Standing out in the world of social media

By Sara Rider   |   October 6, 2015

Want to grow your Facebook friends without having to pay to boost your posts?  Here is an example that could help nonprofits to get more likes and raise their visibility.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Eastern Virginia Medical School.  It’s a small medical school in Norfolk, Virginia.  It enrolls about 1,000 students and is not affiliated with any undergraduate university.  So I was a little surprised when I saw that they had just won an award for Best Digital PR Campaign in 2015.  They did it by creating homemade videos, taking over the school’s home page and Facebook page, and tossing in some digital promos on plasma screens around the campus.  The budget?  $50.  The magic ingredient?  Cats.

Around the office, we sometimes joke that we just need to figure out how to get a cat or a dog—or both—into an ad/inforgraphic/TV spot if we want people to like it.  And that’s basically what Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) did.  Like many communities, they participate in a local philanthropy campaign—rather like Austin’s own “Amplify Austin.”  When EVMS had participated in the past, it hadn’t caused much of a response.  So this year, they put some teeth in their campaign.

For 24 hours, they posted 21 times on their Facebook page and promoted their “catvertising” through their school’s home page.  Students and staff created six videos to use in the posts and on the site, which featured their own pets.  While the results didn’t rock the bank—only 21 gifts totalling $2,000—it well outpaced the 4 gifts from the prior year.  But the larger impact was on their Facebook page.  When the campaign started, they had 3,995 people who liked their Facebook page.  During the campaign, they got a total of 20,971 unique user views.  Some 74 percent of that was organic, as opposed to paid boosted posts.  The total impressions equaled 37,219.

That’s a lot of kitty love.

But this very cheap campaign puts EVMS in a place where they can really build their social media awareness.

All in all, it’s a combination that’s the cat’s meow.  (Couldn’t resist.)

by Sara Rider


Sara Rider

About the Author

Sara Rider, Vice President at DeLaune & Associates, has written extensively for the healthcare, financial, non-profit, and technology industries for more than 30 years.

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