What do a half-marathon, vanity metrics and calls to action have in common? A lot, it turns out.

Those of you who follow me on other social platforms might know that a few weeks ago I ran my very first half-marathon. I didn’t do it as a personal challenge, or to get fitter, while these could have been perfectly good reasons. I did it to raise money for a charity that meant a lot for me: Children with Cancer UK

So, as training started a few months back I started some timid posts on social media letting people know what I was doing and why. In social media terms, I was raising awareness. The posts were pretty timid because it feels a bit daunting asking for money, and the response was pretty tepid.

As the day of the race approached and the training got harder, I decided to share more compelling stories about my training, with little maps of the places across the globe where I have been running: from Singapore to Japan, from Belgium to Italy. I also started sharing my story on targeted chat groups, at this point there was definitely some awareness of what I was doing and why. I started receiving a lot of likes and comments but unfortunately the money for my cause was not forthcoming.

On the day of the actual race I posted before and after the run: both posts, with picture and a call to action as per social media best practices, were a success in terms of awareness: likes were pouring in and people were leaving the loveliest comments. It made me feel good about myself. But those likes and comments were what we call vanity metrics: the posts were seen, liked and they generated conversations. But outside of my immediate circle of friends and family there were still not many sponsorships for the charity.

Deflated and tired, after a few hours from the race I decided to change tactic: no pictures this time, but a very honest post about how tough it was running the race and how little I enjoyed it, and also how important it was for me. This time I explained why it mattered so much; it was a personal insight that I didn’t think people wanted to know about but I was wrong. Only then, the money started to come in, and boy it worked!

10 days after the race I have raised $2,239.36, 298% of my target!

So, if you are still trying to understand how vanity metrics work, how to evaluate the success of your social media campaigns, and how to get clear ROIs, here are some quick tips:

1. Define your goal. If all I wanted was to let people know that I was running a race, already from the second post onwards my campaign would have been successful. In that case, compelling images and a little text were enough.

If, however, you want your audience to take action, and especially to spend money, you need to raise the bar: most likely, a simple call to action won’t do the trick. You need more.

2. Understand your audience. You need to reach them emotionally, it doesn’t matter if it is about raising money for a charity or selling a product, your audience will make a decision based on the emotion that you generate in them. Ask your current clients, create a survey, ask your network, whatever you need to do to understand what makes them tick.

3. Create compelling messages. Now that you know what makes your audience tick, you need to craft a message that delivers on those emotions. Images, videos, text, etc. are all options. You need to choose the one that, once again, resonates with your specific audience for your specific goal.

4. Get out of your comfort zone. Even as a seasoned digital marketer, I played it safe initially: nice pictures, nice story but it was simply not enough. I had to take a risk and open up about what the race meant for me and what I wanted people to do, which brings me to the next point:

5. Craft very clear calls to actions that make it easy for people to understand what they should do and why.

6. Track results and be ready to make changes. One of the beauties of digital marketing is that you can track how your work is progressing and stop, change, or create new content to achieve your goal. All of my posts worked in terms of awareness, it was only when I changed gear that I achieved the goal that I set for myself.

I hope this case study helped you to understand how to tackle your next social media campaign. If, however, you want help with it, do get in touch! I’d be delighted to discuss your needs and how KnowThyBrand can help you.





Giulia Iannucci is a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant with over 16 years of experience gained across the EU, Australia, Asia and the UK. Founder of her own business, KnowThyBrand, Giulia helps her clients position their brand as the cornerstone of their company, and guide them in creating professional and compelling digital marketing campaigns.