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TODD SMITH: Ice Bucket Challenge trending again in wake of important ALS breakthrough



Did we all just wake up in 2014?

The #IceBucketChallenge is trending once again.

People are revisiting the viral video stunt, which raised $115 million to fight motor neuron disease, after the charity behind it made a breakthrough with those funds – on the two-year anniversary of the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS Association has identified a new gene that causes it.

At Project MinE, a team of 80 worldwide researchers conducted the largest-ever study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with over 15,000 patients. Here they linked a gene known as NEK1 to familial ALS, which accounts for around 10 percent of cases.

Following the news, Twitter users have been re-sharing images and videos of their previous icy escapades – which attracted celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ashton Kutcher.

ALS – also known as motor neuron disease – affects the nervous system in the brain and spine. Those affected slowly lose muscle control and can be fully paralyzed as little as two years after they are diagnosed.

The research project is one of six funded by Ice Bucket Challenge donations. That summer, 17 million people filmed themselves being drenched in icy water. One in six British people took part at the time. Meanwhile, the U.K. charity Motor Neurone Disease Association also received $5.2 million in donations from a Kickstarter page.

Other charities that have found success with so-called “slacktivism” campaigns include Cancer Research U.K., which received 10.6 million after people nominated friends to take a no-makeup selfie.

However, research carried out by John Hopkins Carey Business School the found that in many cases social media buzz does not often translate to donations. Only 64 percent of the 3,500 people in the study who broadcasted a pledge actually followed through with the cash.

Make sure to include fans in your social media strategy

Do you want to build a stronger community? Looking for ways to spark engagement with your followers?

Your fans and customers can play an important part in developing a social media presence that shares authentic stories. Here’s are four creative ways to include fans in your social media marketing from Social Media Examiner:

1. Give Fans Their 15 Minutes of Fame – with an entire generation growing up under the lure of social media, it’s no surprise that more people are looking for ways to get their name out there. Your brand can be the ideal platform for their 15 minutes of fame.

If you give your fans the spotlight, in return they’ll give you interesting and original user-generated content (UGC) that you can use on your social pages, website, and advertising campaigns. It’s a win-win.

Ask your followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to submit their content under a catchy hashtag. This way, you get instant access to their submissions and can collect an ample amount of viable content.

2. Run a Fan Content Contest – everybody loves a good contest. Contests appeal to the human drive for competition and create a sense of excitement. So what better way to make your campaign go viral than through a UGC contest on social media?

Ask your fans to submit videos, articles, designs, artwork, or anything else relevant to your brand, and offer a prize for the winner (such as money, a year’s supply of product, etc.) to motivate and inspire their innovations. After you receive submissions, let people vote on which piece of content is best.

Eggo ran a creative campaign called The Great Eggo Waffle Off! on their Facebook page. They asked fans to submit their tastiest recipes with Eggo waffles. Then all participants could vote on their favorite. The winner received a $5,000 prize, plus the glory of knowing their waffle recipe reigned supreme.

This campaign was great marketing for Eggo because it showed pictures of their product in an unusual and creative light. In addition, customers were able to interact with the brand on a deeper level by showing their own talents and ideas.

3. Encourage Creativity With Your Products – people love the opportunity to think out of the box. That’s why asking fans to show their creative side is sure to have a positive outcome.

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Facebook offer tons of opportunities for fans to be creative, whether it’s through video submissions, designs, or other types of creative content. Try to get users involved with your product, and see what clever and artistic output they can generate using your brand as the inspiration.

There are a variety of examples of these types of campaigns, from Lego’s #legoxbelkin iPhone case design contest to Starbuck’s #WhiteCupContest.

4. Crowdsource Customer Input – one of the easiest ways to engage with fans is crowdsourcing on Facebook and Twitter. Ask your followers their opinion about new flavors to try, which looks they prefer, or what new ideas they have for your products/campaigns. Users love the empowerment that comes along with offering their perspective, and as a result you’ll build community and greater customer loyalty.

Express used this Facebook post to ask users to choose their favorite top. By posing simple questions, you get a better idea of what your customers are looking for, while also engaging them in conversation.

Social media is all about storytelling. When social first became popular, companies created their own stories, inviting users to passively watch and interact with them on their terms. But part of every business’s story is their customers. That’s why more often we’re recognizing the important role users and customers play in developing a thorough, accurate, and engaging story.

Hence the growth of user-generated content. Just as it sounds, it’s content created by the people using the products and services offered by your business. It can take the form of pictures, videos, articles, comments, and much more.

Instead of telling people what’s great about your products from your own perspective, you can show how your products make consumers’ lives better from their point of view, which is a much more sincere and uplifting storytelling technique. It’s also a great opportunity for users to get involved with your brand, making them feel significantly greater loyalty.

Melted Mic | Goodbye & good riddance Roger Ailes!

It’s about time that Roger Ailes was ousted as CEO of Fox News Channel. In the face of numerous sexual harassment allegations, including claims from broadcasters Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.

Ailes stepped down a little over a week ago after a startling fall from grace for one of the most powerful figures in American journalism.

The resignation was announced by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox.

Two weeks ago, Ailes was sued for sexual harassment by Gretchen Carlson, a former host of Fox & Friends who left the company last month when her contract wasn’t renewed.

Carlson said her career was sabotaged after she refused Ailes’ sexual advances. She also had “reported disparaging treatment in the newsroom,” including what she said was a “sexist and condescending” way her co-host, Steve Doocy, dealt with her, her lawsuit claimed.

With the scandal erupting rapidly, Fox executives began negotiating the 76-year old executive’s departure. Ailes’ severance package includes about $40 million of payment, or roughly the amount he was owed for the duration of his contract that was set to expire in 2018, according to a USA TODAY story.

Murdoch assumed the role of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. He will be aided by three of Ailes’ deputies in running the network.

For this despicable, inexcusable, warped and twisted behavior, Ailes gets a gigantic Melted Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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