Posted 23rd September 2014 | By ExtraMile

This month, I delve into the world of social media and analyse one of the biggest online viral campaigns that we have seen for a while, possibly ever?

The Ice Bucket Challenge took over our Facebook pages for a good couple of weeks. But what social media marketing lessons are to be learnt from this trend?

Bill Gates vs Mark Zuckerberg: which was your favourite? This month, I delve into the world of social media and analyse one of the biggest online viral campaigns that we have seen for a while, possibly ever? The Ice Bucket Challenge took over our Facebook pages for a good couple of weeks. But what social media marketing lessons are to be learnt from this trend?

Although the origins of the Ice Bucket Challenge are unclear, one thing is for sure: the fast-growing campaign was excellent news for the ALS Association and other related, and unrelated, charities that have benefited from generous participants. Social media marketers around the world must be scratching their heads, searching for ways to ride off the back of this new phenomenon.

The campaign was essentially entirely made up of what marketers like to call 'user-generated' content. You might even say that it's one of the best examples of content marketing. It raised a huge amount of money and spread the message about a disease and charity that not many people knew about.

So what can we learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge? What was it that appealed to the masses, that we can take away and apply to our own social media campaigns?

How to motivate people to engage with your social media campaign:

1. Appeal to popularity - If you are using social media for a marketing platform, remember what the social media environment is all about – people connecting with friends and boosting ego. It's unbelievable to think that the 'no make-up' selfie even took off in such an environment!

2. Make it fun - Because there's nothing more fun than tipping a bucket of ice over your head! The video worked because it was funny without being embarrassing or controversial, like a lot of popular viral videos.

3. Target a wide audience – Usually a social media campaign tends to target a specific audience, but if you get it right, there's no need to put limits on these things. The ice bucket challenge appealed to teenagers, kids, mums, dads, students and even grandparents! Although the garden was a popular video location, we saw videos coming from workplaces, sports clubs and TV shows.

4. Keep it cheap and accessible for all – Don't make it difficult for people to get involved. Everyone has a bucket at home, and it's easy to get your hands on some ice cubes. What was also important was that everyone was on a level playing field. There was limited opportunity for showing off or the kind of 'one-upmanship' that might put people off getting involved. Although there was still plenty of room for creativity.

5. Timing is everything – Imagine if the videos had gone viral just a few months later, as we entered the colder autumnal months. I'm not sure a bucket of ice would have been so appealing! Even a couple of weeks could have made a massive difference to participation.

6. Generosity gets people's attention – If you're launching a social media campaign for your own business, there's no reason why you can't still appeal to people's better nature. Donate some of the profit to charity, or let them know about how you regularly help a local charity. People recognise these selfless acts and remember you for them.

One final thought is to consider how Facebook and other social media platforms will react to this charity marketing trend. I wonder how much money would have been raised if Facebook had featured an on-page donation button. If a 'like' button could make a small donation, it may have limited participation, but increased donations for the charity.

It will be interesting to see the ensuing attempts of marketers worldwide, as we combine video, social media and content marketing to try and create that perfect viral campaign!

Written by Annabel Ross, SEO Specialist at ExtraMile Communications.

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.

 

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