Whether you took part or not, one of the most memorable and successful social media campaigns of 2015 was the Ice Bucket Challenge. From 29th July until 18th August, Facebook was used to share 2.4 unique Ice Bucket Videos, which led to 28million related discussions. Instagram also shared millions of people experiencing freezing water being poured over their heads.

You may have viewed it as a bit of fun or even a ridiculous idea, but in those three weeks 12 million dollars was raised for a charity that many of those who took part or donated still couldn’t name. If you had asked almost any of them which charity they might support prior to the challenge, it is doubtful that more than a couple would have mentioned Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). If you asked them now which cause they donated to as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge, few would recall that it was ALS, yet they gave their money.

The fact that people were so willing to engage in the social media campaign and give to a little known charity adds a new perspective on social media campaigns. In almost all marketing strategies, branding plays a crucial role. It is essential that people see and recognise the brand. Building brand awareness can be as important as generating leads.

So why did so many people get involved?

Social Media is a unique marketing tool because it provides the opportunity to build connections and personalise the message. With the Ice Bucket Challenge it wasn’t the charity sharing the message and encouraging interaction, the baton was passed from friend to friend, colleague to colleague, celebrity to world leader. When a friend asks you to get involved it feels personal, it’s a human interaction and a shared experience.

Digital technology has provided us with a range of convenient communication tools. It is now possible for us to stay in touch at any time of the day or night, no matter where we are. This has opened up many opportunities, but it has also removed the need for person to person interaction. Although few of us would be willing to give up our tech, we can also miss that human connection. When social media is used to build connections, draw people together and encourage an emotional response, we want to get involved to feel part of the action.

Social Media Strategy

Social media differs from traditional marketing techniques. Rather than blasting out message after message, the focus is on building fans. A generous, giving approach is a great way to build respect and showcase your company values.

Giving doesn’t need to take the form of discount codes and promotional offers. You might support the local community by promoting events on your social media pages or share the posts of other companies with shared values. You could openly congratulate staff members, suppliers and customers on notable achievements. You can be willing to give advice and top tips which share your expertise whilst providing value and interest to readers.

With a giving approach, you are more likely to attract followers or likes and they are more likely to share your content with others. As people are more likely to get involved if they have had recommendations from friends and peers, encouraging others to share your content on your behalf is essential for success. The results are unlikely to be as immediate and lucrative as the Ice Bucket Challenge, but they could help you to see that social media can work as an effective marketing strategy that generates a return.

If you would like to learn more about how to get the most from platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, you may want to sign up for an online social media course. Covering social media within your wider online marketing strategy, Elton Boocock’s free course could help you to understand the potential of social media for your business.