Started by a father of three who wanted to add a little spice to the race for the Christmas number 1 in the UK charts, the Rage Against The Machine shows just how a social media campaign can go viral.

Joe Morter is not a highly paid media/PR exec, he is a hi-fi engineer, and along with his wife, Tracey, they set up the Facebook campaign to attempt to dismantle the monopoly on the charts which Simon Cowell’s X Factor has enjoyed over the last few years.

Seemingly, this campaign had everything that it needed to go viral….and it did. Rage Against The Machine were yesterday announced as the UK No 1 with their single, “Killing in the Name” instead of the X factor entry by Joe McElderry, who won the X Factor this year.

The purpose of the campaign was to encourage as many people as possible to download the RATM single, instead of the X Factor single. There was a Facebook group, which quickly garnered 450,000 fans. There were banners and images produced for everyone to use on their Facebook status, websites, blogs, Twitter and so on, thereby spreading the word very quickly about the campaign.

Why did it succeed? Well, one reason must be that peculiarly British trait of loving someone until they become successful and then seeming to delight into attempting to bring that person to their knees.  Simon Cowell has become a bit like Marmite – you either love him or hate him, and right now, there are an awful lot of people who feel shades of the latter towards him for being so successful and dominating the charts. This is often seen to be at the expense of other, possibly better bands who do not have the (mis)fortune to be signed to Cowell’s record label.

Whilst it is likely that there will be similar campaigns that endeavour to replicate the success of this one, this is a first in “People Power” using social media to upset something as trivial (and I say the word carefully, knowing how some people feel about the charts!) as the Christmas number 1. There are far bigger and more meaningful causes that could potentially be similarly supported by the average citizen, and it will be interesting to see what happens in 2010 with social media people power campaigns.

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