Part 3: Lessons from 10 Successful Facebook Campaigns

This final blog in our social media series explores several extremely popular Facebook pages. Each of these pages have attracted anywhere between one hundred thousand to eighty million fans. We do not endorse any of the following companies or their products, but we can learn from them. Our hope is that the techniques that they use will spark creative ideas for your own online vegan advocacy campaigns.

American Red Cross

Likes: 592,178
Talking about this: 9,943
Cool feature: Two-way conversations to build relationships

The American Red Cross is a great example of a non-profit that successfully uses social media. They use Facebook and Twitter to have two-way conversations with community members, volunteers, and the media; in doing so, they build strong relationships, get feedback on what they do well and how they can improve, and help spread awareness about their programs (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011). The Red Cross’ southern region chapter uses social media to share volunteer opportunities and events with their fans, while other chapters use it to recruit new volunteers and relay information during crisis situations (Briones, et al., 2011). They also use social media to build relationships with local TV stations and newspapers, which has helped them respond to disasters more quickly. In turn, the media follows the Red Cross and contacts them to generate news stories (Briones, et al., 2011). You can follow the Red Cross’ example and use Facebook and other forms of social media to build relationships and establish trust. You can also follow other animal rights groups to find out the latest developments and spread the word on your own page.

Burt’s Bees

Likes: 2,273,163
Talking about this: 95,361
Cool feature: Inside look at their company and products

Burt’s Bees provides a look at the inner workings of their company and products through the use of videos and photos, which makes fans feel welcome and establishes trust (Porterfield, 2010). If you feel comfortable enough, you can do the same for your page by sharing your own story and experiences with vegan living and animal rights. In addition to posting “inside look” status updates on your page, you can also create a special tab with videos and photos of you and the people who volunteer for your page.

Coca-Cola

Likes: 80,101, 225
Talking about this: 665,948
Cool feature: Fun competitions

Coca-Cola gets their fans involved with their page by running fun competitions, such as the Share a Coke® Valentine’s Day Competition. They asked fans to submit photos of themselves with their loved one while sharing a Coke. The fans who submitted the most creative photos won personalized sets of Coke bottles. You can try asking your fans to post photos of themselves at vegan restaurants and farm sanctuaries, which will help spread the word about these places, and get your fans more involved with your page. If you decide to run competitions on your page, remember to make it easy to join (i.e., have only a few steps to join), easy to share so more people will find out about it, and most important of all, make it fun (Porterfield, 2010)!

Jones Soda

Likes: 1,013,021
Talking about this: 1,515
Cool features: Tabs for different types of social media; weekly polls

Jones Soda knows that fans have different preferences for the way that they communicate and so they provide multiple options on their page (Porterfield, 2010). They have tabs for Instagram and YouTube, as well as tabs for their videos and events, and a tab called Caps for Gear! where fans can trade in Jones Soda caps for t-shirts, hats, watches, and more. They also run weekly polls, which is a great way to interact with fans, learn about the audience, and find out what they want to see on the page (Porterfield, 2010). If you use more than one type of social media, make sure that your fans are aware of it and know how to find you on the other sites. It might be fun to borrow the “Caps for Gear” idea and create something like “Go Veg for Gear!” in which fans can turn in vegan food product labels in exchange for vegan buttons, t-shirts, books, and other such rewards. This will give fans an added incentive to try out vegan foods!

Livescribe

Likes: 132,023
Talking about this: 371
Cool feature: Customer support tab

Livescribe’s page has a customer support tab, in which fans can ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and give praise. Other people can see these posts and get answers to their questions, as well as reviews of Livescribe products. You might consider adding a Frequently Asked Questions tab to your page with information about veganism and links to restaurant guides, veg starter kits, and other helpful resources.

