Hashtags For a Cause: Can You Do It Too?

[responsive]hashtag[/responsive]It’s a bona fide phenomenon. If you haven’t been nominated to take the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, you’ve at least no doubt watched some of your friends or favorite celebrities (Ron Swanson, anyone?) getting doused for a good cause.

It’s a sensation to be sure, and the copycat campaigns are springing up like dandelions after a spring rain. And most of them will fail to garner anywhere near this kind of viral success.

Why? What makes a hashtag campaign—or any campaign for that matter—a success? Allyson Brady of SBN Interactive offers some tips for using hashtags for a cause, starting with a few key ideas that are rooted in Marketing 101:

  1. Present a clear call to action. This one was unmistakable: “Dump a bucket of ice water on your head and challenge your friends to do the same in the name of ALS awareness and fundraising.” Plus the added urgency of the 24-hour time limit gave some much needed impetus to move this along.
  2. Make the barrier to entry low. “The premise was simple — film yourself accepting the challenge and upload the video to the social network of your choice. While it required some effort to complete, the items were common and the challenge required minimal effort.”
  3. Use social networks to help spread the message. “This campaign went viral not only because of simplicity and emotional aspects of the message — help those who suffer from this terrible disease — but because if you accepted the challenge, you challenged friends, and those friends had their own social networks, spreading the message even further.”

As with anything successful, the campaign had its share of detractors, but with close to $100 million in donations so far, the kudos far outweigh the jeers. And it all comes down to what we already know, but so often forget…getting the right message to the right people at the right time in the right channel. Now go create your own big thing!