Beatbullying’s The Big March campaigning for children’s rights took place this week and was a huge success with 850,000 pledging their support and asking Government for help to protect all children and young people from bullying, violence and harassment.

It was the World’s first virtual online protest attracting support from children, young people, parents, teachers and celebrities, as well as global brands, including Facebook, Google, MTV and AOL, to name just a few.

The campaign highlights the power of viral campaigning – a modern phenomenon which has the potential to make your message go global – reaching millions of people, delivering increased brand exposure, new data, more clients and a partridge in a pear tree!

But whilst we frequently see great examples of viral material, how often do you hear about the overall success of the campaign and how that message has been retained or reinforced a few months down the line? The problem with viral is the idea that it stems from is always specific.

Viral campaigns can deliver fantastic results and get people excited, but how many organisations successfully follow-up and capitalise on the hype?

While Beatbullying has come up with a completely new way of campaigning, to keep its message alive, some of the old rules need to be abided by, including clever data capture and use.

We’ve been working with the children’s rights charity to ensure its supporters are followed-up with ongoing communications which hopefully keep them engaged with the campaign. It’s really important to Beatbullying that the momentum of the March is sustained and its proposed Big March Bullying Review achieves its ultimate aim of securing new legislation which explicitly renders bullying, violence and harassment of children against the law.

Collecting data on the anticipated half a million plus marchers as they sign up is vital as a platform for delivering a successful ongoing communications programme. Thought needs to go into what exactly should be captured to strike gain enough knowledge of each supporter to get ongoing messaging correct and what type of communications will be relevant going forwards.

Brands and organisations need to think about which channels are the best for communicating with their target audience. When collecting data, marketers need to think about future campaigns and the data needed to fulfil them, as well as asking contacts for channel preferences. 

In the case of Beatbullying, they are relying solely on email as it suits their supporters who have signed-up to a digital campaign and is relatively inexpensive.

But just because someone has engaged with you in a viral campaign, it does not mean they have an affinity to your brand – just to that particular campaign or message. Follow-up materials to contacts acquired through viral activity need to have a reason for engagement and absolutely must not just be merged into the standard marketing lists without good reason.

Many contacts will be engaging with your organisation for the first time, so it is standard practice to implement a welcome programme. This way you can determine who has an ongoing desire to interact with you versus those who were only engaged in your initial campaign.

Next, thought needs to be given to the type of information sent so that supporters remain engaged and active wherever possible. Beatbullying is planning a series of informative but succinct messages over the next 12 months which will update supporters on the progress of the Bullying Review and build momentum for the next Big March in 2011.

If you’d like to be part of this viral first and keep in touch with the progress of the campaign, you can sign the petition at…but remember, this campaign has legs!