The 10 Best Brand Tweets of 2016

Dave Chappelle has this great stand-up bit explaining the absurdity of a culture that worships celebrities. Just because revered singers are trusted for their musical taste doesn’t mean anyone cares about their commentary on 9/11.

Today, everything he talks about in the clip could apply to brands on social media, whether they’re abusing the latest trend or honoring a tragedy they have no business honoring. The challenge is striking that balance between developing a creative voice and giving customers what they expect.

Luckily, not all brands this year were busy trying to tie Drake’s latest album into their social content. The cream of the crop used posts that were funny, poignant, inappropriate, and sometimes a mix of all three. Without further ado, here are the best tweets of 2016:

10. Wendy’s and Jimmy John’s make you feel uncomfortable

Fun fact: January 12 is International Kiss a Ginger Day. On that January date, sandwich shop Jimmy John’s made it known that it has a thing for a certain fast-food chain with a red-haired mascot. The faux-flirting is a cute and harmless way for brands to let their personalities shine through on social. People on Twitter expect brands to talk to customers, but occasionally, corporate Twitter accounts decide to have some fun with each other. Here’s hoping the romance is still strong as January rolls back around.

9. Denny’s wants to improve the iPhone

Here at Contently, we’re big fans of Denny’s Twitter. Half of its tweets could have made the list, but this topical example of humor stands out for its timeliness and honesty. (If Apple had to remove an essential part of the iPhone, it could have at least given me a flapjack.)

On the topic, few things were more multi-purposed in 2016 than the Denny’s pancake. It hosted a Facebook Live Q&A in August, played rim protector in March, and satisfied hungry patrons nationwide every day in between. Bonus points awarded for versatility.

8. DiGiorno pizza goes long

Once upon a time, there was a platform called Vine, where users could create six-second videos of backflips and dabbing Squidwards. Consumers tended to use Vine better than brands, but don’t tell that to DiGiorno, which managed to cram football, pizza, and bad friendship into one imaginative clip.

DiGiorno’s Twitter is generally a fun, irreverent place, where the brand offers NFL analysis and live tweets professional wrestling matches. But no other example was as effortlessly human as that fantastic Vine. And really, that’s what a company Twitter should be.

7. Old Spice pulls a classic Old Spice

For some brands, social media is a place to break character, where you can let your hair down and rebel against corporate culture. For Old Spice, all places are suitable for those things, and Twitter is no exception.

Its current campaign featuring NFL star Von Miller is hilarious, but this photo from April was quintessential Old Spice. The brand is at its best the further it branches out from normalcy, and whether it’s adding muscles to Terry Crews or a tongue, it somehow all works.

6. Charmin wishes you a happy National Coffee Day

Poop, not the most politically correct discussion topic, is a tricky subject for brands to touch, (no pun intended). But Charmin is in the bathroom business, and has no qualms addressing the matter on Twitter.

That self-awareness comes through beautifully in this holiday-themed GIF around National Coffee Day. It’s the least subtle reminder of what coffee does to your digestive system, but a nice message from a brand that knows it’ll be called into duty.

5. NyQuil would like to be used as directed

Sometimes brands tweet funny things intentionally, and sometimes the humor finds them. Such was the case for NyQuil in January, when a happy customer praised the company only to learn that you’re not supposed to use the product every day for two years. NyQuil is not an alternative to a daily multivitamin, everybody. I wonder if the social media editors of Sharpie, Elmer’s, and Sherwin-Williams deal with similar situations.

4. Excedrin is here for your #DebateHeadache

The first two presidential debates left me wanting to break my television. Plenty of others were in the same boat, and yet we all huddled in front of the TV a third time to watch the candidates berate each other once more.

Headache experts Excedrin took full advantage of America’s debate fatigue by celebrating the drug’s ability to make #DebateHeadaches a thing of the past. The media lauded the ploy, and the public hopefully got some needed relief.

3. Taco Bell serves up relationship advice

Taco Bell has always thought outside the bun on social media. Whether it’s arguing over naming semantics or creating Snapchat lenses that make your face look delicious, the brand maintains a quirky, innovative presence that keeps up on trends as much as its millennial clientele.

This is all well and good, but I know what you’re thinking: “Why can’t Taco Bell use its Twitter powers to help me with my love life?” Luckily, the brand delivered on January 3. I still don’t think Taco Bell is a good idea before a date, and it’s certainly not a good idea as a date, but a taco in the morning might be the perfect way to say “I’m thinking about you.” Although I’d rather someone else test this out and report back.

2. Hamburger Helper is waiting on Beyoncé

In kitchens, Hamburger Helper is a nostalgic meal crutch for families nationwide. On Twitter, the brand is a bona fide hip-hop presence, fresh off its April debut album, Watch the Stove. And like all rap stars, Helper worships at the throne of Beyoncé.

A part of me thinks Tupac is still alive and decided to take the most innocuous job he could find to stay out of the public eye. Social media editor for Hamburger Helper may have seemed a good choice at the time, but now the account’s a respected member of the hip-hop community. Denny’s should be watching the stove closely, because Helper is making a serious play to steal its social media crown.

1. Nike gives you goose bumps

Nike has been the gold standard of advertising ever since it coined “Just Do It” in 1988. The brand and its agency Wieden+Kennedy cemented that status in the ensuing years with legendary work featuring Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Charles Barkley.

The year is now 2016, and the medium is now social, but Nike is still in a league of its own when it comes to creating minute-long masterpieces. The Swoosh released “Someday” via Twitter mere moments after the Chicago Cubs clinched a historic title, and everything about the post felt perfect. Right tone, right story, right platform. The best of branded Twitter in 2016.

Now, onto the important follow-up question: Does Nike’s victorious effort dethrone two-time joint defending champions Arby’s or drunk JCPenney?

Not quite. But it comes close.

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