Disclosure: This work was done in partnership with Allen Strategic.
Apply Responsibly is a public education effort to educate Californians in urban areas about responsible ways to use, handle, store and dispose of a wide range of home and garden pesticide products. The goal is to keep pyrethroids, and other pesticides, out of California's waterways.
There are about nine standard tips for how to correctly use and dispose of pyrethroids. The coalition in charge of Apply Responsibly (The Pyrethroids Working Group) wanted a way to get these tips in front of potential and current pesticide users.
Apply Responsibly changes their campaign theme each year to keep things interesting; however, the end goal is always the same – get people to take a quick online quiz so they can learn about the tips. The quiz lives on both the website and Facebook page. Just by taking the quiz you receive a free gift from Apply Responsibly. Gifts have included items such as California native wildflower seeds, refrigerator magnets, note cards, etc.
To get people to the quiz, ads are run on GoogleAds, Facebook, BART trains and regional transit bus shelters. Ads emphasizing the free gift as well as the overall message of "Do You Apply Responsibly?"
Testing on target audiences, ad copy and imagery are done continuously throughout the three to four month campaign so content can be tweaked realtime. We not only run ads, but also promote popular posts that are shared and liked by followers.
Content for the Facebook page is centered around gardeners – posts focus on gardening topics with pesticide related posts making up only a small percentage of the material. Some of the most popular posts have included sharing water-wise gardening ideas from California gardeners.
Apply Responsibly has been happy with the campaign results. Not only have people continued to be engaged in the Facebook and Pinterest pages, there has been very little negative response by the public. We keep a close eye on comments and very rarely decide to remove something. Those who promote the use of organic or non-pesticide alternatives are always open to share their opinions – as long as their comments are not inflammatory or contain curse words.
Using a variety of analytics we have been able to track how many people take the quick, visit the website and like the Facebook page as a result of our ads. Each year we have substantially improved our results from the one prior. Analytics play a large role in the success of this program.
As another sign of the program's success, outside organizations repeatedly ask Apply Responsibly for their educational materials to pass out at events. This has made Apply Responsibly especially happy as it gets their message out to an even larger audience with very little effort or cost.
When you have a subject matter with the potential of negative feedback from the public, it is hard to put yourself out there on social media. But for every one negative comment, there are now thousands of people who have learned and shared about how to apply and dispose of pesticides correctly.
If you have a story worth telling, people WILL listen.