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Mobile social makes hefty leap forward to strengthen real-time marketing

Mobile?s role in social media blew past brands relying on the medium to simply build their Facebook and Twitter presences in the first half of this year, with forward-thinking initiatives from Coca-Cola, Victoria?s Secret and Dunkin' Donuts.

Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter all significantly pumped up their mobile offerings for brands in the first half of 2013 as mobile inches closer to being the primary way that consumers access social media content. At the same time, brands have also used mobile and social in tandem to help campaigns scale and gain momentum.

Here are the top ten marketing and commerce mobile and social campaigns from the first half of 2013.

American Express blends mobile commerce into Twitter program
American Express expanded its Sync program that offers consumers exclusive deals for linking their accounts with social media in February so that Twitter users could shop directly from special hashtags associated with specific products from retailers.

For example, consumers could tweet #BuyAmexGiftCard25 to buy a $25 American Express gift card discounted for $15. Once a tweet was sent, Twitter automatically sent the consumer a reply message that had to be retweeted within 15 minutes.

Once the tweet was retweeted, the item was then charged via their American Express card and shipped to their home address within two days for free.

Although the program was available on both Twitter?s Web and mobile properties, mobile played a critical role in the campaign since a majority of Twitter?s traffic accesses the site from mobile phones and tablets nowadays.

As long as the user experience stays up to par, these types of partnerships between brands and social media sites might play a critical role in a more seamless mobile commerce experience.

Coca-Cola powers up American Idol sponsorship with mobile, social
The soda giant used a microsite that pulled in a consumer?s Facebook account this year for the ?Perfect Harmony? campaign supporting Fox?s American Idol that was highly mobile and social.

The eight-week effort let consumers pick all of the elements, such as set design and wardrobe, for an on-air performance from musician Carly Rae Jepsen. Ms. Jepsen debuted an original song on American Idol.

The microsite also let consumers see what others were saying and enter to win prizes from Coca-Cola and American Idol. One lucky fan won a trip to see Ms. Jepsen perform the song.

Crowdsourcing has caught on with brands such as Coca-Cola this year, especially on mobile where marketers can accumulate real-time information while also leveraging fans? authentic opinions to drive campaigns' outcomes.

Dunkin? Donuts turns to Vine to strengthen consumer relationship
Dunkin? Donuts is one of many brands that have latched onto mobile video application Vine this year.

The coffee giant debuted its Vine account in May with a sweepstakes that encouraged consumers to show how they ?Run on Dunkin? Donuts? by uploading a short video tagged with the hashtag #iceDD.

Dunkin? Donuts gave away free iced coffee for a year to one lucky winner as well as $100 gift cards to runner ups.

Since Twitter rolled out Vine at the beginning of the year, mobile video has racked up a lot of buzz from marketers. Facebook and YouTube are also placing big bets here, and the space will likely continue to be an area of focus for marketers for the rest of 2013.

Duane Reade tries in-store mobile gaming to drive foot traffic
Walgreens-owned Duane Reade became the first retailer to partner with Google?s Niantic Labs? mobile and social game Ingress in February.

The Ingress app is available by request only and marries the digital and real worlds by letting consumers compete by finding sources of energy though objects in the real world.

Calls-to-action that alert consumers that they can play the game in-store were rolled out to all of the New York drugstore?s 250 locations.

Players can then collect assets that are tied with a unique code to unlock in-app resources such as additional game objects.

Blurring the lines between digital and in-world environments is a fairly new concept for mobile gaming, but attaching a retailer such as Duane Reade through a partnership could be effective for these types of programs to gain traction with consumers.

Krispy Kreme leverages QR codes to sweeten Valentine?s Day offer
A Valentine?s Day effort from Krispy Kreme earlier this year points to mobile?s growth in activating social media initiatives.

The donut chain placed QR codes on boxes of heart-shaped donuts that let consumers send a themed ecard. The campaign also aligned with a Facebook promotion from Krispy Kreme where consumers could customize a cover photo.

Although augmented reality has increasingly edged out QR codes for marketers this year, there are still plenty of brands relying on mobile bar codes since they are inexpensive and easy to switch out content.

QR codes will likely continue to play a strong role for social media campaigns because the technology gets consumers to content quickly.

Neutrogena branded photo filter is applied to more than 70K mobile photos
Johnson and Johnson?s Neutrogena leveraged China?s location-based social app Jiepang to deliver 70,000 branded photo filters within the first three weeks of a campaign in June.

The mobile photo filters were part of the skin care brand?s ?Embracing Sunshine? campaign to promote sun safety to young Chinese females.

Mobile photo sharing was used by multiple brands this year, but what makes Neutrogena?s use interesting is that it used a virtual badge tied to an offer to incentivize consumers.

To encourage consumers to apply the branded filter, Jiepang users could unlock a virtual badge that was redeemable for a discount off of Neutrogena products.

Pinterest courts The North Face, Modcloth with new mobile sharing tool
Etsy, The North Face, Modcloth and Jetsetter were among the first brands to test a new mobile app sharing feature from Pinterest this year.

The brands embedded a feature within their mobile apps in May that let consumers pin items directly to Pinterest. When consumers chose to pin an item, the Pinterest app automatically opened, let users add a description and pick a board to share it to.

There was also an app download call-to-action for consumers who did not have Pinterest installed on their mobile devices.

Mobile apps have become noticeably more sophisticated this year with social media playing a key role in increasing retention, evidenced by Pinterest streamlining the sharing experience.

Sprint leverages Twitter for second-screen effort targeting NBA championship viewers
Sprint worked with Digitas recently to test Twitter?s new TV targeting tool during the National Basketball Championship series and make mobile the focal part of a second-screen campaign.

As sports fans watched the game, they could tweet at Sprint?s Twitter handle or tweet the hashtag #KLoveTakeover to ask questions and interact with NBA player Kevin Love.

Twitter users tweeting keywords or links indicated that consumers were watching the game and were served a Sprint promoted tweet. Sprint tweeted a special offer during the event offering users $100 off of the HTC One.

Twitter?s new ad product is particularly appealing to big brands such as Sprint that invest heavily in television and want to tie on-air programming with mobile and social content.

Victoria?s Secret strengthens loyalty program via timely Instagram contest
Victoria?s Secret is one of a few brands to use Instagram to build long-term engagement with consumers this year.

The retailer tapped mobile photo-sharing in May to encourage consumers to take pictures that spelled out the word ?pink? through a four-week campaign.

Four winners were chosen each week to receive a $500 shopping spree, and consumers could enter via Instagram or through a feature that was added to the Victoria?s Secret?s Pink Nation iPhone, iPad and Android apps.

The catch with including the in-app branded photo filters is that consumers have to be a member of the Pink Nation loyalty program to access content, meaning that the campaign likely netted new loyalty members for Victoria?s Secret.

Victoria?s Secret is smart to incorporate mobile photo-sharing across both Instagram, which has a big reach, and through its own branded app to drive downloads.

Wendy?s propels brand with incentivized mobile, social push
Wendy?s knew that consumers love to take and share photos via their mobile devices when the brand rolled out a social media campaign in April to promote its new Flatbread Grilled Chicken sandwich.

Consumers who tweeted a picture of their sandwich with the hashtag #twEATfor1K were entered for a chance at winning $1,000.

A new winner was chosen every day, and consumers could learn more about the product via a mobile-optimized landing page.

Ads to promote the initiative ran within Twitter?s Web and mobile platforms, with the focus again on mobile as the logical medium for consumers to enter the contest.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York