Digital Campaign of the Week: Alcohol Concern's Dry January

The charity is supporting people who are taking part in the challenge with Facebook Q&As and an online game

Dry January
Dry January

What is it?

Since 2013, Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign has encouraged people to abstain from alcohol for 31 days to raise awareness of the health benefits this can bring and the risks of over-indulging. This year, the charity is basing its online campaign around the idea of "taking a holiday from booze" and is asking participants to sign up on its dedicated website to receive email updates. Although this website is fairly basic, Alcohol Concern has been offering many different forms of support and information across its various social media channels. 

What’s happening on Facebook?

On its dedicated Dry January Facebook page, the charity has so far held three Q&A sessions where Dry January participants posted questions for a doctor, an addiction psychiatrist and a dentist. Further sessions are planned throughout the month, including one with a professor of psychology. Its Facebook page, which has almost 37,000 likes, has also been used to post ideas for activities that don’t involve drinking alcohol and alcohol-free alternatives to boozy drinks. The charity is posting updates from people who are taking on the Dry January challenge to provide support and inspiration.

What’s happening on Twitter?

Alcohol Concern also has a Twitter page dedicated to the campaign, where staff have been tweeting advice and support, and retweeting positive messages posted by participants. The page has enlisted support from celebrities including the Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh, the rapper Professor Green and the cookery writer Jack Monroe, who have all tweeted about their participation in the challenge.

What else?

An online game based on Dry January has been created. It can be played either on the charity's website or on Facebook. It involves an alien called Marty who has landed on earth and needs the player to provide him with fuel for his alcohol-powered spaceship in order to get home.

Players can look around a virtual town and explore various buildings – for example, in the office they can take a quiz to find out about the benefits of avoiding or cutting down on alcohol, and in a bar they can learn how to prepare alcohol-free "mocktails" to replace their favourite tipples. Users can invite their Facebook friends to participate in Dry January and report on their progress through the game. For each of these activities they are awarded points, which are then translated into fuel to help the alien get home. 

Third Sector verdict

Although the Dry January website asks participants to make donations to Alcohol Concern if they can, the main focus of the campaign is on the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol, and this is reflected in the charity’s activity on social media.

The online Q&As with medical professionals are a great way to hammer home the health message, and the fact that this is happening on Facebook might encourage participants to pass this information on in their social networks.

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