Sahail Ashraf posted on 27 December 2018
It’s easy to think about commerce and money when we discuss social media marketing. However, it’s not all about profit. In fact, some of the most moving and effective social media marketing work has been done through the work of non-profit organisations (NGOs).
These guys constantly come up with the most thought-provoking and powerful social media campaigns, and perhaps because they have no commercial agenda, the content they provide makes for some of the most truly powerful content ever. We thought we’d take a look at some of the best examples.
This is a biggie, and it’s become a major force in the world in the last few months. What most of us didn’t realise, however, is that it has been going for over a decade. And way back before it became the hugely powerful and political beast it is right now, it was an effective NGO campaign that covered a variety of issues.
The whole thing was launched off the back of the non-profit, ‘Just Be’. The #MeToo campaign back then worked on a theme of ’empowerment through empathy’, and covered harassment and abuse across the spectrum of human experience. It was popular too.
Now the #MeToo campaign has sprung a movement forward, and it’s highlighting some truly awful behaviour in society. Quite rightly, it has become huge, and this is undeniably down to the power of social media.
Big Tobacco is slowly but surely being chased out of the market. Sure, it’s venturing out in other directions by creating vape products and (seriously) flavoured cigars, but it can’t last forever. The biggest danger has arrived in recent years though, with an uptick in the number of college students who feel it’s fine to smoke at parties.
Big Tobacco rubbed its hands with glee (let’s not pretend it’s anything other than pure evil) and watched happily as this behavior began to set up smokers for life.
The Big Tobacco Be Like campaign didn’t think this was cool. So, it created a special piece of work around it. Catching up with some of the hottest celebrities on Vine (which was popular at the time of the campaign), it had them play roles or offer PSAs that highlighted how easy it was to become addicted to smoking. The ‘social smoking’ thing was highlighted as a dangerous part of a young life.
Essentially, it was pointing out to the young, student market that smoking really was addictive, and that it could lead to a lifetime of misery. The videos received over 59 million views by the campaign’s end.
This was a great Influencer marketing campaign. But it worked so powerfully because young people like something to rebel against. Big Tobacco, which has relied upon consumers ignoring the cynical truth behind what it does, was an easy target.
Charity: Water does exactly what you might think it does. It exists solely to bring clean water to millions of people around the world. And it’s doing a pretty good job.
The best example or at least the simplest, of a social media campaign from an NGO was something these guys created. They ran something called ‘September Campaign’. That month happens to be the one that the founder of the charity celebrates a birthday in.
We like this one because it doesn’t require anything other than a good idea, carried on the back of a cause that people genuinely care about and want to help.
If anything this shows brands that a good story and a powerful message can make any social media campaign one that reaches people. The simple example of what Charity: Water did shows that all you need is something that people care about. However, Charity: Water raise their game immediately by simply asking people to do something.
The social media landscape demands that people have to do something for engagement. It’s never enough to put a message out there and hope. Even the Big Tobacco and the #MeToo examples required some action on the part of the audience.
Action, whether it’s asking someone to not buy you a gift or using a hashtag, is what drives all social media. Even the simple act of clicking on a video and watching it involves some work on the part of an audience. The best social media campaigns today recognise this.
What we can learn, as people more connected to brands than NGOs is that storytelling is always going to be a big part of social media. Stories don’t have to be complicated, and they don’t even have to be conventional stories. But they do need characters (Big Tobacco is a character) and they need a narrative (#MeToo has a hugely compelling narrative).
If brands can tap into this basic concept and structure, any campaign can be a successful one. Get people to care, and want to do something, and you have a campaign that will make things happen for your brand.
It’s not easy, obviously, but it’s certainly not as hard as you might think. Work out where your brand is coming from, what the story is, and what message you want people to hear.
If you would like to be able to track every single aspect of your social media campaigns, then grab a free week of Locowise. We’ll give you data and metrics that will put you one step ahead of the rest.