Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and the Lean In movement. I do agree that there had been a huge drop-off in the women's empowerment movement in the last 5-10 years since its incarnation. However, that is not what I am here to talk about today. Regardless of how you feel about the message of the campaign, one thing is very clear, successful digital marketing made this campaign boom. What started as a Lean In movement turned into an international phenomenon within hours. Star studded supporters got wind of the movement and it spread like wildfire. The ultimate goal of the campaign, I would say, is to get people talking about the issue. With social media at the helm, millions were talking about the issue. Blog posts, twitter feeds, facebook debates, etc helped highlight the involvement of people all over the world. Sheryl Sandberg of course has a strong following and as COO of Facebook should know a thing or two about digital marketing, however the elements used should be noticed by ALL non profits, government agencies, and grassroots movements.
- A coherent message: First and foremost, the message of a campaign, business, or organization needs to be clear. Clear in this case does not mean that everyone will agree or will understand the movement the same. Clear means that the leaders of the movement have a cohesive and consistent message across all forms of digital marketing. This campaign was clear and consistent throughout. This is the BASE of great marketing. A clear message remains at the forefront of people's mind and is easy to remember. There is a good chance that when many people hear the word "Bossy" now, it will trigger a memory of this campaign. A clear and cohesive message is often lost in the non-profit and government worlds. As I know first hand, many of us are wearing many hats and many people at agencies dabble in marketing efforts. This does not result in effective marketing unless the entire team has the same voice and message. Communication and good training is key. It is a myth that having "something is better than nothing." This is no longer true given the ease of access to information and resources. "Something" is not good enough...not to mention the poor analytics and reach an agency will have when digital marketing tools are not used and updated regularly.
- Social Media: Once the message is clear, social media is an amazing tool to reach people. A huge misconception is that the number of followers you have dictates your success. What dictates success is having the right followers and having engaged followers who will help spread the word. #BanBossy got the attention of the Girl Scouts, Beyonce, Condoleezza Rice, and the list goes on. Agencies need to remember to engage their followers to ensure success. As we can see by the names listed above and the many more supporting this effort, Social Media and digital marketing can provide an open, politically neutral, and diverse platform for engagement. Don't forget to #HashTag away as this adds to virility and reach of public posts. Again, not everyone will agree with your message or movement, but social media provides an open forum for commentary.
- Video & Photo: Both video and photo have become so accessible to all with modern technology that it is a great way to engage your following. The #BanBossy movement used professional videos as well as cell phone snapped photos to highlight its supporters. The Lean In movement in general has utilized photo brilliantly. Followers are able to submit photos showing support which are shared through out their marketing outlets. People get to be involved even if they are 1000s of miles away from the Silicon Valley. In my experience digital marketing and especially social media marketing is often seen as a way to sell sell sell. This is a huge mistake, because again your audience must be engaged. The #BanBossy movement showed how its hundreds of thousands of followers themselves were micro marketing for the campaign. Every single person was deployed to spread the message by taking photos, sharing videos, and most importantly...telling their story.
- Website: All of these strategies would have been in vein if the movement didn't have a strong and well thought out website. Most importantly, it had to be able to handle a large amount of traffic. I didn't spend all day going to the website, but I did visit it several times and had no issue. Of course the website had to be modern and designed well to keep users interested. I do have one complaint however, the website is not responsive. This is an oversight that shouldn't have happened especially given the demographic being reached. I want to be able to bring up the website on my phone and easily navigate it. I of course can bring the website up on my phone, but having to zoom in and press little buttons with my fumbley fingers makes me immediately want to leave the site. We are all learning together! Again, the website had a clear and easy call to action. Both on the top tool bar and a tool bar toward the middle of the home page, there are ways to learn and get involved. Letting people leave your website without knowing how to get involved is a huge failure and something I still see very often. There are in fact businesses without contact info, campaigns without calls to action, and organizations who have no clear vision or a very old and outdated one. This is where having "something" is not better than "nothing." Having a poorly thought out website that is not modern and updated often can actually hurt you more than it can help you. I don't suggest pulling down websites, but I do suggest agencies seriously consider their options with regard to keeping content current. No one wants to make their business seem irrelevant or outdated. This goes for non-profit and government as well.
Digital marketing is completely changing the face of business (whether for profit or not). The ease of access to information is forcing agencies to become more transparent and accountable. I cannot stress how important this is to consider especially in the non-profit sector. All the great things organizations are doing does not matter if no one knows about it. Funding agencies are also becoming privy to this point. It is the time to either become a leader or fall behind!