Video case study: #SelfieWithShakespeare

User-generated content campaign results in 200% lift in social engagement to secure SBT a share of voice at an exceptionally busy time for Shakespeare-interest organisations.

On a limited budget we developed a user-generated content campaign to increase brand awareness and reach for SBT at a time when all Shakespeare-interest organisations were competing particularly hard for attention. The campaign #SelfieWithShakespeare tapped into the popularity of taking self-portaits on mobiles in a simple and compelling way, with phenomenal results.

The challenge

The campaign had four key objectives:

  • Extend the SBT’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (and his 452nd birthday) onto social media
  • Increase brand awareness and reach
  • Gain share of voice for SBT at this important time of year for Shakespeare institutions
  • Maximise user-generated content to really engage the audience, and minimise strain on SBT resources at this busy time

The insight

Social media is 80% me, me, me. When researchers analysed thousands of social media messages, they found they could group users by the nature of the content they posted – 20% informers, and 80% “meformers”. Crudely speaking, 80% of users post about themselves, while only 20% inform their followers about other things.

The most successful user-generated content campaigns we found in research started with a catalyst, something to provoke users into generating a response. In all cases, the successful campaigns were those in which the brand went first, really went for it, and then rewarded people who jumped in after them with exposure.

Anyone can take a selfie. A huge proportion of the population have access to smartphones. And at tourist attractions like Shakespeare’s family homes, they’re already in people’s hands as they wander round the site.

On the back of our findings, we created #SelfieWithShakespeare, an accessible, engaging interactive campaign that combined on- and offline elements to remarkable success.


After just a few weeks of activity from the beginning of April, hundreds of #SelfieWithShakespeare images were taken all over the world, by people from all walks of life.

The Twitter profile saw a 94% increase in tweets gaining over 200% increases in potential reach, impressions, and engagements, compared to the same period in 2015.

The campaign was a finalist in the Social Buzz Awards 2016, and months on, though originally intended to build up to a single weekend, it is still working hard for the Trust.

#SelfiewithShakespeare succeeded in meeting our objectives, and also resulted in a higher than usual level of engagement. Visitors are still using the props now to take selfies, extending the campaign beyond our original expectations. The innovative use of Snapchat geofilters in this campaign was also very successful. mark-making* helped us reach international audiences, gaining us a great share of online voice during such a high profile period.

Marketing Officer, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, May 2016

About markmaking*

mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications