By Darren Gilbert

Depending on who you speak to, 2015 has been a great year for businesses and brands on social media. For others, it has been a nightmare. Since it’s almost the end of the year, we spoke to a few experts to find out what their best and worse (and just plain ugly) campaigns were.

The good

For Dan Pinch, creative partner at Society, the work done by GE has impressed him. “You’d think they would be pretty dull, but they are regularly one of the first major brands to push the boundaries of new channels,” he says. Check out Emoji Science or #droneweek to get an idea. “Their visuals are usually amazing and always have a purpose or story to tell, beyond just looking great.”

Jacqui Mackway-Wilson, digital marketing consultant and director of Go Social SA, says WWF’s #LastSelfie campaign on Snapchat was one of her favourites. “What appealed to me about this campaign was that it was [a] contextually brilliant use of the Snapchat platform,” she says. “Using the fact that selfies on Snapchat disappear after 10 seconds, WWF’s series of endangered species pictures tagged #LastSelfie highlighted the urgency for action.”

For Robyn Hobson, social media expert and founder of Social Pod, Huawei’s Instagram treasure hunt this year was a winner. “They came along to the national Instameet in Graaf-Reniet and hit 10 Huawei devices at various landmarks and posted clues on Instagram,” she says. If you were the first person to find one, it was yours.

“It was small but effective and resulted in users across SA engaging with the brand like never before,” adds Hobson. “It shows that, sometimes, bigger isn’t always better and targeting highly niche markets can produce awesome results.”

The bad

With the good comes the inevitable bad. As Mackway-Wilson says she doesn’t like picking apart other people’s work, she points out that “merit can be found in learning from the mistakes of others”.

One particularly cringe-worthy moment on social media for Mackway-Wilson was the advert by BIC on National Women’s Day. The image garnered backlash for being sexist by telling women to ‘think like a man’. And rightly so.

It is also Hobson’s least favourite campaign for 2015: “The brand made an incredible faux pas, didn’t own up to the mistake and was called out by South African Twitter for maintaining the sexist status quo. Cringingly, they tried to pass the buck and this inevitably make things worse.”

The silver lining

Fortunately, the above mistakes can be corrected and learned from. After all, as Hobson says, while the storm seems utterly terrifying when you’re in its eye, it will eventually die down.

“It is about owning your mistakes,” says Pinch. “Learn from Hollywood celebs: apologise quickly; don’t blame other people and learn quickly so you don’t make the same mistake again.”

Mackway-Wilson has similar advice. “Always be big enough to apologise. If and when you do make a social media faux pas, expect to have trolls who feed off the backlash. Don’t take on the trolls, and if a campaign is failing, don’t resist pulling the plug.”

What are your thoughts? What social media campaigns did you love or hate? Let us know below.