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Holy Family Elementary-Junior High teacher Colin Oberst plays his 'Hockey Night in Canada' anthem entry to some students in his school in Edmonton on Friday Oct. 3, 2008.

James Maclennan

Companies are starting to pay close attention to social networking as a marketing and branding tool. While some firms are content with a website or a Facebook fan page, others have embraced the social web as a means of creating new and user-generated campaigns.

Company: MSN

Campaign: Olympic Torch Relay

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Synopsis: As the 2010 Winter Olympics drew close, MSN launched a website that tracked the torch across the country. In addition to mapping the trek, the site allowed users to share their own relay stories.

Company: Sony

Campaign: Playstation Gamer's Voice

Synopsis: To advertise its gaming system, Sony created a contest to allow users to upload their best video-game review videos. The company was one of several that took advantage of the growing popularity of web-cams to solicit content.

Company: CBC

Campaign: Hockey Night in Canada theme song

Synopsis: In 2008, the broadcaster went looking for a new jingle for its hockey program. It set up a site that allowed users to upload their submissions, and the campaign became hugely popular. Filemobile, which created the site's back end, calls it the most successful user-generated contest in Canadian history, with more than 20,000 submissions.

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Company: Hasbro

Campaign: Monopoly

Synopsis: In an attempt to revitalize its well-known board game, Hasbro created an on-line version -- on a massive scale. Monopoly City Streets used a mash-up of the game and Google Maps to allow users to virtually buy and build on millions of streets around the globe. By the time the game came to an end, more than five million people had participated, buying up nine million streets and building 175 million structures.

Company: Mars

Campaign: Skittles website

Synopsis: In a case of social media overload, visitors to the Skittles candy site were surprised to find that it had been entirely replaced with a series of Twitter posts from anyone who included the word "Skittles" in their post. It was all part of the candy maker's attempt to create a viral branding campaign -- the home page switched between the Twitter feed, the Skittles Facebook page, its Wikipedia entry and other such gimmicks.

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Omar El Akkad

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