Social media content marketing is a tough nut to crack. Building an enormous, engaged social media following is every brand’s marketing dream but it doesn’t happen overnight (unless you’re Chloe Kim, who skyrocketed to Twitter fame after users learned of her humorous personality and gold-medal snowboarding skills during the recent Winter Olympics). For everyone else, social media marketing is a complicated endeavor which involves equal parts knowledge, responsiveness and good old fashioned luck.

Hopefully after this article, you’ll be equipped with the first two things without needing much luck…

Bahlsen PiCK UP!

You’ve bitten into a PiCK UP! choco snack before. It’s so good that you don’t need to be eating one right now to taste its perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors in your mouth. Without picking up a PiCK UP!, how is this sensation even possible? It’s Bahlsen’s formidable marketing, which has been recognized for its edginess and in fact awarded for that very reason: the company took home the Goldenes Brandeisen – which can be likened to the Oscar of German Marketing – back in 2016!

Their extensive market research combined with aggressive regional marketing (for instance, taking separate individualistic approaches for product retail gameplans) trickles advantageously into their social media campaigns. Bahlsen’s content strategy is also distinctly bold, with high-exposure product placements such as their TV collaboration with Ich bin ein Star – Holt mich hier raus! (the German iteration of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!) and borderline provocative social media posts which sometimes cleverly jab at the brand’s competitors. With antics like 2013’s “Cookie Monster thievery” PR stunt, Bahlsen knows how to get attention.

What They Do Best: Market research & brave content

Dieter Lutz, Director of Marketing at Bahlsen, said it best: “Be brave and work with the right agency partners. This means permanent trend watch, close exchange with the agency partners and the team, in order to explore what is currently in the target group… what could happen in the near and distant future. That is a constant optimization.” Track trends as much as you can, mostly in your specific market but you want to be aware of trends outside your industry too. With constant research, communication and teamwork, you can optimize according to your target KPIs.


This German banking group made it onto our list of the most popular commercials in Germany for February, and it’s not difficult to see why. Their content transgresses the constraints of social media (and it’s always a good idea to think outside of that box), meaning their content doesn’t only live on social media but expands beyond those platforms in creative ways. Taking a snapshot observation of their current social campaign, Volksbank has an ongoing collaboration with Festival Guide which includes a special edition festival bank card with amazing perks, a social media contest to win one of those limited edition bank cards and more, all spinning in and out of their social media feeds.

With such excellent organic content and customer incentives rolled into one marketing campaign, connecting it all to social media is the cherry on top of a well-balanced slice of content cake. One notable aspect of Volksbank’s social media strategy is their all-encompassing presence across most of today’s big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat—you name it, Volksbank is on it. In the past, Volksbank has created some commendable viral content for their Instagram follower base, and presently they are doing a Snapchat-based project to interact with their demographically younger users.

What They Do Best: Tap into the youth

From their accessibility on youthfully popular apps to their vibrant social media content, Volksbank knows how to tap into the younger crowd. They even have an entire webpage on their main site dedicated to “Young Customers,” which contains all the trimmings you’d expect out of a product landing page optimized for younger bankers (pixel art YouTube videos, cartoon comic strips, etc.)… At the heart of it all, real interaction provides a viscerally connected experience that is fun for the youthful user—if it makes sense to target that demographic for your brand, you’d be foolish not to!


When a brand can exploit the concept of flu symptoms which supposedly affect men in an intensified way, there’s something special coming out of their marketing & advertising lab. Not only does Männergrippe have to counteract the traditional notion that sickness is a seasonal thing, they must constantly advertise a product aimed at one half of the usual market during a time when commerce is becoming progressively gender neutral. So how do they manage to stay successful? Aside from sickness being a perpetual occurrence, Männergrippe has amassed an impressive following on social media. With such a far-reaching fan base, the brand’s social media priority should be to stay locked into their audience and deliver awesome content on a consistent basis.

Männergrippe has a great sense of humor, too. Their social profiles showcase an abundance of witty posts, whether it’s a tongue-in-cheek image quote on their Twitter and Instagram or their classic satirical breaking news video on their YouTube and Facebook. A key point: their content is relatable to everyone despite the product’s target demographic. Another great takeaway is their consistent brand identity on social media, which is a valuable lesson in design and branding. It’s this combination of plentiful subscribers and on-point content that allows Männergrippe to really exercise the full extent of their online reach.

What They Do Best: Leverage their following (with satire)

With over 750,000 followers spread across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Männergrippe has a phenomenally expansive digital canvas to paint on. Whether you have hundreds of thousands of social media fans or just one, these users are your bread and butter. When it comes to social media marketing, take advantage of your followers’ potential to boost your signal, no matter how big or small their reach may be. Satire helps too—if done in the right way, witty posts will go a long way on a sprawling fan network!


The all-American diner is a classic cornerstone of mid-century society in the United States, and Denny’s capitalizes on people’s nostalgia for that era in a modern way. Typically unassuming from the outside of each restaurant building, the Denny’s brand magic happens once you’re seated at a table. What their social media profiles manage to do is capture the warm atmosphere of that nostalgic scenario without giving too much away, therefore enticing their online network of over 2 million hungry followers to fit in a stomach-satisfying visit with family and friends.

They don’t just post normal pictures of food, though. As popular as food photos have become on social media, the content team at Denny’s knows that great recipes are often comprised of multiple essential ingredients (and they should, after 65 successful years of being in the restaurant industry). Using food pictures as their basis, Denny’s injects their secret ingredient to whip up posts that engage users and salivary glands alike: humor. While a brand like Männergrippe prefers subtle injections of satire in their social media content, Denny’s takes the fun to a whole other level while still keeping it tasteful—pun intended.

Social Media Practices

What They Do Best: Capitalize on nostalgia

Also What They Do Best: Make people laugh

There are two inarguable things that are always trending: comedy and nostalgia. Pairing both of these spices, Denny’s serves up savory content that simultaneously reminds fans of the diner’s classic heritage and makes them hungry for their dinner food with alluringly funny food posts. Fond memories and humor will consistently pique people’s interest, so if your company or brand has a legacy of its own then why not follow in the storied footsteps of Denny’s or the older Bahlsen? If you haven’t been around that long, then make people think that you have experience in what you’re doing. The best part is you don’t need a longstanding heritage to be funny, so try out the comedic angle if it makes sense within your overall branding model!

So to recap: do market research to come up with brave content, tap into the young demographic, leverage your following, capitalize on nostalgia, and make people laugh. It might not seem like a very long list of best practices, but there’s a lot to unpack.

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