It’s a Tuesday morning and instead of getting ready for work, I’m making my way through a series of videos of a woman from Essex cleaning her shower door.
For those of you who don’t know – and who probably think I’ve lost my mind – I’m referring to the Instagram videos (aka Stories) posted by Mrs Hinch, a new 'Insta-celeb', who has gained fame, fortune and followers by sharing short clips of her innately addictive cleaning routine.
I’ve no doubt how bizarre it must sound that a person could gain celebrity status by filming themselves scrubbing the inside of a washing machine, but for Mrs Hinch, it is very much a reality. And it’s a reality that has come with an Instagram community of 1.8 million people.
Mrs Hinch, aka 29-year old Sophie Hinchcliffe, has been open about her struggles with anxiety and claims cleaning – particularly the satisfaction of the end result – can help to control it. Thus, she started using her Instagram profile as a way of sharing some of her cleaning hacks, with the hope it could provide others with the same relief.
Latching onto this concept, many fans of the modern-day Mrs Mop now see her page as a support mechanism for anxiety and depression and are quickly logging on to join the #HinchArmy, all of whom are ‘hinching’ themselves towards happiness.
“As someone who suffers with mental health, I’ve never found anything that helps with my episodes and weirdly, #hinching has really helped make a difference. Thank you @mrshinch home, you honestly don’t know how much you have helped me overcome my illness,” one follower wrote.
Whilst I’m sat here watching this total stranger scrub away at her shower screen (apparently a bit of Cif does the trick, FYI), it occurs to me that if a hairdresser with a passion for cleaning can inadvertently generate such a large and adoring community, imagine what possibilities await for charities, too.
Let's put this into perspective. If Mrs Hinch was the name of a registered charity, and the charity’s cause was mental health, then this charity would have raised millions for its cause in the past year alone. Except our hypothetical charity doesn’t need to raise millions of pounds, because it has built a beneficiary-base of millions of people, many of whom are being provided with the advice, care and community they need directly.
I am not naive enough to assume the 'charity' works for free – of course Mrs Hinch affords to do what she does thanks to advertising income and a new £1 million book deal – but these are effectively just the equivalent of corporate sponsors.
Instead, the Mrs Hinch 'charity' is providing a direct solution and service to its community, simply by existing – through oddly-satisfying videos of shiny shower doors and steam-mopped floors. An incredibly clever woman has taken a simple, but effective, anxiety relief and monopolised on it, helping endless amounts of people in the process.
So how can charities replicate this process? In order to provide a service, or a solution, to beneficiaries, you would first need to highlight a common problem that concerns a large volume of people and can be linked to your cause. In the case of Mrs Hinch, the common problem is the lack of desire to clean; we all need to do it, but rarely do we enjoy it, and the link to the cause is the effect cleaning can have on mental health.
Let's say a cancer charity were to trial a similar process. Smoking could be identified as the common problem, and learning how to take simple, feasible and daily steps towards quitting could be the solution. Instead of sharing horrifying images of black lungs and clogged arteries, said cancer charity could instead try using a dedicated social media account to help people through the process of quitting, and make quitting more enjoyable in the process.
The result for the cause? A large community of people are able to quit smoking and reduce their chances of cancer. The result for the charity? It's community grows and some of its services are extremely direct.
Of course the 'Hinch method' won't work for every charity, and I am fully aware there are hundreds of charities working on similar campaigns already. However, it merely highlights that the impact through social media should never be underestimated.
While many charities doing a sterling job of utilising this tool to fundraise, a quick scan of comments from the #HinchArmy will show you that an audience can be engaged using much simpler methods than first thought.