Can a social media marketing campaign have a long-term impact on important topics? This is exactly what UN Women tried to achieve with their #HeForShe effort, launched on last year’s International Women’s day to attack yet another time the very serious and long-standing issue of sexism. We want to analyze what’s left of this big campaign one year and a half later.
Even if the official launch was on 8 March 2014, the big splash was only achieved on September 20th, a full six months later. And this splash came when Emma Watson became the face of the movement, thanks to a momentous speech at the UN general assembly.
The big splash moment
Who could ignore Hermione Granger’s highly televised “formal invitation” to men to stand up for the rights of women – which was the central message of the campaign? Generation Y, the major demographic of social media users, also known as the millennial generation, basically grew up with Watson so we could see why she was the perfect face for the movement.
Before Watson’s appeal, the campaign tweets count was in the tens of thousands. But, just two weeks after her presentation, the hashtag #HeForShe had generated 1.1 million tweets from 750,000 different users, with a potential reach of over a hundred of millions people on Twitter alone.
In the social media flurry that followed, there were a lot of celebrities that helped in on the campaign. Here’s a refresher:
— Douglas Booth (@DouglasBooth) September 20, 2014
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) September 25, 2014
Even Twitter itself participated in the stand against gender discrimination, painting the hashtag inside their HQ in San Francisco, California.
— Paul Stamatiou (@Stammy) October 2, 2014
There was also the incredibly supportive compliment from Tom Hiddleston, everyone’s favorite Avenger-nemesis, Thor’s brother. This tweet was so popular it even headlined several articles on the Internet, including Buzzfeed’s.
— Tom Hiddleston (@twhiddleston) September 24, 2014
Now this account doesn’t technically fall into the “celebrity”category, but if we’re talking influential, you have to give @WhiteHouse some credit.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 25, 2014
But, after such a big boost, how much does the Internet remember today? Did the message get through enough to still be relevant?
Exactly one year after Emma Watson’s speech last year, as expected, the Twitter activity is much lower. But it’s still surprisingly high; and the anniversary itself brought a notable bump, as you can see in the chart below.
(Twitter data for 9/10-9/24 2015)
If you haven’t guessed it yet, the main reason for that bump was a tweet by Emma Watson herself on the 15th. But that was actually a retweet of a message from the official account for the campaign, @HeForShe:
As you can imagine, even a single tweet on target (using the hashtag) from a celebrity with more than 19 million Twitter followers creates a big impact:
(Twitter data for 9/10-9/24 2015)
In the chart above, computed for the period between Sept. 10 to Sept. 24, you can see that Watson’s retweet was itself retweeted 1,045 times, and she was mentioned 2,988 times together with the #HeForShe hashtag – a demonstration of just how big an influencer she still is in this campaign. This explains why, as you can see from the chart below, taken from our Hashtags Lab analysis, she is the second top influencer, only after @HeForShe:
Prior to the day of the anniversary, between September 15th and 19th, there were 5709 total original tweets (not counting retweets).
As usual, the catalyzer of the activity was @HeForShe. For example, on the 16th, there were 681 total tweets, and the top one yet another retweet of by @caitlinwithac of one of the official campaign’s account messages:
On the day of the speech’s anniversary itself last 9/20 there were 1532 total tweets, a good recovery from the decline in the day prior. Have you guessed who the top tweet was from?
It’s not Emma, not @HeForShe, but @EmWatsonUpdates – a fan made account for updates and events in Emma Watson’s career. We almost wish we were as popular as miss Watson so someone else can do the tweeting for us when we forget to do it on an important day!
— Emma Watson Updates (@EmWatsonUpdates) September 20, 2015
Now after the day has gone and the dust has settled, who else is tweeting about #HeForShe?
Let’s look at the data for 9/21. We found that there were 1136 total tweets, the top one, again by @HeForShe, in an attempt to piggyback on #Dubsmash and asking users to create videos of their favorite parts of Emma Watson’s speech.
— HeForShe (@HeforShe) September 20, 2015
As expected, there was a gradual drop in tweets in the days that followed, with both days owing their top tweets to @UN_Women:
And this is exactly the point we wanted to get to. Having a big testimonial like Emma Watson – and her friends – is great, but the real long-term impact wouldn’t have been possible without the constant effort of the #HeForShe social media team, mainly channelled through their dedicated, homonymous @HeForShe account. These are their stats for 9/15 to 9/23:
As you can see, it’s them who are doing the hard work and promoting the movement all year round. Even for the anniversary, it was @HeForShe that originally sent out the tweet that @emwatson retweeted last week; and that’s why our Hashtags Lab shows that account as the top Influencer for the hashtag, even if they only have 258,454 followers – much less than the celebrities who are constantly helping them.
Campaign Success – One Year Later
In the end, in the two weeks we analyzed between September 10 and 24, 2015, there were a total of 12,051 tweets by 8,761 unique users. That’s about 1% of the total garnered tweets from last year, but it means that in just two weeks the campaign still generated 59 million potential unique impressions. And, just as importantly, there are lots of men using the hashtag as we have observed above, which is the main purpose of the movement – to get men involved.
One obvious conclusion of this analysis is that having a great testimonial really helps – without Emma Watson’s UN speech, #HeForShe would probably have continued just as in the previous 6 months. Influencer marketing clearly works.
But the less obvious conclusion, interesting also for those social media managers who can’t get a big name testimonial to speak at the UN General Assembly, is that having a dedicated account for a campaign, constantly keeping the fire up under the kettle, can really make a big difference.
@HeForShe was able to do just that, constantly putting out great content and proactively engaging their target audience. This is a good reminder that if content is king, then consistency is certainly queen.