Joanna Kerman discusses how she and her team at The Christ Hospital executed their viral Baby Shark Week campaign

Our team wanted to capitalize more on pop culture and events happening in the community. Joanna Kerman
Earlier this summer, Social Media Consultant Joanna Kerman and her team at The Christ Hospital planned and deployed a week-long campaign called Baby Shark Week — which played off the ultra-popular “Baby Shark Dance” YouTube video and Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week series.

The campaign featured a giveaway of limited-edition Baby Shark onesies and two free adult passes to Newport Aquarium for babies born during Shark Week (July 28 – August 3) and their parents. It also prompted the hospital’s social media followers to enter a contest to win Baby Shark-themed swag.

The campaign received national media attention and ultimately reached about 17-million people across social media.

The idea came about during a meeting Joanna had with two of her colleagues on the marketing team: Senior Media Relations Consultant Bo McMillan and Senior Marketing Consultant April Debban.
“Our team wanted to capitalize more on pop culture and events happening in the community,” she said. “Shark Week was coming up the week of July 28th, so we sat down to brainstorm.”

The team already had a monthly onesie giveaway program in place, so it was a natural expansion of that idea. “When a baby is born on a certain day of the month, that baby receives a limited-edition onesie,” Joanna said. “We decided to celebrate Shark Week with a onesie campaign through the whole week, rather than a single day.”

The team also included one of the hospital’s local partners, Newport Aquarium, in the campaign to make the concept even stronger, Joanna said.

Before they could begin planning the campaign, the team had to focus on getting Newport Aquarium on board.

We made sure to tailor the contest to each platform, respectively, since Facebook and Instagram have different audiences and capabilities. Joanna Kerman
The Christ Hospital marketing team met with Newport Aquarium Public Relations Manager Jen Tan to brainstorm the partnership for Baby Shark Week and found out the aquarium was celebrating a new baby shark during their “Shark Summer” event. Highlighting Baby Shark Week alongside an already-successful event by the aquarium made perfect sense.

The Christ Hospital team anticipated 200 babies being born that week, so, along with tying in Baby Shark Week to Shark Summer, the aquarium also gave a pair of tickets to each family, which totaled about a $10,000 value.

“Their marketing team is significantly smaller than ours, so we did most of the heavy lifting to make it as easy on them as possible,” Joanna said.

Joanna headed up creating the social strategy and schedule for the campaign, which lived on The Christ Hospital’s Facebook and Instagram channels.

“We shared four big posts on Instagram and Facebook, which included a teaser post, a video I worked on with our in-house team, the Baby Shark Week announcement, and then the contest,” she said. “We made sure to tailor the contest to each platform, respectively, since Facebook and Instagram have different audiences and capabilities.”

On Facebook, they asked followers to share videos of their friends or family participating in Shark Week or dancing to the “Baby Shark Dance” video and to like The Christ Hospital and Newport Aquarium pages. Joanna said they only spent $500 to promote the contest post and received 25 submissions.

The Instagram contest post urged followers to tag two people, comment with their favorite kind of shark, and follow The Christ Hospital and Newport Aquarium pages. “We didn’t gain a lot of followers on Facebook, but we did gain over 100 followers on Instagram that week,” Joanna said.

She ensured the campaign was amplified across their other platforms as well.

We used the filter branding and imagery on the onesies so the whole campaign would have the same visual feel. Joanna Kerman
The team already had a Baby Shark Snapchat filter set up for their birthing centers before the campaign began. “We used the filter branding and imagery on the onesies so the whole campaign would have the same visual feel,” Joanna said.

To drive visibility on Twitter as well, she shared a couple posts about Baby Shark Week and tweeted at Discovery Channel.

Newport Aquarium also shared all of the campaign and contest posts to their social pages. According to Joanna, this was helpful because the aquarium’s Instagram page has about 24k more followers than The Christ Hospital’s page.

On top of their follower growth on Instagram, the Baby Shark Week campaign began to garner media attention and quickly went viral.

“We were not expecting that at all,” Joanna said. “When we execute the onesie program every month, Bo always pitches it to the local media. He did the same thing this time, but by the second or third day of Baby Shark Week, we knew it was going to be big.”

Bo started to get phone calls from national outlets including CNN and Good Morning America, and the campaign was shared on those outlets’ digital channels.

To stay on top of off-hours monitoring once the campaign went viral, Joanna and her team created a group text. “Every time we got another big news hit or noteworthy share on social media, we sent it to the group,” she said.

After Baby Shark Week ended, Joanna put together recap reports to share with other teams across the hospital.

She said they put together reports for each individual Christ Hospital social post, but the more impressive metric was how many times the story was shared by other outlets. “From an earned media perspective, we used Meltwater to track all of our hits,” Joanna said. “Our earned media value was $1.7 million.”

Our earned media value was $1.7 million. Joanna Kerman
From a social perspective, she used the same tool to flag any social posts that had to do with the campaign. She found nearly 200 of them — 150 of which were on Twitter. “Most of the conversation was happening on Twitter, followed by Facebook,” Joanna said.

Once she tagged all of the mentions across social, Meltwater estimated the campaign had reached about 17-million people.

Moving forward, Joanna is focused on their next onesie giveaway campaign and working with more local partners.

The team hasn’t decided whether they’ll do the Baby Shark Week campaign again next year, but they’re looking forward to possibly partnering with the Cincinnati Zoo for an upcoming onesie giveaway.

“Fiona the hippo lives there,” Joanna said. “She’s a national sensation and the Zoo has a huge social media following, so it would be my dream to collaborate with them.”

For other social media leaders at big hospitals, Joanna emphasized the importance of being willing to try new ideas.

There's value in leveraging an initiative you already have in place and thinking outside the box. Joanna Kerman
“You should never be afraid to run with an idea,” she said. “If you think it could be too big, don’t be afraid to explore it, because sometimes it’ll end up working in your favor.”

She explained that some of their success during Baby Shark Week came from their existing onesie program and suggested taking a look at your existing efforts to potentially build one of them out into a bigger social campaign.

“Find out how you can switch it up or take a different approach,” she said. “There’s value in leveraging an initiative you already have in place and thinking outside the box.”

Joanna Kerman has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2019. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.