40 Activists in 39 Hours

Ready to march!

On Thursday afternoon some friends let me know they needed to spread the word and get people to an event that would take place on Saturday morning. Short time + big goal = social media to the rescue!

The event was a rally and march with the theme “Take Back the Bridge for Everyone”, intended to raise awareness of the disproportionate number of LGBT youth who contemplate and commit suicide. It was quickly planned as a counterpoint to an existing suicide prevention event (Take Back the Bridge) that was failing to mention homophobia or bullying, even in light of many recent LGBT suicides.

Here are the tactics we used to rally 40 people to the event and raise awareness of LGBT suicide, all in less than 39 hours.

1 – Facebook page -  on Thursday evening we launched a page to explain the event and drive traffic to an external website (not created by Mixtape Communications). Three organizers suggested the page to their friends, and asked them to do the same. We didn’t end up with a ton of fans, 58 by the time of the event, but more than double that amount visited the page. The page allowed us to share pictures and press coverage from the event, which in turn drew awareness to our issue.

2 – Facebook Event – A Facebook event makes it easier for people to invite their friends, than say directed people to a Facebook Page. Also, it creates a handy little reminder on the right side of the invitees’ Facebook profile and auto-syncs with their calendars if they have chosen that option. More reminders = the more likely you’ll show up.

3- Post on others’ Walls – We looked at other groups who work on the same issue and posted information about the event on

We posted on others' Walls

their walls. You can do this either by going directly to the page and posting on their wall or using the @ convention in your Page’s post (e.g. @ItGetsBetterProject – Please let folks know about this event…)

4. Twitter - We did not create a unique Twitter page for this event. We could have, but since we were in a time crunch and had limited resources I just tweeted event announcements from my personal account (@zanarama). I employed a few key strategies while tweeting:

Hashtags – I utilized often followed hashtags (#LGBT and #Seattle) to find those audiences. In addition I used the tag #itgetsbetter, which is in high use right now with the launching of the It Gets Better Project to decrease LGBT youth suicide.

Public @ to info sources – I sent tweets directly to local media sources to let them know about the event. Two of them, both neighborhood related blogs, RT’d them to their followers.These did not generate actual press attendance at the event, we had to do old fashioned phone calls for that. I also reached out to a local DJ who is a Twitter pal and asked him to RT. His really took off, as he has a ton of followers.

Timing – I set up a standard tweet for the event in Hootsuite and set it to go out throughout the day. I thought about natural times of the day when it might get higher exposure, like after work or around lunch time.

Measuring – After the event I did a couple of things to track and measure our success, and set us up in good shape for future events. These were:

TweetReach measured how far our tweets travelled

1. Google Alerts – I put in the phrase “Take Back the Bridge” in Google Alerts to keep on top of other blog posts and media alerts. You can set this up to email you right away, or aggregate all references to your term.

2. Facebook Insights – took a look at those to see how many people visited our page. Since we had a small number of fans and only a short period of time, it wasn’t remarkable, but don’t forget about this free resource with your page.

3. Tweet Reach – I put my Twitter username and the tag ‘LGBT’ in Tweet Reach (http://tweetreach.com/) to see how far our message traveled. It estimated that we reached 30,997 people via 25 tweets (my originals plus the RTs). This handy tool even breaks down who accounts for how many impressions, so you can see who has the largest reach.

Thanks and Next Steps -

1. Thank for RT’s – I both generally thanked everyone for RT’ing and sent another tweet thanking people by their Twitter username. (e.g. Thanks @seattledrury, @notmarcocollins, for spreading the word about Take Back the Bridge for Everyone.)

2. Twitter list – I set up a private Twitter list of everyone who spread the word on the event. This will come in handy next time we do something similar, I can just reach out to that list to ask for help.

Overall we were happy with how much traction we were able to build for the event in such a small amount of time. So what did we miss? Are there other tools that we could have employed?

  • http://www.wix.com/terimayo/bridge Stacey Prince and Teri Mayo

    Zan, you are the most amazing PR/communications/live feed reporter ever! We could NOT have pulled off this event without you (well, we could have but would have had about 4 participants instead of 40, no Twitter or Tweet action, and no press!). Through your efforts our message about the risk factors to LGBTQI people (youth in particular) and the need to address bullying, harassment and messages of intolerance in our schools, faith communities and the media reached more people than we could have dreamed of when we cooked up this idea. With utmost gratitude and respect for what you do–

    Stacey and Teri (co-organizers of Take Back the Bridge… for Everyone)

    • http://www.mixtapecommunications.com zanarama

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help on such an important project! Looking forward to future collaborations and making the world a better place.

  • Mike Kleer

    Zan – Good to read the details about how this worked after you mentioned it in our meeting yesterday (how old-school). More interesting was that I was driven to this page by Linda, in London, by her FB post. This is encouraging, and illustrative, for what we are trying to do at PF.

    • http://www.mixtapecommunications.com zanarama

      Hey Mike!

      It is a small world, after all. :)

      I love that you heard from Linda. You can ‘Like’ Mixtape Communications on Facebook to get these and other posts directly. Or feel free to RSS our feed. Great seeing you yesterday.