Your mother, your brother, your best friend, and a loooong list of celebrities, and me too: everyone jumped on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, posting videos of themselves, donating money, and challenging their friends and family to do the same. Those who participated got their fifteen minutes of fame, and those who wimped out were ridiculed as being no fun.
Aside from the fact that the Challenge raised millions of dollars and promoted awareness about ALS, a terrible, degenerative disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a remarkable example of the tremendous power of social media, and it illustrates what can happen when you invite your customers to share pics, videos, and messages that promote your brand. There are several important principles that the Ice Bucket Challenge teaches us about developing a winning social media marketing strategy.
- Be the EST. While Challenge videos that simply featured calls out to a couple of friends followed by a typical soaking didn’t circulate terribly far, videos of particularly creative approaches were shared thousands and thousands of times. FunniEST, coldEST, wettEST … extreme examples got the most views. Whether it was Ben Affleck calling out his celebrity pals and then pushing his wife into their swimming pool, or whether it was a group of middle aged moms rapping their challenge, standing out from the crowd is what gets the most mileage. Invite the participants in your social media campaign to interact in creative ways. Ask them to give you their EST.
- Find something ubiquitous. Everyone could participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, because all that’s required is water, ice, and some sort of container. If the components had been caviar, platinum, and moon rocks, then that would have left most of us out. Invite your fans to tweet, photograph, and share pics of themselves in your place of business, or wearing your logo. Make it simple, repeatable, and leave room for creativity.
- Recognize the emotional power of social media. There was some criticism of the Ice Bucket Challenge from folks who thought it trivialized the disease. Some of the most powerful videos posted and shared were those made by people who suffer from ALS and from their friends and families. Authenticity shines through in a video, and creating a powerful emotional connection with your brand through your customers’ true stories promotes your brand in a positive way.
- Be pictorial or easy to replicate. Maybe you invite your fans to take your logo on vacation with them and share pics of your logo in exotic places. Or perhaps you give away bumper stickers and ask customers to take pics of their cars in unusual spots. The key is to make it easy to incorporate your logo into a photo that can be shared and reshared until the image covers the globe.
Creative images make millions of impressions via social media. You invite the participation of your customers, and while you will need to monitor and perhaps to edit content to ensure that it’s appropriate, the beauty of a social media campaign is that you can sit back and let your fans do your marketing for you.