The introduction of internet to the marketing world has given birth to new opportunities for non-profit organizations to engage and influence their stakeholders (McNutt & Boland, 1999; Saxton, Guo, & Brown, 2007). Social Media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are prime examples whose interactive technological functions, networking ties and decentralized structure elevates the potential for strategic communications by non-profits organizations (Lovejoy & Saxton, 2012; Waters & Jamal, 2011).The OrganizationOne such organization that has tapped on the potential of social media is Ad Council. Ad Council, short for Advertising Council, is an American non-profit organization that produces and promotes social messages to the public.
Their mission is to stimulate actions by promoting the communication of public issues, to make a measurable difference in the society. This paper will take a closer look at a social media campaign designed to address the topic of Diversity and Inclusion ” Love Has No Labels ( Campaign: Love Has No LabelsLove Has No Labels (LHNL) was launched in the United States in 2015 to raise awareness on the issue of implicit biases.
The aim of the campaign is to drive the message that though having biases cannot be controlled, being aware of them does however prevent those biases from controlling the way people see and interact with one another. Their first social media content was a video of an event they hosted on Valentines’ Day: a live X-ray installation aimed to surprise the audience with a simple revelation of their own implicit bias. In 2016, according to Shorty Awards, this video went viral on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with over 40 million views in just two days and record combined views of 160 million, ranking second as the most watched video and shared Public Service Announcement within three weeks. With 1.8 million media impressions, it grabbed the attention of local and international Television Networks as well as celebrities and inspired many couples to talk about their sexuality and show their love on social media (Shorty Awards, 2016). Their first video addressed the concept of love with no labels from the standpoint of being in a relationship. Subsequent videos dabble with the concept of patriotism, the use of kiss cameras as a symbol for unbiased love and their latest iteration being a short film that captures the concept of unity during a disaster in a diverse community, serving to remind everyone to view each one as humans above all, by. Apart from video content, LHNL utilizes a variety of content mediums such as powerful imageries and quotes by well-known personalities. Social Media PlatformsFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube ” these are the prominent social media platforms that LHNL leverages on, coupled with the occasional use of Snapchat and Tumblr (Links found under References). LHNL ensures consistency of content by standardizing their post across platforms. Content mediums posted across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are largely similar (Images, videos and quotes) with YouTube used solely for their owned media. The combination of social media platforms successfully serves to fulfil the campaign objectives by targeting viewers at two stages of the Marketing Funnel (Rogers, 2014) ” Awareness and Advocacy. Awareness: Spreading the awareness on implicit biases is the primary objective of this campaign and therefore, it is crucial that the social media channels assists in fulfilling this strategic objective. Well-established platforms with a large customer base comprising of their desired target audience are required. Till date, LHNL has an estimated 250 thousand followers on Facebook, 16.2 thousand followers on Instagram, 12.1 thousand followers on Twitter and 98 thousand users on YouTube. Statista (2019) recorded 2.32 billion, 1 billion, 321 million and 1.9 billion monthly active users on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (Paige, 2019) respectively in 2018. Firstly, the statistics support the fact that LHNL has a strong social media presence across these channels and can and should reach out to its existing viewer base to re-emphasize their message. Secondly, there are large potentials for LHNL to spread their message to a larger audience on each platform, thereby increasing the awareness of their cause. However, it is important to note that the algorithms for Facebook and Instagram continually evolve (from chronological order to most relevant) (Heathman, 2018) and the community aspect of these platforms may be slipping away. As such, LHNL should focus on generating quality and active engagement to reach out to a wider audience rather than solely trying to boost their number of followers. Failure to do so may cause LHNL to lose its social media footing and consequently, not generating as much awareness as they potentially could. Apart for the ability to reach a wide audience, the average age range of most users found across all four platforms are 18 to 54-year olds (Statista, 2019; Omnicore Agency, 2019), which is the ideal target age for LHNL generated contents. Viewers from these age demographics have the maturity to understand such social issues as well as ability to influence peers around them. The technological capabilities across these platforms (except YouTube) also support the content medium that LHNL pushes its message through ” that being videos, imageries and short text messages, implying that LHNL has an understanding on the capabilities of their platforms and takes advantage of the compatibility of various content mediums on social media. However, there are still certain functionalities that LHNL can make use of to boost their level of engagement with their audience such as creating polls on Facebook or using the Instagram live or Instagram story functions to boost interactivity with their audience. As of January 2019, the number of daily active users on Instagram stories are 500 million (Statista, 2019), indicative that investing efforts to design contents for these platform-specific functionalities will be beneficial. While LHNL has not taken full advantage of their platforms’ functionalities, choosing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are still appropriate to reach out and further expand their audience base as well as has the potential to further increase their level of engagement with their audience. Advocacy: The aim of the LHNL campaign is not only to make people aware of their cause but to also inspire them to advocate the cause to people around them. To advocate the cause to others, two components are essential. Firstly, it is necessary that the platform gives viewers the ability to share their content to their social network. