Employment statistics. Aren't they a bit dry? Well, they can be. That's where a mini-digital campaign came in to help draw out some of the more interesting aspects of an Office of National Statistics announcement.
The coffee was brewing and we were gathered, primed and ready for our Twitter strike to take place. All that was left was for the Office of National Statistics to release the latest unemployment figures and our #notjustmakingtea campaign could get underway.
The figures finally emerged and we set our well-oiled machine in motion.
The ONS release pages of stats each month, but for our team they boiled down to one number. In October 958,000 16 to 24-year-olds were unemployed and looking for work: the youth employment challenge summed up in a single line. As a number it’s stark and it’s sharable, but it’s not something that inspires much further action. We wanted to reach an audience of business owners and employers, get them to engage, and think about ways to do something about it.
Our outside marketing team, Neo, had set to work creating a Vine video for us to help publicise the figures, and had already provided us with two more videos based on interesting facts and figures picked from extensive research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
Initially, we sent out a steady stream of tweets with the new figures and examples of how the numbers translated – our second tweet of the day, explaining that there were enough unemployed young people to fill every stadium in the English Premier League with nearly 200,000 left stood outside, later proved to be the most popular tweet of the campaign. These were then followed by snippets of quotes from our commissioners on the issue of work experience, each coupled with an image of full quote which we hoped would make the text more accessible and easier to share.
Combined, we were a four-strong team, with each of us scouring our Hootsuite feeds for mentions of ‘youth unemployment’ we could use, re-tweeting them and responding to provoke as much engagement as possible. This provided us with a steady flow of crowd sourced content to intersperse with our pre-planned messages. We were also on the prowl for anyone with a particularly broad reach or people within the field of expertise – by keeping an eye out for this we managed to interact with a number of journalists, business leaders and industry experts, who all helped to disseminate our message to a broader audience. Ultimately we managed to get mentioned by journalists for the BBC and Metro, as well as numerous careers groups and websites, business leaders, various careers organisations and government bodies.
The use of facts and figures proved to be especially popular, with many of our key ‘shock’ stats topping our analytics for most re-tweeted.
Once we had people’s attention we wanted to get talking about the solutions. What was the ask? We wanted to push the positives of work experience – both for businesses and young people – and highlight examples of the sorts of things going on now. Engaging directly with people on work experience also produced a lot of fun and interesting stories – everything from audio production at the BBC to sticking their hands down horses’ throats!
We witnessed a definite spike in visits to our blogs and website, as well as an increase of around 100 followers. The #notjustmakingtea campaign gathered over 400 contributors, with over 700 relative tweets and a reach of just over 950,000. Retweets and interactions continued from the Wednesday launch through to Friday and were picked up again on Monday thanks to some scheduled messages over the weekend. We are also still receiving mentions in relation to the #notjustmakingtea hash tag over a week after launch.
So, did we solve youth unemployment with a hashtag? Of course not – but if we opened some employers’ minds to the idea or boosted any young unemployed person’s confidence it’s a start.
Chris Hollifield is an intern at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.