Who knew that an abortion Twitter thread could drive so much engagement in such a short amount of time? Just one tweet in this 63-tweet Twitter thread has garnered over 65,000 retweets and 165,000 likes in less than two days. Talk about going viral! But, what was it about the thread that caused Gabrielle Blair, author of the award-winning parenting blog DesignMom and founder and organizer of the Alt Oasis conference, to start an international conversation? And, drive such engagement all while getting retweets from celebrities such as Alyssa Milano and Don Cheadle and coverage on Fox News? I mean, abortion has been a political hot topic for decades. So, why did this particular thread cause such an uproar, resulting in millions of impressions? And, how can marketers learn from it?
The Skinny on DesignMom’s Viral Abortion Twitter Thread
Blair shares the primary point of her viral abortion Twitter thread in the first of her 63 tweets when she states:
I’m a mother of six, and a Mormon. I have a good understanding of arguments surrounding abortion, religious and otherwise. I’ve been listening to men grandstand about women’s reproductive rights, and I’m convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion. Here’s why…
She goes on to fill her tweets with facts and links to studies and sources about why men are responsible for unwanted pregnancies, birth control side effects (for men and women), and consequences of resulting childbirths. Additionally, she shares statistics about things like the number of women who have children as a result of unwanted pregnancies and the percentage of men who help (or don’t help) pay for child support. Finally, she offers solutions for ways in which to hold men accountable while still protecting women’s rights to choose what’s best for their health and bodies—alternative solutions to abortion altogether.
Whether you agree with Blair’s points or not, she makes a compelling argument in a way that woke up the internet.
8 Strategies Marketers Should Implement Right Now
From a personal perspective, I’ll be processing Blair’s thread for a long time—it was so thought-provoking and well-written. From a marketing perspective, this viral abortion Twitter thread got a lot right in terms of how to get eyeballs on content. So, let’s look at her thread through the lens of a marketer and check out these eight marketing strategies we can apply to increase the chances of having our campaigns go viral.
1. Turn the same old conversation or approach on its head.
Unless a brand (cause, product, service, or otherwise) produces a new offering, marketing is all about taking something known or even old and spinning the message just the right way to get the target market’s attention. Advertisers, marketers, and PR folks spend a mint on campaign creation and execution, crossing their fingers the strategies will go viral. So, how did @DesignMom put a fresh spin on her content to do just that?
In this case, the offering is not a well-known product like Coca-Cola. It’s a heated cause: abortion. And people, for the most part, are set in their ways regarding which side of the cause’s aisle they sit on—pro life or pro women’s rights. Over time, abortion campaigns (similar to some brand’s product campaigns) don’t seem to present any new information. The arguments sound the same. The news looks the same. Even movies or documentaries seem to have the same storyline. Then, Gabby Blair comes along and writes the Twitter version of a blog post, taking the fresh approach this topic needed to get people to pay attention.
What worked about her approach is that Blair looked at causes and solutions that weren’t making headlines or dared to be discussed. She blamed men for “ejaculating irresponsibly.” She suggested castration over stopping women’s rights. And she called out society at large for putting men’s pleasure at the top of the priority list, above even a woman’s right to choose what is best for her health and body.
By looking at and being bold enough to bring to the surface causes and solutions that hadn’t been put at the forefront of the conversation before, Blair created a Wow! effect that stopped people in their tracks and got them to read. And not just one tweet. But 63 tweets in a row.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- What angle of my cause, product, service, etc. has not been explored or shared that could be?
- How can I turn it on its head and create a new way of thinking about it that will cause people to stop, think, and engage?
2. Go with ROI over what’s trendy.
Marketers are infamous for pouring money into the flavor of the month social media platform. Millennials are using Instagram? Awesome! Let’s only enlist millennials in our campaign and let’s use Instagram as the primary platform regardless of whether we’re promoting Depends to women 50+ and research shows they are most frequently on Facebook. I jest, but only to prove a point. Marketers often succumb to the temptation of following the trends even if a different, less buzzworthy activation would work better. @DesignMom didn’t do this, which garnered her tremendous results.
If you look at her stats or know anything about Blair’s online presence, she has a huge readership on her blog, often getting into the hundreds of comments and thousands of views on any single blog post. Additionally, she is popular on Instagram, touting 55,000 followers. Compared to Twitter (where, before sharing the abortion Twitter thread, she had only in the high 20,000s of followers), her blog or Instagram (or Instagram Stories, where she has high engagement) would have been the obvious (and trendier) choices of places to share. But, Twitter is known for news and politics. So, what better social media channel to raise her pro women’s rights voice on than there?
