22 September 2014
If you haven't seen at least 50 videos of people being deluged with buckets of icy water, then you clearly don't use social media.
The past few weeks have been an inescapable stream of videos of celebrities and the not-so-famous dumping water on themselves to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
The ice bucket sensation has not just raised awareness of the disease, but been a major fundraising success. The ALS Association reported $70.2 million in donations compared with $2.5 million during the same time period last year.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is a brilliant example of how to harness social media for good. But how can organisations and individuals in the FM sector boost their profile through social media?
The key to success is setting goals in the first place. Why do you want to be on social media, what are you looking to achieve? Too many individuals and organisations set up social media channels in a fit of enthusiasm one afternoon, spend a few weeks attracting an audience before realising the maintenance of these accounts takes time and resources.
Once you have set your goals, then measure your success. If awareness was the goal, you might look to show increased brand mentions in social media (using tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck), a greater share of the online voice, etc. If sales was the goal, your website traffic data might help you to attribute a rise in visits, etc.
Once you've set goals, then consider what you're going to say; good content is king, and is the key to social media success. Balance is the answer. There are roughly five types of tweets: personal messages, retweets and replies, questions, commercial messages, and miscellaneous messages. Make sure you have a mixture of all of them, but don't be too sales-y. Experts differ on the ratio of marketing tweets and posts - between one in nine or one in 15 seem to be acceptable parameters.
Then consider the type of content. Research by specialist agency Headstream revealed that links, followed by photos, videos and lastly status generates the most likes; photos, videos, followed by links and status generates the most comments; and video, photos, likes and lastly status generated the most shares. If you want more people to share material and comment on it, then post fewer statuses and more video, photos and links.
The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral because it inspired people, and there are countless other similar examples such as Jobsite's The Apprentice-style video, Data Center's Lego challenge, and GE's Instagram project.
If you're looking for a campaign or idea to go viral, or at least to inspire facilities professionals and boost your own social media credentials, then aim for something fun, inspiring, genuine and people-focused.
Cathy Hayward is managing director of FM communications agency Magenta Associates, deputy chair of the BIFM London region, a BIFM Awards judge and runs a social media in FM training course for BIFM Training