Facebook and Twitter Ads, Persuasion and Reframing ME Awareness

I'd planned to relax and watch TV today but I feel like I need to mind-dump before I can switch off mentally. It's not really appropriate for my Tips for ME blog but I thought you might be interested:

For the last couple of years I've found ME Awareness Day exciting at the time - newsfeed completely filled with advocacy tweets etc. It feels like we're communicating really loudly. Then on reflection I wonder whether any of it gets beyond a spoonie echo chamber? It would be unlikely that much from my Twitter account does because it is ME/spoonie focused so everyone already knows about ME!

In a "Why not?!" mood I've decided to try to break out of the echo chamber by putting a small amount of money on Twitter and Facebook ads to promote my May12blogbomb post and also to link directly to donating to ME Research UK just for 12th May.

I'm not an expert on marketing but I'm not a complete amateur either. A previous job involved recruiting volunteers and within that role I project managed the overhaul of a small disability charity marketing/website, with input from an advertising professional who worked pro bono. I also ran very small budgets on facebook ads and Googlead which had some success. Recruiting good volunteers got a lot easier.

[Edit: you can see how the ads went in this write up: https://tipsforme.files.wordpress.c...witter-ad-experiment-for-me-awareness-day.pdf ]

Over the last couple of months I've been playing around with awareness images (eg ME is like). I've also put more effort into my blog post in the hope it will be seen widely.

I've been reading up on Persuasion tactics and copy writing. This is where I think it gets really relevant for pwme to get it right.


I came across this useful article on Monday after finishing my blog post :( . Although focused on race equality legal advocates is worthwhile reading for any pwme interested in advocacy and influencing opinion about ME (especially towards the end of the article):


“[framing] is critical [to winning a public debate] because a frame, once established in the mind of the reader (or listener, viewer, etc.), leads that person almost inevitably towards the conclusion desired by the framer, and it blocks consideration of other facts and interpretations.” George Lakoff

" our brains mapped experience and everything we associated with that experience onto synaptic pathways, which, depending on the intensity of the experience or the frequency with which it was repeated, would become more or less strongly mapped and, under similar circumstances, usher us toward conclusions about “good” or “bad,” “safe” or “not safe,” without the delay of engaging our much slower conscious mind. In a related development, humans also developed a psychological preference for certainty as opposed to internal conflict and indecisiveness."

Persuading people of your point of view is often not really about logical argument, how we are taught to write for essays (which I think we are quite good at). It is about activating framings/schema/neural pathways. Values trump facts.

A key point is never to bring up the opposing argument. The person wasn't thinking about it before, now they are. At best you activate an uncomfortable Confusion Framing, at worst they think "no I believe the other guy". For example, "They say it is False Illness beliefs, we say it is neuroimmune" is completely the wrong way to go about it. It is very unlikely anyone else was thinking about False Illness beliefs, now they are and they're doubting the credibility of your point of view. The point is about who activates the idea in the person's brain (it is OK to discuss once someone else has brought it up). Whenever we bring up an opposing argument we're reinforcing the point of view we want to challenge.

There is a way to challenge but it is with a different tactic.

1) You start with shared values (see p412- for us this may involve access to healthcare for all, Human Rights, equality, society safety net, accountability, ethics, transparent public services/funding). (Or start with 4 solution to prevent compassion fatigue)
2) Explain that the System related to given shared value is broken (research not commensurate with burden of disease, problems with FOI requests, data not open). Note this is the System, no mention of competing arguments.
3) Not exceptional - any of them could be in this situation. Lots of people get ME it isn't unusual (MillionsMissing= brilliant for this). Avoid Inspiration Porn - we aren't amazing or brave this is just our difficult situation. The point is they or their children could get ME (but more subtle than that phrase!)
4) Give a clear solution and call to action so they know what to do and it isn't futile (donate, signup, petition)

Futility - people won't take action or donate if they think it is futile and nothing will change.

Complexity - people want to alleviate suffering BUT when a problem is complex people's opinion can shift to blaming people for bringing problems on themselves to avoid the difficult feelings (Hanson and Hanson). I believe this has happened in ME. We have a complex, multi-systemic condition which has baffled even researchers. Rather than seeing it as futile, and therefore difficult for them emotionally, the public has blamed us (Yuppie Flu, burnout, false illness beliefs, malingering, scroungers etc).

