A Big Red Splash


MegaphoneBoyLast Tuesday, my Facebook timeline went red, as friend after friend joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in changing their profile pictures to a red version of the HRC logo, showing symbolic support for same-sex marriage. I was immediately impressed by the scale of this interesting communications effort, and as I thought more about it, I realized there are are three lessons children’s advocates can take from HRC’s effort:

  1. If it Ain’t Broke … — HRC’s message last Tuesday was the same as its message last Monday: equality. They changed up the packaging by making the logo red, and that made the campaign new and interesting. But they stuck with a message that has served them well for years, avoiding a temptation we all face to change our message with every new opportunity or threat.
  2. One Push Can Be Powerful — HRC has 1.4 million Facebook fans, way more than children’s advocates have. But they made their fan base appear even bigger, by activating as many of their fans as possible all at once. We can do the same, recognizing that social media is largely a numbers game, and using a single push to make a bigger splash.
  3. Make Acting Easy — It’s not rocket science, but advocates often forget that making it easier for your audience to take action makes it more likely that your audience will take action. HRC kept that basic principle in mind, asking fans to take an action they already take (updating their profile pictures) and using Facebook’s built-in functionality to distribute the image. Check out Discover the Activation Point, from Spitfire Strategies, for other actionable ideas to activate your audiences.

Was the HRC effort successful? There’s room for debate. After all, the Supreme Court doesn’t base its decisions on Facebook democracy (or any democracy, for that matter). But the marriage equality debate is a political one, as well as a legal one. And as a tool to energize supporters and disseminate its political message, the red logo campaign was a success worth a good hard look from children’s advocacy communicators.