April 1, 2014 9.35 am This story is over 114 months old

Using social media to encourage brand awareness

Social media campaigns: David Wright talks #NoMakeUpSelfies as he explores the advantages of social media campaigns.

Social media can be an overwhelming and unpredictable forum for businesses, sometimes serving as a hub for customer negativity but also, as we’ve seen recently, acting as the starting point for consumer-driven marketing campaigns – the cancer fundraising campaign #NoMakeUpSelfie being a prime example of this.

If your Facebook and Twitter feeds haven’t been flooded with self portraits, #NoMakeUpSelfie is a grassroots fundraising strategy that raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK, in addition to generating awareness and sparking a dialogue about a difficult subject.

Originating from an 18-year-old, Stoke-on-Trent teenager inspired by the actress Kim Novak going make-up-free at the Oscars, the No Make-Up Selfie for Cancer Awareness Facebook page was created, asking women to post a photo of themselves without make-up and donate to Cancer Research UK. Within days of going live, the page had 260,000 likes and generated over 80,000 Twitter mentions and 60,000 Instagram posts.

No Makeup Selfies. Images via Twitter

No Makeup Selfies. Images via Twitter

This created an unexpected increase in awareness for Cancer Research UK in the form of tens of thousands of new page likes and an influx of donations from social media users coming through to the charity.

Although the #NoMakeUpSelfie phenomenon was not instigated by the charity itself, Cancer Research UK saw a hugely positive impact from the campaign – but they’re not the first to benefit from a consumer-led social media campaign within the past year.

Nine months before #NoMakeUpSelfie was created, Coca-Cola created the ‘Share The Coke’ campaign as an attempt to make their super-brand more personal. They did this by replacing their well-known logo on bottles with one of the top 150 most popular names in the UK, while also touring the UK to personalise bottles for those whose names were not on the list.

Although this was initially an offline exercise, it grew into a nationwide social media trend, with people sharing photos of their customised Coke bottles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. On my own Facebook feed, I saw people collect the names of their entire family and change their profile pictures to named Coke bottles.

share a coke

Image: Coca-Cola Company

This unexpected digital takeoff led to the #ShareACoke hashtag being used over 30,000 times on Twitter and traffic to the Coca-Cola Facebook page increasing by 870%.

Why were these campaigns so successful and what did they have in common?

Both were based around the idea of self-expression and being one’s self. A personalised Coke bottle or self-photo taken without make-up offered everyday people a chance to showcase their individuality, while also allowing them to feel a part of something bigger – two things people are regularly striving for.

Fully led by customers, Cancer Research UK and Coca-Cola also avoided becoming too involved in helping the campaigns grow, instead taking a backseat and letting users encourage friends and family to join the fun by sharing and tagging.

It seems almost impossible to replicate the events that lead to the success of organic social media campaigns like #NoMakeUpSelfie and #ShareACoke; however, one thing smaller businesses can do is be proactive online and in promoting the individuality of customers – hopefully leading to a successful campaign that increases brand awareness and creates engagement among current customers.

Can you think of any more consumer-led social media campaigns, or has your business seen the benefits of one? Share your story with us on Twitter at @LavaComms!

David Wright is New Business and PR Executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency based in Lincoln and Nottingham. David makes connections with the business community, and support clients across both trade and consumer accounts. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths College, University of London.