Macmillan’s Head of Digital Amanda Neylon talks about the recent social media activity and how we’re working together to respond to our audiences.
The #IceBucketChallenge has reached social media nirvana in the past two weeks. My mum’s done it. Your mum’s done it. This guy did it at the top of a mountain and probably would have won the whole thing if it was a competition (which it isn’t, to be clear).
We certainly never expected it to get this big.
Before we begin though, let’s be straight: we don’t own the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag. Nobody does. It’s a hashtag. And it’s something that in the charity sector, we need to continue to have a healthy debate about.
We’ve seen thousands of our supporters braving the challenge for us in the past few weeks. And we think it’s awesome that they’ve chosen to do it for us. But people are also drenching themselves for other charities, and that’s just great too. Whoever people choose to raise money for, we’re just delighted that people are fundraising.
We certainly didn’t start the trend of people pouring a bucket of ice water on their head. We’re not too sure where it started, but you can find a pretty good piece on the history of the trend here.
So what do we know?
We know that in July, we began noticing that our supporters were talking about the #IceBucketChallenge on social media. Some of them did it for Macmillan, and some of them did it for other charities of their choice. We thought it seemed like a fun way to raise money.
At this point, we’d seen people in New Zealand doing it and then choosing a cancer charity of their choice to donate to. And this was all happening before David Beckham et al started tipping a bucket on their head in the US to raise awareness for ALS.
So what did we do about it?
It’s simple. We listened to our supporters, and amplified their actions.
We started posting on our social media channels, and published a little page of instructions on how to do the challenge, which was the top organic search result for weeks. As search traffic started increasing, we also began some PPC (pay per click) advertising, and promoted some of our supporters amazing #IceBucketChallenge’s on Facebook and Twitter. Along with media and PR, this is a normal part of any organisation’s marketing campaign.
After all, it’s because of our supporters’ brilliant fundraising efforts that we’re able to keep providing our vital services. We exist because of them, and with two million people in the UK currently living with cancer, it’s only right that we get behind their efforts. So far #icebucketchallenge has raised enough to fund six Macmillan nurses for a year, meaning that more people can have access to specialist support. That’s got to be a good thing.
As a digital team here at Macmillan, we never used to be quite so responsive. It’s a recent thing for us. And believe me, we’re still learning.
Our biggest learning curve was after the #nomakeselfie campaign. James Higgot summed it up pretty well recently on Twitter:
Ouch, that hurts James. But it’s true. He’s right, we were too slow – it was a big motivator to be much better the next time an opportunity came along.
So, since #nomakeupselfie, I’d like to think that we’ve had some success with #tubestrike and #thatsmydad. We’re trying to be bolder, we’re listening to what’s going on all over the world, and we’re responding more quickly than we have in the past. We’re trying new things so that we can keep moving forward as an organisation.
And now #IceBucketChallenge. It’s certainly kept us busy here at Macmillan HQ, and we’ve really pulled together, with teams all around the organisation helping out, getting involved and amplifying the message.
Zoe Amar summed up our #IceBucketChallenge actions pretty well:
Macmillan simply listened to their audience & noticed they had an appetite to use the #icebucketchallenge
I’d really recommend reading her article on the #IceBucketChallenge. It’s a good lesson for charities to learn, big or small.
But I’d like to think that we’re becoming a more responsive organisation. One that puts people affected by cancer and our supporters at the heart of everything we do.
You can read more about our views on the #IceBucketChallenge here.