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5 things about viral campaigns brands can learn from #nomakeupselfie

Posted by Joe McNamara on 31st March 2014

The #nomakeupselfie has undeniably been a success for a great cause, helping to raise over £8 million for Cancer Research in one week. Considering that this ‘campaign’ was actually a fad that started with no charity links, what does it teach us about ‘virality’ on social media?

1. People are a bit vain

The fact the selfie exists at all shows that people want to splash their own faces around the Internet as much as possible. The no makeup selfie is barely any different. What this shows us from a brand perspective is that a successful online campaign will often encourage people to self-broadcast rather than just promote your brand/campaign outright. So it’s helpful to give them something to broadcast! This can be anything from photos to information about themselves.

2. People like to do something good

Social media is largely about broadcasting a positive image of yourself. People love to share instances of them having fun, doing something different or doing something good (i.e. charitable). This may be something for brands to bear in mind. Some ‘viral’ campaigns are self-serving and don’t have much of a point. Introducing a charitable initiative is a great way for your brand to give something back and more likely to get people engaged.

3. Individual online influence is powerful

This is nothing new, but the #nomakeupselfie illustrates just how powerful individual online influencers are. The first no makeup selfie of this particular batch was taken by Laura Lippman who has 14,382 Facebook likes and 1,200 Twitter followers. The next minute, what started as a photograph posted in support of Kim Novak’s decision to attend the Oscars without makeup turned into a red-hot campaign promoting Cancer Research. For brands, it’s vital to learn that you increase your chances of a social campaign taking off by using brand influencers. That’s not to say you need to tattoo your logo to David Beckham’s face. Choosing relevant influencers carefully and encouraging then to help get your initiative rolling can generate great results.

4. People are kind of lazy

Viral social campaigns are difficult enough to get going as it is without asking too much of your community. Look how simple this was – take a photo without makeup on. It was even easy enough for men to turn around into a mini Prostate Cancer campaign, posting pictures of themselves in full slap. The simpler the idea and the more you can reduce the amount of ‘work’ you are asking people to do the better.

5. The nomination game

The rather more dangerous social media fad ‘Neknominate’ actually has something to answer for here. When the #nomakeupselfie campaign moved onto Facebook, it borrowed the nomination technique used by its boozy predecessor – quite simply, tagging nominees in your post with a message and demanding a response within 24 hours. The best way to grow any social media campaign is organically, so think of how your initiative can be used by your community members to challenge their friends. Also, directly challenging individuals and setting a timescale is a far more effective way of driving engagement than just flinging a challenge out to the public and expecting it to get popular.

photo credit: SoraZG

Joe McNamara