Key takeaways

  • Social media campaigns with powerful messages and a reason to connect often have the potential to hit the core of society.
  • Organisations can create a sense of shared value and authenticity through social media campaigns targeted towards specific and relevant issues.
  • Data gathered from these campaigns can be used to harness and continue developing meaningful relationships for target audiences.

A social media campaign which seems to be taking the world by storm is the use of the pink and red equals signs for profile images across major social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Part of an initiative led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), this avatar has been used by individuals around the world to make a joint stance in support of same-sex marriage.

From this movement, social media analysts have been able to mine individual profiles and calculate demographic details of the supporters of this campaign including age, sex and location. The power of uncovering this information can be seen as a critical success factor for HRC in targeting future campaigns and identifying supporters.

The realisation of the power of targeted information led me to ask, is it possible to drive similar campaigns (in terms of scale and impact) in a different setting (i.e not a civic rights movement)? In addition to this, what factors make these concepts ‘go viral’, and encourage millions of people to join the conversation?

The social voice

The proliferation of digital channels has undoubtedly given a voice to those who would not otherwise have the means or mediums to reach out to the wider community.

Looking back over the last few years, a number of worldwide movements have been initiated by small groups of people who believed in a cause that needed attention.  The Kony 2012 campaign was developed by Invisible Children, a group who for years had been trying to raise awareness and ‘make an obscure war criminal famous’.  A video produced by three US videographers became the most successful viral video of all time.

This and many other digital campaigns gained momentum via the orchestrated use of social media channels and when millions of people decided to join a conversation they considered worth being part of.

Creating shared value

In an age where people are beginning to accept the connection between social networking and communities of relevance, it is this authentic and unique approach to human engagement that appeals.

The lesson for organisations is to look at creating shared value in social media campaigns. Letting people see the value in terms of how you, as a corporation, honestly care about specific and relevant issues gives a level of authenticity, which many organisations still grapple with.

The focus needs to be on achieving organic growth through ‘word of mouth’. The benefits may not be so obvious in the first instance, but the data gathered can be used in the future to harness and continue developing meaningful relationships with your audience.



Nick Spooner

Nick Spooner is a partner at PwC and the leader of PwC Digital Services Experience Centre across South East Asia and Australia.

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