5 Effective Campaigns for Social Good

June 1, 2017

by Ross Wilkinson

If executed properly, social media can be used to drive societal change. Here are five great examples of how this approach can resonate with the public and produce the hard results to back up the activity.


  1. Ice Bucket Challenge

Probably one of the most effective viral marketing campaigns of the 21st century to date, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had everyone involved, from Bill Gates and George W. Bush to Lady Gaga and Homer Simpson. The premise was simple: pour a bucket of ice cold water over your head and nominate your friends to do the same – all in the name of donating money to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association in the US and for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK.

The campaign wasn’t without its critics, who questioned whether it was more of a vanity project for people rather than a legitimate fundraising campaign; but the facts speak for themselves. The ice bucket challenge raised more than $115m for motor neurone disease in a single month. Now scientists using the proceeds have discovered a gene variant associated with the condition. These findings will help them to discover how ALS takes hold and will hopefully lead towards treatments for the condition.



  1. This Girl Can

This Girl Can was a campaign launched by Sport England and funded by The National Lottery with an aim to encourage more women into sport. The idea grew from research that showed a significant gender gap between the number of men and women who played sports, with two million fewer 14- to 40-year-old women participating. Insight showed that women were held back from getting involved in sports mainly due to fear of judgement on their appearance or ability.

The success of the campaign lay in its taglines, which addressed real, tangible fears among girls. “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it” were just two of the hard-hitting headlines. The campaign was launched with a TV ad, backed by a social media campaign, a hashtag #ThisGirlCan, and a tailored algorithm, which sent encouraging tweets to women who were tweeting about their fear of doing exercise.

The campaign has been hugely successful, seeping into the public’s consciousness. As a result, an estimated 2.8 million girls have tried a sport since the campaign’s launch and the hashtag #ThisGirlCan has become a positive mantra of empowerment for women across the UK.



  1. 360 Syria

While not strictly social, Amnesty International’s 360 Syria project superbly demonstrates how digital innovation generally can be used to raise awareness, through the use of virtual-reality headsets to bring home the realities of war. The headsets are used by the charity’s street fundraisers, as well as in schools and at festivals to show the public a lifelike, immersive depiction of what living in the war-torn city of Aleppo is really like. The VR headset campaign is also backed by a 360-degrees-photo-based website, Fear of the Sky.

Despite being the first VR fundraising campaign ever, 360 Syria was delivered on a shoestring budget and developed in-house. The total cost of the project was £31,500, which included the build of the website, the provision of £14 VR headsets and refurbished smartphones. More than 100,000 people have used the headsets, leading to a 9% increase in the number of people signing up to Amnesty International direct debits. The campaign won the Third Sector Awards’ Digital Innovation of the Year award in 2016.



  1. Tea and Consent

The animation ‘Tea and Consent’ compares sexual consent to when it is and isn’t appropriate to serve tea. Although this might sound a little random, this typically British campaign was launched by Thames Valley Police to simplify the messaging around sexual consent, and as part of their #ConsentIsEverything campaign.

The three-minute video presents a number of scenarios which show when the issue of consent might get blurry, for example your guest might say they want tea but then change their mind and that’s ok, or if they say they don’t want tea, then don’t make them drink tea.

Thames Valley Police collaborated with a blogger, Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, to write the script and then commissioned Blue Seat Studios to create the animation. To date, the video has had over 1.2 million views on YouTube and shows how a very serious issue can be tackled in a light-hearted and humorous way.


  1. WWF Earth Hour

This campaign originally started in Australia back in 2007 and is a good example of how an idea can gain traction year-on-year. The premise of Earth Hour is simple, every year millions of individuals and businesses around the world pledge to turn off their lights and electronic devices for an hour to highlight climate change.

By 2017, the campaign had evolved so that not only were people encouraged to switch off in the real world, but also to show their solidarity in the virtual world by changing their social media profile pictures and donating their social power (their Facebook timelines and Instagram feeds) to the cause.

Earth Hour Blue has also been launched, which is a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform, allowing participants to add their voices, financially support, and deliver positive, tangible changes to the environment and communities all over the world.