4 Lessons Learned from the Human Rights Campaign

April 3, 2013

12:46 pm

Is your Facebook feed redder today than it was on V-Day? You’re not alone. We’ve all, at the very least, come to know and recognize the Human Rights Campaign logo – and perhaps a few of the many creative variations of it – over the past week.

What does it all mean? For equal marriage rights supporters and activists, the Human Rights Campaign-gone-viral story is great news that could have an untold impact on advancing the cause. For marketers, the campaign provides a great case study on viral marketing with some important takeaways:

1. Viral can’t be forced: It’s impossible to predict the degree to which your content, site, or app might go viral – however, it’s entirely possible to increase or decrease the likelihood of achieving viral growth by measuring what’s happening. There are many formulas out there for doing this – here’s one – with the key always being to clearly define a conversion for the sake of your campaign, first and foremost.

At the Human Rights Campaign, their conversion would be defined by their call-to-action, which was to change your social profile photo to their logo. Perhaps the greatest benefit to using social media is the “built-in” invite or share function. That is, in changing your photo, you’re automatically sharing the content and inherently inviting others to do the same. This provides an extremely fast viral cycle time and ensures that 100 percent of your conversions “invite” at least one other person.

2. Simple always wins: A clear, concise message cannot be overvalued when it comes to marketing. The equals sign used to represent a stance on equal marriage rights certainly falls into the category of “perfectly simple.” If your content or campaign requires explanation or takes time to comprehend, you’re limiting your potential reach and handicapping your chances of achieving viral growth. When it comes to viral, the less text the better seems to be a good rule of thumb.

3. Influencers spark movements: Admittedly, this is no secret. However, it’s worth reminding yourself (and your marketing team) that you can’t always do it on your own. The Human Rights Campaign received support from dozens of high-profile celebrities and politicians who helped spark and accelerate their viral campaign. This, in turn, caught the eye of a number of major media outlets, which subsequently reported on the campaign and its progress.

The Human Rights Campaign might represent a “best-case scenario” from an influencer standpoint, but that shouldn’t deter you from thinking in these terms: What influential people do you have access to through your network? Which influencers care about your product/brand/campaign/content? How can you engage these people?

4. Facebook is for memes: If you’re sharing graphical content that you’re hoping goes viral, there is truly only one place to start: Facebook. Twitter is not to be ignored, but for the purpose of sharing graphical memes, Facebook remains the most effective tool. Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and other social tools are not to be ignored, but all roads lead to Facebook. For this reason, along with hundreds of others, it’s still a great idea to establish an organizational presence on Facebook.

Eddie Earnest is a big-thinking entrepreneur focused on staying ahead of the marketing curve and using that knowledge to help build awesome companies. His latest venture is seedRef, a web platform for simplifying personal references and measuring character in the process. You can follow him on Twitter: @eddie_earnest.

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