We can probably overcome futility and complexity problems by:
1) avoid reference to complexity or vague symptoms ('multisystemic' is probably OK)
2) avoid phrases that makes it sound like so little research has been done that they know nothing about it (this is a danger because very little research has been done which we want to highlight as a system breakdown issue)
3) emphasise recent advances - biomarker test in sight, rituximab (probably good to mention that it's a cancer drug that has effect on pwme)

Other tips

I can't remember where I've read these (see links below).

Powerful words: you, new, free, because, now, new post

Direct call to action: on social media people do what you ask them directly to do: learn more (link), donate now, Retweet, Please RT, please share, you can help
Although facebook can sometimes penalise for direct pleas to share and like if not a paid ad (may need to be more subtle)

Because: saying there's a reason is persuasive even if the reason itself makes little sense. "Please donate because I am sick" may work as well as a more elaborate explanation.

Facebook ad options: oCPM works badly under 1 million targetted, optimised for lowest bid and safest option if lots targetted, best for conversion. CPM (cost per thousand views) is good for general awareness campaigns. CPC (cost per click) can include paying for any click eg likes, shares.

Facebook copy: Headline 5 words, Ad post 14 words ish, link description 18 words ish. Keep tight and to the point.

Valence score: words with a positive OR negative tone do better, avoid completely emotionally neutral words (or both positive and negative so they balance out)

Plan of Action

Free Trials have been useful, especially as it's just for 1 day (bulkbuffer, Buffer for Business, AdEspresso, Roundteam).

Things I have put in motion:
1) 2 Twitter ads, one aimed just at medics the other at people interested in Social Policy (and high earners and people that give to charity and people who watch programmes like Newsnight, House, West Wing). Total £20
2) A load of facebook ads generated by Adespresso (not sure I'd use this technique again, hard on brainfog). 3 campaigns: a) medics again, just by targetting relevant professions (b) professions that influence opinion such as journalists, politicians, screenwriters, actors. Optimising for impressions but with link to my blog (c) same people as b but also managers and other professionals with the aim just to get donations straight to ME Research UK (linked to their donation page). Total £20
3) I've used Buffer to schedule my social media posts for tomorrow. If I'm having a bad day you'll have no idea!
4) I've set up Roundteam to retweet tweets about certain # eg #May12blogbomb #MillionsMissing from people I trust to write good tweets (it won't RT all, settings eg not more than once an hour, 20% chance of RT even if satisfy other criteria)

Will it work? I have no idea! I'll let you know the click and impressions stats afterwards. Ideally people will donate more than I've paid for the ads, but I'll have no way of knowing that.

[Edit: you can see how the ads went in this write up: https://tipsforme.files.wordpress.c...witter-ad-experiment-for-me-awareness-day.pdf ]


Examples of my Facebook Ad copy:

There are #MillionsMissing Worldwide to #MEcfs

Please share for ME Awareness Day

You Can Help People with ME

Ad texts

There is a Humans Rights angle to the invisibility of people with ME. Please make us visible.

A quarter of people with ME are housebound or bedbound. Our voices aren't being heard. Please be our amplifier.

It is hard to keep going with the relentless symptoms of #MEcfs. We need your help to spread awareness of the condition.

There are #MillionsMissing from society worldwide. We are people with ME. We have something to say.


Relevant links from my bookmarks:


11am May 12 The ads are live. I'm glad I did lots of variations as they're performing quite differently. The social policy Twitter one is exhausted already - too high CPC. The Facebook medic one is struggling to get any impressions (perhaps they are working!) but 1/3 click rate. This may be ideal for a longer campaign. The temptation is to keep tweaking settings. The Facebook social influencers ad is in danger of exhaustion. Do l just let that happen?
I'm keeping some notes on here because I just won't be able to keep them in my head.
Another thing I've done is over the year I've been building up private Twitter lists eg ME friendly journalists and famous people with ME. Actually tweeting them directly and asking to RT seems to work quite well. You can also get an endorsement for what you've written (social proof). This is free but we would need to be careful not to annoy the same people over and over...
BTW I've just been shown this ad: £75 free Google ads when you spend £25 (probably cos I've started writing about ads?). You could use it for MillionsMissing. I probably don't have the spoons.
In summary if I was going to do this again advice to myself would be:
1 Medic response would be good to build on with targeted ads, relevant wording and pictures
2 Combined with this people seem to respond to the link with Florence Nightingale (it is also #InternationalNursesDay). There is a lot of scope to build on this - nursing, she invented piecharts (and we have some showing ME relatively underfunded), the history of her illness
3 write different ads for Facebook and Twitter
4 avoid text in images for Facebook but this works well in twitter
5 don't neglect free tactics such as asking influential people to retweet

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