The bucket list – 7 content marketing tips from the Ice Bucket Challenge

The phenomenon that is the Ice Bucket Challenge contains many content marketing tips. We’ve identified 7, how many more can you add?

1. Play to the community

Kinda obvious, I suppose, but this is what is at the heart of this ultimate referral scheme. Nobody challenged can really turn it down, because it’s for a good cause. Even if you think the campaign sucks, it’s hard to turn down a personal and public challenge from a friend in the name of charity.

2. Play to the competitive spirit

Once the idea had gained traction, people felt the need to make theirs as entertaining as possible. Which meant that the whole campaign got more shares. Speaking of which, how ’bout them nuns, eh?

2. Use video where possible

This campaign has accelerated the use of video in social feeds. People who would never before have uploaded a video are now more tuned into it and this means the next video based campaign will have it easier. Truly, we are all broadcasters now. For a long time, video has been held to be the online medium of the future. This campaign confirms that view and means that we really should be looking to incorporate more video in our content mix.

3. Keep barriers to entry low

A bucket, some water and a camera. Doesn’t get a lot easier than that. Crucially, though, the fact that the donation level is low means that people don’t have to get involved in creating a donation page and nagging friends to contribute. In addition, the videos are easy to watch, being less than a minute long typically. So think the same way for your own campaigns – make it as easy as possible to participate at every point of friction.

4. Don’t forget the education

This campaign has heightened awareness of ALS/MND/Lou Gehrig’s Disease to a level it could only ever have dreamed of. But it hasn’t much increased understanding of it. This is one aspect of the campaign that might have been improved on if those completing the challenge had included a link on their post that explained a bit more about the disease and the fight to overcome it.

5. Be authentic

It’s not easy for a brand to replicate the success of the IBC, because at the heart of it is the fact that it is for a good cause. And the share price of your company doesn’t qualify as a good cause for most people. However, putting a good cause at the heart of your brand and behaving generally in a socially responsible way is something that enlightened companies are doing more and more. A good example of this is Ballygowan’s very visible support of the Marie Keating Foundation through their pink bottle campaign. It was a good fit because of the brand’s authenticity, purity and association with women and health.

Not being authentic can result in some severe damage to your brand. A UK charity got slated for buying up keywords around the Ice Bucket Challenge, with traffic being brought to the Macmillan Cancer charity, where they were encouraged to complete the challenge for their charity, not the original ALS/MND.

6. Use a celeb if you can!

Everybody from the cast of Star Wars and Homer Simpson to your local government representative has gotten on board. In fact, it would be harder to think of a celeb that hasn’t been part of this as it has grown. Getting celebrities on board with this from the outset, however, meant that it spread an awful lot quicker than it would otherwise have done. Celebs mean media coverage, which is the vital oxygen for campaigns such as these.

7. Make it entertaining

Bottom line – no matter how worthy the campaign, if it’s not fun to watch and be a part of, it ain’t gonna work. Simples.

Speaking of entertaining, how about The Irish Mammy one? And the cursing kid one? See? We’ll miss this stuff when it’s over!

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About Adrian O'Farrell

Adrian O’Farrell is Head of Client Services for 256, Ireland’s first dedicated content marketing agency. He has worked in marketing for over twenty years, having had his own award-winning marketing agency. He has worked in advertising in both agency, media owner and client side. He is a former Chairman of the Association of Promotional Marketing Consultants.