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- Am I following marketing trends just to be trendy?
- Or, have I done my research and studied which activation(s) and/or platform(s) are the very best ones to meet my primary objectives?
- And, am I going with what the research shows even if it doesn’t seem like the obvious (read: sexy) choice?
3. Develop a bold content strategy.
Once you choose your activation type and primary platforms (e.g., blog, social media channels, etc.), explore how to use that platform in different, better, or unique ways. The spin + the platform/activation + the way you push the content could be the perfect trifecta to driving the campaign’s success. And, in the case of the viral abortion Twitter thread, it was just that.
Not only did @DesignMom share her primary tweet on Twitter, but she shared 63 back-to-back tweets within less than 15 minutes. The majority of them all went out all at the same time. The perfection of this scheduling strategy was that all anyone had to do was click the first tweet, click on “Show this thread,” and read all the tweets right in a row. Or, if they wanted to read it in more of a blog post format, they could click over to Reader Thread—an app that unrolls Twitter threads.
Twitter is a great platform for sending individual tweets or even having a Twitter conversation with a group of people (otherwise known as Twitter Parties or Chats). But, it’s not known for being the equivalent of a blog where people would be expected to read an entire long-form thread chopped into bite-sized pieces. This unique approach to a platform not even Blair uses as much as other social media channels these days was pure genius. The result? It drove huge engagement, not just on the primary tweet, but on all of the tweets in the 63-tweet viral abortion Twitter thread.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- When you determine which platform to use for your campaigns, do you stick with the tried and true ways to push your content out? Ways your competition is pushing content out?
- Or, do you explore new, fresh, even seemingly crazy or bold ideas as ways to get eyeballs on your content or creative assets?
4. Produce shareworthy copy and creative assets.
When I first saw 63 tweets, I thought @DesignMom must have written a blog post and cut it up into 63 chunks of 240 characters. Easy peasy, right? She’s a great writer. But, mere seconds of scrolling showed me that no! Every tweet is a retweetable piece of content, carefully crafted to make its own and often jaw-dropping point. Content is definitely king! But, no matter how quality the content is, content strategy trumps all. Ensuring every single tweet was worth reading and was shareworthy pretty much guaranteed its engagement.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- Do I create quality content or creative assets and stop there?
- Or, do I put serious content strategy into play by focusing on each piece?
- Do I review how each piece is shareworthy?
- And, do I look at how all pieces and parts work together to enhance the overall campaign?
5. Cover all of your writing bases.
@DesignMom’s content broke Twitter not only because it clearly expressed her points. Or because it turned a long-standing argument on its head with a new approach and radical solutions. The abortion Twitter thread also was brilliant because it embraced core elements of good writing.
Let’s just look at a few ways Blair’s writing knocked the thread out of the park. 1) In her very first tweet, she established her credibility. She stated that she’s a mother of 6, has religious background, and understands all sides of the issue. 2) She started and ended with a clear purpose. 3) Throughout the thread, she stated facts with sources and links. She shared statistics. Then, she presented the information both directly and used an analogy. She did this while unapologetically and candidly stating the problem to remind us she was still on target. 4) Overall, the thread was inviting, asking the readers thought-provoking questions. 5) It made strong points in a matter-of-fact way without trying to manipulate the reader or add shock value.
As a marketer, determine if your content covers all of the bases by asking yourself:
- Do I establish credibility?
- Does my content share a clearly stated purpose at the beginning and at the end and make every word count?
- Are my points passionate without being overly emotional?
- Is my argument backed by factual information?
- Does it site sources, share statistics, and otherwise show solid research?
- Am I only out for shock value or am I presenting points that are thought-provoking?
6. Drive engagement.
Marketers who launch successful campaigns have built the equivalent of a fire—something hot, visible, and attractive. But, as with fires, campaigns can die quickly without the right environment. In a marketer’s world, adding fuel to the campaign fire is exactly what it needs to go viral. Advertisers often do this by putting paid social behind a successful campaign, which almost guarantees greater visibility. But, tried-and-true techniques help fan a campaign fire’s flames without the cost and @DesignMom did just that. How? Simply put, she made herself available and engaged. She could have published her abortion Twitter thread and walked away. She could have come back later. Instead, she stuck around and responded to as many tweets as possible, retweeted, liked, and otherwise engaged with those who were engaging with her.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- What plan can I put in place to drive the most engagement possible for my campaign?
