With the conflict in Gaza dominating media headlines over the past few weeks it was surprising to see one story emerge that wasn’t about missile strikes, civilian casualties and death, but instead had a positive message about toleration, love and hope.
Last week, in the midst of rising tension in the war-torn region, a hashtag campaign calling for Jews and Arabs to show their mutual love for each other began trending on Twitter and captured the imagination of the world.(Also see creative social media campaigns that cut through)
#jewsandarabsrefusetobeenemies, which was initiated by students Abraham Gutman and Dania Darwish after Israeli forces marched into Gaza as part of Operation Protective Edge, began spreading virally and soon images and messages from Jews and Arabs in loving relationships began being posted across Facebook and Twitter.
One such image of a couple kissing soon became the face of the campaign and it wasn’t long before global media picked up on the story, which generated widespread coverage and momentarily gave a glimpse of hope for a land engulfed in tragedy.
Among the many media outlets who covered the story there were new media outlets like Mashable who posted this video:
From a PR perspective what was interesting about the campaign was that ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies’ actually began as a chant at a 300-strong peace rally in Israel back in June… yet it has been the social media dimension to the campaign that has really raised awareness for the call for tolerance. Of course there are many reasons for this – not least of all the timing – however, the uniqueness of this campaign and the strength of the images have unquestionably generated a huge level of interest far exceeding a more typical march, protest or rally.
So the question really is ‘What can organisations learn from this?’ ‘How can you use social media to boost awareness for your own campaign and cut through the noise?’
Below are our top five tips that campaigners can learn from #jewsandarabsrefusetobeenemies
Tip 1 – Be Creative
Typically most campaigns will have some form of petition and the ‘big’ call to action will be to acquire signatures. This is great if you get a high number of respondents, however, it can take a very long time to get a number large enough to generate media coverage.
Being creative about how you use social media and how you ask your followers to engage is the key to generating a story that journalists want to write about.
Tip 2 – Use images
It’s a cliché but pictures genuinely are worth a thousand words. Had this campaign launched with only a few tweets and words of support it’s unlikely to have generated anywhere near the level of interest that it did.
Some of our favourite images from the campaign include:
Tip 3 – Use video
There are so many benefits to using video in campaigns it’s hard to know where to start. From a search perspective video is 53x more likely to be picked up by Google than text and it’s extremely engaging.
From a PR perspective one of the chief benefits of using video in campaigns is that you can link your video to media websites, blogs and social media feeds – helping you not only reach millions of people, but really engage them in your campaign.
The best example of online video marketing for an ethical campaign ever is Kony 2012. This short film was produced to raise awareness about International Court Criminal fugitive Joseph Kony and received 99 million views, 1.3 million likes on YouTube and 21.9 thousand likes on Vimeo. The film resulted in a resolution by the US senate and contributed to a decision to send in troops by the African Union.
Tip 4 – Use a hashtag
We will talk in more detail about the importance of hashtag campaigns in future posts, but for now here are three reasons to use them.
– It’s a great way to brand a campaign and rally support
– It allows you to track the impact of the campaign
– It’s a useful PR tactic when speaking to the media that you have a hashtag campaign, as this can generate even more awareness
Tip 5 – Make sure your social media campaigns is integrated with PR
There is a tendency in some circles to talk about traditional PR as ‘old hat’ with blogs, forums, social media and key influencers being the only media that matters. Of course, this is a little naive. The best social media campaigns should be fully integrated with PR as this allows mass exposure and can generate huge awareness for a campaign and even result in it going viral.
Interestingly the media started reporting on #jewsandarabsrefusetobeenemies when their Facebook page had 4000 likes (not bad at all, but not on the level of Kony 2012). Following media coverage the page now has around 44,000 likes and the campaign has reached a media audience of millions.