Let me start by declaring what this post IS NOT about. It’s not about making an image or video go viral. It’s also not about “post to Facebook” or “share on Twitter” messages after a supporter has donated or signed a petition (the after-action social share).
It IS about how nonprofits can move the needle on advocacy, education and fundraising campaigns using a focused “Share This Image/Video” call to action. This tactic asks supporters (via email and social…but more on that below) to share an image or a video on their social networks (usually Facebook and Twitter) in support of your campaign or cause.
This tactic asks supporters (via email and social…but more on that below) to share an image or a video on their social networks (usually Facebook and Twitter) in support of your campaign or cause.
And as these 3 nonprofits have found, it can be incredibly effective.
EXAMPLE 1: How This Image of MLK “Took The Internet By Storm” by Creative Action Network
On July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. Later that night, Creative Action Network shared the image above by Los Angeles-based artist Nikkolas Smith, who had contributed the image for the organization’s Gun Show Gallery campaign about gun safety.
A few minutes later, civil rights advocate Van Jones tweeted the image to his followers. Hip-Hop artist Common shared the image on Facebook and Instagram. Within the next 48 hours, the image was literally everywhere – HuffPo, Buzzed, Time, ABC News, Upworthy, etc. – and helped to frame the case as a national civil rights issue, continuing the still-needed movement work began by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s.
Some advice from Max Slavkin, Creative Action Network Co-Founder & CEO:
- Don’t do contests. We find that too often organizations run poster contests as a way of engaging the creative people in their community. We don’t assign winners and losers in that way with other types of volunteers to our organization, so why do we label so many artists “losers” after we invite them to a contest and don’t pick their design. In the moment of the Zimmerman acquittal, this artist made something he was passionate about and wanted the world to see, which he may not have done if he’d been afraid of being labeled a “loser” if it had been a contest.
- Just because something can’t be easily measured, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. If we’d simply been optimizing for Facebook shares, or web traffic, or some other standard metric we all measure so regularly, this never would have happened. The emotional impact of powerful art doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet, and that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. It’s important to carve out room for surprise, for emotion, for content that makes us feel something – even if that feeling isn’t easily measurable.
EXAMPLE 2) How the National Parks Conservation Association Used Graphics and Video to #KeepParksFunded, by NPCA Social Media Manager, Megan Cantrell
In 2013 during the government shutdown, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) was the go-to place to learn, complain, and keep up to date on everything happening during the 16 days. Over the course of the shutdown, people became very angry and started blaming rangers. To help move the conversation:
NPCA developed the graphic above and via this post:
- Reached 183,000+ (only 41,000 due to boost)
- 2,249 shares
- 274 comments
And developed this video to help turn the conversation around:
- Post reached more than 327,000 people (62,000 from boost)
- Shared 2,383 times
- 142 comments
The conversation QUICKLY turned around in support of the rangers and to the real issue at hand – Congress’ ability to #KeepParksOpen by reopening the government and passing a budget that will #KeepParksFunded.
EXAMPLE 3) Facebook Users Convince Hungarian Companies to Wash GMOs From Food Supply
Thousands of people downloading and sharing a Greenpeace Hungary’s GMO-free consumer guide helped pressure Hungarian companies to come clean on their supply chains.
The consumer guide’s soaring popularity resulted in a rapid about-face by companies. One of the largest beer companies in Hungary committed to studying its supply chain to ensure it was GMO-free after seeing large numbers of consumers downloading and liking the guide.
Within two weeks, a total of six companies that had previously refused to co-operate with Greenpeace Hungary agreed to open up their supply chains.
In total, 10 companies have agreed to study their supply chains to confirm their products are GMO-free, and other companies are still contacting Greenpeace.
Advice from Greenpeace campaigners:
Only ONE Facebook post -This allows comments, likes and shares to accumulate, demonstrating the public’s collective heft. Greenpeace Hungary admits it’s not easy to find one promotable piece but that’s the ideal case. One super hit for people to focus on is better than 10 ordinary posts.
Oodles of Tips
When can or should your nonprofit use the “Share This” tactic?
- Break news
- Change the framing of the story
- Build solidarity
- Push a petition
- Get out the vote
- Change behavior
- Celebrate victory
- Recruit Pledges
- Inspire donations
- (What did I forget? Share your “Share This” thoughts in the comments section)
Phrases You Can Use in a Share This Email
- Share (this, our, his, her, it) [graphic, image, infographic, quote, tribute, video]
- Watch and share
- Read and share
- See and share
- View it now and share it widely
- with your friends, family and social networks
- so they know what’s at stake
- so they know what’s going on
- so they know why they need to get involved
- here’s one thing you can do to help
- to help get the vote out
- to spread the word
- share in support of X
- to let everyone know about this amazing victory
- to share the news
- If it’s important to you, it will be important to your friends and family, too
- to make sure this issue is covered far and wide
- to remind friends and family why you’re committed to this fight
- to help keep the momentum going
- share your hope for the future
- share your success
Do’s and Don’ts
- DO Only ask for one thing in a “Share This” email
- DO Keep the image as simple as possible (e.g. a single image, or a snippet of larger infographic)
- DO, if the email response is good, consider sending the email again to non-responders
- DO, If the social response is good, consider boosting the post, or sharing again
- DON’T skip the image! Show the image or video still in the email when you ask for a share
- DON’T ask for shares in FB post; it can hurt reach (h/t Beth Becker @spedwybabs)
Interested in seeing sample “Share This” emails?
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