The Next Ice Bucket Challenge
The beauty of the ice bucket challenge is that it was not conceived in a conference room by high paid creatives trying to think of what the next big viral thing would be. The ice bucket challenge started with a few people dumping water over their heads for charity and challenging others to do the same – and the concept went viral all on its own. No big ad buys. No incentives. No big splashy video production or costly photoshoot with celebrities.
So when, over the course of the last month, people in the ad business that our clients often partner with started talking about creating the “next” ice bucket challenge, I am a bit skeptical. Creating a viral campaign is certainly not easy. Sometimes things fall into place and an idea takes off. Sometimes a good idea goes terribly wrong.
The bottom line is that when you manufacture the idea of what people “should” share, the idea can get shut down before it even gets started. People don’t want to share something they are told to or where the messaging is pre-set, even (and sometimes especially) if the share comes with a big incentive like a sweeps entry or a coupon.
Sweepstakes and coupons and incentives and contests work great to generate interest, make sales and develop customers, but a “viral” campaign that spreads throughout social channels is more about sharing content. And contrived content isn’t something that is going to go viral.
When planning a social campaign with the possibility of going viral try to:
- Set realistic goals: Don’t let the goal of the campaign be to “go viral.” If you need to sell more product make the goal to sell 10% more product. If you need to launch an Instagram channel make 1000 followers your goal. Tangible, measurable goals will always let you measure success.
- Keep it simple: Have a clear call to action with an emotional appeal or personal connection. One or two hashtags. One link. Any more than that and your brand will get lost.
- Use incentives wisely: Make the share worth people’s time and spare them the ridicule of their friends. Instead of simply giving an entry in a sweeps or a vote in a contest for a share, give a $1 donation for every share or hashtag use (up to a certain amount) or have the votes or shares build so that a non-profit might win in a contest.
- Allow for personalization: Asking people to share a funny picture may get you a few shares, but asking people to post their best picture that fits with the hashtag will get you more.
- Develop a Backup Plan: Come up with a response plan if things go wrong. Make sure your hashtag can’t be misread and turned on you. Have messages ready if there are negative comments. And if things go wrong, respond quickly.
Marden-Kane can help you set up a successful social campaign. It may not be the next Ice Bucket Challenge, but we will make sure it meets your goals, is on strategy and gets shared. Contact us to get started.
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