How The BlueHouses Won The Belfast Marathon
26 full marathon runners, 17 relay teams, over £14000 raised and an amazing story shared with thousands of people online. Belfast hosted it's 35th marathon on Monday and here's how The BlueHouses won it.
Last year my friend Andy Hamilton (FT BlueHouses Youth Worker) ran his first marathon and started a campaign called '26 FOR 26'. The aim was to get 26 people to donate £10 a month for a year (£120), each sponsoring Andy for every mile of the race. When somebody sponsored, he shared a post like the one below on Facebook and Instagram. As people shared and liked, these posts gained a great amount of traffic and they were able to reach further than they could have ever before through their social media channels.
Andy completed the marathon, sponsored by well over 26 people and raised £18,276 through standing order and one-off donations. As they continued to demolish new fundraising targets an incredible story was being told. Andy used social media to invite people to join him in his journey to the start line of the Marathon. He shared RunKeeper progress, ice-bath videos, training selfies and mastered the art of story telling along the way.
"great stories are worth telling."
- Angel & Anchor motto.
Building off of last year's success The BlueHouses dared to dream that they could find 26 people to run the full 26.2 miles of the marathon - 26 for 26. They invited me to help them brand, promote and story-tell this campaign. See some of the work below.
The BlueHouses #2626 social media campaign this year was marked by story-telling. From the beginning staff set the tone by inviting people on the journey of #2626 from planning, preparation, training and on the day itself. Andy had modelled it so well last year, so their original audience had an expectation of the content they would consume but most importantly volunteer runners had an example blueprint of how they could invite friends, family and followers into the their training, fundraising and the bigger story they were running for in the first place.
What really worked for the BlueHouses was they not only asked people to run on behalf of their story, but to be a part of it. We all want to feel like we are playing a part in something bigger than ourselves, an active part where we have influence and are valued. BlueHouses did that in championing and encouraging each of their runners
"Share your story, then invite people to be a part of it."
Here's some really great examples of story-telling from their year's campaign.
THE BIG RACE HOME
Andy Hewitt was also running the marathon this year for Youth Initiatives, a similar faith-based youth organisation in Poleglass. With similar training schedules both Andy's used the opportunity to challenge each other, share exposure online and engage their audiences in something different than their usual training updates.
Both would race from their workplace to their home, Andy Hamilton from Ballysillan to Bangor and Andy Hewitt from Poleglass to Ballynahinch - roughly 15 miles for each. The entertaining and competitive banter gained traction as followers shared and commented under live videos and mock press conferences.
We all have a call to action that we want our audience to engage with. But unless you are giving them value or something in return it's likely you'll not achieve the results you want.
"For every ask... give, give, give!"
When asking for donations the BlueHouses gave entertaining videos, behind-the-scenes posts and interesting updates. And they asked in donations. Value was exchanged and everybody wins.
When seeking runners they gave an opportunity to achieve something great, a team to be a part of, a training plan, a t-shirt and all the encouragement anyone can ever need. And they asked in miles.
Below are some of the many quality 'gives' and 'asks' The BlueHouses posted and shared this year.
You have a story. Now go tell it!
If you want to find out how you can engage your audience, invite them to be a part of what you are doing and see results in your calls to action then say hello! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and lets work together.