Why this Planned Parenthood Facebook Image Won the Post-SOTU Internet

Congraulations to the communications folks at Planned Parenthood Action!* According to Crowdtangle, they won the internet last night with a Facebook post dinging the official Republican response to the State of the Union:


By CrowdTangle’s numbers, this image FAR outperformed the SOTU-related social media content from other liberal/progressive groups, at least in the engagement numbers that social communicators care about: Likes, Shares and Comments. Why did this one post work so well?

1. Timeliness. As CrowdTangle’s Brandon Silverman put it in an email, it was “a real-time response to a breaking event.” To that I’ll add, “a breaking event that millions of people were paying attention to.” And PP’s folks were FAST: they got that image online by 11:15 PM, only 45 minutes after Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers uttered the line about health care choices. I’m going to assume that they had a team of folks ready to pump out social media content around the State of the Union, and that the basic idea behind this image may have been in their minds (and a template open in Photoshop) long before the speech started. This kind of speed is what it takes to strike the iron while it’s hot — in this case, catching your audience before they’ve had time to forget how mad they were.

2. Relevance. This image is PERFECT for Planned Parenthood’s supporters, who often perceive hypocrisy in Republicans’ praise for the power of choice in economic matters but not social or moral ones. Just about any message related to reproductive rights would resonate with the organization’s followers to some extent, but this juxtaposition — of the pro-“choice” healthcare language vs. an anti-abortion bill — is almost guaranteed to really piss them off.

3. Audience. Besides good timing and relevant content, PPAF could reach a Facebook audience of over 450,000 followers, most of them primed to be activists. This strong base of followers provided an instant platform for viral spread, as every Like, Share and Commen exposed the image to more and more people across Facebook. A basic rule of thumb: if you want to start a fire, don’t skimp on the fuel. Planned Parenthood had plenty of gasoline on hand. A final audience observation? Judging from the ratio of Shares to Likes for the post, I suspect that PP sent out an email asking supporters to Share the image, but that’s just a guess.

4. Quality. This image is just a damn good piece of work: it’s simple and straightforward, easy to comprehend at a glance. And in a way you don’t often see, it illustrates (what this audience would perceive as) hypocrisy visually, if only in the form of quotes. The screenshot from Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ speech is also perfect, for several reasons: besides the fact that images with human faces in them tend to perform better on Facebook (among other places) than other visuals do, this graphic is also instantly recognizable by anyone who bothered to watch the speech…including Planned Parenthood fans who might still be seething about it). And, look at that facial expression — perfect.

Well done, PP folks — you win the #SOTU Rapid Response Lottery! Your prize? The acclaim of your peers…which ain’t too bad at all.


*Note: Planned Parenthood’s digital director, Heather Holdridge, is an old friend.

Written by
Colin Delany
View all articles
1 comment
  • Republicans don’t consider abortion of an unborn human fetus to be health care so I don’t see how there is any hypocrisy. Planned Parenthood is just using word games and not making a logically valid point from an argumentation standpoint.