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Why Your Awareness Campaign Isn’t Helping
13 Jan 2017

Why Your Awareness Campaign Isn’t Helping

Once upon a time, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. I know. Weird. Anyway, I saw an update that really made me raise an eyebrow. A friend of mine posted that they really loved putting mayo on Reeses Cups. After chewing back the vomit that this thought evoked, I commented and as diplomatically as possible, I mentioned that that might be the grossest thing I’ve ever heard of.

Then, it happened. I got a message. People don’t use Facebook Messenger all that much anymore, so admittedly I get a little excited when that little message notification pops up. In this case, the message was that since I had commented on the mayo post, I now had to share some nonsensical update, because AUTISM AWARENESS!


This is not the first awareness campaign that left me feeling baffled. Maybe you saw the campaign that was supposed to raise awareness of breast cancer through women posting what color underwear they were wearing. There was one where people were just posting hearts with no explanation. I am still not sure what that one was for, to be honest.

Goofy campaigns that trick you into commenting are not the only awareness efforts that I’ve seen that have not gotten the job done. There have been some awareness campaigns that have utilized great photos, good taglines, and good social media engagement. However, there is no message for people to share with those images. The pictures get lots of likes and shares, but the reasoning behind everything gets lost in the shuffle. Awareness for the actual focus of the effort is not increased at all.

Some Helpful Hints

I think NPOs or people behind awareness efforts make the same mistake many marketers do. They focus on how many “likes” and/or “shares” they get, and that’s the end of the metrics. What you need to do is set an awareness objective and then see if you meet said objective. Here are some ideas that might help you out.

• Incorporate a call-to-action into all of your blog posts, social media images, and more. Maybe the CTA is “visit where people can pledge to donate or do something else. Traffic to that page can be measured, giving you a solid idea of how you’re doing.

• Keep to the point. Yes, images that have nothing to do with your cause may get a lot of attention, just like that post about mayo on a Reeses Cup certainly got my attention. However, it doesn’t really help you raise awareness. Stay focused.

• Have a brand aesthetic so that people start getting to know your cause by look and tone. NoKidHungry, for example, tends to use orange on everything, and they use a lot of beautiful images of children, usually happy. Before even reading the specific message, people will know it’s probably from that organization.

• Don’t rely on gimmicks. That also means don’t try the “like if you blah blah blah or share if you blah blah blah.” Have confidence in your message and get it out there. The right people will find it and do what you want/need them to do.

A lot of people feel that online awareness campaigns are daft and do not really do anything. Indeed, some people feel that these online campaigns make it easy for some folks to rationalize not REALLY doing anything. I have always been a believer in spreading awareness via social media campaigns, but they have to be done well. Stick with tried and true messaging and try to avoid the cute or funny gimmick campaigns. You’ll have far better results.

Image Credit: via Creative Commons


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