Four Reasons Behind the Success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Try going 24 hours without getting a Facebook notification that someone you know has participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This fundraising phenomenon has clogged Facebook pages, infiltrated Twitter feeds and taken over YouTube channels, proving (as we always suspected) that a link and a hashtag do not a digital advocacy campaign make.

Anything that goes viral this fast is sure to garner its share of controversy. The challenge has been praised as a brilliant way to raise awareness but it has also met some criticism for its messaging; some say that the videos of people, particularly of celebrities, pouring water on themselves overshadow the purpose of the cause. That said, having raised nearly $80 million dollars in donations, it’s impossible to deny that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media game-changer.  But WHY did it work?

Ice Bucket Challenge GIF

Here are four key ingredients for a successful digital campaign based on the challenge:

1)      Call on others

One could argue that the true brilliance of the Ice Bucket Challenge lies in the final step in the process. It’s not enough to demonstrate your support for a cause— you have to demand that others do the same. What better way to carry the message forward than to call on others publicly to take the challenge?

2)      Make it short, make it clickable

Here’s the thing about all those videos populating the social networks—they’re actually pretty hard not to watch.  You want to see the challengee’s reaction to the cascading icy water. Plus, most of the videos are less than a minute long, playing to the public’s ever-dwindling attention spans.

3)      Simplify

One of the reasons why The Ice Bucket Challenge was able to drive such results lies in its simplicity. Almost anyone, from Steven Spielberg to our SVP Tom Donnelly’s four year old son, has the ability and the ingredients to participate. People like to ‘do good’ and the Ice Bucket Challenge makes it easy to get behind a cause.

4)      Film it

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth at least a million. And a video which lets viewers watch people they recognize do something silly for a good cause is, apparently, worth even more.

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Digital Tactics | Social Media

New LinkedIn Feature Creates a Professional Popularity Contest

LinkedIn, the professional networking site home to over 300 million users, is traditionally thought of as being most beneficial to individuals looking for employment but its benefit to companies in the public affairs and trade association industries shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies looking to hire top-tier professionals commonly use the site to find high-quality applicants by looking at those working for industry peers and by searching relevant trade and skill-based networking groups.

The newest feature on the site encourages a new form of social media competition by evaluating your profile’s popularity compared to others in your network. Launched last week, the “How You Rank” feature is found under the Profile > Who’s Viewed Your Profile tab:


In conjunction with your ranking is a short list of those in your company or network that are ahead of and behind you – in case you want to do some quick profile comparisons. Similar to SAT rankings, the site also provides you with a percentage point for your standing in the network.

Included in the right panel of this feature is a list of suggestions from LinkedIn to help you improve your ranking within your network. Some of mine were as simple as “Join This Group” or “Add This Skill” but others are more in-depth, “Provide an Example of Your Work”.

However you decide to use this new tool, the feature will certainly garner a new wave of page views as users work to better position their profiles. LinkedIn explains the logic behind this new feature in a blog announcement made early yesterday:

We know that no two professionals are alike and by seeing how you rank relative to your professional peers, we believe you’ll have the added information and incentive to help you put your best foot forward on LinkedIn.


Beyond LinkedIn’s basic suggestions, here are a few tips to make sure that you’re set for success with your professional profile:

1. Make sure your profile is 100% complete! This should be a no-brainer but make sure your profile has content populating each section. An incomplete profile doesn’t impress anyone. You can tell where your profile stands with this graph in the right-hand column of your personal profile page:



2. Create or share content that’s relevant to your industry or career goals, and be sure that you’re publishing it across all of your social channels. When you’re sharing from the home page, you can opt to share your update with the public, only your connections, or with public and Twitter:



3. Edit your public profile URL to something simple and easy to find. This shows your attention to detail and makes your profile easier to find again later. You can customize your public profile URL under Privacy and Settings > Edit Your Public Profile:



Happy connecting! 

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Community Building | Digital Tactics | Social Media

How to Create a Custom Short URL with Bitly

If you’re like me, you get a little twinge of social media envy each time you see someone using a custom short URL.  Not only do they help track and shorten links, but short URLS also highlight your brand and—let’s face it—they just look cool.



Recently, we had the opportunity to help a client set up their own branded short domain. During the process, we found many outdated articles on the topic, but few that reflected some updated policies at Bitly. With that, here were the steps we followed to set up a custom short link:

1.  Set up a Bitly account

If you do not already have a free Bitly account, set it up by clicking here. Otherwise, you can use an existing account from the start.

2. Purchase your short URL

Though your short URL can use common domain extension such as .com or .org, you can also use country-specific extensions to create something more unique. For example, the New York Times example above uses .ms, from the British territory of Montserrat. You can find the full listing of possible domain extensions here.

