So why are members of The Organic Agency Team all holding tampons? Clearly, less than half the people in this picture would have need of one. Though, being especially vigorous and manly, the chaps were glad to find out tampons can be used to survive the great outdoors.
We’re supporting the new #JustATampon campaign, which is being championed by Plan UK to break the stigma and taboo surrounding menstruation around the world. The campaign has already got great traction on social media with people joining in on the hashtag and several celebrities adding their voice to the cause.
How many of you reading this dived into supporting a good cause because of something you saw on social media?
Though some feel that clicktivists and keyboard warriors should focus on more practical action for causes they care about, the numbers indicate that social media campaigns have a real impact when done right. Consider:

  • The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $100 million for the ALS Association in one month in 2014. The funds raised in the whole of 2013 by the charity? $2.2 million.
  • Cancer Research UK received one million pounds in donations in 24 hours when they began campaigning on #NoMakeUpSelfie. By the end of the week that figure had risen to eight million.

So there’s obviously something more at play here than just a bit of vanity mixed with sound and fury. But what makes some of these campaigns take off and others get lost in the white noise of social?

Keep It Simple

Although the causes they support are all complex (ALS, cancer, menstrual hygiene and gender issues) at the root of it all the most successful campaigns are quite simple. Take a selfie. Dump some water over your head. Grow a ‘tache. None of these things take a lot of effort (well, growing a ‘tache can be tough depending on your gender and general hairiness). And you know what? If you want lots of people to listen and take action you have to keep the bar for entry low.
Simplicity in the idea also means that the campaign can be executed across various media with ease, which is vital for success.

Make People The Star Of The Story

This will sound cynical, but there is a common thread in many of the most successful campaigns. They put the people taking part at the heart of the story, even if just for a few seconds.
All charities and good causes have a hardcore of supporters who passionately believe in them. They were working tirelessly before these movements took off, and they’ll continue to do so after the big fad has passed. But your average person on social media? They need a little encouragement, and giving them the chance to be the star works wonders.

Celebrity Impact

Get famous people involved and watch the campaign skyrocket. The Ice Bucket Challenge had Harrison Ford, Patrick Stewart and even Barack Obama taking part, among a host of others. #JustATampon has recruited legendary journalist and news presenter Jon Snow to help raise awareness, and others such as Carol Smilie and Jenny Eclair have also gotten involved.
It’s not always the case that celebs are on board from the start, but by reaching out to them you can benefit from their legions of followers. And don’t forget that the celebrities of the 21st century are also the bloggers and vloggers who have a lot of clout on social media.
And there’s nothing wrong with a little quid pro quo. Influencers have worked to build and maintain their audience, and if you want to access it then some kind of payment isn’t amiss. Just make sure everything is transparent and works within search ethics and ad guidelines.
It’s important to note that where celebrities or other influencers have most impact is when they have an engaged following. Even if they have a huge following it’s their emotional influence over their audience that translates to action, not purely the number of followers or fans.

Quick Reactions

Cancer Research UK didn’t start #NoMakeupSelfie, but they jumped into the conversation and made it their own. Then as the public became more and more engaged they remained reactive and agile, adapting as the social sphere ran with it.
Similarly, at first the Ice Bucket Challenge was not directly tied to ALS, but once the link was made the ALS Association and other similar organisations took ownership of the movement.
Social is all about listening, learning, reacting and starting the process all over again. Just hammering home your message isn’t enough, if it was then every good cause would have spectacular results.
You can tick all these boxes and still not achieve the astronomical impact of the biggest social campaigns. There is certainly some element of luck at play here, but build your campaign around this foundation and you stand a much greater chance of elevating the profile of your cause.