Simple Human Rights Campaign Generates Big Awareness

Shift CollaborativeNon-Profit Organizations, Social media

by: Paul Carboni, A Fellow at Shift Collaborative and Senior at Carnegie Mellon University

A couple weeks ago you probably signed into Facebook and quickly noticed something was different. If your wall was like mine, you noticed that the myriad pictures of your friends and family were gone. They were replaced by miles of red and pink railroad tracks running down your news feed. And unless you already knew what was going on, you probably took a couple seconds to Google the explanation.

Human Rights Campaign Logo Red Version

Which of course, is exactly what Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group based in Washington DC, wanted. In late March they pushed for Facebook users to change their profile pictures to the pink equals sign to raise awareness of the Supreme Court’s deliberation on two cases central to marriage equality.

The campaign was a phenomenal success, spanning across the country and generating a 120% increase in profile photo updates on Tuesday, March 26 when compared with the previous Tuesday. That would be kind of like if all the people at your office decided to show up wearing red and pink one day, and a fifth of them brought a friend that did the same.

What’s so impressive about the campaign is how simple it is. By getting people to click a few buttons, Human Rights Campaign was able to both talk to and engage with the Facebook community. It sent a message to LGBT individuals that they were supported, and it got people to align themselves to their cause. The high rate at which the simple logo was remixed shows how much people liked engaging with the message.


Image source:

And that message got out. Google Trends shows a sharp spike in search volume for the terms DOMA, Human Rights Campaign, and marriage equality for March 2013.


Image source: Google Trends

Bravo HRC. Not only have you motivated people to fight for the right side of history, you’ve managed to demonstrate what a successful social media advertising campaign looks like in the process.