Cardboard Kids Reach Those Who Need It

My Cardboard Kid. I named her EmmaLast month, I participated on a citywide effort to bring greater awareness to the problem of child abuse in our community. It was called Cardboard Kids. On April 3, two-foot-high cardboard cutouts similar to a “flat Stanley” appeared all over San Antonio and the surrounding areas. 5846 of them – one to represent each confirmed child victim of abuse or neglect in Bexar County last year – were decorated in all shapes and styles and appeared in government offices, grocery stores, businesses, yards, schools, and hospitals. All had a name tag on the front and an explanation on the back.

We wanted people who saw a Cardboard Kid to do these things: read what it was about on the back, take a picture with it and share it with the hashtag #cardboardkidssa. We had some ambitious ideas about what might happen on April 3, but we naturally had a lot of questions. Would people see them? Would they visit the web site? Would they take a picture and use the hashtag?

There were many elements to this campaign, but the social media elements were focused in four areas.

First, we reached out to influential San Antonio bloggers and asked them to help spread the word. To assist in that effort, we invited them to a coffee hour with the ChildSafe team to hear about the problem of abuse in our community and how we thought Cardboard Kids could create greater awareness of the problem. We also developed a content package for them to share easily in their preferred social channels.

The second element of our campaign was a content strategy for ChildSafe’s existing social media channels.Screen Grab of our Thunderclap campaign

Third, we communicated frequently with the organizations and individuals who had been decorating many of the Cardboard Kids in the previous months.

Finally, we used the social media amplification service Thunderclap and organized 100 influencers to “donate” a Tweet or Facebook post to be released on the morning of April 3. (thunderclap screen grab)

We laid a strong foundation for this effort in the weeks before the event, but the real magic happens when the campaign takes on a life of its own. The connections we made through social media helped to make that happen. In fact, two of the bloggers – Colleen Pence and Stacy Teet – curated an online magazine using Flipboard to put all the photos in one place.

View my Flipboard Magazine.

We are still analyzing the impact of this campaign, using Zoetica Media’s Framework for Social Media Measurement, but here’s the preliminary impact of the Cardboard Kids campaign:

  • Tripled the activity on ChildSafe’s social media channels in the 15 day period
  • 952 Tweets from 525 contributors created an estimated 1.34 mm impressions on Twitter
  • Facebook reach increased by 40%; fans increased by 30%
  • More than 2,700 unique visitors to the dedicated Cardboard Kids microsite. It was the number one landing page during the 15 day period
  • 100 Thunderclap participants created 140,000 social impressions
  • 1400 photos with hashtags appeared on Instagram; more than 100 photos per hour were uploaded to this channel on April 3.

The ChildSafe team believes that awareness of their cause has never been higher, due at least in part to the addition of Cardboard Kids to their already-jam packed activity level during Child Abuse Awareness Month.

What is truly significant is that the number of “walk-in” cases arriving at ChildSafe this April is eight times higher than the number of walk-ins from a year ago. (39 in April 2014; 5 in April 2013). While the individual social channels were important to this cause, the most important takeaway is that we’re starting to reach the people who need our help the most.

Mobilizing My Community to Fight Child Abuse

two-foot high cut out of a child FACT: In 2013, there were 5,846 victims of child abuse in MY COMMUNITY. 10 children died at the hands of their abuser.

FICTION: There’s nothing I can do about this.

When you think of your social media channels, do you ever think of how you can use the networks you’ve built to help your community?  This is an often-overlooked area when it comes to bringing attention to community causes.  This month, I’m using my networks on behalf of ChildSafe. 

ChildSafe and the Burden of Child Abuse

Earlier this year, when I was asked to be a volunteer with ChildSafe and help them advance their cause using a more strategic approach to social media, I had no idea where it would lead. Child Safe provides a range of services for child survivors of abuse and neglect and their protective family members, including forensic interviews, crisis intervention, case management, individual, group and family therapy and even adventure therapy to aid in healing child victims. They work with dozens of organizations in San Antonio but there’s more work to do. Only 1 in 10 cases of abuse is reported, so we need to create an environment to bring the problem to light.

Introducing Cardboard Kids

Cardboard Kids is a new program of ChildSafe, which should bring attention to the problem. 5,846 two-foot-high cardboard cutouts decorated in every way imaginable, will appear around San Antonio on April 3, which is the official start of Child Abuse Awareness Month in our city.  One Cardboard Kid for every case reported last year.

How I am Using My Online  Community

Bloggers from the Coffee Hour Holding their Cardboard KidsFirst, we invited bloggers who participate in a chat group on Facebook to meet the ChildSafe team and hear about Cardboard Kids. We asked them to participate, and dozens have already contributed. We created sample messages on a Google Drive document to make it easy for them to share messages and included important links and hashtags for easy retrieval.

Next, we scheduled a Thunderclap, a tool which combines the power of many voices in a simultaneous message delivery on a designated date and time.  Here’s a picture from our Thunderclap page.  You can add your voice to the “thunder” for our April 3 “clap.”

As our message begins to build momentum, we are seeing traction in many channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  But it’s hard to be everywhere at once, so we’re going to set up some keyword monitoring and we’ve created a Tagboard to collect everything in one place. We have so much more we can do between now and April 3, when we expect people who see these cardboard cutouts all over town will start posting pictures and questions.  We are encouraging citizens to take a picture, tag it #cardboardkidssa and reading about what ChildSafe does.  We have no idea how many tagged photos we expect to see next week, but it should be thousands.

thunderclap march 27There are lots of different ways we could mobilize our community, but this is how it evolved for us. Have you ever used your community for a special cause? Share your ideas in the comments. I’ll be back to share how we did in a couple of weeks.