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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?

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Jamaica’s bobsleigh team in the (cool) runnings to get to the Games

20 Jan

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Jamaica‘s motto is ‘out of many, one people‘ and it’s never rang truer than this week. The lush Caribbean island has qualified for the two-man bobsleigh event at next month’s Sochi Winter Olympics.

That’s right – Cool Runnings is becoming a reality (again). But one thing almost stood in Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon’s way – money. The funding was so tight they had to dip into their own pockets and even watched the final qualifying round from home with bated breath to see it they’d made it through to the next round.

But, once again, Twitter has proved itself as the key driver for crowd-sourcing success. @JamaicaOlympics backed its athletes by drawing attention to a unique crowd-funding initiative on the micro-blogging site moments after the pair qualified. And, although each tweet didn’t generate mass re-tweets or favourites, they’re being seen by the right people.

Most of those people used internet currency sensation Dogecoin to generate the much-needed cash – and in doing so it’s boosted the value of the crypto currency. So I predict we’ll be hearing more about it, and it’s rivals, in the coming months.

The great news is that tonight it was revealed that, thanks to a blend of individual and corporate doners, the team raised $25,000.

This flurry of national PR has meant that Watts and Dixon have dominated news articles as well as the sports pages – including The Guardian, Metro and the New York Times to name a few. And hopefully it’ll encourage the world to find the remaining $15,000 to get Jamaica to the Games.

The team’s fundraising success is testament to @JamaicaOlympics upping its game, while the sporting world was asking questions about the island’s novelty team. It’s gone from tweeting once a day to every hour; re-tweeting key stakeholders; and increasing its level of call to actions. Accompanied by a thriving website, team blog and Facebook page – Jamaica’s got the full social media package.

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X-rated car advert gets tongues wagging

31 Jul

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It’s a brand’s worst nightmare – an advert appears in print complete with a big mistake. No, not an incorrect spelling or wrong call to action. Either of those could easily be resolved with the help of a PR agency. Car hire firm Enterprise has had to deal with something much worse: an advert in the Pembrokeshire Herald, published last week, suggested that the firm offers inappropriate sex acts for customers. See the advert here.

To add insult to injury, the advert went hand-in-hand with the company’s Twitter launch. Although, this might be its saving grace. When the incident was spotted yesterday, Enterprise only had 61 followers – all of which were told that the service is ‘not offered at any of its branches.’

Twenty-four hours later that number has only risen by 13 – and the brand has responded to everyone that commented offering its single crisis-management message.

Of course, it’s not like the age old saying ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no-one’s there does it make a sound?’ Customers – existing and potential – are likely to hear about this via social networks or friends (the Mirror has already published the story too) But, when it comes to Twitter, I think people are less likely to get involved if they don’t think they can directly link with the brand. After all, that’s one big reason we make comments online isn’t it? To humiliate, complain or praise companies that we’re engaging with. The fact that few people knew about Enterprise’s Twitter page at that time has curbed the majority of comments.

I think the brand handled the process well. Although, I’d have suggested that they tailored their responses to show personality and a sense of humour. After all, the advert is clearly a joke.

At the time of writing this, I asked the Pembrokeshire Herald what its thoughts were and whether the error was from their side. According to reports they maintain the artwork was tampered with after it’d been signed off – and other brands were affected.

Surely, Enterprise will want an apology from the team if it was the paper’s fault – not to mention free advertising space to overright the problem.

However it progresses, this faux pas has certainly worked in Enterprise’s favour – in terms of PR and talkability. After reading this article how many hire car companies can you really think of?

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