Why you shouldn’t replicate the #nomakeupselfie


How do you create an internet meme? In my head I can picture Communications Directors frantically trying to brainstorm how they can jump on the momentum of the #nomakeupselfie and create their own meme.

Incase you have been in a coma for the past day the #nomakeupselfie is a internet meme which has seen women post pictures of themselves with no make up on. This has seen an astonishing £1 million donated to Cancer Research UK by text within 24 hours.

My answer for all you would be meme creators is that you can’t just magic up a meme from thin air and below I outline the reasons you shouldn’t try to.

For a period during 2011, I was the Social Media Manager at the children’s charity the NSPCC. Just previous to me joining they had enjoyed the benefits of another internet meme on Facebook which saw people change their Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from their childhood.

I can’t remember where the meme originated from but like the #nomakeupselfie it wasn’t created by the charity. In fact the message evolved for months until at some point someone included the NSPCC’s name in the post.

This was the meme Facebook post:

“Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood & invite your friends to do the same, for the NSPCC. Until Monday (6th Dec), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence against children.”

The meme was hugely popular, the charity received great praise, their Facebook page popularity rocketed and the donations rolled in.

This sparked great interest in Social Media in the Charity, very quickly it realised that social media would be at the heart of its communications going forward.

But there wouldn’t be another Facebook meme for the NSPCC just a shift towards high class social media service and content planning. As the Social Media Manager at that charity I felt any attempt to replicate or rekindle that meme would have been doomed to failure.

Why? It essentially comes down to ownership and trust. The non-profit sector in the UK receives incredible support from the public but large charities now operate very much like big brands when it comes to communication. Slick images accompany Facebook posts, beautiful animations flood YouTube.

The message is donate, campaign or become a member of X charity and you will be the type of person who cares about; cancer, human rights, animals, climate change, essentially whatever the cause charity works tackling.

The good news for charities is that these methods work. People like well planned, polished content, it engages target audiences creating social media comment, donations, people running marathons and advocates who will campaign on behalf of the charity.

The reason memes like #nomakeupselfie work is that they come from outside of the organisation. They are not polished and they tap into an innate feeling we all have to be the centre of attention. Like the NSPCC cartoon meme the #nomakeupselfie gives us a chance to say something about ourselves.

Any attempt by a big charity to create a rough and ready meme may generate interest from their core support but it will feel forced and look out of place alongside the daily corporate communications style of the charity.

My advice to charities is if memes come your way, enjoy your day in the sun. See it as an opportunity to build long lasting social relationships with your new supporters and use the money donated wisely. In my opinion you will be best served studying the conversation happening about you and the demographic and behaviours of the meme participants.

* I highly recommend reading this post by my ex-colleague and friend Madeleine Sugden outlining how to react to a #nomakeupselfie style meme.

Use the useful information you learn and implement that in your next campaign, appeal or social media update. Your goal should be to convert your meme fans into long term supporters.

My message is simple don’t get extracted by shiny things just keep focused on creating great content that meets the needs of your charities audience.

P.S: We are all beautiful with or without makeup.

Digital communications with a difference:

We’re passionate people who want to create a better world, we care about social issues and we care about the work we do. If you want a communications agency prepared to tell you the truth and be with you every step to create an extraordinary digital communications experience get in touch with: damien@socialchicagency.com


The New Dawn Traders leading a sail renaissance


We recently helped an exciting environmental campaign The New Dawn Traders with a social media strategy to help them communicate their exciting 7-month sail voyage around the Atlantic.

We believe they are sparking important conversations about the future of global trade and how by looking to the past we can create a fossil fuel free sail transport future.

A voyage of discovery

On the 14th October our friends at The New Dawn Traders, Alex and Lucy set sail on 7-month voyage around the Atlantic with wind powered cargo vessel Tres Hombres who are pioneering a renaissance in shipping cargo.

The sailboat for the voyage is 100% wind-powered and emission-free. This 32 meter, engine-less brigantine has been successfully trading between Europe and islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean since 2009. This year will be the ship’s first voyage to Brazil

Before the advent of the steamboat global trade was conducted by sail boats similar to the Tres Hombres boat. With the discovery of fossil fuels we very quickly shifted away from sail boats that had served global trade well for centuries.

The New Dawn Traders voyage is divided into two mutually supported departments: Trading Under Sail and Storytelling. Their ultimate goal is to manifest a self-sustaining, theatrical cargo ship, trading in goods, knowledge and culture by the power of the wind.

Creating environmental and social change for the better requires a groundswell of many individual efforts, and The New Dawn Traders hope to motivate this through documenting and sharing their own path towards a healthy, happy, enchanted and fair planet.

