Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups [at]health
Why has the Ice Bucket Challenge been a huge success? It is a laser focused, brand new, easily relatable, highly visual 'stunt' that breaks through the noise - RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
But, like so many of these 'viral stunts', the impact of raising awareness will dissipate very, very quickly. Raising fleeting awareness is one thing - but where is the long term engagement strategy for these campaigns?
Getting a huge spike in social media followers, social media shares and web traffic is a great outcome, but driving sustainable, ongoing and long term funding/ behaviour changes is quite something else. I'd like to see some hard data around outcomes - ie money raised for research, corporate partners/ sponsors secured, volunteers signed up and engaged. I don't disagree with these sorts of tactics and I don’t for a minute begrudge the campaign for its successes against short term metrics - I congratulate them for being daring and innovative - but I believe the healthcare communications, marketing, PR, social media industry needs to come up with longer term strategies too.
What the Ice Bucket Challenge Tells Us About The State Of Healthcare Marketing
Old ways of doing healthcare marketing are stuffed. In 2014 it’s not enough to hire a ‘celebrity’ to do a community service announcement on radio, put up some billboards, send fundraisers with collection tins to the local shopping mall and hope for the best. Even the telethon, that staple of fundraising campaigns, is losing its lustre as younger demographics shy away from traditional ways of supporting healthcare awareness and fundraising campaigns. And please use the comments section below to tell me when you last bought a raffle ticket...
Sure, these Ice Bucket Challenges are being undertaken by ‘celebrities’ and maybe that brings eyeballs, but the definition of celebrity is changing in 2014. Participants in the IBC include staid CEOs, news readers, washed up pop stars, YouTube/ social media wannabes, politicians. The reason the participants are so diverse is part of the attention deficit disorder remedy that the campaign has deployed.
Not only is the idea of celebrity changing, so too is the concept of supporting a charity or awareness campaign - once again driven by the decline of attention. Where my grandparents and parents once gave a donation by check (or cheque as we spell it here in Australia), Millenials feel that clicking the Like button on a Facebook post or sharing an image to Snapchat or Instagram is the best way to rally behind a cause.
Because of this battle for attention, health care campaigners are having to ditch the long term strategy to drive real, sustainable change in favour of the ‘How Do I Get Washed Up Celebrity X To Retweet My Gosh I Hope It Goes Viral Video Right Now’ strategy.
How To Break Through The Short Term Syndrome
There are some ways we can reach out to people engaged in an Ice Bucket Challenge style stunt to build longer, deeper and richer conversations/ relationships that drive ongoing change:
The video is the home base - what are you doing to deepen engagement on the outposts?
Are you sending the video to long time donors/ corporate supporters through social media and email marketing?
Are you using the video to build your email list or drive viewers to your website or social media channels?
Have you thought about how to use the video to introduce and/ or extend the story?
By the way, do you have Bono’s phone number? I want to give him a call and assure him that no H2O molecules have been intentionally harmed in any celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge.
Lastly please use the comments section below to post YouTube links to your Ice Bucket Challenge videos and I will include the videos at the end of this post.