Flat Francis, Pope Francis, and a Lesson in Social Media Campaigns

Flat FrancisA few months ago, the team at Catholic Extension came up with a genius way of building excitement for Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the United States—Flat Francis. Like Flat Stanley before him, Flat Francis has traveled the globe and back and thousands of pictures have poured in across social media of people posing with their Flat Francis

Pope Francis and Flat FrancisLast week Flat Francis made it all the way to the Vatican and actually got to meet the Pope himself, not a bad feat for a cartoon paper cutout. The video of the Pope and his paper counterpart meeting has now been seen by thousands, proving that simple social marketing ideas do work when executed properly.


So what did Catholic Extension do that we can learn from?

Lesson #1: Catch the Coattails:

Pope Francis’ trip to America is a HUGE deal and something that already has Catholics across the country excited. Flat Francis built on that excitement and gave people a chance to be involved.

Now it’s not always possible to tie your campaign to something as big as a papal visit but chances are there is an event or season you can build off of and tie your brand into. This can be as simple as asking people to take a picture of what they’re thankful for and posting it to your page for Thanksgiving.

Lesson # 2: Be Inclusive and Use Multiple Channels

Flat Francis at the VaticanFlat Francis pictures can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or by emailing the images and having the Catholic Extension staff post them instead. People can submit multiple images and group shots are encouraged.

A lot of organizations limit their campaigns to a single channel which can potentially exclude people from participating. By opening up your campaign to multiple social media channels, you cater to your audience and your participants may also choose to participate on more than one channel.

Lesson #3: Keep it Simple: 

Flat Francis FanWith Flat Francis, there are no flaming hoops to jump through and no forms to fill out. People simply take pictures and share them on social media—something they already do everyday.

When building your own campaigns, keep it simple. Ask your audience to take a picture, share an idea, or answer a question. If you ask people to do something more complicated or always require them to fill out a long form, they’re a lot less likely to participate.

What are your tips for running a successful social media campaign? Share your ideas in the comments.


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Author:Michael Ray

Michael is an accomplished Social Media & Marketing Specialist and Writer. Michael’s knowledge of social media integration and marketing collaboration has allowed him to elevate the social presence of various organizations for more than five years.
  • Mario Valdes

    Pope Francis arrives in the US on the feast day of the black saint, Maurice, which this year marks the 1,500 anniversary of the foundation of his “cultus” in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

    As St. George still is to England, St. Maurice had, for more than a millennium, been the soldier / saint / patron / protector of the Holy Roman Empire. The very epitome of the knight in shining armor since the time of Charlemagne, both the lore and the religious symbolism of the historical figure who was martyred along with his entire legion could prove an incomparable source of help and inspiration to young back males here desperate for this kind of positive imagery.

    Even though he and his relic from the Crucifixion were completely ignored, everyone who keeps tabs of film industry scuttlebutt, knows that it was the Spear of St. Maurice, the subject of Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 bestseller, SPEAR OF DESTINY, which had been the basis for the 1981 blockbuster, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and SPEAR OF DESTINY, the prototype of all 3D computer games played today.

    However there is a far earlier and therefore, all too obvious a reason why this saint is still virtually unknown today. With the involvement of most European nations in the slave trade, which of them would have tolerated, much less encouraged, the devotion to a black African who had once been nothing less than the personification of the military might and the religious ambitions of once the greatest world power in Western history.

    As with Pope Benedict’s visit to Germany in 2011 on this date, Pope Francis’ meeting with President Obama at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon cannot be mistaken as simply coincidental.

    Sancte Mauriti, ora pro nobis!