Behind the Campaign, with Edelman and Sinch's ‘Text for Humanity'

Satyen Dayal, executive director, tech, and head of diversity and inclusion at Edelman UK, gives the lowdown on the campaign that used mobile technology to encourage positivity.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

To help tackle online negativity and show how businesses can deliver more personalised communications to customers, we created #TextForHumanity – the world’s first texting switchboard – where you can send a positive message to a stranger and receive one in return. Participants are directed to the resources for Mental Health America.

How did the idea come into being?

Cloud-based communications platform Sinch wanted to increase brand awareness, and making it personal became the foundation of the creative. Often nothing is more personal to people than their mobile phones, but phone and social-media use can have negative impacts on wellbeing. We decided to use Sinch’s technology to help increase awareness of mental health.

It was important to do something accessible for everyone, so we decided to take a simple message and supercharge it with Sinch's proprietary tech. From this came the idea of ‘Text for Humanity’.

It wasn’t a simple repackaging of Sinch’s technology, but the invention of an entirely new service. Creatives, creative technologists and Sinch’s internal tech team worked together to turn Sinch’s existing conversation platform into a messaging switchboard. Together they created a new conversational user flow and a bespoke algorithm that converted plain text into individual artworks, available to share on social.

#TextForHumanity demonstrates the full global capabilities of the platform, while sending a powerful message about the brand and the cause it championed.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process.

Edelman was responsible for management and delivery of all of the main campaign components, including planning, creative, influencer, social and earned media. We built the Text For Humanity microsite and developed the campaign assets, including social films. Finally, we ran a crisis audit to ensure all potential eventualities were factored into the delivery.

In tight partnership with the Sinch team, we launched #TextForHumanity just before the most depressing day of the year, 'Blue Monday', via media exclusives and influencers in several countries.

Then the pandemic began, leaving people more restricted, isolated and lonely than ever before. Many have lost loved ones. Others are fighting on the frontline, putting themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us. We quickly adapted the switchboard, so users can now also send messages of unconditional support for frontline heroes – and get one in return.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Running a technology-led campaign will always have its challenges. It’s a huge undertaking to enable mobile users around the world to participate through their preferred channel (SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger), but with commitment and strong collaboration between us and Sinch’s tech experts, we managed to navigate everything.

How did you measure the results?

In a time of hateful comments and increased stress online, we showed that mobile communication can be a solution.

The campaign grew organically, with minimal media spend. It was voluntarily endorsed by Stephen Fry, who shared it with his 12.7m followers. We saw more than 470 million in media reach and 50,000 social-media engagements at launch. Stories in numerous top-tier titles included the NBC Today Show, BBC Radio and The Evening Standard.

In the launch phase, #TextForHumanity sent more than one million words of positivity, with 75,000 messages from 85 countries. This led to a 300 per cent increase in business inquiries for Sinch. web traffic went up 176 per cent. Direct “Sinch” brand traffic went up 40 per cent, and organic search went up 15 per cent. Referral traffic was up 50 per cent and social media traffic up 104 per cent.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

That you can take a well-established technology, like the humble SMS message (considered outdated and boring), and completely reimagine it for the good of both society and business. B2B tech campaigns are always fun to work on, but those infused with imaginative creative and social purpose are an honour.

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