Oreo

Likes: 35,758,226
Talking about this: 92,242
Cool Feature: Oreo Creme Canvas tab

Oreo has a fun tab called Oreo Creme Canvas, where you can create a unique image on the creme of an Oreo and share with your friends. The team behind Oreo’s Facebook page came up with a clever way to use this tab to help build up their fan base; you have to “Like” their page before you can create a canvas. Then you can choose to upload a photo, or fill in the canvas with text and icons. You can create a farm-animal related tab where fans put their faces where the animals’ faces should be, or type messages into word bubbles. If you choose to do this, you may want to include a message that states that inappropriate photos and messages that fans create will not be posted on your Facebook page.

Red Bull

Likes: 43,052,387
Talking about this: 348,533
Cool features: Games; welcome tab

The crew behind Red Bull’s page understands their target audience and they know what gets the best response on their page (Porterfield, 2010). One of their unique features is a tab with several sports-themed games for their fans. They also created a welcome tab with an eye-catching image and a clear call to action to “Like” their page. Creative design can have a BIG impact on people who visit your page; it may be worth it to spend a little bit of money on your page design (Porterfield, 2010). You can also organize your page by making tabs for different areas, such as videos, contests, polls, and events.

Skittles

Likes: 25,887,257
Talking about this: 38,009
Cool feature: Well-developed brand voice

Skittles’ Facebook page is entertaining, colorful, and funny. They have done a great job of developing a brand voice for their page. They tell fans that they might become The Rainbow’s BFF if they post Skittles-themed photos on their page. Then they add funny statements to go with the photos. Try to develop a brand voice for your page. Know your audience so that you can create a voice that they will connect with, and make sure to keep your tone and language consistent (Schwab, 2011).

Starbucks

Likes: 36,329,214
Talking about this: 480,828
Cool feature: International tab; locations tab; open jobs tab

Starbucks created a special International tab for people to join their country’s Starbuck’s community Facebook page. They also have tabs for their locations and for open jobs. You can borrow their idea and add a tab with links to the Facebook pages of vegan organizations, vegan meetup groups, and farm sanctuaries worldwide. You might also consider adding a tab for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Uno Chicago Grill

Likes: 132,202
Talking about this: 279
Cool features: Great visual appeal through photos; Happy Mutt’s Day album for fans

Uno Chicago Grill’s page uses appealing photos of food to entice their fans (Porterfield, 2010). They know how much people love their dogs so they created an album titled “Happy Mutt’s Day” where fans can post photos of their dogs, which is a great way to connect fans to their page. When you create posts, try to use the most appealing images. Look for bright colors, appetizing photos of vegan food, and the cutest animals. And find ways to make your fans part of your page!

We hope this blog series helps you with your activism, gives you some new ideas, and inspires you to use social media as a way to help animals. We would love to hear about your experiences with social media campaigns and we wish you the best of luck!

References

Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 37-43.

Porterfield, A. (2010, August 31). Top 10 Facebook pages and why they’re successful. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-10-facebook-pages/

Schwab, S. (2011, March 31). Finding your brand voice. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/finding-your-brand-voice/

 

Part 2: Understanding Your Target Audience

When using social media as an activist tool, it’s important to tailor your message to your target audience. In order to do that, you first need to determine who your target group is. If you already manage a Facebook page, you can easily find details about the people who “Like” your page by going to the “See Insights” tab and then clicking on the “People” tab. From there you will see a breakdown of your fans by gender, age, country, city, language, etc.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you then need to do some research to find out what appeals to them. Google Scholar is one great resource. In addition, Google has several search operators that help to narrow down search results, as well as an advanced search page. You might try using search terms such as:

  • “marketing to [insert your target audience name]” (Placing quotation marks around search terms is one type of search operator; this will bring up results that have the exact word or phrase that you typed)

  • tips OR strategies for marketing to [insert your target audience name] (If you place OR in all caps between search terms, you will pull up pages that contain either term)

  • marketing social causes AND [insert your target audience name] (By placing AND in all caps between search terms, you will find pages with both terms)

  • how to market to teens -cigarette (Place a dash [-] before a word to exclude results that include that word; this is especially helpful if your search is bringing up a lot of irrelevant pages on a particular topic)

After you’ve identified your target audience and have an understanding of what appeals to them, you can begin to customize the messaging. For example, if you’re reaching out to older adults, you may want include information about the health benefits of plant-based foods, which often leads to a better quality of life, as well as a longer lifespan and more time to spend with their children and grandchildren. For health conscious audiences, you might focus on the health-promoting benefits of vegan food and the many common, yet avoidable diseases and conditions that arise from eating animal products. For eco-conscious consumers, you could give information about the negative effects that animal agriculture has on the environment and the Earth’s resources. For religious communities, focus on how veganism is in line with their spiritual values. Given the wide array of ethical, health, and environmental benefits of veganism, the message can easily be tailored to various demographics.

