Pure Love: St. Jude Children’s Hospital Celebrates 50 Years—And The Power of Social Media
One key measure of a successful branding campaign is in how it creates positive consumer sentiment about a given company and its offerings. Officially, the concept of “consumer sentiment” arose around the 1950’s as a statistical measurement of the economy’s health as determined by consumer confidence—or lack thereof--in both their own financial situation and the overall economy.
Broadly defined, “sentiment” is an attitude that evolves into a behavior. After all, you have to like something or someone before you show them love, right? Like a brand or company and its people, product, service, philosophy or other attribute, and you are naturally inclined to be more of an influencer, a recommender, a repeat customer, an ambassador, even an acolyte.
In my view, an absolute winner and exemplar of the art is Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962, this world-renowned organization celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Its pioneering work is unsurpassed: established at a time when treatment of childhood cancer was considered futile, St. Jude, “turning no child away,” has played an integral role in improving overall survival rates for stricken children from 20 percent in 1962 to 80 percent today.
Quite aside from the heart-tugging, life-affirming appeal of its young patients, St. Jude masterfully uses social media to support its critical ongoing fundraising efforts. Talk about like: St. Jude’s Facebook page, with over 610,000 likes, is a showcase of the power of sentiment-building, brand-reinforcing, action-oriented content. From the linked “Patient of the Month” profile to the purest consumer sentiments of all—first-hand words of appreciation and shared experiences from St. Jude’s family and friends base—the brand becomes irresistibly magnetic, and in my mind, a model for hospital and healthcare marketing everywhere.
In addition to branded YouTube and Twitter pages, St. Jude also leverages the power of customized social media programming.
Launched this year by PR Newswire, The Earnies is the first community-chosen (voted on by the public) awards program dedicated to earned media campaigns executed through social media channels. St. Jude’s is nominated in two categories: We Can't Believe That Worked!, for an innovative interactive program with a reality TV show, and The Earnies Grand-Prix, for its awareness-raising 'Hoops For St. Jude' campaign.
The winners will be announced via Twitter on February 16—but you know who already has my vote.
Jeff Heilman covers business, marketing, law and travel for a range of custom and trade publications. Also an award-winning photographer and copywriter, he ghostwrote Courageous Counsel, a book on the history of women general counsel in the Fortune 500, published September 2011.