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube do give viewers that ability in the form of likes, shares, comments, reposts, retweets and liking videos on respective platforms. This allows the content to be shared to a wider audience through the social ties of viewers. The second essential component is that, people are aware of and are made known to who shared the content. As the Two Step Flow of Opinion Leadership suggests, knowing who shares a content itself, acts as a method of influence (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 2017). This effect is further amplified when contents are picked up and advocated by strong network ties and well-known celebrities that people highly regard. Indeed, across all four platforms, users can see which of their network ties liked, shared, commented or followed/subscribed to the organization’s page or their content. Such information is shown in the form of list of activities (liking, sharing, commenting and following/subscribing are considered as activities) performed by the social ties in their network. Another strong aspect of the LHNL campaign is the use of hashtags. The strategy behind using hashtags will be elaborated further in the next section, but it is useful to note at this point that it is advantageous to the LHNL campaign that their chosen platforms support the use of hashtags. The hashtag #LoveHasNoLabels’, was used over 30,000 times and generated over 110 million potential impressions (Shorty Award, 2016). Motivating users to express their support for the cause through using hashtags helps to establish it as a trending’ topic that in turn, sparks the curiosity for first-time viewers to learn about the cause behind the hashtag. These social media channels having the technological capabilities for users to advocate the cause and its message, aids in pushing the content to a wider network of people, thereby resulting in a never-ending cyclical effect of awareness and advocacy. Based on Kaplan and Haenlein’s (2010) theory of media and social dimensions, LHNL’s content is consider as possessing medium-levelled media richness and as such, social networking sites and content communities are ideal for LHNL’s content materials. Thus, this further affirms the selection and combined utilization of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Apart from using these platforms, another social media channel that LHNL can possibly venture into is LinkedIn. Having a LinkedIn page, dedicated solely to the LHNL campaign, can unlock the benefits that the LinkedIn platform has to offer. LinkedIn’s audience base value-adds a more influential demographic group to its existing audience. As of mid-2018, a total of 590 million users have been recorded on LinkedIn with 61 million users being senior level influencers and an average CEO having 930 connections (Omnicore Agency, 2019). Expanding LHNL’s awareness outreach to such senior level influencers leverages on their position as a strong opinion leader to further influence their network of professionals. With 40 million professionals recorded as holding decision-making power, having LHNL’s message reaching to them can potentially have a positive influence on organizational decisions they make, as well as widespread disseminating LHNL’s message throughout their organizations. In addition, the LinkedIn platform also has the technological capabilities of displaying advocacy through likes, comments and shares, thereby reinforcing the cyclical effect of awareness and advocacy. Like their existing use of platforms, LinkedIn can integrate LHNL’s message with the social media activities of the users and build construct meaningful connections and interactions between Ad Council and an influential target audience (Witzig, Spencer & Galvin, 2012). Theoretical Applicationsa. Use of social media in LHNL CampaignAcross the social media platforms, LHNL generates a variety of snackable contents and, recently, full meal contents for their viewers ” ranging from pictures of couples, situations that demonstrate the idea of love having no labels, to short video productions that highlight a message, and to their latest attempt at storytelling with their latest short film Rising. However, to create a marketing epidemic, a correct message needs to be transmitted through the best mediums and in the right environment (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2011). This means that the best medium, in other words the best social media platforms, alone is not enough to create a viral campaign ” a fact that Ad Council is conscious of. As such, efforts are made to constantly generate memorable and unique contents that captures the attention of their audience. There are three main components that make their content memorable and interesting to their audience: Content length, the use of opinion leaders, and components of a viral campaign. The length of a message significantly affects the effectiveness of conveying a message across. Especially on social media platforms, it is important to ensure that messages are at the optimal lengths. According to research studies, the optimal post length for text is between 120 and 129 characters for Facebook (Blitzmetrics, 2013) and 100 characters for Twitter (Jackson, n.d.). Indeed, the number of words (in terms of captions of posts and graphic quotes) used by LHNL on their social media platforms aligns with this tactic to maximize their engagement potential (Appendix A). Such higher level of engagement potential will be as a result of an increase in number of likes and comments made on Facebook and Instagram and higher retweets and replies on Twitter. Looking at lengths of videos, the ideal length has been estimated to fall between 24 seconds to 90 seconds (Bedrina, 2018). Similarly, most of the video content for LHNL falls within that range thereby maximizing the level of engagement with its audience (Appendix B). The exceptions to aligning their content length to the optimal are made for Ad Council’s owned video productions that uses storytelling as a method to convey their message.