CASE STUDY: Breastfeeding Cut-outs, Selfies, and Analytics…another day at The Spark Mill

#RVABreastfeeds Recap, or how to get 100,000 impressions in a week

The Spark Mill is finally back on the social media scene after taking a short respite to recover from a busy start to August heading the social media campaign for #RVABreastfeeds.  We spent the first ten or so days in August developing a website, posting pictures and stories, and monitoring social media activity surrounding the campaign. August 1-7, 2015 marked the 27th year that World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated internationally, RVA has been a regular participant.  But this year, the approach was different and the organizers brought in The Spark Mill to help achieve their larger goal. 

“Given the recent passage of Virginia legislation protecting women’s right to breastfeed in public, we thought the time was right for a much broader conversation,” said Leslie Lytle, Breastfeeding Coordinator for the City of Richmond.  “Women don’t breastfeed in isolation. The support of fathers, family members, health care providers, and the larger community is critically important in helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals. A social media campaign provides a vehicle to get the word out to multiple audiences that this is an important public health issue in which everyone has a role.” 
One of 10 life size cut outs that appeared all around the city. 

One of 10 life size cut outs that appeared all around the city. 

The campaign was sponsored by the Richmond Health Action Alliance, a coalition funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and administered by the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, a division of the Richmond Department of Social Services. The main goal:  a reduction in childhood obesity through policy, infrastructure, and environmental changes that promote a breastfeeding-friendly and physically active community. 

During the campaign, life-size cutouts of culturally diverse breastfeeding women and families, reflective of the diversity of RVA were placed throughout the city. 

The locations included places that would both spark conversation with the general public as well as places where expectant and new mothers frequent including area farmers markets, grocery stores, hospitals, and free clinics.

The multi-faceted campaign took place via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using #RVABreastfeeds, @RVABreastfeeds, and #ispybreastfeeding, allowing for broad community participation.  People sent in selfies with the cutouts as they happened upon them around town.  There were also pictures of community leaders, police officers, doctors and nurses, and other mothers sharing their support and giving breastfeeding facts and tips.


You may recall Sarah telling ConnectVA during a February interview that nonprofits should be paying attention to social media analytics and using photos and videos to make content more appealing.  She leaned heavily on both of these strategies while managing this campaign and as a result was able to give hard numbers as to how many people were reached through the #rvabreastfeeds effort, which forms of social media were most effective, and was able to alter the direction of the campaing accordingly.  The combination of an almost exclusively visual social media campaign and persistent analyses resulted in an extensive reach.  In one week #RVABreastfeeds had 100k impressions. 

The RVA Breastfeeds team consisted of the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative, Richmond City Health District, Richmond WIC, Nurture, Healthy Hearts Plus II, cBe Consulting, Virginia Breastfeeding Taskforce, VCU Medical Center, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Richmond, Anthem Healthkeepers Plus, and the Institute for Public Health Innovation, with technical support provided by The Spark Mill. RVA Breastfeeds was made possible through funding and in-kind support from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Richmond City WIC, Richmond Healthy Start Initiative and Nurture. 

 The campaign can be found online at, and on Facebook, Twitter - @RVABreastFeeds, and Instagram - @RVABreastfeeds.