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The top five charity hashtag trends you love to hate

8 Oct

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I’m going to let you into a secret. I wasn’t brave enough to take part in #NoMakeUpSelfie, I was nominated for the #IceBucketChallenge twice and I didn’t dunk myself in cold water and although I’ve laughed at CLIC Sargent’s #JokeAppeal campaign, I’ve not donated.

So, there you have it. I’m a bad person.

But, while I’ve not successfully completed the call-to-actions, I do think their social media-driven campaigns are brilliant at raising awareness of very important causes. Transforming the way young people engage with the third sector, these hashtag trends are snowballing and I just can’t keep up.

As a result, I’ve become fed up of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram timelines constantly getting clogged up with pictures and videos that I feel obliged to like. Because, let’s face it, once you’ve congratulated one person on throwing water on themselves, you really have to do it for everyone. So, people like me, who were once in awe of these great PR and marketing stunts, are now just ‘meh’.

But, if the BBC can be impartial then Prime Time can at least be kind enough to write about them. Which is why, after reading about new ways charities are piggybacking off hashtag explosions, I’m going to rank my top five social media charity phenomenons:

#WakeUpCall

Established by Unicef, in aid of its Syria Emergency Fund, the #WakeUpCall campaign involves celebrities posting photos of themselves… you guessed it… having just woken up.

Kick-started by the charity’s ambassador Jemima Khan, Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman and QI’s Stephen Fry have also got involved to encourage people to open their eyes to the unstable situation in the Middle East affecting young children. And, with more than 3,000 tweets containing the all-important hashtag in the last 12 hours, it’s likely that this initiative will raise a lot of money.

A gallery on the Telegraph online doesn’t hurt either.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell wakes up like this for Unicef#FaceUp

Developed by Plan UK, Face Up is an app that aims to raise awareness of female genital mutilation, sexual violence and child marriage. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your smart phone you can upload an image which will be imprinted with the words ‘I’m putting girl rights where they can’t be ignored’ and share it in the app’s photo album.

Compared to Unicef’s efforts, this isn’t creating as much of a buzz online yet; tweets are currently in the hundreds – rather than the thousands. But, with PR coverage on The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail online, thanks to support from Game of Thrones stars Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey, it may not be far behind.

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer promotes women's rights

#LastSelfie

WWF Denmark and Turkey embraced Snapchat earlier this year and made the most of its self-destruct feature to explain the rate that endangered animals are disappearing.

From tigers and gorillas to pandas and orangutans,  the charity used the hashtag #LastSelfie to encourage people to share the image in order to ‘save’ the species. Persuasive, clever and easy to do, this worked well because the aim was to raise awareness rather than source donations.

Once people had bought into to the severity of the situation, a new call-to-action followed. By focusing on one objective at the time, WWF created an incredibly strong campaign.WWF's #LastSelfie used Snapchat to raise awareness

#FirstWorldProblems

If you’ve never used this hashtag before then I’d love to live your life. #FirstWorldProblems is a generic hashtag used by people when venting online about insignificant annoyances.

For example, I recently almost slipped on a rogue squashed tomato in the supermarket and if I’d known the couscous was down a different aisle I could have avoided the whole hullabaloo.

So, when Water for Life borrowed the phrase – which was used over 106,000 times in the last month alone – and turned it on its head for its emotive campaign, it grabbed people’s attention.

The only issue is that when you Google search the term, the first mention of the charity is on the fourth page and it’s not its official website. This emphasises the importance of ensuring all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed when linking up your website to generate top SEO rankings.

Water for Life adopted the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag to make a point

#Batkid

I’m a little late to the party on this as it’s a couple of years old now. But, thanks to Miles Scott, a five-year old leukemia survivor, his Make a Wish Foundation dream to become a superhero for a day went viral.

The charity transformed part of San-Fran into Gotham to recreate Batman’s city and kept people up to date via its website and a behind the scenes video ,which was picked up by Twitter users across the world. The hashtags #Batkid and #SFBatkid were used in more than 110 countries reaching 777m people on a cold November day in 2012. Not even I can argue with these figures.

Make a Wish launched #BatKid

Reading through my top five, I can see that there was definitely something special about the slightly older social media stunts employed by charities.

