Concern and Social Media

Why do some videos share on social media and some don’t? There’s a lot of academic research available but do we really know yet? I don’t think so.

Last week I met with James Barker, Digital Marketing Manager at Concern Worldwide. He has been in his current job for about 18 months, and in conjunction with colleagues in the web team, has transformed how Concern is engaging with their supporters/donors via social media. Somebody kindly alerted me to their work on Twitter after I asked if anyone had seen any good charity Christmas videos. If you haven’t seen their Rudolph vs Donkey video produced by digital agency Nonsense, then you’re in for a treat.

It’s difficult to analyse the success of videos without some inside knowledge on the seeding strategy e.g. paid advertising. You also need to take other factors into account such as the length of time it has been published. Rudolph vs Donkey is Concern’s second most viewed video. It is very amusing and humour is a key success to virality. Rob Mosley, Founder at Nonsene said “We focus on engagement first, then virality – as the latter is so hard to predict! Practically any information or ask can be delivered in an engaging way with the right idea… getting people to pay attention is the first hurdle. With Rudolf vs. Donkey, it was a great bonus that people decided to share.”

Research by Dobele et al (2007) claims that virality is only achieved when a campaign triggers an emotional response. They examined six emotions: surprise, joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. Research from Nelson-Field (2013) has taken this research further by developing an arousal-valence emotional grid

Positive Positive Negative Negative
High Arousal Low Arousal High Arousal Low Arousal
Hilarity Amusement Disgust Discomfort
Inspiration Calmness Sadness Boredom
Astonishment Surprise Shock Irritation
Exhilaration Happiness Anger Frustration

I wonder why Concern’s recent film about a Cowpea didn’t share as well? I consider it to be funny, but maybe it hasn’t triggered any of the arousal-valence emotions above. There’s a fine line between the categorisation of these emotions, e.g. hilarity and exhilaration. I definitely agree with Nelson-Field that the best way to evaluate the popularity of their video is to test the creative with an appropriate and relevant sample of the target market. Nelson-Field’s study of viral marketing is certainly the most comprehensive I have read. She also analyses other aspects of contagion such as creative devices, paid views and seeding, but that’s a whole new post in the waiting.

Although the cowpea video hasn’t shared that well in comparison with Rudolph it has been very effective in engaging with Concern’s supporters. In fact 15,000 people signed up to their Facebook campaign. While fundraising is still best achieved through direct marketing, face-to-face fundraising and television advertising, social media is much more about building relationships, educating and sharing success stories. Saying that, the acquisition of 15,000 people to Concern’s database is extremely valuable as these contacts may well be converted to donors at a later stage.

Like many other international NGOs, Concern is moving towards a digital first strategy. The implementation of this will be achieved through greater investment in digital including the continued development of their social media to be more conversational and interesting which is having a positive impact on the brand. James commented “Concern is committed to developing a strategy where digital sits at all stages of the supporter journey. To make this work we have to speak to our supporters in a more friendly, engaging and concise way – infographics and animations are a great way of achieving this.”

As James say one way that they have changed the style of their communications is through the use of infographics, both static and animated. Their infographic on ‘How Hunger Affects People Living with HIV and AIDS’ is very effective and also very sharable. Their video infographic offers a simple and digestible introduction to the work of Concern.

Concern has made some positive steps in making their social media more dialogic. I look forward to seeing more successful advocacy and fundraising campaigns in 2014.

Dobele, A, Lindgreen, A, Beverland, M, Vanhamme, J, Wijk, R (2007) Why pass on viral messages? Because they connect emotionally.

Nelson-Field, K (2013) Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing

2 thoughts to “Concern and Social Media”

  1. Great article. The simplest and most convincing methodology for viral videos I’ve found is Unruly Media’s 2 criteria of psychological response and social motivation to share. One question, how sure are you that Concern definitely got all those views from shares or whether they used paid promotion? The stats say they have 67,000 views and have received 21 shares and they have 3 comments, whereas a video I put up this week has 3,000 views but 74 shares and 26 comments. Unless the stats are wrong (which is possible) I suspect they used paid promotion.

  2. Hi Richard thanks for the comment. Yes I totally agree that it is hard to measure the true success without knowing the seeding strategy. I did allude to this in the blog.

    It’s interesting that you refer to Unruly, as Nelson-Field used their analytics system to measure shares of the 800 videos that they analysed in Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing. I have signed up to use their beta system for some analysis I have planned in the New Year. I haven’t read their criteria of psychological response and social motivation. It is on my Christmas list of ‘things to do’.

    I would imagine that lots of other organisations are currently working on platforms that can help analyse virality. Let me know if you hear of any.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *