Facebook Dot Campaign Spurs Thousands To Change Profile Photo for Lung Cancer Awareness

Occasionally on Facebook you’ll see an image campaign that sweeps across Facebook where everyone has changed their profile photo to something. Recently we’ve seen the silly Giraffe riddle campaign that went viral for no purpose/cause. And earlier this year we saw a much more meaningful campaign where over 2.7M people changed their profile photo for human rights to the red and pink equal sign in support of gay marriage.

There’s a new campaign that’s near and dear to my heart: people are updating their profile photos  on Facebook with dots, 13 white dots and one orange dot to be exact.


The dot campaign was created by the Lung Cancer Action Network (LungCAN®), a collaboration network made up of 20 lung cancer organizations across the country [LungCAN is a Social Strand Media client]. The dots are meant to represent the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society’s statistic that 1 in 14 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime. The idea is to get people talking about lung cancer, lack of funding it receives, and that you don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer.  The hope is that people will question the dots and open the door to talk about a disease which has been largely stigmatized and hindered by its association with tobacco since the 1960’s. Lung cancer represents 27% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

The campaign launched last week and which will continue throughout the month of November for lung cancer awareness month, has reached over 50,000 people so far. LungCAN® chose dots because the color for lung cancer is actually, “clear” and incredibly difficult to market. Many organizations represent lung cancer awareness with a white or pearl like ribbon, however, that’s really hard to market especially on an awareness month that is on the heels of breast cancer’s pink ribbon frenzy.

Measuring the ROI of Facebook Profile Photo Image Campaigns

From a social media perspective, these Facebook profile image campaigns can spark conversation, fan engagement (over 500 comments and 900 shares on this campaign so far as of the time of this post) and make headlines. But how do you measure these campaigns effectively? It’s easy to measure reach (brand awareness) and engagement (likes, comments, and shares), but is there a way to actually measure how many people uploaded the photo as their profile photo? From what I can see, there is nothing  in Facebook Analytics which seems to point to that statistic. Facebook Notifications do tell a Page owner when someone has changed their profile photo to your photo, but only show the past 7 days and it only tells you about your Page’s image post. It doesn’t tell you how many people have interacted with that image on shared posts.

Tips for launching your own Facebook Image Campaign

If you’re going to launch your own profile photo campaign on Facebook you need to make sure you are well prepared.

  1. Make sure you have a good graphic so that when it is shared it looks good. When an image is downloaded it tends to compress and gets distorted a little.
  2. Make it clear on what your call-to-action is (like this campaign, the call to action is two-fold: change your profile photo to match theirs and tell your friends and family by copying and pasting or sharing the post.)
  3. Make sure you know what and how you’ll be measuring your success and that it ties back to your goals for the campaign and your overall marketing goals.
  4. Throw some money behind promoting the post via Power Editor.
  5. Send out a newsletter or do a press release to get more coverage of your campaign in case it’s not as successful right off the bat.

Have you tried a profile photo image campaign? How did you measure it? Do you think they are effective for generating brand awareness?

Send to Kindle
About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.