When you want to carry out a campaign to raise awareness about an issue, and/or encourage action, Social Media should be one of your main tools. In this post, I want to share with you how a group of colleagues and I are putting together (yes, as we speak) the campaign to raise awareness about Marks & Spencer’s support to Israel and Zionism, in an attempt to disrupt its plans to open new branches in Egypt later this year. With limited time and resources, we wanted to do the basics, and build on it from there. Many find themselves in similar situations, and therefore, I wanted to share you with the case study live, as it is happening.
This post assumes that you have done your research and have your facts ready. Ideally, you would have some sort of strategy, but let’s assume that there’s nothing set in stone, and we want to get as much out there as possible.
With each step, I’m referencing our ongoing campaign against Marks & Spencer.
- Domain and web page
It’s absolutely necessary to have a web page (if not a full fledged website) with its own domain. You could sign up for a subdomain with WordPress or a similar service, but having your own domain would be significantly more effective. In this case, we bought http://marksandspenceregypt.org (as well as the .com that forwards to the .org). The advantage here is that, with time and a bit of work, the page could very much come up in search results for M&S in Egypt. Moreover, it’s a domain that M&S themselves would want, which makes it even sweater!
- Designing and developing
No branding is necessary, but you should have some sort of logo to make the campaign recognizable. It is best to ask a friend who can draw in Illustrator or Inkscape to come up with something simple in 30 minutes – anymore, and you’re risking time loss. Remember that it is important to keep the momentum.
If you have the time and the dedication, make it a blog (using WordPress, of course. You can see my tutorial on setting up your own website/blog with WordPress). However, if you don’t think you’d be able to keep up (and in most cases you won’t be able to), then a static website/single web page is gold. Make it straight and to the point – no one wants to read much (and you can always add links to the sources for those who doubt you). With the M&S campaign, we’ve listed 15 facts with a link at the end of each one. We might put together a simple video illustrating the points, which would obviously be even more effective.
- Ability to share page
If sharing is three clicks away, then it’s a waste of space. Visitors must be able to spread the title of the campaign, as well as the URL, with a click of a button. With M&S, we’ve added the tweet button, and the Facebook share, positioned at the left of the browser constantly. At any point, users can send out a tweet (mentioning the twitter account – discussed below), or make a wall post on their Facebook profiles. You might feel tempted to provide links to all of the social networks out there, but who are we kidding? All you need are the two big boys, don’t waste time/space on the rest (remember that simplicity is key).
It would be a smart move to make the first image that appears in the HTML of the web page be the logo/header of the campaign. That way, when people share to their Facebook walls, the thumbnail automatically selected by Facebook is an appropriate one.
- Links to Social Network profiles
After creating a twitter account and Facebook cause (see below), you ought to place corresponding icons to your profiles on each. That way, one someone visits the website, they immediately know that they can follow you on twitter and/or your cause via Facebook. You’ll notice that we’ve placed the twitter and Facebook icons at the top right, next to the header.
- Create a twitter account
While you could use an already active twitter account, it is best to create a new one solely for the campaign. That way it is specialized and gives you the privilege of asking for support without providing valuable content in return (as would be the case with any normal twitter account). Moreover, it encourages people to follow your account so that they can take part in the initiative, as oppose to supporting someone who happens to be doing it.
Make the logo the avatar, write a concise bio and link to the website. Give yourself the freedom to blatantly ask people for support, after all, you’re part of a cause, not trying to fool them into buying your product. Also change the colors and background so that it doesn’t look generic (takes a minute). Our twitter page @MarksSpencerEG has followed those guidelines closely.
Generally speaking, start following those who you know personally, as well as the ones who would seem to be interested in the cause. Also, follow everyone back, it’s a neat little thank you for choosing to follow you. When your number are close to each other, this means that a) you’re likely to reach more followers, and b) it implies that you tend to follow people back, which will act as a motivation for people to follow you.
- Create a Facebook Cause
From your Facebook account, search for ‘Causes’ (an application), and create a new cause. Fill out all of the information and add the logo you already have. After that, invite the friends you know are most likely to join (adding a personal message to ensure it), and allow it to publish to your profile. This should create enough buzz to get you 20 or so members to start off with. After that, invite 75 every day (the daily limit) until you’ve gone through all of your friends. Check out our Facebook Cause.
- Tweet, post and spread the word
Tweet 4-6 times a day. Any less and you’re not taking advantage of the direct connection you’re established with the people, and any more and you might repel people who’d feel their timelines have been cluttered.
Share the website on your profile every 2-3 days, and you could consider making your status link to the website, and changing your profile pic to the logo of the campaign.
More importantly, use traditional means (emails, phone calls, SMS, etc.) to reach out those you know and ask them to tweet the page, follow on twitter, share on Facebook, join the cause, and spread the word.
The more time and effort you invest, the better. But generally speaking, the points above are relatively easy to implement and can get you up and running in little time.