Case Study: Generation Z

When it comes to veganism, teens and college students tend to be one of the most receptive demographics and most likely to switch to a vegan lifestyle (Ball & Friedrich, 2009). So, focusing on this group may be the best use of limited resources. Additionally, those living at home with their parents influence upwards of 70% of the family food purchases, and 80-90% of the food that their parents buy for them (Williams & Page, 2011).

Who exactly is Generation Z? According to Williams and Page (2011), Generation Z is anyone who was born in or after 1995. They are smart and should not be underestimated, and according to Cross-Bystrom (2010), they “take fewer risks, but take the right risks.” They are technologically competent, do not know what life was like before the internet existed, and are not overwhelmed by messages and information assaulting them from every angle. More than 80% of teens use social networks and 96% use the web at least once a month (Savitt, 2011). They prefer social media over blogs, have an above average number of friends on social networks, and they love to share on these networks, all of which are fantastic reasons to use social media campaigns for this demographic (Ehret, 2011). While they may be good at multi-tasking, technology decreases their attention span (Richtel, 2010), so we need to create unique content that quickly catches their attention and gets the message across (Cross-Bystrom, 2010). A market research article that is helpful for understanding Generation Z can be found here.

One admirable thing about this generation is that they tend to be aware of, and concerned about, environmental and social issues, and they are likely to mobilize around causes that are important to them (Cross-Bystrom, 2010). If we show them how animal rights is connected to many other issues, they’ll be more motivated to take action.

In conclusion, to be effective we need to identify our target audience, find out what appeals to them, and tailor our message accordingly. While it would be ideal to reach and influence every demographic, it isn’t always possible. So it may be best to focus on people who are most likely to make changes, such as Generation Z.

Keep a lookout for our final blog in this series. We’ll share lessons learned from successful Facebook pages and provide lots of helpful examples.

References

Ball, M., & Friedrich, B. (2009). The animal activist’s handbook: Maximizing our positive impact in today’s world. Brooklyn, NY: Lantern Books.

Cross-Bystom, A. (2010, August 20). What you need to know about Generation Z. Retrieved from http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/27425.asp#multiview

Ehret, J. (2011, July 6). Marketing to Gen Z – Teens. Retrieved from http://themarketingspot.com/2011/07/marketing-to-gen-zteens.html

Richtel, M. (2010, November 21). Growing up digital, wired for distraction. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?ref=your_brain_on_computers

Savitt, K. (2011, April 8). Three ways companies can reach Generation Z. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/04/08/marketing-generation-z/

Williams, K. C., & Page, R. A. (2011). Marketing to the Generations. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 3(1), 37-53.

 

Part 1: Creating Engaging Social Media Posts

As animal advocates, our goal is to educate as many people as possible about the realities of animal agriculture and encourage them to make choices that are kind to animals and the planet. As such, social media is one of our most powerful tools because it enables us to reach large numbers of people very quickly. By creating Facebook and other social media posts that are engaging (i.e., generate a lot of comments, likes, and shares), our reach will expand even further. And, it doesn’t take much extra effort.

In addition to reaching people with our message, we also need to build relationships with those who follow us on social media networks. By doing so, we establish trust, which can go a long way in influencing positive lifestyle changes.

What Types of Facebook Posts are Most Engaging?

According to Smith (2013), posts that include photos and status updates have the greatest reach. Educational posts and posts with videos tend to get a lot of likes and shares, and posts that ask questions often get many comments (Greenstein, n.d.). However, engagement will vary from page to page, so you may want to experiment and see how people respond to different types of posts. If you manage a Facebook page, you can find out what works best by going to the “See Insights” tab and then clicking on the “Posts” tab. Once there, click on the “Post Types” tab. You will then find the average reach and engagement by type of post.

