Examining Why Social Cause Campaigns Work

Empowering Women Through Social Conversation

Brands are moving away from traditional advertising in favor of viral videos. Instead of persuasive demonstrations of why their product is a good purchase, more and more companies have started campaigns that spotlight social issues, gaining brand recognition through rapid-fire shares on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Why do some of these campaigns achieve such success and spark significantly more conversation than others? To answer this question, we turned to ForSight™ to compare conversations around the successful campaigns and less successful ones. In particular, producers of women’s products, like makeup and hygiene necessities, used videos expressing female empowerment over the past few years. We compared Always’s highly successful #LikeAGirl female confidence video with similar campaigns by Dove and CoverGirl, the April “Patches” video about a beauty-perception altering arm patch and the February “Girls Can” video respectively. We also analyzed Burger King’s #ProudBurger campaign, which has run for the same time period as #LikeAGirl in correlation with San Francisco’s Gay Pride celebration.

Always imitated the hashtag activism model, and established brand recognition by creating active and empowered engagement in line with that of #YesAllWomen and other non-promoted campaigns. Similar to #YesAllWomen and #StrongerThan, women began tweeting empowering statements about why they are proud to do things “like a girl.” While commercials like this run a risk of taking a life of their own independent of the brand itself, #Always is the top hashtag associated with #LikeAGirl.
ForSight provided valuable insight to explain why #LikeAGirl and campaigns like it have fared well. ForSight’s Affinities tool can help brands follow this success by studying audience interests and targeting the social issues that are on the radar of their consumers or desired consumers. Affinities also reflect personal experiences and passions of engaged audiences, thus aiding in selection of a relevant hashtag that encourages many consumers to engage with the conversation.

Always social ad campaign join the movement

Dove was a trailblazer with its Real Beauty campaign, which it debuted in 2005 with the video “Evolution.” The clip is a little over a minute and shows how drastically a model’s appearance is altered to become what we see in advertisements. However, the most buzzed about campaign currently is Always’s #LikeAGirl video, especially compared to Patches and #GirlsCan. After contrasting post-puberty females’ and males’ stereotypes associated with the phrase “Like a girl” with younger girls’ more positive interpretations, the video proceeds to dissect the socialization of women to feel weak, and its empowering message propelled it to the top as the number one most viral video the first week it was released (June 26).

Between June 26 and July 7, #LikeAGirl garnered 101,679 posts; #GirlsCan had 14, 771 posts between February 18 and March 15; Patches had 11, 765 between April 1 and May 10; and #ProudBurger had 31, 201 posts between June 25 and July 7.

This selection of campaigns’ conversations amassed a similar demographic: predominantly females located on the coasts, with around 40% positive sentiments. #GirlsCan had the most predominantly female demographic, at 85%, followed by #LikeAGirl at 81%, then Patches at 55%, and #ProudBurger at 37%. All four campaigns are heavily discussed in Nevada and New York, and none touch the midwest any more than the others; however, #LikeAGirl is less coastally polarized and has more evenly distributed posts per capita than Patches, #ProudBurger (West Coast), and #GirlsCan (East Coast). Positive sentiments towards each campaign is around 40%, with #LikeAGirl the highest at 44%. #GirlsCan was the least negative conversation at only 1%, while Dove had the most negative at 15%. #LikeAGirl falls in the middle at 6%.

Always Likeagirl social ad campaign

#LikeAGirl and #ProudBurger have overlapped completely in terms of time, and both women and gay rights are hot topics of conversation right now…so why does #LikeAGirl own an overwhelming 77% share of voice?

ForSight’s Affinities tool, which measures which interest segments skew toward or away from a particular social conversation, sheds light on the key to success: the campaign needs to be groundbreaking, and it needs to ask viewers to engage, whether sharing their stories or encouraging them to incorporate the uplifting message into their lives. Further, it needs to connect to a specific demographic, specifically the mainstream part of it that doesn’t necessarily identify as activists, in a way that is very relatable. Those discussing #ProudBurger are 1000 times more interested in conservative politics and twice as interested in activism. On the other hand, the #LikeAGirl demographic has three times the affinities for leadership, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship than #ProudBurger, implying a disposition to respond and propel movements like this.

Social ad campaign and women affinities

Much of the #LikeAGirl conversation reflects empowerment and acceptance of the message into daily life. Many girls mention crying when they watched it.

Compared to general feminist/women’s rights social conversation, #LikeAGirl conversation has the same affinity for social change but fall much lower for the more political/activist affinities, such as social justice (⅓), liberal politics (⅕), activism (⅓), and world news (⅓). They also rank higher for the common mainstream/pop culture affinities, like MTV, One Direction, and Miley Cyrus. All three of the women’s rights/beauty perception campaigns had parenting, being a mom, and interestingly, being a dad as high-ranking affinities.

LikeaGirl social ad campaign topic waves

While #ProudBurger is comparable to generic sponsored hashtags, #LikeAGirl takes on the roll of hashtag activism, like #YesAllWomen in May after the Isla Vista shootings. This was a huge trend because it allowed women to share their experiences and relate to those they read, finding empowerment in unity. Another current thriving social justice campaign is #StrongerThan, an initiative launched (also with a video) by Taliban attack victim Malala Yousafzai promoting hope, equal education for all girls, and peace. It has been connected with the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag fighting for the return of the Nigerian kidnappings. The common theme of all these campaigns is a sentiment of hope and progress built by a unified social media front as users share, for example, what they are “stronger than.”

Always imitated the hashtag activism model, and established brand recognition by creating active and empowered engagement in line with that of #YesAllWomen and other non-promoted campaigns.

#Yesallwomen social ad campaign

Similar to #YesAllWomen and #StrongerThan, women began tweeting empowering statements as to why they are proud to do things “like a girl.” While commercials like this run a risk of taking a life of their own independent of the brand itself, #Always is the top hashtag associated with #LikeAGirl.

Viral videos have become advertising campaigns that promote themselves. However, to ensure that the video is not only successful but maintains association with the brand through its life in social conversation, it is important to know how to pitch the video through a hashtag and who to target. Videos are made viral by general viewers who surf through their social networks, not actively pursuing political or activist material, and connect with it and relate to the content personally. Creating a hashtag that is not only creative and catchy but engaging is the goal; by capturing the nature of hashtag activism, the video will encourage viewer and consumer conversation about the topic and their experiences with it. In turn, the brand name sticks with the spreading social movement, which is currently the most popular information pushing method among social networking users.

To learn more in how to build social or ad campaigns that appeal to specific customers, we invite you to visit our blog.

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