Answering The #ALSIceBucketChallenge To #StrikeOutALS

o… recently I was “tagged” or “nominated” or “challenged” to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by one of the supervisors at my agency.

Here I am meeting the challenge…

Ice Bucket CoverDoes it suprise anyone that I was a Film major in college?

So if you haven’t heard or seen anything about the #IceBucketChallenge, then seriously what rock have you been hiding under? The amazing part to me is that I remember seeing my friend Rotor Ray do it on Facebook what seems like months ago. Now it’s gained some serious traction and virality. The people at the ALS Association must be very pleased… over $70 million dollars has been raised through the campaign.

Viral Campaign Components

People often ask what it is that can make such a campaign viral. In my experience, every successful one has three key elements in common:

  1. Ease of Access – the media generated for the campaign has to be easily created and easily accessed
  2. A Positive Outcome – the campaign needs to strive for an improvement in the quality of life for a segment of the population, the bigger usually the better
  3. A Champion – there needs to be someone to really champion the cause at the onset to get it out as much and as wide as possible to increase the potential virality of the campaign

There’s also something here to be said about the long-tail effect of Social Media on these campaigns. I remember the first video I saw of this was of my friend “Rotor” Ray doing it at his station in West Virginia, and I feel like that was MONTHS ago. So even if you have all the right components it can take awhile to hit maximum velocity.

Honestly you can try to make something go viral, have all the components needed to go viral, but in the end it could be a flop compared to what your goal was. There are people who will tell you that they design for virality and can almost guarantee virality… notice I stressed the almost. In the end, there are no guarantees as to the levels of success of failures that your campaign will have.

The only thing that is guaranteed is that if you don’t try, you will absolutely never succeed.


4 Lessons To Learn From The #myNYPD Hijacking

Recently the New York City Police Department’s Official Twitter Account (@NYPDNews) asked users to tweet photos of themselves with their favorite members of the NYPD and use the hashtag of #myNYPD.


Needless to say, they got a relatively mixed result from the public on that one. Here’s just a few of the submissions they received via the hashtag #myNYPD


The backlash and hijacking of the #myNYPD hashtag should not surprise anyone, especially whoever is in charge of the NYPD‘s Social Media efforts… if in fact there is anyone in charge over there. It’s almost as if someone went for their morning coffee, saw a #myDunkin hashtag sticker on the door, and thought “Oh that would be great for the NYPD!” while failing to take into account that a) NYPD is not a coffee shop but a law enforcement agency and b) Dunkin’ Donuts biggest complaints are in the realm of cold coffee and stale donuts, neither of which causes them to convene a Civillian Complaint Review Board to address. Previous failed Social Media campaigns such as back in 2009 when Skittles made their homepage a Twitter Feed of anyone mentioning @Skittles and last year when McDonald‘s #McDstories campaign resulted in hairifying fast food tales that would make anyone cringe should have been clear red flags that this wasn’t necessarily a good idea.

4 Lessons To Learn From The #myNYPD Hijacking

Here are four things I think the NYPD, and any agency looking to utilize Social Media, needs to take away from this event:

  • Be Careful What You Ask For – It’s important to be careful what you ask your subscribers to do for you. Contrary to the implication of the terms “Followers” and “Fans“, not everyone will have a positive perception of your agency. This goes way back to when Howard Stern‘s ratings were through the roof in DC, not from the people that loved him… but more from the people who hated him and wanted to hear what atrocity he would say next. They are your audience and while interacting with them is a good use of Social Media, crowdsourcing interactions to them takes the tone of the conversation out of your hands
  • What Works For Private Companies Doesn’t Automatically Work For Public Agencies – Just because it works for one private company doesn’t mean it will work for another and most definitely won’t work the same for a public agency. Blindly mimicking others successes (and failures) will not result in a #FTW but more likely in an #EpicFAIL as this has
  • Someone Needs To Be In Charge And Accountable – Thus far Commissioner Bill Bratton is okay with what happened. “Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news. They’ve been out there for a long time,” Bratton said according to a Daily News article. “The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city,” said Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster according to an article on CNN. The truth is that if Chief Royster thinks this is effective, then maybe we know who is responsible for this #EpicFAIL. There is no effectiveness in this what so ever, just a lot of noise and bringing old issues back to the surface to cloud the current issues. Not to mention the demoralizing effect it has on officers who, had they made a smaller Social Media snafu to less than 1% of the @NYPDNews audience, would have undoubtedly been robbed of their careers
  • Remember Your Mission As A Source Of Trusted Information – there is not a lot of glory to be found in broadcasting traffic reports or crime statistics, but it is important not to lose that focus in lieu of cheap PR pops. Sharing success stories, jobs well done, and live events from the agency all have their place. Asking others to do your law enforcement job for you wouldn’t be acceptable and neither is asking them to tell your own story via Social Media for you

In the end, this really is an #EpicFail that the NYPD is responsible for. Not only do their officers need to pay for it but other law enforcement agencies, such as LAPD, are now under similar social assault. Someone needs to be held accountable and more importantly someone needs to be put in charge who has a social clue so that this doesn’t happen again.