What #bringbackourgirls teaches us about social media

Remember #bringbackourgirls? No?

It’s over 100 days since a group of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, prompting an outpouring of sympathy on Twitter.

The great and the good lined to be photographed holding pieces of paper with the hashtag, including US First Lady Michelle Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and an assortment of celebrities.

On the face of it, it was a brilliant idea, with tens of thousands of retweets. Except that it didn’t work. The girls haven’t been brought back yet, and many of those posting those initial tweets never mentioned it again, distracted by the online car crash that was singer Robin Thicke’s #askThicke Twitter Q&A (forgotten already? Well it was over a week ago) and #WorldCupFinal.

But this isn’t a rant about how superficial social media can sometimes seem, or the way in which tweeting or posting on Facebook is taken by far too many people to be an acceptable substitute for genuine action: this is a marketing blog.

So what lessons are there here for marketers? Simple. Attention spans are shorter than ever, particularly when it comes to social media.

There’s a saying that you’re only as good as your last show/game/job/gig (delete as appropriate) but I’d argue that when it comes to social media that’s no longer true. It doesn’t matter how good your last post was, you can’t expect people to remember it in a week’s time.

The solution? You need to create content on an ongoing basis to ensure that you remain part of the conversation. In the meantime let’s hope that the girls really do go home soon, though it’s unlikely to be because of a Twitter campaign the world sadly forgot.


Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.