In our experience, posts that reveal the shocking truth about the way animals are treated are extremely engaging and reach quite far. If you do post any disquieting information, photos, or videos, be sure to suggest actions that help solve the problem; research has demonstrated that this is one of the best ways to help people change (Barach, 1984). There are many actions you can encourage people to take, but just make sure that they are practical. If the action seems too difficult, it may not have any effect on the audience. You also always want to make sure that you’re complying with the social media platform’s guidelines, as certain types of content are sometimes prohibited.

How to Get More Comments, Likes, and Shares

  • It may seem too good to be true, but if you politely ask for comments, likes, and shares, users will often comply (Greenstein, 2012; Smith, 2013). However, don’t overdo it or you may drive people away (A. Malhotra, C. K. Malhotra, See, & Business, 2013). Asking once or twice a week should be fine, but experiment to see what works best on your page. It’s recommended that you ask for only one thing (i.e., comment, like, or share) per post (Smith, 2013). For example, you can say something like: “If you like this recipe, ‘Share’ with your friends!” or “Tell us what you think in the comments.”

  • Keep users interested by posting regularly (Williams & Page, 2011). Try posting once or twice a week at first to see how your fans react. Drell (2012) stated that some brands have been successful with one post per day. However, many have found that making two or more posts per day can reduce engagement. If you only post a few times a week you can still keep your fans engaged by “liking”  and responding to their comments (Drell, 2012). Most importantly, be sure to emphasize quality over quantity when posting.

  • In your posts, try to convey messages in as few words as possible; research has shown that shorter posts generally get more likes (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Aim for 100 characters or less to get the most engagement, and whenever possible include compelling photos, which will make your posts even more effective (Pierce, 2012).

  • People love to associate themselves with winners, so share milestones, achievements, and success stories (Malhotra., et al., 2013). You can post about the growth of your page or awards you have received for your activism. You can also share heartwarming stories about rescued farm animals.

  • Posts with questions placed at the end receive 15% more engagement compared to questions asked in the beginning (Pierce, 2012). Ask your fans what they would like to see on your page or what their favorite meat alternatives are.

  • Make sure to keep up with current events, holidays, and other important dates; these types of posts are seen as more personable (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Try posting vegan versions of traditional recipes around holidays. You can also share information about breaking undercover investigations.

  • Humanize your messages by showing emotion; humorous posts are particularly effective (Malhotra, et al., 2013). Post funny photos and videos of farm animals.

  • Try to see through the eyes of your audience and create posts that will appeal to them. People who use Facebook typically like posts that educate them, keep them informed and entertained, and help them interact and connect with others (Lachance, 2013).

  • To gain their trust and loyalty, always make sure to respond to any messages users send within a 24 hour period (Williams & Page, 2011).

  • Encourage discussion, but don’t try to control everything that is said. There will probably be negative comments, but your page will be seen as genuine (Savitt, 2011). Of course, your page should be a place where people feel safe and comfortable. It is alright for users to have opposing points of view, but you may want to consider banning or blocking anyone who becomes hostile or threatening. You can even post your ground rules on the About section of the page.

  • Make your page fun! You can try hosting events, running contests, and featuring your fans (Smith, 2013). Post photos of your fans and a short story about their path towards veganism. Of course, you’ll always want to be sure that you know, and are complying with, the rules of the social media platform.

Don’t miss the next blog in this series! We’ll cover how to identify your target audience, find out what appeals to them, and tailor the messaging accordingly.

References

Barach, J. A. (1984). Applying marketing principles to social causes. Business Horizons, 27(4), 65-69.