Once you have selected your desired short domain, check to ensure it is available and purchase through your preferred vendor. Note that the short domain name needs to be 15 characters or less (including the dot).

3. Upgrade your Bitly account by purchasing Bitly Brand Tools

In the past, you could have a custom URL on a free account, but that is no longer the case.  Instead, you must upgrade the account with Bitly Brand Tools, which include custom short URLs as a main feature.

From our experience, this process is much easier if you alert a Bitly representative to your interest in upgrading the account. Though you can start this process through the back end of your Bitly settings or by submitting a help ticket (see below), we found that emailing and gave us the quickest response.



4. If you’re a non-profit, enjoy a discount on Brand Tools!

Though the regular cost of a Brand Tools account is $995 per month, not-for-profit groups and “.org’s” get a discounted rate of $500 per month. Your account representative will likely ask you about this in the set-up process.

5. Choose which URL(s) you would like to brand with the custom short link

Once the upgrade is complete, Bitly will add your (already-purchased) custom short URL into the account. Then, you can submit the domain(s) you wish to be automatically branded with the short link. If your organization has secondary web assets, such as program-specific sites or partner campaigns, you may wish to include those in addition to your primary website.

6. Verify the short domain and point it towards Bitly’s IP address

This step is largely done on the back end of your Bitly account, which is further reason to be in touch with an account representative throughout the set-up process. Specific instructions for completing this step can be found here:

7. Create your first short link and start sharing your new custom URL!

After you have connected your short link and Bitly account, you’re all set to start using your branded short domain! This entire process took us about a week once we initiated our client’s upgrade to Brand Tools, though it can be expedited if your client is in the midst of a fast-paced campaign.



If you have any questions about creating a custom short URL in Bitly, or if you have done so through another process, tell us about it in the comments below!

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CUNA Wins Grassroots Innovation Award

CUNA-BeekeeperCaseStudy.pdf (page 2 of 4)-1We’re proud to announce that our work with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has been awarded the “Social Media Innovation Award” at the Public Affairs Council’s 2014 National Grassroots Conference. Beekeeper Group worked with CUNA on their “Don’t Tax Tuesday” campaign to generate constituency-matched social media messages as a means to get credit union advocates to engage directly with their members of Congress on Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign focused on two specific Tuesdays, one in July and one in September, both of which were coordinated with the Congressional tax reform calendar for maximum effectiveness. Beekeeper Group created the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” website as well as the tool used to generate district-targeted social media messages- complete with specific Representative and Senator’s Twitter names and the campaign hashtags of #DontTaxMyCU and #DontTaxTuesday. Several Members of Congress even replied to tweets, affirming their support for keeping credit unions tax-exempt.

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The “Dominant Social Media Platform” Turns Double Digits

The importance of demographic-based social media metrics is a trend that we predict will continue to grow well into 2014. Twitter’s hiring of Nuria Santamaria to the position of Multicultural Strategist, a position which will focus advertising dollars towards minority demographics, is a strong indicator of this trend. Facebook recently turned double digits and with its new age, a new demographic trend is has appeared among its users. The latest Pew Research Center survey shows that the social media goliath is becoming increasingly popular among adult users:

Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010.

In addition, adult users are not simply creating profiles and abandoning them as you might think. The report goes on to explain that more than half of adult users have quite robust profiles, with at least 200 friends in their network.

How are you using Facebook and have you adapted your outreach strategy to fit these new demographics? As we noted in our “20 Social Media Stats to Help You Plan for 2014” piece, more than 52% of marketers have found customers on Facebook.

Here are 4 tips to make sure your Facebook feed stays fresh:

  • Publish content on topics that are relevant to your audience, perspective cliental or stakeholders.
  • Publish content closely aligned with your brand and mission statement.
  • Share industry-related content to help grow your presence as a voice of authority.
  • Share images and videos in equal parts with more text-heavy articles.

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Social Media

New Strategies for Twitter Advocacy at #TwitterDC

Earlier this week, several of us from Beekeeper Group had the opportunity to attend the first #TwitterDC of 2014. These events are always a great opportunity to hear the latest data on Twitter usage and to learn about emerging best practices for political and advocacy campaigns.

For me, it was most interesting to see what new strategies are being used by advocacy groups to take their Twitter presence to the next level. Some of these strategies included:

  • Creating dedicated multimedia specifically for Twitter to better engage audiences Continue reading

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20 Social Media Stats to Help You Plan for 2014

I’m a sucker for three things: end of year compilations, infographics and anything related to Abraham Lincoln. So when I saw this infographic pop-up in my Ragan’s PR Daily Email I was thrilled to see two out of three of my favorite things (sorry Abe, not this time!) in the 20 Captivating Marketing Statistics that will Drive 2014 story.