- What resources (human, financial, or other) do I need to carry out my plan?
7. Repurpose the original content and share across platforms.
When your target market tells you they like your campaign through engagement, impressions, or other actions, what should we as marketers do? The answer? Make it easily accessible for as many people as possible to view it, of course. Repurposing and sharing original content across platforms is just another way to add fuel to a campaign’s fire.
What this looked like for Blair was capturing the Twitter thread in a post and sharing it on her blog. She followed this up with promotion on Instagram and Instagram Stories. Posted one day after the original abortion Twitter thread went live, the blog post received nearly 500 comments within 24 hours. And, it drew in her blog readers who may have otherwise not seen the thread on Twitter, increasing overall impressions.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- Does my content strategy and design plan include ways to repurpose and share content outside of the primary tactic?
- How can I create content and creative assets from the get go that can be repurposed and shared across social platforms?
- On what platforms can I promote to expose the campaign to a new audience or otherwise increase views?
- What do I need to do to repurpose the content (e.g., resize it, shorten it, lengthen it, etc.)?
8. Promote the campaign’s coverage.
Getting media coverage is the icing on the cake for a viral campaign. A wonderful way to say thank you for the coverage while helping increase views is to share it as @DesignMom’s did on Twitter.
As a marketer, ask yourself:
- How do I typically respond to media coverage?
- What can I do to maximize any coverage from traditional outlets and bloggers/social media influencers?
- How can I thank media for their coverage?
What Now? How to Extend a Viral Campaign’s Life
So, you’ve gone viral. You exceeded your brand’s or client’s expectations. Now what? How do you not only ride the viral campaign wave, but extend it to drive even more engagement, greater views, and ultimately convert your target market/followers. The answer varies based on the campaign type, but consider these suggestions:
- Pitch your viral campaign to various media outlets. In @DesignMom’s case, she could consider pitching national news shows that are politically focused (both conservative and liberal). She could also research and reach out to women’s shows.
- Submit a long-form informational post to popular websites such as the Huffington Post. Blair could capture the salient points of her abortion Twitter thread and share a “X reasons why …” post to draw more people’s attention.
- Make yourself (or your brand) available for interviews. News outlets, radio, and podcast hosts are always looking to interview people about hot topics. Research who would be a fit for the topic/vibe of your viral campaign and reach out right away. @DesignMom could reach out to popular podcasters who are a fit with her message to pitch an interview with them.
- Craft images in sizes perfect for sharing on Facebook and Instagram with the most pithy content or the most popular creative assets. In Blair’s case, she could capture quotes from her abortion Twitter thread, drop them into a simple yet catchy design, and make them available online.
- Share your success with your network. You can’t assume that your (or your brand’s) entire following has heard about your viral campaign. Identify the places you connect with them and ensure that you have shared the viral campaign’s success with them, thanking them for their part in helping it make it big. In @DesignMom’s case and since she has already shared on her blog and across her social media channels, she could add a link and/or creative assets along with information to her next newsletter.
- Encourage your network to share. Your campaign went viral for a reason. People resonate with it in some way. Ask them to help you share it. Make it easy for them to do so. Even consider rewarding them when they do. For Blair, this could be as simple as adding a button to her eNewsletter mention that says “Click to Share” and links to sharing options.
- Invest in paid social advertising. Do you have a budget? Do you want more views? Even a little budget helps get more eyeballs on a campaign. Or, if you’re looking to move beyond views and drive conversions, create the campaign to do that and switch up your message in your advertising. For example, @DesignMom could consider starting a petition or driving subscribers to her newsletter. If she did, she would want to create a Facebook and Instagram advertisement to drive that call to action. I recommend those two platforms given their ability to highly target and reach just the right people. Also, they offer advertising pricing structures based on either views or clicks, giving advertisers the choice to really drive results.
Wrapping It All Up
Marketers can gain a lot by processing the points Blair makes in her abortion Twitter thread. Additionally, they can learn the eight must-implement marketing strategies from such a well thought out and delivered message:
- Turn the same old conversation or approach on its head.
- Go with ROI over what’s trendy.
- Repurpose the original content and share across platforms.
- Develop a bold content strategy.
- Produce share worthy copy and creative assets.
- Cover all of your writing bases.
- Drive engagement.
- Promote the campaign’s coverage.
And once a campaign goes viral, don’t stop there. Think about what’s next and ways in which to extend the life of your viral campaign.
What tried-and-true marketing strategies do you recommend for successful marketing campaigns?