Our social strategy was launched to support teachers during this challenging and divisive election and post-election season. The campaign focused on supporting educators in their quest for nonpartisan resources that explain the political process to students. "Win the White House" teaches students the intricacies of winning an election by challenging them to actually run for president, and to manage everything from fundraising, to advertising, to polling. "Executive Command" shows them just how difficult the job of president is by challenging them to sit in the Oval Office, set an agenda, and try to build support for that agenda.
This country faces a civic education crisis as young voter turnout sags to an all-time low and civics take a backseat to STEM and English Language Arts subjects in K-12 schools. The "Win the White House" and "Executive Command" games and curriculum resources were created to increase civic knowledge and encourage healthy civic dialogue in classrooms across the country. Our goal was to empower and engage our educator community by providing timely nonpartisan resources to help middle and high school students understand the fundamentals of how our democracy works and their role as participants in the process.
The campaign was executed with the combination of social media outreach, traditional media outreach, and a series of influencer campaigns designed to mobilize and give voice to our teacher communities. Working with a nominal ad budget, the success of our campaign strategy relied heavily on influencer marketing and growth hacking techniques.
iCivics created two primary hashtags and landing pages to accompany each game -- "Win the White House" (#EducateToParticipate) and "Executive Command" (#CommandTheExecutive).
Each landing page included high quality, nonpartisan lesson plans, a specialized trailer for each game, infographics about the election and the presidency, webinars aimed at supporting teachers in our difficult political climate, and announcements for Twitter parties (now archived on Storify). They aimed to continue the election literacy discussion among educators and parents. Partner cross promotion, influencer blog posts, and user generated content from teachers on social media were tantamount to promoting each game and the content on their respective landing pages.
We prioritized disseminating useful information that could lead to action in the classroom, specifically lesson plans for teachers covering topics such as The First 100 Days, The Presidential Agenda, Cabinet Building, and Supreme Court Nominations. Each lesson plan was timed to release with actual current events, making them incredibly practical and useful for teachers to maximize engagement.
To support this effort, we promoted these resources on relevant hashtags (ie #GorsuchHearing), mobilized our teacher network through targeted localized email content, built and disseminated Social Media Kits for partners, and dedicated a percentage of grant funding toward Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google ads.
Creating a buzz around our games and resources was due in part to and supported by traditional media campaigns that saw "Win the White House" and "Executive Command" featured in publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Forbes, and Time Magazine. These larger media nods thus generated more interest in our games and provided us with more content to share on social media.
In terms of sheer numbers, this campaign far outpaced our goals. We witnessed unprecedented social media reach and impressions, site numbers and game plays for a nonprofit educational gaming company. Between October 2016 and April 2017, iCivics.org received more than 26 million hits to our site. Our goal for lesson plan pageviews was to average 2,850 pageviews per source. We averaged more than 11,000.
Super Tuesday through Election Day:
Between 11/9/16 and 4/30/17:
We believe our impact went far beyond numbers, to empower teachers to teach an important topic during a very controversial time:
"Using the game in cooperation with non-digital learning became an incredibly dynamic and effective way for students to learn and enjoy the finer points of the voting system in America."
-Samuel Nelson (Shelburne, VT)
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