You browse a store online for some cute pajamas and then the following week Facebook is advertising those pajamas to you. It’s not a coincidence: these ads are targeting you based on your recent search history and interests. As a cause marketing non-profit, we face the challenge of advertising ideas rather than material goods. These ads often elicit a very different response than just seeing a coat pop up in your newsfeed. Now we’ll share our experiences with our Shelter Pet Project campaign ads as well as our Love Has No Labels ads, and how we managed the feedback we received.
The Good: You Can’t Resist These Adorable Faces
This fall we ran ads for our Shelter Pet Project campaign and they were a huge success. What made them special? We partnered with about 30 animal shelters around the country to playfully showcase REAL, adoptable pets. Guess what? Every last one was ADOPTED. These ads enticed animal lovers, and encouraged them to interact through the comments section with the pets’ photos, and with each other. While monitoring the activity on these posts, we discovered best practices to certain comments: encourage and like positive comments and answer any questions regarding the availability or identity of the shelter pets.
The Bad: Negative Comments Are Loud
Remember the videos with the skeletons and diverse pairs of people who helped you rethink your own implicit bias? We ran a few campaign-related ads on Instagram and they we were met with an overwhelming number of comments on our ads. Many of those comments were “internet trolls,” and while it’s a fair assumption that people who liked the post might not also comment with something positive, there was a strong presence of negative, and hurtful comments that seemed to read louder than the rest. Our rule of thumb? Keep the good and the bad, but never the ugly. Unless the comments attack a group of people or are outright bigoted and hateful, we don’t remove them. It’s healthy to have a diverse discussion on these topics and let your audience speak with each other, and with you.
The Ugly: Time to Lay Down the Law
But what do you do with those bigoted and hateful comments? DELETE. DELETE. DELETE. They hold no positive value in followers’ newsfeeds or in our space and we won’t tolerate it. Some of the comments on one of our ads got so overwhelmingly terrible that we had to shut it off. While disappointing, we realized that it was more important not to allow this behavior to continue rather than have another ad live.
The Result? It’s An Experiment
Every ad varies and should target a specific audience, but if you’re advertising ideas and behaviors, you face a different challenge than retail does: the feedback won’t always be predictable. Be prepared and open to monitoring your audiences’ reactions, and respond to their questions and concerns! Don’t leave them hanging: it may even improve your ads’ performances once people see you’re a real person behind the screen.