Comic Relief shifts focus from schools to social media to boost appeal among young people

The charity is partnering with online book community Wattpad and increasing its focus on social platforms such as YouTube and Snapchat, as it looks to find new ways to reach young people and get them interested in its work.

Comic Relief

Comic Relief is rethinking its strategy around engaging younger people in its fundraising campaign as it looks to better communicate with them online and on digital platforms.

The charity is partnering with online storytelling community Wattpad. It allows users to read and share stories online and has a total monthly audience of more than 45 million people. Three-quarters of Wattpad’s British readers are under 24.

The Comic Relief campaign, which launches today (17 February), features a custom commissioned story about teenagers with a crazy fundraising idea written by Leigh Ansell, one of the platform’s most popular writers.

There will also be a Comic Relief custom branded profile on Wattpad where stories will be housed, and the ‘humour’ category will be taken over by the charity.

We know there’s a specific tribe of young creatives on Wattpad. So we’re trying to create something bespoke for them. It moves us away from video to a new format.

Pete Durant, Comic Relief

The campaign marks a shift for Comic Relief, which has spent the last 20 years predominantly focused on building the brand through school programmes. However, as digital has become more prevalent in young people’s lives, it realised it had to evolve the brand “outside of the school context” and connect with its target audience differently.

“[The campaign] is to stay relevant and keep 16-to 24-year-olds emotionally connected with why we exist, and so we are working harder than ever to provide amazing content and experiences,” the brand’s digital partnerships and social media lead Pete Durant tells Marketing Week.

“Rather than taking a one size fits all approach to the audience, we know there’s a specific tribe of young creatives on Wattpad. So we’re trying to create something bespoke for them. It moves us away from video to a new format.”

Alongside the campaign on Wattpad, Comic Relief is also working with YouTube influencers and comedians to get the message out. On Red Nose Day, which takes place on 24 March, the charity will also run a Snapchat Live story.

Durant admits the Wattpad campaign is “a test” for the charity, and that it will be looking at how many people read its stories and engage with the content, and how they react to the issues raised.

He concludes: “This is just one part of a long-term investment in our new approach to young audiences. Later this year, will be launching a longer term creative position and platform for 16- to 24-year-olds, so we hope our Wattpad activity will provide us with learnings to super charge that in summer.”

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  • Joanna F.E 21 Feb 2017 at 5:45 am

    Having never heard of Comic Relief, I think it’s a good idea for them to try and test out different markets where they can advertise themselves to a larger audience. The platforms they are testing out are Wattpad, YouTube and Snapchat. All three platforms have a young audience, which is what Comic Relief is aiming for. I wished the article talked more about what Comic Relief does as a charity, speaking about their previous work so I could get an idea about why exactly they chose to partner with these specific outlets and why they are changing their strategy to involve a younger audience. The campaign involves Wattpad, the website used as a creative outlet and that’s popular among a young market. I have heard about the website but never visited nor had an interest for it. However, the Comic Relief campaign is trying to reach as a broad audience as possible so by them having both YouTube and Snapchat allows them to have all their bases covered. I’m interested in what more they will do with Wattpad, as well as which YouTube personalities they will be working with and what their Snapchat live story will focus on. It’s an interesting approach and in the end, they reached their goal of having people engage with them. I will definitely continue to follow their story and what they do.

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