A Closer Look at the Human Rights Campaign's Facebook Phenomenon
Angie is away enjoying some much deserved time off, so she asked me to share some thoughts for this week's post.
Since I was curious about this, I thought you also might enjoy a "behind-the-scenes" look at the incredible events of this past March. Do you remember the last days in March? Remember what happened online? Hint: huge changes in Facebook profile pictures? Well, you should remember, because what happened was the single largest social-media event. Ever.
Of course, I'm talking about the Human Rights Campaign's Go Red for Marriage Equality campaign. This social-media effort impacted millions of Facebook profile pictures in what seemed like the blink of an eye — well, just a few short days. My first task was to identify the right people at HRC who could help me understand the who, what, where and how.
My friend Ann Crowley, director of membership and online strategy at HRC, connected me with Lindsey Twombly, the organization's associate director of online mobilization and social media. Lindsey is quick to tell me she is part of a team, but just a couple moments into our conversation, I could tell she had an incredible passion for her work and is no stranger to "online, full time." She was excited to share details about what it was like to ride an online tsunami — and a peek at what is on the horizon. I spoke with Lindsey about what her team learned and how HRC plans to convert these tens of thousands of supporters — and of course, what's next.
First, it's important to know this was not a serendipitous event. HRC had been working on an overarching media strategy for five years, preparing for an event like the Supreme Court arguments of late March. What the team had not prepared for was the overwhelming response. Consider this: Facebook measures profile picture changes from Tuesday to Tuesday. On March 26, 2.7 million more people had changed their profile pictures than on an average Tuesday — the highest change ever recorded. That's the single best snapshot available of impact, but anyone online saw it continue to roll well into April. Lindsey and the HRC team helped with rolling out red logo images so new supporters could easily join in.
You probably couldn't help but notice some of the creative red logos people put out there to embrace the movement and make it their own. Lindsay said there were more than 100 different permutations, and HRC embraced this creativity by assembling image albums on Flickr. Allowing supporters — many new to the organization and the campaign — to have some fun creating their own personalized logos resulted in huge amounts of sharing and internalizing the campaign, delivering a unique message of support. Lesson: Dismiss the brand police, and embrace logo permutations — now that's branding! So, how ready is your organization to allow its brand to be "freestyled"? See more here.
And it gets better. As a direct-response fundraiser, I was anxious to learn more about HRC's three Cs: capture, continue (the conversation) and conversion (of those tens of thousands of names)! So you have a ton of people supporting your online campaign efforts. Now what? You invite them to engage with you, online and offline.
Lindsey's team reached out with a Facebook page offering to mail these online activists a tangible HRC logo — oh, and tell them more about the organization's mission and update them on the Campaign for Marriage Equality. This thoughtful move delivered on all three Cs: name capture, continuing the conversation and beginning the process of conversion. Love it! The captured names were then placed into the HRC donor-acquisition stream. Naturally, online conversion efforts are ongoing and have proven to be very successful.
So what's next? Can lightning strike twice? Can HRC keep the momentum going? We'll see soon enough. The Supreme Court decision on Marriage Equality is being handed down sometime in the next few days, and as I write this, I'm seeing Facebook profiles beginning to "go red" once again.
Lindsey shared with me one final point: HRC is working on a separate messaging track for supporters this time around and has a couple other ideas sure to engage and convert. From what I hear, HRC's stores have done a brisk business selling its "red logo" T-shirts. I think there will be another run on them!
A special thanks to Lindsey Twombly for making time to speak with me. See you on Facebook as we watch history being made.
Charlie Cadigan has partnered with nonprofit organizations to design and implement multichannel marketing solutions throughout his career and currently is consulting with Roger Craver at TrueGivers.