‘Movember mania on the wane as social media chatter drops’

Social media conversations around Movember dropped this year for the first time, raising a challenge for the organisers in maintaining momentum and fundraising levels, according to a study that analyses social media reactions to the charity initiative.

movember-2013-460

This year, the total number of social media mentions about Movember fell by 30 per cent year on year to 1.2m posts. In 2012, conversations across sites including Twitter and Facebook increased 210 per cent year on year and in 2011 were up 286 per cent, according to the report by Precise.

In the UK, Precise found that there were 35,000 posts about Movember on the first day of the campaign, 1 November. The daily average then dropped to 6,050 between 2 and 28 November.

Last year there were 70,000 posts from the UK on 1 November and a daily average of 11,000. Precise counts a mention as any post on social media, from forums to video and images sites and Facebook and Twitter that use the word Movember or specific Movember handles and hashtags.

Participant numbers are also behind last year’s total, with almost 969,000 people having registered so far this year, compared to 1.1m participants globally in 2012, and fundraising standing at £63.9m, compared to a total of £91.97m in 2012. In the UK, participants have so far raised £14.6m, although not everyone that took part has yet sent in their donations and a Movember spokesperson says the campaign continues to see sign-ups and donations continue well into January.

Nevertheless, Sarah Buchanan, insight director at Precise, suggests that Movember faces a growing challenge in maintaining interest in the campaign.

“Since 2010, the growth of social media mentions has not only slowed but is now in decline, suggesting the campaign has reached awareness saturation. New angles to the campaign and more direct links to fundraising are required to sustain interest and fundraising levels,” she says.

Speaking to Marketing Week in October, co-founder and CEO Adam Garone admitted that maintaining relevance is a big challenge for the brand. This year, the campaign was reinvented to move away from focusing on different types of “gentlemen”, such as country in 2010 and modern in 2011, by introducing “Gen Mo”, a play on demographers’ habit of naming successive eras by letter.

“As for any brand, it is a challenge to maintain relevance, particularly as we become more established. We reinvent the brand each year, but this year is a departure. We want to target a new generation of fundraisers and drive positive change,” he said.

The message around Movember, which aims to raise awareness of and funds for men’s health issues, is also being lost, according to Precise. Some 18 per cent of conversations related to fundraising and awareness this year, down from 27 per cent the previous year.

In comparison, almost two-thirds of all posts were about sharing updates, with the majority including pictures of moustaches. This is up from a third last year.

Buchanan says: “The Movember campaign has gained widespread awareness since its launch. It may well be a victim of its own success with people focusing more on the social sharing element of their facial hair achievements and less on the reasons behind taking part.”

Despite the drop in mentions of men’s health and fundraising, Prostate Cancer UK, one of the main beneficiaries of the Movember campaign, says calls to its helpline were up this year, while its Facebook reach doubled and retweets of its Twitter updates were up by 45 per cent. 

Vivienne Francis, director of communications, at Prostate Cancer UK, says: ”Movember plays a vital role in getting prostate cancer on people’s radars, and is incredibly successful at raising funds to fight it.

“From an awareness perspective, this year alone saw fantastic media coverage, as well as people taking to social media to talk about the disease. Importantly, calls to our helpline were also up, which shows that the message is hitting home, and men are coming to us for support. As partners, we are committed to the fight against prostate cancer, and together we’ll settle for nothing less than changing the face of men’s health forever.”

Despite the weaker social media figures this year, Precise says Movember has enjoyed “extraordinary success”, capturing the attention of traditionally hard to engage young men in a way that many other charities would be envious of. It puts this down to a marketing programme that appeals to people’s egos and sense of fun, while at the same time creating a community and sense of camaraderie.

Latest from Marketing Week