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NOH8 Media Tactics + what we can learn

February 3, 2012

If you haven’t heard of the NOH8 Campaign but are somehow reading this blog, you must be living under a rock (or a very interesting human being because I’m fairly certain my blog is impossible to find unless you’re looking for it and the NOH8 Campaign is everywhere).

Regardless, of however you got here, what I’d like to type about today is the NOH8 Campaign’s epically awesome usage of media. And how jealous I am of their awesomeness.

For a little personal project and because I’m imminently interested, I did a short (painfully incomplete) case study analysis of the NOH8 Campaign and how they got to where they are social media-wise.

First things first, after doing a little digging, in several interviews, it seems Adam Bouska is fairly up front about the ridiculous lucky serendipity of the whole project:

Originally it was just something amongst me, my partner (Jeff Parshley) and a few friends, and it was just to speak out. But later we saw people kind of using this as a tool to speak out on their social networks and more people wanting to get involved. And we saw the kind of success it could create in the mainstream. It never was intended to be this big organization. But now that we’ve had that first wind I guess it kind of inspired us to really do as much as we can with it.

I mean, the campaign lends itself so beautifully to social media and it’s like they didn’t even try! Just kills me a bit is all. In discussing the campaign with friends, we’ve come up with several things that make the NOH8 Campaign so deliciously successful:

  • First and foremost, the campaign, at its core, rests on the idea of visibility. The photos are the campaign. So when Bouska captures someone and they put it on their Facebook profile because it’s a popular thing to do, that person gets social brownie points from their network fro being awesome and NOH8 gets free advertising. It’s GENIUS.
  • B-List, D-List, A-List (is there such a thing?) stars get involved because it’s more visibility for them, and some sweet street cred for being involved in the movement. (For the record, on these points, I might be just a bit bias in that I’m super pumped that being pro-marriage equality seems to be becoming more and more popular)
  • NOH8 Campaigns aggressive usage of social media like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube (with their newest awesome PSA out) shows commitment from the start. They retweet people who mention them, post something at least every day, if not more, and are relentless. It’s great.
  • The most important aspect we pinpointed: The Campaign directly engages its audience. On the website you’re encouraged to upload your own photos of yourself, share the story of why you got involved if you went to a photoshoot, etc. The people who participate, who are fans are invested. Something that every nonprofit craves. Let’s get out of this list and discuss this a little more…

Invested Participants and Engaging Your Audience

The above two things seem to be the most difficult to accomplish in nonprofits often. I’ll use something familiar to illustrate. When you’re talking about rape or domestic violence awareness, etc. how on earth do you make it fun, popular, engaging, like Bouska has managed? For him it seems like it just sort of worked out, but what about those nonprofits who plan for ages on how to engage their audience and can’t seem to get it right?

Unfortunately these days it seems like the warm fuzzy feeling people get form donating or being involved isn’t enough, they want some sort of memento about their involvement that does something for them (in this case, I’m assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the “something” people gets from Bouska’s photo is a little bit of social capital for being ‘cool’ or ‘forward thinking’).

This means nonprofits have got to start questioning not what their audience or volunteers can do for them but what they can do for their audience or volunteers. (Don’t kill me on this one, I know there are definitely exceptions to my line of argument here).

The greatest thing about this is that social media gives nonprofits a great avenue to accomplish this goal. This is where I run out of words though- mainly because I’m not well-versed enough in nonprofit tactics and social media awesomeness to suggest anything. What I can offer is my mutual frustration for this difficulty. I know it’s not much but maybe it’s nice to know you’re not alone in wondering how to deal with this issue.

Maybe for my next case study I’ll try to find a campaign that wasn’t as damn lucky as Bouska seems to have been to see how they have confronted the topic, suggestions?

(As an aside, hope you’re keeping up with Komen and Planned Parenthood!)

(Also, well played NOH8, well played…)

Screenshot of No Hate campaign webpage

I mean, they got Paris Hilton *and* Cindy McCain! Magnificent!!



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