Drell, L. (2012, June 7). 10 Facebook marketing mistakes to avoid. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/06/07/facebook-marketing-mistakes/

Greenstein, H. (n.d.). A marketer’s guide to the new Facebook. Retrieved from http://images.prsoftware.vocus.com/Web/Vocus/%7Bca91784d-8997-494c-8237-8e77fad39d39%7D_Vocus_-_New_Facebook_Guide.pdf

Lachance, G. (2013, May 11). Top 10 must read tips to run a successful Facebook business page. Retrieved from http://socialmediatoday.com/genevieve-lachance/1454711/successful-facebook-business-page-top-10-must-read-tips

Malhotra, A., Malhotra, C. K., See, A., & Business, S. (2013). How to create brand engagement on Facebook. MIT Sloan Management Review, 54(2), 18-20.

Pierce, S. (2012, October 10). 5 ways to improve your Facebook engagement. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/improve-facebook-engagement/

Savitt, K. (2011, April 8). Three ways companies can reach Generation Z. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/04/08/marketing-generation-z/

Smith, M. (2013, June 2). 10 proven ways to improve your Facebook reach. Retrieved from http://www.marismith.com/proven-ways-improve-your-facebook-reach/

Williams, K. C., & Page, R. A. (2011). Marketing to the Generations. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 3(1), 37-53.

 

Starting Young: New York Nonprofit Puts Good Food into Schools

By Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

NYCHSFThe New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (NYCHSF) is taking on an important issue: what food our children are able to access while in school. The nonprofit introduces plant-based foods and offers nutrition education to inform schools and the greater community.

One of the organization’s signature programs is Cool School Food, which partners with restaurants to develop plant-based recipes for schools. The meatless entrees initiative spread nationwide with recipes distributed to nearly 25,000 schools. Another program focuses on teaching the value of nutrition to kids with the Food UnEarthed curriculum. It features a fun detective theme and is taught to more than 500 students weekly. NYCHSF also created the Wellness Wakeup Call, a soundbite of nutrition facts written by registered dietitians and read over the school’s loudspeaker every morning.

The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food recently worked to help a school go vegetarian, making it the first public, non-charter school in the nation to serve only vegetarian food in their cafeteria.

Executive director of the NYCHSF, Amie Hamlin, took some time to answer our questions about the great work that her organization is doing.

VF: Why is it important for kids to eat healthy at school?NYCHSF

AH: Good question! School is the place where kids go to learn. When children enter the school each morning, the schools act “in loco parentis” which means in place of parents. We expect schools to protect our children. If we feed our children healthfully, we don’t want to send them to school and have that be undermined with an unhealthy food environment. If children come to school who don’t get healthy food at home, this may be the only opportunity for healthy food.

Also, our tax dollars pay for the food. Our taxes also pay for the cost of diet related disease and obesity. I know I don’t want my tax dollars paying for food that causes disease, hurts the environment, or causes suffering to animals. A lot of tax dollars are being spent on health care expenses for problems that are almost completely preventable. It doesn’t make sense to provide unhealthy food which can cause children to be sick more often, which means they are learning less, may have more behavioral issues, and thus affect their learning abilities.

Healthy habits can be established at schools. One of our greatest achievements was the introduction of a private fresh fruit and vegetable snack program in Ithaca. For two years, before turning the program over to another group, we provided fruits and vegetables twice per day to over 300 children. There is a video about it on our website. Children would come back to school after a weekend or a vacation and say they just didn’t feel the same without their fruits and vegetables. On the one hand that was really sad because those children apparently weren’t getting them at home. On the other hand it meant that they had internalized how fruits and vegetables made them feel good, and they had established a healthy habit, one that they did not like missing out on.

VF: How can vegan advocates bring healthy, vegan options to local schools?

AH: We recommend getting involved in the Wellness Committee. Schools are mandated by federal law to have a Wellness Policy, so the Wellness Committee determines what the school district will do to achieve Wellness goals. Contact your school district’s superintendent’s office to ask about the committee and how you can get involved.

Next, and this is really difficult, don’t go in there as a “vegan.” The component of the lunch that is most in need of improvement is the “meat/meat alternate” and the meat alternate would be beans or other legumes or tofu (processed soy is also allowed but we don’t advocate for highly processed foods).

