How a social media campaign influenced a sector

Kirsty Marrins
Digital communications specialist
30 Jan 2018

Jo Foster, diversity & inclusion manager at the IET, shares how they planned and delivered their successful #9percentisnotenough campaign.

At the end of 2016, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) launched its #9percentisnotenough campaign to highlight the fact that only 9% of engineers in the UK were women – and that this was not enough.

We encouraged woman engineers from all fields of engineering to put their hands up and be counted on social media as part of the 9% to make this the IET’s most successful social media campaign – winning four social media accolades along the way.

To raise awareness of this fact, we asked people to share a picture with 9% written on their hand, tweeting us using the hashtag #9percentisnotenough. The tagline was simply: “Raise your hand if you agree that #9percentisnotenough”.

The importance of research for a campaign

We researched how feminist and charitable campaign messages had managed to breakthrough into popular consciousness. We found that there was clearly an audience for pro-engineering, feminist messages. For example, we looked at the simple (yet wildly effective) #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag that went viral on Twitter. We also examined the positive response to a tweet that UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson sent to a young girl, which was to ignore her Dad’s suggestion that engineering was a man’s profession, tweeting that she should “become an engineer”.

Our research had shown that it was possible to use Twitter to discover and connect with a new audience of young women engineers. We have a strong base of followers on Twitter. Our main @TheIET account has over 40K followers, and our niche @IETAwards account has 4K followers. Twitter was also selected for tracking purposes.

Our campaign strategy

We wanted to draw out young woman engineers on Twitter, with our 9% statistic, so that we could then also make them aware of our YWE awards ceremony.

In order to reach that audience, we decided to use a user-generated content marketing strategy in the hope that our campaign might take off in a viral way.

One of the measures of our success would be if we increased the number of young woman engineers who followed our @IETAwards Twitter account.

Monitoring and engaging with the hashtag was essential to the campaign. A key tactic involved us ‘quote retweeting’ a large number of people who took part – this worked very well.

The results

The campaign was a huge success with hundreds of people taking part to show their support, including politicians Lindsay Hoyle, Chuka Umunna, Chi Onwurah and Heidi Alexander as well as Robot Wars judge Noel Sharkey, television presenter Natasha Kaplinsky and technology reporter Kate Russell.

The campaign achieved 18 pieces of coverage across a range of media outlets, including BBC News online. While a press release was sent out about the campaign to relevant media, a lot of the outlets covered the campaign without being approached – we think this shows just how far reaching the campaign has been.

We also gained an extra 291 followers on our @IETAwards channel (most of whom are young woman engineers). Crucially, 86.36% of registrations to the ceremony were female – a 20% increase from 2015.

The campaign was taken all the way to Parliament, where it gained the support of MPs such as engineer Chi Onwurah, Angela Smith and Kerry McCarthy ahead of the Awards 2017 launch.

On International Women in Engineering Day 2017, we celebrated with a #9percentisnotenough conference. CEOs and senior leaders from some of the UK’s top engineering companies joined us to discuss ideas on how we could find practical solutions to inspire, attract, recruit and retain more women in engineering and technology roles.

To date, the campaign has had 78 million impressions and the hashtag has been used over 10,000 times – our single most popular tweet, on Ada Lovelace Day 2016, was retweeted 645 times and had 654 likes, totalling 131,000 impressions.

A top tip from the IET’s marketing and communications teams

Campaigns without clear objectives often fizzle out really quickly so start by thinking about what you’re trying to achieve and dedicate some time to planning. It’s really important to do your research – work out what works well, and what doesn’t and make sure your call to action or cause resonates with your audience. If your campaign relies on user-generated content, make it really simple and easy so that people will want to take part.

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