Plan International Social Media Campaign

#GirlsTakeover Nonprofit Global Hashtag Campaign

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Children’s charity Plan International social media campaign empowered teenage girls to become government and business leaders for a day. The mock takeover happened in more than 50 countries around the world.

Political and business figures symbolically stepped down to let girls take charge of issues important to them, be it as CEO, mayor or Director-General of the United Nations in Geneva.

Plan International accompanied their campaign with a social media hashtag campaign called #GirlsTakeover.

We talked to Danny Plunkett, Plan International’s Head of Content and Creative, about the challenges of running and coordinating a global hashtag campaign.

Were you hesitant about running an international hashtag campaign?

We have previously run international hashtag campaigns so were not hesitant. But not all hashtag campaigns are equally strong or successful. Frequently hashtags are just a gamble on activity going viral.

The #GirlsTakeover hashtag worked in part because there was organised, real-world activity taking place in so many different locations, being run by many different parts of our federated organisation. It also worked because it’s an instantly understandable concept that strongly appeals to social media users who are interested in supporting the rights of girls and women.

Did you consider using hashtags in multiple languages before you chose #girlstakeover?

Offices in different countries did coin their own hashtags to suit their local language. Our request at the global level was that they also include the English language hashtag in their messages. There were some territories where for local reasons, the GirlsTakeover hashtag wasn’t suitable. So we did monitor for some additional hashtags within

How did you coordinate your worldwide campaign? Was one social media team responsible or multiple teams?

A global digital team in the UK was responsible for promoting the use of the hashtag across our organisation and ensuring that materials were shared in the optimum way to feature in the app. For example, we had to educate parts of the organisation about the practice and importance of geotagging so that posts would appear on the social map. We also pushed hard for the inclusion of images or video in posts to make the wall more engaging and impactful.

In each territory, there were local staff updating their national social profiles and so long as they used the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or had let us know in advance about their plans for Facebook, we were able to pull their content into the wall.

Remember that posts can only show up on your Social Map if they’re correctly geotagged. Educate your local team(s) about geotagging so they can pass the information on. Find out more about how our Social Map feature works on our blog.

How did you handle social wall moderation?

As an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls, we have to moderate content to ensure it promotes the values of the organisation.’s advanced moderation function came in really handy. We worked a rota system with a single individual responsible for moderating the stream manually on a full-time basis for a few hours at a time. Our colleague in Asia handled the moderation for the first part of the day. She handed over to the UK HQ early in the day and then we handed over control to a colleague in Latin America in the evening. Staff would occasionally double up on moderating the posts.

It can be a challenge not to miss posts, so we separately had to constantly update our information about when countries were likely to be posting content and the profiles they would be using to search for that content if we did not see it in the moderation stream.’s search function does a good job of filtering posts, so that helped us to track down content when we needed to.

3 Key Takeaways from the Plan International Social Media Campaign

There are a few things we can all learn from the successful GirlsTakeover campaign, not just about international campaigns but about hashtag marketing in general.

Combine hashtags with an event

GirlsTakeover based their hashtag campaign on a real-world activity. The connection to something tangible made it easier for social media users to understand the campaign. That’s not to say that hashtag campaigns without real-world equivalents can’t be successful — not at all. It’s just harder for people to get on board with an abstract concept. Real-world activities and events also provide hashtag campaigns with shareable imagery. When looking at the social wall, it feels much more like something is actually happening in the world.

Coordinate global teams centrally

The biggest challenge for many global hashtag campaigns is that they usually involve various social media teams spread over various time zones around the world. In order for global campaigns to run smoothly, these distributed teams have to be well-coordinated.

It makes sense to put one team in charge of all social media efforts, the way GirlsTakeover and the recently featured METRO campaign have done. The central team is responsible for setting benchmarks, creating guides and keeping everyone on track. Moderation of the social media wall can and should be distributed. A social media team spread over different time zones can make sure the social wall has a moderator pretty much 24/7.

Think global when it comes to hashtags

Allow regional hashtags but pull everything together with a unified global hashtag. You can also monitor for the regional hashtags wherever they are necessary and ask local teams to ensure that the global hashtag is always used in conjunction with their own hashtags.

We want to make sure you can pull all the content you need from as many profiles as you need. So, if you need access to more profiles than we currently offer in our Premium plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a custom plan.