City of Hope's 'All-in' Online Plan

Effective Social Media Strategies Draw and Keep New Followers

By Published on .

Steven Martin
Steven Martin
Marketing campaigns have evolved to integrate social media components and achieve success in an environment that is no longer anchored to traditional strategies. However, marketers must still address the same issues with online and mobile networks that we struggled with before the advent of social media: conversion and retention.

The primary advantage of social media outreach over its traditional counterpart is its ability to engage the audience immediately, which helps create a more memorable interaction and sets the stage for ongoing brand loyalty.

According to the Universal McCann "Wave.5" social media study released in October, joining a brand community not only increases loyalty, it also encourages brand endorsement and builds brand equity. The study found that of those who joined a brand community, 72% said they thought more positively of the brand as a result, 66% said they felt more loyal to the brand and 63% said they recommended others to join.

City of Hope's consumer- and influencer-driven "All in Week" (Sept. 23 to Oct. 1) successfully used social media to initiate that critical initial interaction and capture our audience's attention for our newly rededicated, multidisciplinary Women's Cancers Program. Led by expert researchers and physicians, the City of Hope Women's Cancers Program works to advance scientific understanding of breast and gynecological cancers as well as improve screening and treatment to help women live longer, healthier lives. Through Facebook, Twitter and our own website, we formed new social relationships and strengthened existing ones to expand the on- and offline communities supporting groundbreaking work at the Women's Cancers Program.

Key considerations when developing social media strategies for a new launch:

  • Remember: A general audience is bland, but your audience is special. Maximum impact is not solely tied to maximum exposure. Knowing the audience you want to reach and relating to them specifically strengthens social relationships and engenders loyalty.
  • Select the social media tools that best reach your target audience. For example, reach a younger audience with videos that can be shared, with purpose, on Facebook. We asked well-connected social media influencers to demonstrate why they were "all in" for a future without women's cancers via a 15-second video. The influencer whose video generated the most "likes" during "All in Week" received the opportunity to feature his or her brand and commitment to City of Hope Women's Cancers Program cause on a billboard in Times Square.
  • Set a goal and measure your results. For "All in Week," City of Hope set goals in four areas: reach influencers, create content, announce the campaign and engage the audience. Over the course of the campaign, we met goals for mentions, followers and social interactions, while exceeding our goal for content creation. In total, there were 486 tweets mentioning @cityofhope that reached 863,094 follower streams and 13,000 views of influencer videos. The immediate nature of social networks also required us to move quickly with refinements in messaging and strategy.
  • Embrace your audience's diversity, and create ways to continually engage and invite them to contribute or participate online. "All in Week" gained interest from women, men and teens who supported a future without women's cancers. The contest was public but the message was personal. By inviting participants to express their own causes for action, we engaged influencers in innovative and compelling ways to spread the word about the importance of research into women's cancers. City of Hope will continue to leverage these relationships to help spread the word about the latest developments for our Women's Cancers Program.

Steven Martin is associate VP-marketing at City of Hope, a research, treatment and education center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases outside Los Angeles.
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