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#NotMyTeen: Empowering Parents to Prevent Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

Entered in Social Good Campaign

About this entry

Skittles, red devils, vitamin D: ever noticed a teen texting these words to a friend? Odds are she isn't referring to candy or vitamins. The reality is those words are just a few of the slang terms teens use on social media to exchange stories and experiences about abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high. In fact, 1 in 20 teens are abusing OTC cough medicine. Even more alarming, only 59% of teens strongly believe abusing cough medicine to get high is risky. Who is one of the most powerful influencers to dissuade a teen from engaging in this behavior? Parents. The Partnership at says that teens whose parents talk to them about drugs are half as likely to abuse drugs. In honor of October’s National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, SOMA Strategies partnered with, a site run by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, to help raise awareness about this issue and empower parents with education and information through a highly targeted integrated digital campaign on a shoestring budget. Our challenge was tremendous: there is no shortage of chatter online about dangerous teen behaviors - between sexting, drugs, alcohol or online safety. We had to creatively cut through the noise to capture busy parent's attention and do so in an empowering fashion. In addition, we wanted to not just inform parents but we wanted to engage them in conversations – with their teen and with one another. To that end, we created a positive hashtag, #NotMyTeen. No parent wants to think their teen is engaging in risky behavior. By strategically positioning the campaign as a positive and constructive initiative, suggesting intervention first, we made a difficult and off-putting topic more approachable and digestible to anyone, particularly when the task is to engage parents on addiction issues and teens. Realizing that a great hashtag alone is not a social media strategy, we deployed a three part approach: • Engaging online parenting influencers with widely read blog audiences; • Deploying highly targeted Twitter messages; • Creating visually compelling and shareable key messages (infographics). Our goal was to empower parents to make sure that its #NotMyTeen. Today's successful digital campaign requires a complex infusion of tactics and timing; it must incorporate engaging and personal messages that reach the right audience at the optimal time and it must compel a reader to not just read but share the content with their readers. Additionally, each message must be altered for the specific social media channel. We took a multi-faceted approach involving Twitter and online influencers in the blogosphere, all using consistent messaging and branding, and the outcome exceeded our key performance indicators for success. We reached 16 million parents with a budget of $23,000. To kick-off the month-long campaign, we hosted a Twitter party with Mom It Forward on October 1 around the hashtag #NotMyTeen. In one hour, over 1500 tweets were sent, with over 200 parents nationwide engaging in a conversation about prevention and education. #NotMyTeen became the top Twitter trend nationally during the Twitter party and we increased the Twitter followers to @StopMedAbuse by 24 percent. The Twitter party alone generated 13.3 million impressions. According to CNBC, companies are now paying $200,000 a day for the promoted trend positioning above the viral trending topics on Twitter. A price tag that exceeds the total amount invested in our viral month long efforts by almost 90 percent. Successful social media campaigns also rely upon visuals. We developed two engaging and shareable infographics providing parents with quick but useful tips on prevention and education to be sure its #NotMyTeen. Between the Twitter party and working with bloggers, our infographics were shared over 200 times on Twitter in October. Recognizing that digital parents today turn to other parents as resources for challenges and struggles with parenting, along with seeking a sense of community, the core of our strategy rested on partnering with credible bloggers to engage their followers around the #NotMyTeen and the StopMedicineAbuse efforts. We deliberately selected 10 leading national parenting bloggers who have tweens and teens at home. Working specifically with bloggers with tweens and teens at home gave credibility and authenticity to their voice and experiences on the challenges of raising healthy teens and ensured we were reaching our target audience – fellow parents of tweens and teens. We selected bloggers with tremendous reach and complementary strengths/platform visibility; some excelled at reaching parents on Facebook, others through their large Twitter following, others were more dynamic with engaging their communities in the comments section of their blog. In aggregate, our diverse group of bloggers helped deliver a balanced, strategic and effective reach across multiple channels on social media, generating over 1 million impressions. With the above buzz, we secured the attention of national parenting media. Kyra Phillips interviewed a StopMedicineAbuse spokeswoman on a Raising America segment on CNN's Headline News. Additionally, Parents Magazine ran a piece online about #NotMyTeen and included one of our educational infographics. Our reach extended into radio coverage, including a coveted interview on Mom Talk Radio, the first nationally syndicated radio show specifically for moms, airing on 50 stations nationwide. One of our partnering bloggers, Dr. Melissa Arca, gave an interview with the American Academy of Pediatrics radio show Radio MD, and lent her expertise as a pediatrician to the conversation on how parents can best ensure its #NotMyTeen. Media coverage helped fulfill our goal of a highly targeted campaign reaching parents and resulted in an additional 1.4 million impressions. Ultimately the true testament to the effectiveness of the #NotMyTeen efforts came in the engagement level with the parenting bloggers. Over 100 comments were posted on the bloggers' posts, all supportive and grateful for the messaging while exchanging thoughts on the challenges of raising healthy teens today. The blog posts were retweeted almost 80 times. "Great information. It is so important to be aware and to have constant open communication with your kids," commented one parent in response to a #NotMyTeen blog post. "Do you know what Robotripping is? Or Skittles? If you are the parent of a teen, you have to read this," commented another reader on Facebook. "Tweeting this" commented another blog reader; a simple message powerfully demonstrating that we were achieving our goals of engagement and sharing among our core audience of parents. We set out to reach our target audience, and then engage them as opposed to talk at them; an effort uniquely possible on social media. We are proud that we've started an important dialogue with parents online. The program success certainly affirms that there is an appetite for #NotMyTeen among parents. Throughout October we generated 16 million impressions successfully reaching our target audience, raising awareness about teen cough medicine abuse, and engaging parents in substantive conversation.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

SOMA Strategies


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