Social Media Success Stories: Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Campaign

Nov 18, 2013
Jason Baumann


Sometimes the best way to learn something new is by seeing what others are doing and then building upon their successes and changing their mistakes for the better. This week we are going to explore the social media campaigns of some business leaders in hopes of learning some great lessons.

One of the most successful recent social media campaigns was the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality campaign (March 2013). This was a coordinated campaign to build awareness of an important social issue and influence national legislation. I think the message was heard not only by the justice system but more importantly by millions of people around the world.

All of sudden, people logged on to their Facebook accounts and their Newsfeeds were overcome by countless profile pictures changes to an equal sign on a red background. I changed my profile picture for the day to join the campaign and support LGBT friends of mine. I don’t think the marketing people at the Human Rights Campaign had any idea of how much support they would receive that week.

Twenty-four hours after the release of this logo, the logo had been reposted 10,000 times and attracted more than 10 million page views. The group recorded more than 200,000 new Facebook fans and more than 10,000 new Twitter followers.

What did HRC do?

Release of share-able content. Wendy Clark is the Senior Vice President of the Global Sparkling Brand Center at Coca-Cola Company. She is the mind that has made Coca-Cola the biggest consumer brand on Facebook. She advises content marketers to make every piece of content posted online worthy of being shared. HRC took a graphic element and encouraged people, common folk and celebrities, to make it their profile pic in support of their cause. It was an easy step to show your support of a worthwhile cause.

Allowed Brand Mutilation – Every marketing book you will ever read talks about the power of branding, brand integrity, and staying true to your brand. HRC went the other direction. They partnered with other charities, corporations and organizations and allowed them to adapt their logo to fit their organization. Equal sign elements were changed to everything you can imagine including bacon. Allowing other organizations to get involved amplified the collective efforts of this campaign.

Promoted Tweets – HRC used promoted tweets to make sure that their message was returned first in common searches on the days leading up to the legislation days. One of their tweets was retweeting more than 14,000 times setting new records for that organization.

Mobile Advertising – HRC bought geotargeted mobile advertising so that cell phones within a half-mile radius of the Supreme Court building would carry their messaging. Those ads recorded more than 490,000 views boasting the highest click-through rate they have ever seen.

Executed Campaign Timely  – The campaign revolved around a judicial calendar but was carefully planned prior to its launch. Celebrities were contacted prior to the campaign start asking for their support. Advertising schedules were carefully planned so that all the pieces came together at the same time and garnered the largest response from the media.

The Human Rights Campaign did a lot of great things for this campaign. They embraced new technology. They executed a huge campaign according to a very strict timeline. They provided simple but effective content. I am sure this was an expensive campaign, but it was most likely the most influential social campaign of 2013 and played a major role in changing national legislation.

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