Social media - don’t be chicken

Written by Colin Marrs on 24 March 2015 in Features
Features

How strong support from the leaders of a public service body gave staff the courage to create a successful social media campaign.

The Food Standards Agency has run Food Safety Week – a focused attempt to improve hygiene in British kitchens – since 2007. Traditionally, the communications team has reached the public by providing resources to local authorities and by contacting local and national press.

However, Michelle Patel, head of marketing, communications and consumer insight at the FSA, says: “In 2014, we thought we would be cleverer and make better use of social media.”

Without money for advertising, the 2014 theme needed to be one likely to fire the public imagination.

The “hook” was to focus on attempting to stop people from washing their chickens before preparing them for cooking.

It is a topic that provokes strong opinions, according to Patel: “Intuitively it seems like washing the chicken is the right thing to do and there is a real hard core that genuinely believes that it is. But our advice is not to do it because of the risk of spreading germs.”

The first sign this year’s campaign would explode in the public consciousness came on launch day.

“We had to find people to cover both BBC1 and ITV breakfast shows. But the real story happened on Twitter, with more than 30m people reading about the campaign on the platform. Staff did shifts manning Twitter and were getting messages from people from Australia to Israel, all talking about chicken,” Patel says.

At the outset of the campaign, Patel had hoped to achieve a 50% increase in engagement from the 4m reached during the previous year. In 2014, she says, “we just stopped counting at around 60m.”

The lesson, she says, is that if you get social media right then you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get your message across.

But the message has to be quirky, she is quick to add.

“You have to take a risk not to be boring. But we had permission to take that risk and had strong support from our chief executive – that is key.” 

Share this page

Tags

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Brexit demands force HMRC to put digital-transformation projects on hold
6 June 2018

Department reportedly provides list of 39 technology and other reform programmes that are being paused or delayed

 

Think tank calls for GDS to move into DCMS
1 June 2018

In his foreword to Policy Exchange report on digital government, former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude opines that ‘progress has slipped in recent years’

 

DVSA drives digital transformation to keep citizens and staff on the road
30 May 2018

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s digital chief James Munson tells PublicTechnology about the organisation’s investments in people, technology, and a wide range of new services –...

MHCLG digital chief: ‘I want us to be proud plumbers’
24 May 2018

Paul Maltby claims councils must first renew ageing infrastructure before realising the benefits of machine learning and automation 

Related Sponsored Articles