In an effort to curb and prevent youth e-cigarette use, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services reimagined a popular social media trend as an opportunity to educate and engage young audiences on the dangers of vaping. Through a collaboration between Connecticut’s Tobacco Enforcement Division, the Connecticut Clearing House, local influencers, and a professional marketing team, the Know Ur Vape campaign not only surprised its target demographic but also garnered significant attention and positive engagement.
A popular trend across social media platforms are “unboxing” videos, where packages are opened and reviewed on-screen. In the Know Ur Vape campaign, a unique twist was placed on the content that was unboxed. In one video, an influencer unboxed a talking stuffed animal which mimicked nicotine withdrawal symptoms by incessantly requesting to be held. In another video, an influencer opened a “sports box”, which reinforced the message that vaping decreases athletic performance.
The key to Know Ur Vape’s success lay in the selection of influencers who could effectively relay the message. The team strategically chose local athletes from the University of Connecticut, given their popularity and local hero status, as well as influencers from various niches, including beauty and movie reviews. In the vetting process, Kelley Edwards, CT’s Behavioral Health Program Manager, noted it was crucial to ensure that the selected influencers’ pre-existing content aligned with the campaign message to maintain authenticity.
The process for carrying out the campaign involved careful planning and feedback loops to ensure that the message was delivered effectively while also empowering the influencers to make these anti-vaping messages their own. Simultaneously, a dedicated landing page, knowurvape.com, was created to provide interested viewers with more information on vaping dangers and resources for quitting.
Since the campaign’s launch in June 2023, the results have been impressive. The campaign videos received a staggering 177,656 views across various social media platforms, with 18,905 likes and 776 comments. This level of engagement demonstrated that the message was not only heard but also resonated with the target audience. On TikTok alone, the videos reached 113,904 views, with top influencers garnering tens of thousands of views and likes. On Instagram, one post reached 24,600 views. The positive response from viewers also underscored the success of the campaign.
What sets Know Ur Vape apart is the empowerment of young influencers to share critical health messages with their peers. By aligning influencers’ content with the campaign message and allowing them creative freedom, the campaign struck a balance that resonated with audiences. This artistic expression, combined with the surprise factor, made the message more compelling.
In the fight against youth vaping, Connecticut’s innovative social media campaign has proven that engaging and educating young audiences requires creativity and authenticity. By enlisting local influencers and allowing them to infuse their unique styles into the message, the campaign achieved remarkable success. The message has reached thousands of viewers, prompting them to reconsider the risks of vaping. As this initiative continues to evolve, other communities can look to tackle similar challenges creatively. For those interested in replicating this approach, the campaign organizers are eager to offer their guidance and support – join the conversation and check out Kelley’s recent post in the CADCA Community.