The top 10 social media wins of 2013

From ‘dunking in the dark’ to Wall Street embracing tweets, it’s been a terrific year for online networks.

Social media saw both major changes and massive growth in 2013. Vine was introduced to the world, Twitter went public, and Instagram and Pinterest began to incorporate ads. A lot has happened and a lot more can be expected in 2014.

The competition was close, but here are the top 10 wins of 2013 in the ever-changing social media landscape.

1. Best tweet of the year: Oreo

During the embarrassing 35-minute power blackout of Super Bowl XLVII, the social media team managing @Oreo tweeted: “You can still dunk in the dark” with an accompanying GIF. The update was retweeted over 15,000 times in one hour, and earned tons of media coverage.

In addition to its amazing viral effect, the fact the Oreo’s marketing execs were able to develop creative content and get approval within minutes is staggering. The warp speed of their delivery also brought about a new phrase: culture jacking.

2. Best viral Facebook campaign: Human Rights Campaign

2013 saw groundbreaking Supreme Court decisions over marriage equality rights. One of the most visible indications was the support gay rights received on Facebook. In the weeks leading up to the court cases, the Human Rights Campaign launched a wildly successful campaign asking Facebook users to change their profile photos to the HRC equal sign logo. Facebook reported a 120 percent increase in profile photo updates during the campaign, and more than 2.7 million users displayed the image on their Facebook page. Groundbreaking indeed.

3. Best viral video: Grey Poupon

This is a tough one. There were a lot of great viral videos in 2013, from the Dove Real Beauty Sketches to Budweiser’s Clydesdale Super Bowl commercial to Volvo’s epic split video with Jean-Claude Van Damme. But this year the YouTube gold goes to an unlikely condiment champion: Grey Poupon.

The decades-old brand did an amazing job revamping its 1981 commercial of two stuffy aristocrats sharing mustard with a two-minute clip called “The Lost Footage.” The hilarious exchange brought Grey Poupon back into the minds—and pantries—of 21st-century consumers.

4. Best redesign: MySpace

The social network that rose to prominence circa 2007 and was once valued at $12 billion had an even more spectacular fall from grace. The site went back to its musical roots with its major re-launch, featuring the one and only Justin Timberlake as its front man.

MySpace mimicked the visual appeal of Microsoft’s new operating systems and radically revamped its interface to become one of the best-looking social networks in 2013. Its musical focus enables listeners to stream tracks, find new artists, and connect with other listeners and performers.

5. Best customer service performance: Tesco

Great customer service is all about addressing each and every customer issue in a timely manner. For this category, the winner goes to a friend across the pond: Tesco. The supermarket chain in the United Kingdom really knows how to use Twitter in this capacity. Tesco answers 65 percent of Twitter customer queries within an hour and 20 minutes—an industry record.

It also delivers positive, personal results. When a home-delivery customer received one lamb shank instead of the requested six, Tesco sprang into action and delivered the remaining five shanks a few hours later.

6. Best advertising strategy: Foursquare

As previously mentioned, 2013 was a big year for social media and advertising integration: Both Pinterest and Instagram debuted ads to mixed reviews. One social media platform that also integrated ads but managed to fly under the radar was Foursquare.

Foursquare and partnered up as an extension of its $1 billion partnership with the NFL. According to AdWeek, whenever Foursquare users checked in with their mobile devices in certain NFL stadiums, they’ll be shown a Verizon ad and be given the opportunity to win game-day upgrades. The best part? Foursquare users don’t seem to mind.

7. Best new kid on the block: Snapchat

Snapchat really came of age in 2013, fending off a $3 billion takeover bid by Facebook. The latest hit social app stayed true to its “plausible deniability” concept of eliminating social media updates seconds after they are delivered to recipients.

A few companies, such as Taco Bell and Karmaloop, devised innovative ways to use the platform to market their businesses. If brands can successfully promote themselves via Snapchat, it opens them up to an elusive, hard-to-impress group: millennials.

8. Best picture editing app: Over

Of all the mobile apps available to augment Instagram’s photo-sharing app, Over offers the most artistic options. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes the occasion calls for a sensible caption to be added in order to make a greater impact-something that Over can deliver.

9. Best overall social media win: Twitter’s IPO

Twitter’s debut on Wall Street was one of the most celebrated financial news items in 2013. As of early December, shares of Twitter on the New York Stock Exchange were still making traders and shareholders very pleased at about twice the IPO price. This was a much different, and happier, story than Facebook’s.

10. Best not-social-media viral platform: BuzzFeed is not social media, rather a social news and entertainment site. But BuzzFeed’s GIFs and list-form articles are so darn catchy and shareable, many of them immediately go viral. Our recent favorites include 27 Shocking and Unexpected Facts You Learn in Your Twenties , Which “Game of Thrones” Character Are You?, and The 35 Most Important Texts of 2013.

This year seems to be just the beginning for BuzzFeed: The company recently announced that November 2013 was its biggest traffic month ever, reaching more than 130 million unique visitors.

Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. You can reach Alexis via @alexiscaffrey or

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