Although the infographic is geared towards marketing folks, it still has a lot of great insights for us digital advocacy people too. I particularly loved these two stats which got me thinking about how we can recruit activists via social media in the future:

Internet advertising is on the rise – By 2015, 25% of the whole ad market will be digital!
Put your videos front and center – Having a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 86%

While your advocacy campaign shouldn’t necessarily treat your audiences like customers, we should always look for whatever lessons we can get from marketers and other social media practitioners.

Take a look at the full infographic below, and let us know in the comments what other advocacy tidbits you can glean from this!


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Digital Tactics | Social Media

Advocacy Campaigns and Social Media: The Keys to Success


Earlier this month I attended Salsa Labs’ 2013 Community Conference. This gathering of advocacy organizations, non-profits and public affairs agencies occurs once per year, and is one of the best places to pick up new ideas, touch base with industry-wide best practices, and provide advocacy organizations with our advice. (Beekeeper Group Partner Henri Makembe spoke on a panel that discussed lessons non-profits and advocacy agencies can learn from political campaigns.)

One focus of the conference was on advocacy campaigns on social media.

Below, check out the top 3 takeaways from that discussion.

Supporter sentiment is important

The best way to truly find supporter and community sentiment is by going through your Facebook and Twitter pages every day and seeing if your community looks to you as a go-to resource. Determining if your community is responding to your message is a key metric to look for. Find out if your supporters trust you publicly. Are they referencing your public-facing communications materials? If not, you must determine why you’re not reaching them.

‘Likes’ should not be the goal. Turning your likers and followers into truly engaged fans and community members is.

The numbers tell the story

It takes a lot of time to dig into Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics data (which has recently been updated, by the way), and you can hire out that analysis to outside firms that use algorithms, but the most accurate measurement of a community’s engagement can be found by investing the time and resources to take a deep dive into your social media platforms.

Rank the conversations being held on your platforms weekly. This means that every week, go through and rank your comments, it shouldn’t be too complicated. Who is your top commenter? Who is beginning and interjecting in your online discussions? Determining your engagement begins and ends with understanding your community.

Content creation needs to happen during the news cycle, not after

The government shutdown is driving people to convert from passive community members to action takers. If you have a “Contact Congress” button on your website or social media page, you may see conversion rates go through the roof right now because your tool is part of the news cycle.

Advocacy organizations must be nimble. Many organizations are too risk-averse. When you’re waiting for upper-level sign-off on a Facebook post or a Tweet, the news cycle will pass you by and the opportunity to activate your supporters will be lost.

In this day and age where people are online for hours and hours per day, you can’t afford to have a traditional online content clearance process. Your content should be proactive, anticipating breaking news, rather than reactive, and behind the news cycle.

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Digital Tactics | Social Media

Five Secrets of Corporate Marketing for Your Non-Profit

Chances are, your non-profit doesn’t come close to having the same goals and resources as a corporate behemoth, but when it comes to online marketing strategies sometimes a little cross-pollination is a good thing. Both non-profits and corporations strive to build a community that supports their product or mission, and integrate their work into the digital lives of their audience. So although the two sectors differ greatly, non-profits can benefit from employing some corporate digital marketing strategies.

The 2013 J.D. Power and Associates Social Media Benchmark Study recommends that “businesses need to understand how their consumers use social media and then develop a strategy that addresses their usage patterns.” Ernan Roman, President of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing wrote in Huffington Post Business about how Hewlett Packard has embraced this tactic and offers five key takeaways from their online program that non-profits can also embrace to bolster their online efforts.

1.       Give Customers a Platform for Product Feedback

Let’s make a slight change to “Give Advocates a Platform for Product Feedback.” Through opening the channels of communication with your advocates, non-profits can gain valuable qualitative feedback about their efforts.  Especially when launching a campaign or message, soliciting community feedback can provide your organization with the community’s opinion of your new direction while also fostering a sense of ownership within your community.

2.       Encourage Community Engagement.

No change needed here.  Non-profits should have staff who are able to provide community engagement.  Your online community wants to hear from the organization, and engage with your brand and issues.  Providing opportunities to do so adds value to membership, encourages higher levels of engagement, and will increase the visibility of your organization.

3.       Designate Community Ambassadors

Encourage your advocates to become ambassadors of your organization by making direct asks to share content and advocacy campaigns.  The great thing about online advocacy is that it doesn’t take too much for anyone to become an ambassador for your cause.

4.       Create Channel Integration.

Non-profits can benefit greatly from integrating their social media communities with their email and advocacy platforms.  By merging the data of all advocates in one platform, organizations will understand where their advocates are engaging with the organization, and build an informed strategy to move advocates to higher quality actions.

5.       Set Policies and Train Social Staff.

Every organization with an online presence should design social media policies and style guides.  All staff operating the social media channels should be properly trained so that the organizational voice is consistent. In the same vein, organizations should be sure to share their posting policies on their about page for transparent and consistent community management.

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