Maximize Social Engagement With a Single Thunderous Boom

Most social media campaigns perform in fits and starts, garnering a slow trickle of engagement. With Thunderclap, your message hits the Interweb with a bang and reverberates loud and long.

By Katie Boué October 27, 2015

In the outdoor industry, we do more than make and sell products–we advocate for wild places we want to protect, access to endangered recreation areas, social responsibility and even for the growth and success of our businesses. One of the most powerful ways to share our message and rally the troops is through social media–if used correctly.

A few weeks ago, a crew from OIA headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the SHIFT conference, which focuses on outdoor conservation and recreation. At the event, we were introduced to a relatively new social media platform called Thunderclap. Simply put, it’s a mix of social media strategy and crowdsourced participation. The concept is simple: Create a message, establish an engagement goal and set an activation period of a couple hours to a couple months to get supporters to connect their social media accounts to your cause. When the activation period ends, if you’ve reached your support goal, your social media campaign begins with a thunderclap, so to speak, as Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr is flooded with a harmonized, unmistakable wave of micro content.

The concept is simple: Create a message, establish an engagement goal and set an activation period of a couple hours to a couple months to get supporters to connect their social media accounts to your cause.

The SHIFT Pledge highlighted six principles for advancing outdoor conservation and recreation, and the initial goal to engage 100 supporters was nearly doubled, with 191 people signing on. When the activation period concluded at the end of the conference, hundreds of tweets, Facebook posts and Tumblr posts were blasted simultaneously, promoting the pledge and declaring a dedication to conservation and recreation efforts. Participants ranged from freelance journalists to official brand accounts such as REI and Hipcamp.

The above tweet features the standard copy provided to anyone who signs up for the campaign, but users have the option of customizing the content of their tweet to best suit their audience. Here’s how REI and Trout Unlimited tailored their posts to fit their brand’s voice and tone:

The SHIFT Pledge surpassed its initial goal of 100 supporters by earning 191 engagements, making this project a big success. Ultimately, the SHIFT Pledge campaign achieved a social reach of more than 390,000 impressions. For the rest of the outdoor industry, this initiative demonstrates how we can use Thunderclap to generate a loud, impactful moment on social media. Levi’s reached 745,885 people through a holiday Thunderclap campaign by encouraging shoppers to seek out socially responsible products made by Guatemalan women entrepreneurs. When the White House used Thunderclap for a political awareness project, it got 18,000 supporters whose social posts generated 16 million impressions. Even Sierra Club has used Thunderclap to make an impression.

For the rest of the outdoor industry, this initiative demonstrates how we can use Thunderclap to generate a loud, impactful moment on social media.

Here’s what you need to know about Thunderclap:

  • All messages (Tweets, Facebook posts and Tumblr posts) will go out at the same time, so choose your delivery wisely. While you may gather a strong force of social advocates, sharing your message at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night–when most people are out and not tuned into their social feeds–won’t optimize your visibility.
  • You must meet your supporter goal in order for your message to be blasted out. You can always raise your goal throughout the campaign, so it’s better to start modestly and adjust as needed.
  • A basic Thunderclap account is free, but campaign prices range from $45 for small non-profits and startups to $500 for large businesses and global organizations. Big brands, agencies and celebrities are invited to e-mail Thunderclap directly for pricing.
  • How is social reach measured? Thunderclap simply adds up “the sum total of the friends and followers of a campaign’s supporters.” If your campaign gets picked up and retweeted or shared extensively, your actual reach will be higher than the projected numbers.
  • It can take up to three days for campaigns to be approved. Need to expedite your project? Upgraded packages allow for faster response times.
  • Any social account can connect to a Thunderclap campaign on Twitter, but only personal pages can connect through Facebook. So, if you really want brands and organizations to share your message, focus on Twitter. You can also allow supporters to sign up using Tumblr, which is a great supplement to your main focus.

Has your brand used Thunderclap to execute a social media campaign? Got questions about using this unique platform to amplify your advocacy project? Send a tweet to us @OIA, or e-mail kboue@outdoorindustry.org to geek out on all things social.