The shipping industry has a direct impact on coastal environments and communities. Apart from pollution to the air and through discharge of black and grey water, ships cross-contaminate ecosystems through the intake and discharge of huge volumes of ballast water from port to port. Even sound pollution from shipping affects the migratory patterns of marine species that rely on sound for navigation and ships can kill marine mammals on impact, should the unfortunate creature be in the way. The human impact is significant too – coastal communities that once thrived on the providence of their oceans have been losing their livelihood to large multinational companies, from cargo ships, cruise liners and industrial fishing trawlers, whilst then also being hardest hit by the pollution of these beasts.

Meet The New Dawn Traders, Dr Lucy Gilliam Alex Geldenhuys:

Dr Lucy Gilliam Alex Geldenhuys

Fossil fuel shipping was reported this year to make up 4.5%  of global carbon emissions. Shipping emissions are not currently included in the EU carbon cutting targets. And with the IPCC predicting global shipping emissions to rise by another 30% by 2020 we feel this is vital campaign for all of our futures.

Key Facts about global shipping:

  • 90% of everything you buy or own has spent time on a cargo ship.
  • A single cargo ship can burn 250 000 litres of fuel every 24 hours.
  • Just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

We wish the New Dawn Traders all the best on their voyage and we can’t wait to taste some of the delicious sail cargo on their return.

You can support this fantastic project by visiting the New Dawn Traders Indiegogo funding campaign.

Keep updated with their voyage by following them on Twitter and liking their page on Facebook and following their voyage blog.

Tips for running a successful campaign

Reclaim The Streets


Creating a campaign can be a daunting prospect, often you will find yourself asked to deliver a great deal in short time frame and with limited resources. Even if you are lucky enough to have resources to hand, the task of finding the right suppliers and engaging internal stakeholders is a significant one.

To guide you in making sure you organise a successful campaign that stands out. Our Director, Damien Clarkson, has complied his top tips for planning a successful campaign.

Damien says; the tips below are drawn from my experiences of working on campaigns for some huge charities and brands. Others come from working in tiny voluntary organisations or campaign groups. But regardless of the size of your organisation following the below advice I believe will give you a fighting chance of creating a campaign which grabs and keeps peoples attention.

1) Passion: Whatever your cause it is essential that everything about your campaign screams how much your organisation cares. If you don’t care why should anyone else? Often the biggest barrier to conveying to the public the way we truly feel within our organisations is internally reaching an agreement campaign copy. In order to agree powerful messaging for your campaign, I suggest you start engaging key stakeholders within the organisation as soon as possible. Get them thinking of what would be politically acceptable early on in the campaign planning. Therefore if they have any reservations about bold messaging you will have time to convince them to be more daring.

It is worth remembering that the best slogans throughout history had simple bold messages; think ‘Save the Whale’, ‘Votes for Women’ or ‘End Apartheid.’ All were bold and simple, but evoked passionate responses and achieved the desired results eventually.

2) Originality: Dare to dream big, thanks to digital technology our networks and access to inspirations are bigger than at any other time in our history. Create something original and you stand a better chance of people taking interest.

Use all possible avenues to draw ideas and inspiration. Invite people from throughout the organisation to contribute ideas and make sure you involve your brand advocates, the people who always champion your work. Involving these people at an early stage will help to get them onboard with the campaign. Your biggest assets are always the supporters who already believe in you.

The ideas that arise from these discussions may prove too difficult to implement but the campaign is likely to benefit from this creative thinking exercise and some of the ideas perhaps can be scaled down and partly implemented in your final campaign.

3) Teamwork: If you can do one thing to improve your campaign’s chance of success make sure it ensuring the people in your organisation are engaged and ready to play their part.  This may involve training people to understand the way they can use digital to boost the campaign.  People can become obstacles if they don’t understand the campaign fully, so have an open door policy and encourage people to get involved even if they aren’t directly working on the campaign.

4) Timing: It sounds simple, but always try and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about what else might be going on in their life at that time, will they really want to engage with this campaign at the time you’re proposing to launch it? For example, running a fundraising campaign just after Christmas isn’t likely to get your organization many donations, far better to launch it in the springtime.

5) Reason: Constantly ask yourself the question; ‘why will anyone care?’ If you don’t know the answer, then your campaign just isn’t going to make an impact. Scrutinise all of your campaign materials and ask yourself if they are truly engaging. If you’re unsure then ask some of your organisation’s key external advocates for their opinion, after all it’s people like them you are trying to engage.

6) Project Planning: Effective campaign co-ordination is essential and you will require a thorough project plan with flexibility built in. This should extend to all areas of your communications planning, The ideal situation on launch day is that every department is briefed and ready to play their part in supporting your the campaign.

7 ) Content planning: This will need to be ongoing throughout your campaign. Monitor the response to the content you put out there, naturally some ideas will work better than others, gather this information and use it to develop further content. Your campaign should be ever evolving, listen to your audience and react by creating more content to excite them throughout the duration of the campaign.

