Before you start to develop your strategy to see if your next awareness campaign has legs or not, first make sure your big idea is even worth the walk. Awareness campaigns are those campaigns we create to make a large group of people informed about a topic, cause, product or service, with the hopes that this awareness eventually turns into action. That action however is never a given, no matter how aware someone becomes of your story.
Awareness campaigns have to be justified by what it is that people are being made aware of. Does that thing you are asking people to take interest in justify the size of your campaign and, in that, justify your consumers’ attention? Your campaign has to make someone feel like they are being made aware of something new. A campaign about common knowledge is dead in the water. In those cases, which are frequent, we have to find a new way to shine light on an old concept.
The topic, slant, angle – whatever it is being called –is the key to the virality of these campaigns –it’s ability to be shared. People will be more than happy to appreciate your good-hearted, well-intentioned campaign, but this appreciation will only last the several moments it takes for them to find something of more consequence or interest. No matter how good-hearted or well-intentioned your big idea is, if it suffers from the slightest hint of banality, pressing share, clicking retweet and definitely brining it up in actual conversation will not cross the mind.
We have to start by asking the right questions. The first should always be, what if it actually works? What if all your wildest dreams for the campaign actually come true? Would it matter? Will you leave an indelible mark on a person’s life or put into motion a change that benefits lives in a way that is larger than your marketing metrics? If that answer is no, kill it. If it is yes, continue a little further.
Next consider the exact mission of the campaign from the consumer’s perspective. What if that change you are so keen on actually came to fruition? Would my life as your consumer be different? Would my world be tangibly better? Would my children’s lives be better? Would I be part of a “movement” that makes me feel really good inside? All three results can make a campaign worth it.
And remember, the more tangible and the more immediate the reward is for participating, the smaller it can be. The more abstract or delayed a reward, the larger it has to be to compel to action. I have to know that I’m going to be feeling pretty darn good about myself six months from now for me to take any kind of action today.
Spend some good time on this. This is the seed of your campaign. And you have to have a good seed to start with or else no matter how much you water it’s not going to grow.
After you have your big idea fully formed, it’s time to think about packaging. How are you going to distill your entire big idea down into individual interactions that make your audience feel the same excitement upon every engagement while at the same time not having to relive the same post, photo, or video again and again?
There are a few ways to do this and probably a lot more that haven’t been tried yet. One thing to avoid, however, is falling into the trap of the long game – that strategy where you create a long linear narrative sharing your big idea in bits and pieces over the duration of your campaign. It sounds nice. It’s an easy thing to pitch as it is usually a fan favorite at the start of a campaign. That is until you remember that when it comes to consuming digital content over a period of time, we don’t connect dots linearly. We are consuming endless amounts of other brands’, friends’, and acquaintances’ stories that when it comes down to it, we can’t quite place exactly where yours begins and another ends. And that’s assuming a follower sees each and every one of your building block posts. It’s best to assume that your audience is only going to be seeing a minority of your content.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to create four or five individual powerhouse sentences that encapsulate your big idea. These sentences should be unique but also consistent. That is, they should say the same thing but differently. These will be the tags you cycle through on every post. After you have your tags, create all the content for your campaign in all its fragmented glory but in writing each post, remember that one of these tags will sit in that final position. This works as a great lighthouse to keep you writing in the right direction and, more importantly, it regularly reminds your readers why you are telling them all this.
Like a good friend, you have to make your audience feel better for knowing you. One way to do that is not asking them to spend their limited time and attention on something that is only important to you. That is called a favor and favors don’t incite action. However, campaigns that do your readers a favor are the ones that get more than tacit appreciation.