Over the past few months, we’ve seen companies take the power of social media and mobile (using social media and mobile to leverage content your followers are already creating for you and sharing it online) to completely new heights.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the summer of 2014 completely revolutionized the way we apply user-generated content (UGC) as part of our content marketing strategies. And if you needed any further incentive to take note of their successful design, ALS generated about $90 million through this project compared with $2.6 million they raised over the same period last year.
Canadian airline company WestJet created a truly unbelievable interactive and sentimental holiday campaign designed to give personalized gifts to an impoverished community in the Dominican Republic, building off the success of their holiday campaign in 2013, giving back to guests in Toronto, Calgary and Hamilton. They copied the same “real-time” personalized gift giving approach to their previous year, in one of the most touching videos you will ever see.
The #WestJetChristmas was a huge success, acting as a powerful emotional driver. This campaign was about looking far beyond their front door and giving back to those in need. (You may need a box of tissues.)
Here are the four main ingredients that comprised the framework of these digital adventures that you should know for your digital campaigns:
1. Create Personalized Content
Not everyone will engage the same way, so the #ALSIceBucketChallenge offered two ways to participate: Donate money directly or voluntarily dump ice water on your head.
Hotels: Mimic a similar tactic by reaching out to guests in different ways depending on the content and platform. Create an instant chat about a featured menu your chef has prepared on your website to engage people onsite, celebrate a guest’s birthday on your Facebook page or Instagram with photos or a short video, or celebrate a sporting event with pictures and a corresponding hashtag on Twitter. “Let’s go #dallascowboys @hiltongardeninntimessquare.”
ALS used Facebook’s tagging feature to challenge a friend as the next target. Videos went wild – how else to best illustrate the emotional and physical shock of pouring ice water on yourself or allowing others to dunk you? And lastly, there was accountability because the posts & videos were tagged back to your wall. While the WestJet campaign didn’t necessarily force you to share with a friend, the compelling video made you want to – especially if you were featured in it or benefitted from their gift giving.
Hotels: Launch a referral program using Facebook like “refer a friend” and win a chance to enter the drawing for two free cocktails at your trendy bar. Create a mutual sharing program with your local hotel partners e.g. florists, caterers, etc., inviting them to participate in your content creation and vice versa.
3. Celebs Sell
It’s an old trick, but it works – Kermit the Frog, Robert Downey Jr. and Martha Stewart all took the ice bucket plunge. WestJet’s campaign used one of the most popular celebrities of all time: Santa Claus.
Hotels: You may not need Taylor Swift or Emma Stone to make your campaign, but perhaps there are well-known community personalities that you can snag. Think local chefs, and mixologists, or someone else who would hold some significance with your guests – even the newest furry arrival at the local zoo!
ALS launched the marketing event in the hottest part of the summer of 2014. Everyone wanted to cool off and we saw that people got really, really creative, both with the ice bucket activity and donation contributions. While WestJet’s video is touching and may make you cry, the video takes you on a tour of WestJet helpers who shop for the gifts this community needs and have fun doing it – especially doling out the presents.
Hotels: Have a good time relative to your property and its surroundings. If the hotel is snowbound, have a snow people making contest. Give prizes, encourage sharing. Halloween? Have your employees do reverse trick or treating with guests and hand out sweets.
Download our eBook: Show, Share, Stand Out: The Most Important Hotel Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015 to jump start your strategy.