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Twitter use drives record-breaking social media fundraising

01/07/2010

For all those amongst you who can’t quite see how social media can help short-term fundraising efforts, I present the following tale.

A recent issue of PR week from across the Atlantic (thanks to Andrew Ballenthin for the tip) covered the story of a record-breaking fundraising campaign which used twitter and other social media as it’s starting focus.  In summary, an Atlanta-based social media marketing agency called Everywhere conceived and executed a 24 hour campaign in support of several cancer charities.  The campaign was created in less than a week and raised more than $70,000, setting a Guinness World Record for the most widespread network message in a 24 hour period along the way.  That’s 209,771 mentions on Twitter, Facebook and various blogs.

The campaign was started at a new media event in Las Vegas as an exercise in showing people just how powerful social media can be in influencing behaviours and increasing awareness of various issues.  Event attendees were asked to tweet (#BeatCancer), post a blog or comment on Facebook about the campaign as well as donate if they felt inclined to do so.  The supported charities posted messages on their own websites and social media pages in support of the campaign.

The Everywhere team also approached an interested client of theirs and an event sponsor to participate and, because of the level of interest in social media, both agreed to donate a penny for every viral mention the campaign generated.

Some people will suggest that it worked because it was in the USA where social media is more proactively used.  That getting sponsors involved was what really underpinned the success.  That the very nature of a social media event meant that attendees would be more likely to support a campaign this way.  And there would be some truth in all of these facts.

BUT, let’s look a little more closely as why the campaign was a success:

  • it was well targeted to a receptive audience (relevant and timely)
  • the company sponsors were targeted because of specific existing relationships and areas of interest (knowing your corporate relationships)
  • it leveraged a ‘trigger’ which encouraged the target audience to act (underlying interest in social media and backed up by positive messages provided by the cancer charities)
  • it minimised wastage by letting the viral benefits of social media spread the message to a much wider audience (they asked the event attendees and let them spread the word via their networks)
  • it was integrated into the activities of the supported cancer charities during the event and afterwards, allowing the audience to learn more about the causes and the organisations (no successful campaign ever exists in a vacuum and each charity played its part in supporting the key messages)

This isn’t rocket science; it simply builds on the evolving discipline of integrated marketing where the boundaries between channels and tools are set aside to deliver a much more impactful message.  The audience needs and media preferences drive choices over which communications tools to use and what message to deliver to meet fundraising objectives.  Why, therefore, can’t we integrate our activities to a greater degree more consistently?

Can’t we move towards a world where marketing, fundraising and communications teams work seamlessly in pursuit of the charity’s goals rather than departmental objectives?  Only when we as practitioners get our heads around this idea, will more of us be able to enjoy the kind of success Everywhere has shown is possible with social media.

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