine an engagement score between zero and 1,000. Some metrics—shares and retweets, for example—have more value for brands than others, such as likes and favorites, according to Unmetric. For YouTube, there is no engagement score, but likes and how quickly a video accumulates them are important. Unmetric’s own algorithms and human insights also figure in the overall engagement score.

Here’s a breakdown by month of brands’ social posts Unmetric deemed worthy of a 1,000 score or were otherwise the most engaging of the year:


Burger King, “Save Net Neutrality”


Burger King got behind a complicated topic—net neutrality—with a meaty in-store stunt in which customers had to choose between paying a higher price for a quick-serve Whopper or paying the normal price for intentionally slowed-down service. The stunt (rightfully) garnered 15 million views and 309,000 shares on Facebook.

Purple, “Mattress Unboxing”

Purple’s video featuring the unboxing—or, rather, unrolling—of its Purple Mattress was only 15 seconds long, but it raked in over 72 million views on YouTube last year.


Dick’s Sporting Goods

Following the shooting in Parkland, Fla., Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would no longer sell assault-style rifles nor would it allow any customers under 21 to purchase guns. Its tweet announcing the news shocked Twitter users around the world, leading to almost 54,000 retweets.

Stella Artois U.S., “The Wait for Water”

Created in collaboration with Water.org and VaynerMedia, Stella Artois rolled out a digital campaign featuring Water.org co-founder Matt Damon telling hotel and restaurant patrons that they’ll have to wait up to six hours for a glass of water or a shower. The video racked up 7.6 million views and 72,000 shares on Facebook.


Qatar Airways, “Race”


Qatar Airway’s exhilarating video featured a race between a Qatar Airways Airbus A350, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and an ABB Formula E race car, leading to over 13 million views.

Adidas, “See Creativity”

Who says athleticism and creativity can’t go hand in hand? That’s what Adidas aimed to prove in its ode to athlete innovation. The brief yet powerful message seemed to resonate, garnering almost 50 million views on YouTube.


LG Global, “LG Nano Cell Super Challenge”

Soccer star Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaká, may feel a little conflicted about the 100 million-plus views on this video, featuring him having some trouble with his aim all because of low-quality tech. But don’t worry—LG comes in to save the day with its new “Super UHD TV.”


Sometimes, all you need is a snarky joke and a Twitter account. Over 25,000 people retweeted Chipotle’s clever tweet comparing a burrito to a baby.


BarkBox, “Dog Mom Rap”


Dog moms are moms too, and they’ve got something to say. Featuring women rapping about their dog’s daily walks, Barkbox’s super fun video proved that plenty of dog lovers can relate to, considering the video was shared over 430,000 times.

Wendy’s and Burger King

Even competing brands feel the love around prom season. A Massachusetts Wendy’s acceptance of a neighboring Burger King’s promposal—with the stipulation of a 10 p.m. curfew and no getting “handsy”—got over 90,000 retweets and plenty of riffing replies.


Hyundai Worldwide, “Hyundai X 2018 FIFA World Cup”

As part of its sponsorship of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Hyundai partnered with Maroon 5 for this feel-good spot, which was viewed over 76 million times.

Red Bull, “POV Brook Macdonald in Schladming”

Red Bull may not have given professional mountain biker Brook Macdonald literal wings, but he does get plenty of airtime in a POV video following him around the course. The Facebook video got over 7.8 million views, with many commenting that they had to lean side to side while watching the nail-biting clip.


Nike, #JustDoIt


After Croatia knocked England out of the FIFA World Cup, Nike posted this image of Croatia captain Luka Modrić, who became the first Nike-sponsored athlete in 20 years to receive the Golden Ball, an award given to the best player in the tournament.

Kumho Tire U.S., “Tire Blind Test With Driving Experts”

Kumho Tire asked professional racers to guess which tires they were driving on in a high-speed “blind” test. Nearly 54 million people have viewed it to date.


Lego, “Build for Real”

Lego made a full-size, fully operational Bugatti Chiron-inspired sports car 90 percent out of Lego parts. This Facebook video showing the car being assembled and then driven inspired a lot of people—at least to share it. It garnered 5.4 million views on Facebook and over 79,000 shares.

Fiat, “A Taste of Tomorrow. Today”

Fiat’s short film from Leo Burnett is a cute time-travel piece about a young couple from the 1960s experiencing the future—in-car phone calls, GPS, driver-assistance technology—while driving a new 500X. There’s a fun Back to the Future cameo at the end, and viewers ate it up to the tune of almost 29 million views on YouTube.


Apple, new product launch

Apple posted its entertaining, information-packed introduction to its iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4 on the day of its launch event. And with 17 million views and 338,000 shares on Facebook, it appeared to have another hit on its hands.

Christian Dior, JOY by Dior

This spot was Jennifer Lawrence’s first time starring in a perfume ad. It’s approaching 64 million views on YouTube, and a quick scroll through the comments gives you an idea why. “Just here for Jennifer Lawrence” seems to sum up the general consensus.


Harley Davidson, “Start ’em Young”

Want to get a ton of views and a lot of likes on your Facebook video? Try putting a cute, demonstratively expressive kid on a Harley and start it up.

Nationwide, “Nationwide Jingle Sessions”

Nationwide’s decision to pair Peyton Manning with Brad Paisley a couple years ago appears to have paid off. The retired NFL quarterback and country megastar have proven to be a pretty good comedic duo, and if the numbers on this video are any indication, viewers agree.


Red Bull, “A pulse-racing run you would not want to miss “

Freeride Mountain biker Andreu Lacondeguy’s incredible flip- and spin-filled ride down a Utah mountainside at the Red Bull Rampage 2018 was viewed 45 million times on Facebook and liked over 460,00 times—and Lacondeguy was only the runner-up.

Hyundai U.S., #PalisadewithBTS

When Hyundai made South Korean boy band BTS global brand ambassadors of its new SUV, K-pop fans and at least some of the band’s 13.2 million Twitter followers went wild, retweeting and liking this “breaking news” tweet from Hyundai U.S. at a remarkable clip.


Motorola U.S., “The future of communication with the Moto Z3”

When Motorola demoed its new Moto Z3, which it claims is the world’s first 5G-upgradable smartphone, on what it claimed was a Verizon 5G connection, The Verge called the company’s speed test “extremely misleading.” Even so, more than 15 million people flocked to YouTube to check out this spot unveiling the new phone.

UPS, #WishesDelivered

Earlier this year, 9-year-old Sammie Vance gained national attention for getting “buddy benches,” made from recycled bottle caps, installed at her school. It was a big hit on Facebook when UPS featured her in its December “Wishes Delivered” campaign helping another school get a bench.

@ejwander erik.wander@adweek.com Erik Wander is the digital features editor at Adweek where he oversees Adweek's Story Desk.
@sammynickalls sammy.nickalls@adweek.com Sammy Nickalls is a freelance writer and the former departments editor at Adweek.