Create a social mission to drive your brand

I have had the pleasure of running a lot of marketing campaigns – some with enormous budgets where we created what my lovely creative agency colleagues would call an ‘integrated campaign’ with TV, Cinema, PR, digital and experiential all singing the same integrated message. Now I tend to work much more ruthlessly to drive tangible sales results from every £1 spent. But never have I been so impressed with the results of a campaign, than a recent piece of work I did where we created a social mission for a brand. is a digital resource created to put all the helpful information in one place for parents of 5 to 10 year olds. All content is written by parents and centres around the brand’s core of raising happy, active kids. Tapping into this active kids area is one of the most successful parts of the site, the Skillscape – a UK map with postcode search functionality showing the least-known most loved places to take your kids to play. The content is user-generated, with places added by mums and dads to build the map, creating a rich database for parents to search and find things to do with their kids.
After the first year, a strategy of social media sharing, PR and the virality of the user-generated content had driven an admirable level of organic growth, but the challenge was to build this further. The traction with users around the Skillscape ‘play’ idea clearly showed where we should look for ways to amplify the site and inject the grow we wanted in year two.
We combined this with a trend. Communications ideas that hook into a market or news trend will gather more traction in the mdeia than if they do not. In our case, the current government cut-backs to local councils was the opportunity because it was how children’s play areas were looked after. Matching our emotive topic of kids’ play with the media interest in the cut-backs we had our trend.
We created a campaign called Parents for Playgrounds, to run over 6 months, where parents could nominate a playground for renovation, create a ‘campaign’ of their own to gather local support, and vote for the winners, who would receive a £15k renovation bursary.
I will concede that the PR support to launch the campaign was weighty – but the greatest impact has been the engagement of the parents. Within days of releasing the campaign on we had received playground entries exceeding even our final estimations. Mums and dads had created facebook pages to gather support for their entry – before they had even been shortlisted – and mums were talking directly to their local journalists to push their cause! By the end of the campaign we had increased our site traffic by 300% and doubled our registered users.
By creating a social mission that meant something to our target audience we achieved overwhelming levels of engagement with that audience – we had reached the holy grail of ‘collective action’. The highly targeted nature of the campaign meant there was little wastage, and our audience is not just aware, but now actively engaged with the ReadyforTen website.
It is worth noting that this philosophy only works if the mission or charitable link up fits like a glove with your brand. Trying to force fit a link results in sceptical consumers, lack-lustre media results and could even risk damaging your brand. But, if you can find a credible mission to lead – it can be a very powerful tool, and one where small brands can seriously punch above their weight.
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