I hope you find these tips useful when planning your campaign. There will be challenges along the way but try and have fun, after all campaigning is fun and the charities you work for are doing great working in helping those people in need. Good luck!

Digital communications with a difference

We’re passionate people who want to create a better world, we care about politics, we care about social issues and we care about the work we do. If you want a communications agency prepared to tell you the truth and be with you every step of the way please get in touch with damien@socialchicagency.com


Summer update

We hope you have been enjoying this glorious English summer, never has our countryside looked so beautiful and we hope you have all had the opportunity to get outside and enjoy it.

Social Chic, Director, Damien In the Kent countryside

However work wise many of us will now be starting to turn our attention to towards planning our winter campaigns in the run in to Christmas.

SO we thought this would be an apt time to remind you that during the past 12 months we have been helping a mix of charities, multinational brands and tech start-ups deliver high quality social media and broader digital campaigns.

Below are some of our favourite projects we have worked on in the past year. 

Fighting Animal Testing

Over the past year we have helped Lush Cosmetics, deliver social media activities and blogger PR for a number of campaigns including ‘Break The Bag Habit’ and ‘No Cop Out on Wildlife Crime.

We’re also very proud to have provided social media and blogger support for Lush throughout their Fighting Animal Testing Campaign.  The campaign played a vital role in highlighting the plight of animals tested on for cosmetics as hundreds of thousands of people around Europe called for an end to animal testing in Europe. Finally on the 11th March 2013, after 10 years of delays the EU passed the European Cosmetics Directive, which finally banned the sale of animal tested products in Europe. 

Moves app

Since January, we have been providing social media services for one of the leading activity tracker apps ‘Moves’. The app is simply beautiful and enables you to track steps walked, distanced cycled and calories. And best of all it is free to download. Currently it is only available on Iphone but you can sign up for the android release due to be released soon.

Follow this exciting client @Movesapp or www.facebook.com/movesapp 

Volunteer Champions Campaign

Recently we worked with the charity CSV to create their campaign ‘Volunteer Champions’, which celebrated their 50th anniversary and the great work volunteers do throughout our communities every day. Combining images from the past with heartwarming current day stories the campaign reached in excess of half a million people.

Recent Media

Damien recently featured over on Ben Matthews blog offering tips for anyone thinking of going freelance.

Need help with your digital?

If so get in touch, we would love to help with your social media and wider digital needs.  We have vast digital experience and always enjoy working with good people, especially from charities, tech start-ups and environmental groups.

For a friendly chat about how we can help you contact us at: damien@socialchicagency.com



Vegan social

Fafafel flatbreads


In June Social Chic, Director, Damien, decided to make the step from vegetarian to vegan. Below he discusses why he made this choice and shares some of his favourite vegan social media accounts and websites.

Going Vegan

I have been thinking about veganism for a long while but I always managed to find excuses. However recently after speaking to my vegan friends and visiting Berlin where I found lots of vegan inspiration, I felt ready to make the step.

I can honestly say it has been an amazing experience, I feel full of energy and happy to be living a cruelty free lifestyle and reducing my own carbon footprint. I have a love of cooking and have already discovered a number of amazing new vegetables.

I believe we’re living in the mist of an environmental crisis, whether it is hurricanes Sandy or Katrina, or wildfires in Australia, what is clear is that we are experiencing extreme weather on a regular basis. Floods, droughts and changes in the climate are threatening our ability to feed a growing population. It is widely acknowledged that we will have an extra 3 billion people to feed by 2050.

With this in mind, I believe everyone should eat less meat. If everyone was to do this we would reduce our global carbon emissions and have more food to share with our neighbours in developing countries. Currently around 80% of world soya production is used to feed livestock, I believe this should be used to feed people.

Everyone has their own choice to make regarding the food they put in their body. However if you have ever been interested in vegetarianism or veganism, I would urge you to give it a try. I believe you will feel healthier and happier as a result and you will be treading lighter on the earth and disengaging from a system which is cruel to animals.

So these are some of my favourite websites and vegan social media resources.

1) Barnivore– This is a brillant resource for checking if you beer is vegan. It seems most decent beers in the UK are. You can download the app so you can check the beers you are unsure of before putting in that order.

2) Vegan Peasant Catering– I first came across these guys when I attended a Healthy Planet event last year. The food was delicious and they tweet loads of interesting vegan articles and meals.

3) Vegan Food Everywhere– This website looks in a early stages but really interesting. Basically it a crowdsourcing project encouraging people to upload pictures of where they have eaten out and had vegan food.

4) Post Punk Kitchen– I have a huge sweet tooth so being able to make tasty vegan cakes is important to me. PPK have loads of great recipes and advice on creating tasty vegan dishes.

5) Thug Kitchen– This website has garnered plenty of attention of its foul language and great vegan food. I love the approach of just improvising and using whatever you have in your cupboard to make the dish work.