Perhaps I believe they have more charm because I think the brands would’ve shocked themselves at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories. Either way, the hashtag trends have exploded so quickly that as long as people get behind them, they’ll continue taking over timelines and securing national headlines for the foreseeable future.

The charities were shocked at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories.

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media opens up the floor to make charity PR a level playing field, especially for rarer causes or organisations with tighter budgets. I just don’t believe that if a trend launches in one country for a specific cause, that a different charity across the pond can adopt it as its own. Surely, the cause and challenge should translate wherever it’s used across the world?

Hashtag highjacking, particularly by the big boys, is not big or clever, and it’s certainly a box you don’t want me to open. Utilising the #TubeStrikes is one thing; stealing an entire campaign is another. Know who I’m talking about yet?

What do you think? Did your favourite hashtag trend make the list?

The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

12 Aug

When I woke up this morning I had a #WhileYouWereSleeping hashtag moment after reading that Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63.

As the world’s media look for people who ‘knew him well’ for sofa interviews, finalise their obituaries and monitor celebrity tributes, there’s just one thing I’m interested in today: The Academy.

Eight hours ago it tweeted the words ‘Genie, you’re free‘ to 768,000 followers (and counting), in reference to Williams’ role as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin – and it’s already been re-tweeted more than 196,000 times and favourited by over 130,000.

Throughout Williams’ 35-year career, he was nominated for four Oscars but was always the bridesmaid and never the bride until he teamed up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting in 1997 – five years after Aladdin. So, why did it tweet the Genie?

Jumanji, Patch Adams and Hook aside, this was Williams’ iconic role, albeit animated, because he didn’t even have to act. The Genie is Williams – the role was designed for him, not the other way around. And the fact that the film sold well over 25m copies worldwide upon its release is testament to this.

So, now that’s settled, why else was the tweet so successful (apart from being picked up by online superpower Buzzfeed)?

1) Thought leadership

The Oscars are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the movies. The honours are respected, so if The Academy is tweeting to a large audience, everyone takes notice.

2) A picture says a lot of words

The Academy used a striking and emotive image of the Genie with Aladdin. It didn’t feel the need to crop, zoom in or filter. It opted for simplicity and it’s paid off.

3) Straight to the point The simplicity of the image was also reflected in the wording, which captured the essence of Williams without the need for hashtags, weblinks or self-promotion – maintaining The Academy’s classy reputation. So, not only is this the perfect tribute, but also the perfect PR balance.

What do you think of the tribute tweet?

The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

You’re going to need a bigger budget! Tara’s tacky PR stunt

4 Aug

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Not all PR stunts are equal.

A recent PR stunt to rave about is the 888,000 ceramic poppies that have been ‘planted’ at the iconic Tower of London to commemorate the servicemen and women who died during the First World War. As part of a stunning art installation called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, by Paul Cummins, it’s succeeding in its mission to echo the importance of the 100th anniversary of the war.

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On the flip side, an example of bad PR is US actress Tara Reid launching her own perfume, The Shark, to celebrate the release of Sharknado 2 (Yes, we’re biting on sequel territory here).

This innovation, which comes from the woman who thought her career was going to be over when she started filming the first movie, actually makes me feel seasick.

According to Tara’s website, Shark’s sensual ‘light and refreshing’ scent is ‘perfect for day-to-day wear’ and ‘incorporates a plethora of lavender coloured flowers’ – which means this overpriced idea (almost $25 a bottle) blurs the line between tacky and tragic.

However, if I was getting paid to market this monstrosity I’d do more than bounce off the fact that the latest Syfy film has attracted 183% higher ratings than the first. I’d get creative:

Secure a predator partnership
I’d put a spin onto the perfume and market it as a scent that attracts sharks. By organising a photo-call at a leading aquarium, and asking a shark trainer to spray the fragrance on them before heading into the tank for feeding time, I’d generate some striking imagery to sell-into the media – National Geographic style.

Secret scent
Alternatively, I’d strip the perfume bottle of any labels and send it to a selection of high-end beauty writers to review – with a note including a web address. Journalists would then be encouraged to log onto the website and share their feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly. All the positive ones could then be leveraged across the film’s marketing materials (using the star rating often found on movie posters) to promote it further.

Failing that, I’d just ask Tara to jump into a shark tank, kiss a great white or dress up as a shark because, let’s face it, she’ll do anything.

What do you think – can any ‘fin’ make this stunt better?

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