Is your company ready for a social media campaign that goes viral?

By Lisa Goldsberry

42436282_sPR can help you make the most of your time in the spotlight

Most companies want their messages and campaigns to go viral. After all, having millions of people discussing your brand could be a dream come true – if you manage it correctly.

What would you do if someone outside your organization made your brand an unexpected sensation on social media? Could your company handle it? The ALS Association and the Red Lobster restaurant chain both faced this situation with different results. Learn what they did right (and wrong) and learn how PR can get your company ready for anything.

Red Lobster misses its chance

Red Lobster was given an amazing gift when pop star Beyonce mentioned the restaurant in her new song, “Formation.” A verse in the song suggests a visit to Red Lobster as a reward for good sex.

Beyonce released the song on a Saturday morning, catching the company off guard. Red Lobster responded eight hours later on Twitter, with an idea to rename its popular Cheddar Bay biscuits as Cheddar “Bey” biscuits.

Critics and fans pounced on the chain for what they considered to be a slow response and lame message. When Beyonce performed the song the next day at the Super Bowl, Red Lobster tried again, this time simply thanking her for a very busy weekend.

According to reports, Red Lobster’s sales spiked more than 30 percent immediately following the release of the song. However, the company has been roundly rebuked for wasting an incredible opportunity to connect and engage with the singer’s 14 million Twitter followers. By comparison, Red Lobster has approximately 230,000 followers.

ALS Association gets it right

Most people are now aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral social media sensation that had celebrities, business leaders (like our own CEO Jason Mudd) and regular folks volunteering to have ice water poured on their heads to help raise money to combat Lou Gehrig’s disease. What you may not know is that the ALS Association did not start the campaign.

The concept of dumping ice water on your head to raise money was not originally connected to any specific group or cause. It became a popular social media fundraising technique that eventually landed with a few young men who had been diagnosed with ALS and also had tons of followers.

The ALS Association got wind of the campaign and went into all-hands-on-deck mode. They quickly offered statements on various topics related to the disease, set up a public-inquiry unit for media requests, provided updates and created numerous engagement tools to keep people involved with the organization.

As a result, the organization raised more than $220 million (its entire operating budget for 2014 was $25 million), with 2.5 million people making their first donations directly because of the campaign. In addition, The ALS Association’s Facebook likes jumped from 30,000 to 300,000, and web traffic on its site skyrocketed from 20,000 to a whopping 4.5 million each day.

3 ways to make sure your company is ready for social media success

Not every social media campaign will have global reach. Still, you never know which one of your company’s social media initiatives will take flight and go viral, so it’s important to be prepared.

1. Get your website ready. It would be awful to have thousands of new visitors coming to your website … and then it crashes. You may never get them back.

2. Build in related activities, content and events to occur after the campaign is over. Once you have everyone’s attention, make sure they stay interested.

3. Hire a PR agency to help you. When your company name gets viral attention, whether you initiated it or not, you must be primed for the aftermath. This is especially true if the viral attention is negative.

Immediacy is the name of the game when it comes to social media. Let the professionals at Axia PR help you develop the right content and create campaigns that connect with your audiences for social media success and increased sales. Contact us today or download our free e-book  The Essential Social Media Management Guide to learn more.

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Lisa-G-Color-SMLisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has been with Axia since December 2013. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image credit: 123rf.com

 

 

Topics: Public Relations, Featured, Social Media, Super Bowl

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