The Most Engaging Brand Content of 2016, Month by Month

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In 2015, there was a marked increase in the popularity of brand videos on YouTube. In 2016, brands took social video storytelling to another level, not only on YouTube, but on Facebook and Instagram as well, and were rewarded for their efforts.

That’s according to social media analytics company Unmetric, which tracked social campaigns throughout the year as it did in 2015 to determine which ones performed best in terms of engagement.

"Videos have moved from being just reposts of 30-second TV spots to long-form storytelling, with the popular Nike Football post being nearly six minutes long," Unmetric CEO and co-founder Lux Narayan told Adweek. "This year really showed that there's an appetite and attention span for longer branded content if it's authentic and tells a story that resonates well with people, not merely as consumers but universally as humans."

Unmetric studies Twitter, Facebook and Instagram data to determine an engagement score for brand posts of zero to 1,000. The engagement score is a weighted measurement based on the idea that some metrics like shares and retweets have more value for brands than others such as likes and favorites. For YouTube, the company uses a different method for measuring the successfulness of a campaign. There is no engagement score, but likes and how quickly a video accumulates them are important factors. It also uses a combination of its own algorithms and human insights to determine overall engagement.

Narayan noted that brands in 2016 increased their use of user-generated content, pointing to Audi’s Instagram post (below) and JetBlue's Mother's Day post as examples. Brands also highlighted authentic customer stories, embraced cross-channel strategies and found success by asking people to share or use hashtags across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Narayan also noted that girl and women empowerment was a theme that resonated well in 2016 (see Always’, Dove’s and Microsoft’s posts below). "And in what felt to many like a very divisive year, unity shined through around the Olympics with Samsung's post and Amazon's priest and imam video," he said.

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of social posts from brands that Unmetric determined achieved engagement scores of 1,000 or were otherwise the most engaging of the year:

@ejwander Erik Wander is the digital features editor at Adweek where he oversees Adweek's Story Desk.