Have you — either you as an individual or you on behalf of your business — ever jumped on the trend of social media challenges? You know the ones we’re talking about. You probably remember back in 2014 when everyone spent the summer dumping buckets of ice water over their heads. Most recently, people spent their downtime in quarantine training to be able to take off a T-shirt and put it back on while doing a handstand.
While the challenges themselves differ, they all have the same basic format when it comes to social media: A person must introduce themselves and record a video of themselves doing whatever crazy act they’ve been dared to do. Then they tag three of their friends in the post to encourage them to undertake the challenge as well. These challenges have proven popular with everyday users, as well as celebrities and even businesses.
So you might be wondering, “Is it good for my business to get in on these social media challenges?” Well, maybe. It will depend on several factors, and despite the fact that these challenges are fun and provide easy ways to generate great content, there’s some risk that they can backfire on your brand’s image.
Here are a few points you should consider the next time a challenge goes viral on social media (and you know it’s only a matter of time until the next one does):
Some of these challenges are intended to spread awareness and raise money for charitable endeavors. Case in point is the ice bucket challenge of 2014, which was all about promoting ALS research. When people did the challenge, they were supposed to mention that they were doing it for ALS. When they challenged three friends to do it, they let their friends know they could opt out of doing the challenge if they made a donation to the ALS Association. (Many people even undertook the challenge for street cred and still made a donation to ALS research anyway.)
But there’s nothing that looks worse on a brand than jumping on a trend for a shameless chance in the spotlight, all the while letting their interest in looking cool overshadow the challenge’s mission. For those businesses that had a real connection to ALS (for example, an employee who was fighting it), the connection was easy. For those that didn’t have that obvious connection, they had to take care to emphasize that they weren’t just doing this for fun — they really wanted to support the mission.
McDonald’s is a prime example of how to handle this part of the challenge poorly. Sure, the fast-food monolith is a huge corporation that was able to make it through a PR nightmare, but its brand still took a blow when it released a video of Ronald McDonald doing the challenge and the clown mascot made no mention whatsoever of ALS. McDonald’s later pledged $5,000 to ALS research, presumably to make up for the gaffe.
So if you’re going to undertake a challenge for social media, ask yourself, “How can I make sure we’re promoting this cause? How can we make it more about spreading awareness than about ourselves?”
Let’s say you decide to move forward with participating — great! Figure out who on your team is going to do it. In some cases, you might have a big group. But there should be no pressure. A few members of your staff will very likely not want to do a crazy stunt, and that’s OK.
For something like the T-shirt handstand challenge, you might have only two or three employees who are strong enough to succeed at the feat. Have them either do it up against a wall where you can fit all of these in the same frame of your phone’s video camera, or have them do it one by one and then edit all the clips together.
Some people might remember the “What the Fluff?” challenge of 2018: With this challenge, people held up a blanket and hid behind it so their dog couldn’t see it. Then they dropped the blanket just as they ducked out of the room, leaving their dogs to wonder where they disappeared to. The many hilarious videos that circulated online depicted quite a few dogs that were expressive in their confusion.
If your team decided to undertake this challenge, you would have to figure out which team member wants to bring their dog to the office for the day. You could also determine whether multiple people wanted to take the challenge, or if they all wanted to try taking it together.
Whatever mix of team members you come up with, make sure they’re genuinely interested and ready to have a good time.
When you finish recording your video, be sure to name another business in your network or even two or three). It should be someone you are confident will undertake the challenge so the trend doesn’t fizzle out. You should also thank the business that nominated you. Tag these businesses in your post so that your participation has a greater reach.
Want to be a trendsetter and really make an impression on social media? There’s no reason you can’t create your own challenge. Think of a cause you want to support and a physical or mental challenge that is daring enough to get attention but simple and safe enough that people will be willing to attempt it.
Undertaking the challenge should take no longer than a minute or two, or else most people will not take the time to do it. Above all, aim for something that’s impressive or funny. Maybe you make a challenge where people have to stuff five marshmallows in their mouth and recite a tongue-twister. Or they have to write the alphabet out on a piece of poster board while they’re blindfolded.
When you’ve developed your idea, gather the participants from your team and start recording. Tell people what cause you are supporting, nominate three other businesses in your network, and do the challenge. Have fun and laugh about it. Who knows? Maybe your new challenge has the potential to go viral.
If your business is looking for ways to enliven your social media pages, reach out to Ann’s Social Media & Marketing today by calling 443-679-4916 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This content was originally published here.