Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Many nonprofit organizations and small businesses come to us with a campaign idea saying, “Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? I want that.”
Yes, don’t we all.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was internet *GOLD*! And for those who don’t remember, it went a little something like this.
In the summer of 2014, people across the country posted videos where a bucket of ice water was poured over their heads and they had to nominate others to do the same. The idea was that the nominated participants had 24 hours to complete the challenge or make a charitable donation to the ALS foundation. The campaign went viral and by the end of August, the ALS Association announced that their total donations since July 29 had exceeded $100 million. In comparison, they had received $20 million in donations in 2013.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was original, funny, easy to complete, and easy to guilt other people into completing. By completing it, you looked like a charitable and adventurous person. By not completing it, you were a modern-day Scrooge McDuck. Public peer pressure at its finest.
Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was so successful is the kind of stuff that will get talked about in Marketing classes for years to come. But here’s my two cents: it was different and entertaining.
People come to social media to be entertained, inspired, or educated. The content that small businesses and nonprofit organizations create has to meet those objectives. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge was entertaining, educational, and inspirational. Check. Check. Check. But that was 2014.
It’s 2021; there are over 1 billion users on Instagram and 2.8 billion active users on Facebook. With so many people publishing videos, memes, photos, and infographics every day, in order to attract your ideal customer, your content needs to stand out. And to stand out you can’t be basic.
So what do I mean by being basic? Well, it’s publishing cookie-cutter content. Content that is:
- Generic and doesn’t reflect you or your brand
- Irrelevant to your customer
- Consistently the same format or style (read: boring); lacks visual appeal
Small businesses and nonprofits on social media need to give people a reason to stop scrolling and interact with published content. Interacting with the content can mean reading it, liking it, saving it, or sharing it. This type of interaction is what we call engagement and it’s an important metric that the algorithm uses to decide who and how many people will see the things you publish.
Look I get it. To be good on social media requires a lot of time and energy. And you’re busy running your business and/or saving the world. So the easiest thing to do is set up a few social media accounts and then post random things from time to time. You’ll get a few followers and a few likes, and you can post an icon on your website showing you are on social media.
But friends, this is not the way.
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Remember there are 1 billion people on Instagram and 2.8 billion people on Facebook. These are your donors, customers, volunteers, board members, supporters, and fans. I like to think of social media as a cocktail party. If this was a party, and you had all these people in the room would you just say something generic to each person, like, “Nice hat, bro!” or would you use that opportunity to talk to each person and sell them on your product or your cause. I think you know the answer here.
Social media works the same way and this is why cookie-cutter content doesn’t work on social. You can’t be generic. You have to think of who you are talking to, who you want to be talking to, what are they talking about, and how you can get in on that conversation. Be entertaining. Be inspiring. Be informed. Be yourself. But most importantly, be social.
Next week, we’ll talk about how to stand out on social.
Spoiler alert: It’s not by doing the latest dance challenge on Tik Tok!
(Although we would still love to see you do it!)