SEVEN SONGS FOR A LONG LIFE

Case study: How can you get maximum attention to a niche documentary about dying when you only have four weeks? Short-term social media campaign, web content management, #MyLastSong video sharing mechanism

The intimate story behind our changing relationship with death
– with great songs!

  • Director: Amy Hardie
  • Producer: Sonja Henrici, SDI Productions
  • Excecutive Producer: Lori Cheatle, Hard Working Movies
  • Outreach Coordinator: Rebecca Day, SDI Productions
  • Outreach supported by: The Doc Society
  • Online Campaign Manager: Ben Kempas, Film & Campaign

SevenSongs_Julie_Mandy2_960.jpg

FILM & CAMPAIGN was in charge of the web-based elements of a short-term campaign around the release of the documentary Seven Songs for a Long Life. This included:

  • planning the website’s functionality and layout and overseeing the graphic design of the site by Joakim Karlsson,

  • building a bespoke website using NationBuilder campaigning software and integrating this site into SDI Productions’ existing NationBuilder CMS/CRM environment,

  • developing an online submission mechanism enabling community-hosted screenings in the context of the UK-wide Hospice Care Week and beyond,

  • conceiving and developing the participatory #MyLastSong social media drive, and building an online submission system for #MyLastSong contributions,

  • running the film’s Facebook and Twitter accounts during the four core weeks of the initial release,

  • publishing daily new content on the website (blog posts, #MyLastSong videos, events) during that time, and training SDI to be able to continue publishing.

This launch campaign was limited to the United Kingdom only.

Key partners were Strathcarron Hospice in Scotland, where the film was shot, and Hospice UK, coordinators of the Hospice Care Week. These partnerships were mostly managed by SDI in-house.

4-week timeframe

The campaign was of a very short-term nature. Key dates were:

  • website launch on 19 September,

  • launch of the #MyLastSong social media drive on 21 September,

  • release of trailer on 22 September,

  • world premiere of the film on 2 October,

  • the UK-wide Hospice Care Week from 5 to 11 October,

  • the Scotland-wide TV broadcast on BBC Two on 16 October,

  • the UK-wide release on BBC iPlayer from 17 October, coinciding with the announcement of DVD pre-orders.

The core campaign time hence covered a period of only four weeks, from 19 September to 17 October 2015.

SING_column_Homepage.jpg#MyLastSong

The aim of the #MyLastSong initiative was for audience members to raise awareness of hospices by singing to camera a song that sums up their own lives, nominating others to do the same, and sharing the video socially using the hashtag.

"What is your last song? What's the song that sums up your life? The one you'd like to be played at your funeral?"

According to Google, the hashtag #MyLastSong was used around 521 times on Twitter, 149 times on Facebook, and 48 times on YouTube. (These numbers may include some occasional historical use of the hashtag prior to its adoption by this campaign.)

22 contributor videos were publicly featured on the website.

Although there was some hope that this initiative may have the potential to go ‘viral’, it did not happen, given the following circumstances that were beyond our control:

  • It turned out to be a major hurdle for people to sing in front of a camera and share this publicly – apparently a far bigger challenge than the #IceBucketChallenge that somewhat inspired #MyLastSong.

  • The seed contributors of the campaign, the members and supporters of Strathcarron Hospice, just kept nominating friends inside the same environment (hospice and friends), but never outside of it.

  • Initial contributors didn’t stick to the rules (i.e. didn't nominate multiple people or even any at all, or name a hospice for awareness or donations).

  • There was no significant attempt to contact celebrities before the launch of the campaign, in order to ask them to take a lead in singing and motivating their vast followings.

Best-performing social media posts

donna_hamill_Cropped.jpgIn chronological order:

The following Facebook graph of post reach shows how, over the course of our 4-week campaign, the need to rely on paid promotion of posts significantly decreased, and the final reach was achieved almost exclusively through organic traffic.

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Conclusions from our 4-week UK launch campaign

The ground work was done, but great potential remained to broaden this campaign:

  • in the UK by collaborating with new partners such as Dying Matters,

  • during the process of releasing the film internationally, as the story appears to be understood beyond Scots borders already,

  • by re-starting #MyLastSong with significant public influencers on board beforehand, not having to rely on a single institution,

  • and by significantly extending the duration of campaigning activities beyond those initial four weeks Film & Campaign was involved in.

Long-term outreach

Since our involvement, the film team has been launching an educational edition, running workshops in connection with the film, and offering the film to health professionals for use with patients as well as in their own professional development (details here).

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