There’s a good chance you’ve noticed a specific hashtag popping up all over the web the last few weeks: #ALSIceBucketChallenge. The social media campaign has snowballed into a powerful online movement, and now celebrities like Justin Timberlake, LeBron James, and Bill Gates are stepping up to the challenge of dumping ice water on their heads.
The marketing brilliance of this social media initiative is undeniable.
Reasons for this success are quite simple. Online marketing strategists would be wise to follow suit and implement the following principles in future marketing campaigns:
- Get a little crazy. People spent days scratching their heads, wondering how ice water was related to the associated disease. Unfortunately, they will never reach a conclusion because it is a completely random action. However, the task is easily executed, which attracts social media users to participate.
Online marketers should go one step beyond what’s comfortable. Safe online marketing typically doesn’t elicit the same attention, and overall results are usually below the desired outcome. Through the Ice Bucket Challenge initiative, donations to the ALS Association reached a record high.
- Find a balance of emotions. ALS is a serious disease, which makes successfully marketing to people who don’t fully understand the severity of the condition challenging. Nevertheless, the Ice Bucket Challenge evidently found perfect harmony in raising awareness for the disease while also maintaining lightheartedness to draw a more general audience.
Marketing campaigns like Sarah McLachlan’s animal cruelty commercials are emotionally driven, but they leave the audience feeling disheartened about the situation. While this approach can be effective too, the Ice Bucket Challenge uniquely leaves people feeling encouraged and inspired about making a difference.
- Stay straightforward with the hashtag. Sometimes blatant statements appear to lack innovation from the marketing perspective, but the public attaches to the concept more quickly and conducts more outside research when the information is given to them directly. Creative hashtags have a place, but fundraising requires intentional statements of purpose.
Staying on target with social media campaigns is challenging for most strategists, but using success stories like the Ice Bucket Challenge as a teachable moment is wise. From small businesses to international corporations, successful marketing takes calculated boldness to leave a powerful impression. Continue studying the trends and following the victories (and the failures) to tweak your own approach to the world of online marketing.