Are you ready for the cartoon ice bucket selfie?

retro_icons_02_eps10-1113vv-vWhen I first started fundraising, the job titles ‘digital manager’ or ‘social media manager’ didn’t exist. In a relatively short time, ‘digital’ has grown from something we should be doing to an essential part of any charity communication programme. And it continues to rapidly grow and change.

Last night at the CIM event on the future of social media for charities, a panel of experts answered questions on the pace and the future of social media for charities. Two questions stuck out for me.

Do likes save lives?

Then there was a bit of a backlash and asking for likes came under criticism for encouraging slactivism; asking people for the easiest feel-good action that requires little personal effort or sacrifice at the lost opportunity of asking for something a more meaningful, like making a donation.

The UNICEF Sweden 2012 ‘likes don’t save lives’ campaign was viewed 750,000 times from 195 countries, and there were more than 10 500 tweets (8000 internationally) during the campaign period.

One of the observations from the panel was how the perception of likes have changed. They are now seen very much more as the first step in building a long-term relationship as part of an engagement strategy rather than as a success measure in their own right.

So, providing someone who ‘likes’ is given the opportunity to give, then yes, eventually likes do save lives.

Can you design a viral campaign?

Do you remember in 2010 there was a Facebook campaign that asked you to change your Facebook profile to a cartoon character to stop violence against children? The campaign didn’t originate from the NSPCC, yet it raised over £100k for the charity, even though the NSPCC made no ask.

Fast forward to spring 2014 and #nomakeupselfie appeared on Facebook. CRUK were quick to set up a text to donate mechanism and whilst this campaign (like change your profile picture to a cartoon character) was not generated by the charity, it raised £8 million for CRUK in 6 days.

Last month #icebucketchallenge, exploded on Facebook, and part fuelled by celebrity endorsements raised £37million for ALS in the US. In the UK Macmillan were accused of not playing fair and hijacking #icebucketchallenge digital media channels. Macmillan have raised over £250,000 for a campaign that has no connection to their cause.

The short answer is that it is incredibly hard to design a viral campaign, but charities must learn from previous trends and constantly horizon scan to spot the next viral fundraising opportunity.

When the panel were asked for their thoughts on the next trend, they predicted another viral ice bucket-type-challenge before Christmas. Are you ready?


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