The most important thing is to approach it thoughtfully – get to know the people, listen, understand that the food service director is working really hard, and that change is unusually pretty slow. Make sure you are offering to do the work – nobody else wants to hear about what you want them to do.

Don’t expect miracles overnight, and remember, perfect is the enemy of the good. No matter how perfect we might hope to have school meals, there is a very limited budget, very strict regulations, and different personalities involved. So try to come up with very doable goals that you can work to make happen.

VF: Can students or parents be the driving force behind getting healthy food into the schools? If so, how?

AH: Absolutely. But there are some schools that make it very difficult, and others that welcome the involvement and change. If many parents and students got very involved and advocated for change, it would happen. After all, a food service director, or a superintendent or school board does not want a lot of unhappy parents or students. If all else fails and you aren’t getting anywhere, attending school board meetings and contacting the media should get their attention, if you can get a big enough crowd.

VF: Can you tell us a little about the all-vegetarian school in Flushing?

AH: PS244 is an amazing school that focuses on health and fitness, in addition to academic excellence. The administrators, staff, teachers, and food service staff are really what makes it work because they embrace a healthy lifestyle, as do the students and families. Last year the third-graders went to Catskill Animal Sanctuary and this year they are going to Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. Both sanctuaries were so excited about the program, that they funded the trips for the children to come visit. This project is really a dream come true for us. Who would have imagined 10 years ago that we would be able to say that we helped a school go vegetarian? Several other schools have expressed interest so we do expect more vegetarian schools in the not too distant future. I think it’s a trend. Everyone knows that moving to a plant-based way of eating is healthier, so while it may take some time, it will happen, and it started with PS244.

VF: Is there any additional information you would like to share with our readers?

AH: For those of you who are in the New York City area, or would like to come there in the fall – we have the most amazing gala. It’s definitely the best vegan party in NYC. We feature at least 20 tables with restaurants and caterers and it is a food feast! You can count on eating a lot of amazing food, bidding on great silent auction items and raffle baskets, and hearing great live music. This year we are “Celebrating a Decade of Changing How Schools Feed Kids” on Friday, Oct. 24 at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Thanks, Amie, for answering our questions! The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food is certainly doing important work for our children and our future. For those of you passionate about bringing healthy, plant-based food into the school systems, we hope you use their great example for guidance and inspiration.

 

March/April 2014 Volunteer Spotlight: Bruno Azambuja

Bruno, an activist in Brazil, describes how he became vegan and his work as an animal advocate.

BrunoMy first contact with vegetarianism was through a vegetarian friend who questioned my eating habits for the animals’ sake. I ignored his arguments for about three months until one day a bell finally rang after reading a few articles and watching a few videos. I realized that I was being selfish and inconsistent in my concerns for the environment and the lives of animals. I became a vegan on that same day. It didn’t make sense to continue using animals for any purpose whatsoever.

I went on to further study the subject and started disseminating all the information I could. A few months later, I learned about VEDDAS, a non-profit organization aimed at bringing awareness and educating the public about animal rights and veganism.  In 2010, I started actively participating in the group’s activities on a weekly basis. I am currently head of the VEDDAS-MÓVEL Pelo Brasil project which shows videos in the streets of several cities in Brazil, and I also take part in the volunteer training workshops. VEDDAS is currently present with regular weekly activities in five Brazilian cities and also holds monthly activities in 10 other cities. The activities range from protests to movie screenings to showing footage of animal exploitation in public spaces. By participating with VEDDAS on its multimedia projects, I have had the opportunity to reach hundreds of people–calling on their empathy and being able to provoke a deep reflection in many of them.

Since November 2012, I have also volunteered for VegFund, helping to manage a Portuguese language online social media campaign. In this capacity, I share information on the topic of animal rights and veganism. I also answer the questions brought by thousands of visitors every month, and help people transition to a vegan lifestyle.

For me, being vegan isn’t enough. We must educate others about veganism and share our experiences so that people can rethink their relationship with animals and, as a consequence of that, come to adopt a vegan lifestyle. It is a privilege to be able to take part in actions that favor this change.