05 February 2016

Happy Marketing and the power of social media

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Anyone who spends any amount of time on social media knows it's a valuable tool to galvanise like minded people together to create change, but it can also be a tool that causes your project more harm than good.

Raising awareness about social issues takes a subtle hand. Plastering your timeline with images of drowned children, or abused animals can create a sense of worthless and guilt, ultimately leading people to block your account or simply scroll past without looking.

Social media can be a communication tool that brings change, and leads us forward as a society. The ability to connect with like-minded people all over the world, or clients in your local area shouldn't be underestimated. But if you turn off the minds, or eyes, of those you are targeting are you doing your cause more harm than good?

As social media continues to grow and develop, the need to understand the motivators of your audience, what works and what doesn't is more important than ever. While shocking images can have an impact, the question you need to ask yourself is "is it the impact you are after." 

Last year, a social media "fad," took the various social media platforms by storm. What seemed like a daft idea, throwing a bucket of ice water over your head to raise money for ALS, became an overnight sensation as everyone from college students, international sports stars and A List Hollywood actors stood smiling in front of a camera to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads. 

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over 3.4 million mentions on social media, and $114 million in just 8 weeks, 6 times more than The ALS Association raised in the previous year. 

So why did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge connect in such a way?

There are thousands of options The ALS Association could have taken. Heart breaking images of patients in the final grip of the disease, scenes of once happy, health people now wheelchair bound. Slogans like "this could be you." 

Instead, they chose to have a bit of fun. Who doesn't want to see Mark Zuckerberg drenched with ice water? Watching the videos brought joy to those watching and raised awareness for a disease that killed nearly 800 Australian's in 2013. 

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was such a success because instead of focusing on sadness and guilt to galvanise people to open their wallets, they focused on fun and the ability to nominate someone else to share the experience.

The idea of "happy marketing," is a relatively new field of exploration on social media. Empowering the people you are trying to rally through fun and laughter, has a much longer effect than images of guilt and destruction on generating public attention and focus on social issues.

In this Youtube video from TEDxOrangeCoast, The power of happy (marketing) by Lisa Nguyen, Lisa talks about the impact of positive or happy marketing on galvanising your audience to not only raise awareness, but a sense of fun in tackling social topics that traditionally focus on fear  and guilt.

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well-known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy. Mike’s first published work will be the short story Seeds of Eden, in the Sproutlings Anthology scheduled for release in March 2016.

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