ocial media is just a waste of time, right? Do you really need a social presence to be successful? Can Facebook et.al actually help your business make money?

Answers: No. Kinda. A BIG FAT YES.


Check out how social media has brought success to three charity campaigns, even the ones that started out as ‘a laugh’.



Movember was established in 2003 when two friends, sat drinking in an Australian bar, decided to bring back the 70’s styled moustache. The two lads and thirty of their friends spent the year growing and comparing their moustaches – simply for their own entertainment. The following year the friends wanted to create an excuse for growing a Mo – Australian slang for moustache – and doing it for a charity meant their women folk couldn’t complain.


Adam Garone, the co-founder and CEO of Movember, explains that they wanted to raise money and awareness for the male equivalent of women’s breast cancer. To date Movember has raised £346 million for prostate cancer. To put this into perspective, this huge sum of money has been raised off the back of a couple of friends growing facial hair – for a laugh.

Movember is a sponsored charity trend rather than a “nominate scheme”, however social media has still played its part. By searching “Movember” on Instagram alone you’ll receive close to 1.5 million results. On Twitter 50.8K follow the Movember (UK) account and 114K “like” the Movember (UK) Facebook page. Movember participants can share their progress across all social media platforms to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer – making social media an integral part to the success of the campaign.



In March 2014 women took to social media to share pictures of themselves make-up free, alongside the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. The trend quickly became associated with raising money and awareness for Cancer Research. The charity did not start the campaign, but they were quick to envelop and support the trend…

The “no make-up selfie” trend can be traced back to Kim Novak’s red carpet look at the Oscars (2014); the (then) 81-year-old actress received negative attention in the media for appearing to have had plastic surgery. Author Laura Lippman saw Kim Novak being slated in the media and felt strongly that a woman’s looks shouldn’t be so publicly and negatively discussed, so posted a make-up free selfie of herself with the hashtag #itsokaykimnovak. This encouraged many women to post their own pictures, some posted in support of Kim Novak and others posted for various other reasons – along the way it was picked up and associated with Cancer Research. In just six days £8million was raised for Cancer Research – funding ten more clinical trials to be carried out. All thanks to social media.



Ice Bucket Challenge

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” was not originally connected to a particular charity; Charles Kennedy, a golfer from Florida, was nominated by a friend to do an Ice Bucket Challenge. Mr Kennedy decided to donate money to ALS Association because his cousin suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – from there the social media ‘nomination trend’ helped the challenge spiral into an internet craze – with donations going to ALS Association & MacMillan Cancer support.

The nomination trend allows campaigns to spread like wild fire throughout the internet and that’s exactly how the “Ice Bucket Challenge” picked up its momentum. Even famous faces such as Bill Gates, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rita Ora got involved.

There were some who disagreed with the challenge and its wastefulness, however, this didn’t have a negative impact on the campaign; in fact Water Aid saw a spike in donations, including £47,000 in one day – 50 per cent higher than it had ever received in a single day.


From 22th to 29th August 2014 the Ice Bucket Challenge raised £2.7m for charity, all with a little help from social media.

The common denominator amongst these three campaigns is how they originally started. Each trend began as either a joke or an accident and because of their humble beginnings social media adopted and nurtured them, resulting in social success stories.

As social media continues to evolve there is no set formula that defines a perfect campaign, but having some authenticity can take it a long way.