5 Things I Learned From Kim Kardashian’s Death
What am I talking about? In the first week of December, Kardashian joined some 20 other celebs in a fundraiser organized by Alicia Keys’s great foundation – Keep A Child Alive – to help children orphaned by AIDS in Africa and India.
The campaign, orchestrated by TBWA\Chiat\Day, was called “Digital Death“. On Dec 1st, it dramatically announced the death of the 20 stars, and then invited their fans to “buy them back to life” through online and texted donations.
Of course, no one really died – the stars were only dead on their social media, meaning they pledged to keep silent on Twitter and Facebook until a certain donation goal had been reached. One million dollars to be specific.
This is my second post in a month taking learnings from “cause” marketing in social media – I don’t plan on making this an ongoing topic, but I think there’s a lot to be learned from this space (plus, I believe “social” will make “good” more and more effective, which is… a good thing!). The first thing to say is that this campaign drove a lot of conversation, and achieved its objective. So, Kudos. Big Kudos.
Still, as I compare it with the results of the cause in my previous post, I’m left with the nagging feeling this could have been much bigger. Digital Death raised $1mm in one week with their all-star cast, while Movember exceeded $60mm worldwide through the united efforts of anonymous supporters. Good, but probably could have been better.
So, I think there are learnings to be taken from both what went well and what didn’t. I’ll welcome more facts to balance this point of view, but in the meantime, here’s 5 key things I think we can already learn from Digital Death:
1. STAR POWER CAN START A FIRE (…) – Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Khloe Kardashian, Lenny Kravitz, Jay Sean, Serena Williams, Elijah Wood… The impressive list goes on. It’s enough to make every brand marketer who’s ever experienced the cut-through boost stars can bring to a campaign, drool with envy. The “SO AND SO IS DEAD” headline was provocative and bold and the combined audience of the 20 celebs on Facebook and Twitter was a whooping 94 million to start with. Killer awareness combination. And so it shows in numbers: on the first day, close to $150,000 were raised, and countless tweets, retweets, likes, comments and blogpost drove awareness of the campaign launch.
2. (…) BUT YOU NEED TO FAN IT – This is where the execution starts to fall short. Day 2, 3, 4… donations drag, and it looks like the stars might be dead longer than planned. No worries, they’ll rally the troops, right? wrong – they’ve gone radio silent with less than a single daily reminder per head. Think about it: this campaign had access to some of the most popular personalities on the planet, and yet chose to… silence them. And don’t assume fan retweets and likes would be enough to keep the momentum going – stars do have million of followers on Twitter, but most of them have virtually no following of their own. For example, I took a random sample of 350 twitter followers of Kim Kardashian via Tweepi.com and found an average of only 27 followers per fan, and less than one tweet a day. Getting the stars to actually promote the campaign seems to me like a no brainer. Did they really all have to “die”? Why not keep some big guns alive to promote more actively? Why not make it a social competition between the stars, first to reach their share of the target with help of their fans?
3. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT A POPULARITY CONTEST – This may be the biggest insight gap of the campaign. Of course, no-one took it literally, thinking the stars were really dead. And nobody missed the update so much they felt compelled to give. But still, the assumption was that the high popularity of the stars would translate into influence, “driving their fans to action”. Check out this Dan Zarrella research suggesting Kim Kardashian is one of the most influential celebs, as measured by an amazing 1.1% click through rate on her links. But make no mistake: clicking to see pictures of Kim meeting Katy Perry backstage is not the same as clicking to make a donation. This is the limit of defining influence or “loyalty” through blind metrics such as the size of your social media audience; a “follow” or “like” is not a measure of universal respect or commitment. Take Facebook, even the almighty Lady Gaga commanded only 0,32% post-likes from her 24 million fans; “likes”, not “donations”. Not to mention that asking followers of these stars for a $10 minimum donation was… well, let’s just say it was very ambitious!
4. SUCCESS IS WHAT YOU SAY IT IS – Back to the $1 million target, and to a positive. You know what? They set a goal and reached it. I’m not quite sure how, but they exceeded it even, as $1,106,000 have been donated so far. Alicia Keys set her sight on a target, and achieved it in a week. This matters because it puts her in a great position to reach a higher target next year, building from the positive reputation of a “win”.
5. DON’T GO WITHOUT AN EXIT STRATEGY – Finally, no matter what, making sure you have a plan B is crucial. 6 days after the start of the campaign, donations reached a half million total, and a generous donator called Stewart Rahr matched the amount single handedly, pushing Digital death over the finish lines. How long would it have lasted without him, was it planned from the start… we’ll never know. I’ll chose to believe this was well planned to allow for a graceful outcome. Just in case – hope for the best and plan for the worst.
Of course, I can’t conclude without thinking of how much would have been raised if fans had the option to keep some of those celebs silent instead of bringing them back to social media life. Sorry, cheap shot I know – I couldn’t help it 😉
What did you think of this campaign? Anything else you would have done differently?