The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) created immense awareness and conversation via Facebook about marriage equality, at a time when this topic was, and still is, a talked-about subject. Timing is everything when it comes to a successful marketing campaign. HRC clearly knew what it was doing because it received record-breaking numbers of popularity, awareness and support.
Once the news was out that the Supreme Court of the United States would hear the two marriage equality cases (regarding Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act) in December 2012, HRC with the support of its peer organizations was eager to ignite national conversation about marriage. HRC helped start the United for Marriage (UFM) partnership, which was designed to create visibility events outside the Court during the two days of discussion and to reach all 50 states in the country. The hashtag #UnitedforMarriage was soon trending throughout Twitter; C-SPAN provided coverage for live events; a video from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was released showing her support; and approximately 300 esteemed American companies and employers, “including Apple, Morgan Stanley, Starbucks and Pfizer, have filed amicus briefs,” to the court showing their support, as well as 130 Republican leaders and President Barack Obama . On Monday, March 25 the popular and viral Facebook profile photo was born.
The new image, molded after the HRC blue logo with a yellow equal sign, was tinted red. According to HRC it, “urged our supporters to make the image their profile photo and to wear red clothing in support of loving gay and lesbian couples during the two days of oral arguments.” The results of this Facebook campaign are remarkable:
- That first post drew 19,000 likes and 71,000 shares, and it spawned a viral Internet phenomenon.
- By the time thousands were gathering outside the Supreme Court the next morning, the image had created upwards of 10 million impressions in all 50 states and around the world.
- Facebook and Twitter feeds across the country were awash in red.
- Television news from MSNBC to CNN, and newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today, all covered the rapidly-spreading HRC image.
- People and companies from Beyoncé to Senator Al Franken and from Bud Light to Marc Jacobs International used the image, or variations of it, to show their support for equality.
- On Tuesday, March 26th, HRC smashed its previous traffic record by a factor of four, and more than 700,000 unique visitors came to its website in a 24-hour period.
- In less than 48 hours, more than 100,000 people signed onto HRC’s “Majority Opinion” petition which showed that HRC supporters stand with the millions of Americans whose lives are affected by Prop. 8 and DOMA.
- HRC shops online and across the country experienced explosive growth— shattering single day sales records, doubling online same-period sales and attracting new visitors from as far away as Europe and South America.
- HRC’s Facebook follower size grew by over 200,000—from 1.2 million to 1.4 million—in just two days, and it gained 26,000 Twitter followers in the same period.
HRC’s Facebook campaign (and all of its marriage equality awareness) efforts went above and beyond, and proved to be extremely successful. HRC displayed a great example of dedication to it’s cause, and used as many outlets and resources as possible to create awareness and conversation. Let’s talk about why it worked:
- Gaining Substantial Support: HRC successfully gathered supporters all the way from the President of the United States, down to the everyday Facebook user. The large amount of support HRC gained ultimately lead to such a successful campaign.
- Involving People Creatively: We have seen in previous blogs regarding social media marketing campaigns the recurring positive pattern of success when an organization asks its fans or followers to take action in its campaign. By asking marriage equality supporters to change their Facebook pages and to wear red clothing to show support, HRC’s name and the awareness of marriage equality exploded across the nation.
- Continuing the Momentum: HRC continued its original momentum throughout the entire campaign. By gaining political, celebrity and individual citizens’ support, the ball never stopped rolling. HRC seemed to have the next step planned out, even when they were already marketing a successful campaign.
There is quite a lot we as PR professionals can learn from HRC’s Facebook campaign. When raising awareness about a political topic, it will likely garner more involvement from the public, but HRC definitely worked hard throughout the entire duration the Court was discussing marriage equality, which proved to be greatly successful. Make sure to come back next week and see how the NFL worked with Verizon to create the humorous #FOMOF (Fear of Missing Out on Football) Twitter campaign and what we can learn from it.