Going viral is just the start

November 14, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

“Going viral” goes just fine as long as it works in favor of the people doing the viraling. When things go virally wrong, however, they go really wrong.

At the 2013 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, Maddie Grant of ICF International, Allyson Kapin, founder of Rad Campaign, and Melanie Mathos of Blackbaud offered kudos to several viral campaigns that went well and took a sharp look at some that didn’t.

Drawing praise were the Human rights Campaign Stand for Marriage and the movement to Save Big Bird (after the 2012 Republican presidential campaign offered hints of shutting down PBS).

Not so good were tacky attempts to use 9/11 or Newtown. They also mentioned attempts to make a political statement that can be misingterpreted.

Grant, Kapin and Mathos offered 10 tips for using a social media campaign that works in a positive way:

1. Listen, don’t broadcast

2. Be prepared to take advantage of news moments (or to adjust your messaging in light of news moments)

3. Respond quickly (to both positive and negative reactions)

4. Create a movement

5. Have fun

6. Measure, measure, measure

7. Have a social media staff handbook

8. Have a plan in place to manage an online crisis so it doesn’t bubble up and implode

9. Tailor content specifically for each social media channel as each one has its own tone and terminology

10. Learn from failures.