Social Media

5 Lessons for Content Marketers from the #icebucketchallenge

Posted by Gordon Plutsky on August 15th, 2014 at 5:51 am

The ice bucket challenge to raise funds and awareness for ALS research has been a smashing success and has led to a huge spike in donations.  The viral aspect to the campaign has taken on a life of its’ own.  This phenomenon can be a blueprint for content marketers trying to understand the DNA of a viral content campaign.  Here are a few takeaways for marketers:

User generated content spurs participation with your brand:
Inside all of us is a budding director or actor; some participants went through great lengths to craft their video.  They tried to be funny or touching in their messages.  Each video creator showed personal touch with the their innate creativity looking for their moment.  Crowdsourcing videos or Instagram pictures can help get your customers involved in your campaigns. The majority of Americans are walking around with HD video cameras in their pockets and they are not afraid to use them.

Video is superior to text for building engagement:
Video is the preferred way to spread a message via social media.  Any past technology barriers have evaporated and all audiences are comfortable consuming video across any platform, especially mobile.  The old cliché is true, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, video is worth a 10,000.  Showing is always better than telling.

Create brand advocates with peer-to-peer sharing:
One of the striking outcomes of the ice bucket challenge was the way that participants called out and tagged friends.  Non-profits have long known that peer-to-peer fundraising is a critical aspect of their overall revenue plans.  People are media and in the social era they are your best sales people.

Having a community is better than having an audience:
The sense of community and connection is what drives the energy of social media.  Humans long and need to be apart of a tribe.  Modern life has robbed many of us of the small village environment of our ancestors.  Facebook and other networks create the virtual town square.  The campaign gives people a reason to connect on with a common goal.

Storytelling builds emotional connections: The ice bucket challenge started with the heartbreaking story of Pete Frates, the young man from Beverly Mass. (and my neighbor) stricken with ALS who has become a national story.  Seeing Pete and his young wife turns the abstract into real life.  Storytelling works because we put ourselves into the story and imagine a loved one (or ourselves) in Pete’s shoes.  That stirs our compassion and emotion and helps internalize the message.

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