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Social Media Campaign, Gamified

October 5, 2019

Sometimes a social media campaign is connected to a well-recognized event like a holiday. Sometimes it creates one.

Did you know that October 8 is Fat Bear Tuesday? And did you know that Fat Bear Tuesday is the culmination of Fat Bear Week? The annual celebration may not be familiar to you unless you follow the social accounts for the Katmai National Forest in Alaska. But if you do, there’s a good chance that you’ve engaged with the social media campaign for years.

The subject of a recent write-up at The Verge, this campaign provides followers with an opportunity to admire cute but dangerous animals from a safe distance. That kind of content is a dime a dozen on the internet, but in this case viewers are asked to vote on images and help crown a champion before the bears begin their hibernation.

The Fat Bear Week social media campaign introduces an element of seasonally-appropriate competition to really encourage people to focus on both the medium and the message.

The message is one of conservation, and the social media campaign helps people to learn about the health and well-being of the Katmai National Forest. It’s easy to imagine that many of the worldwide participants in this event would overlook the relevant issues if social media didn’t prompt them to get personally involved.

But thanks to Fat Bear Week, the Katmai Facebook page can reach upwards of a million people, with page views jumping from 2,000 to more than 70,000 in just a couple days.

The particular content of those pages may not be relevant to many people who are looking to start a social media campaign. But the success of Fat Bear Week goes a long way toward illustrating the benefits of “gamification” and the ways in which a social media event can be a source of long-term engagement.

What may be more remarkable than the raw number of interactions is the breadth of its impact on audience behavior. The social media campaign encourages people to engage with each other over the subject matter, rather than just engaging with the subject matter itself.

There may be a number of different ways a local social media company can help its clients accomplish this. It may involve bracket-voting, a contest involving submitted content, or something else. Whatever the case, the ultimate goal should be to make people forget they’re engaging in a social media campaign at all.

When the campaign seems both fun and personal, people might even want to return to participate in it year after year.

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