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Friday, May 20, 2011

Social Media for a Cause

Yesterday Gillian Muessig (President of SEOmoz and my SEOmom) asked me to do her a favor, and when SEOmom asks me to help her out, help her out I shall do.

She sent me a link to Chase Community Giving and described the charity she has been working with for a while now and is needing help in getting enough votes to get the much needed $25,000. The charity is called the "The Akshaya Patra Foundation" which is the world's largest NGO-run midday meal program, feeding 1.3 million children each day in over 8,000 schools through 18 kitchens in 8 states in India.  Being a woman passionate about children and aiding people in other countries, I naturally took this one on. Not to mention that on 5/19 they where at 210 votes with 6 days to get to 200,000 votes we had a long ways to go. Gillian was at first discouraged, but I know if social media goes viral in the right ways anything is possible. So I immediately did the math - in order to get to 200k in 6 days if we could get at least 200 people (which is about where they where at to begin with) to each share to one person and ask that person to vote then we could double the amount of votes in 1 day. From there it's just a matter of getting each person that votes to encourage 5 friends to vote (or vote 5 times themselves and get one friend to share and vote 5 times) then day one should end with 2x what they started with. From there - if each person votes and shares to 5 people the viral effect should take hold and the numbers should grow to 250,000 by the 5th day.

Here's how it works:
Day 1 get to share to at least one friend - 200x2=400
Day 2 get those 400 to share to 5 friends - 400x5= 2,000
Day 3 get those 2000 people to share to 5 friends - 2,000x5= 10,000
Day 4 get those 10,000 people to share to 5 friends - 10,000x5=50,000
Day 5 get those 50,000 people to share to 5 friends - 50,000x5=250,000

So naturally by day 6 we should be well over the 200,000 votes...

How are we doing it you ask?
The beauty of marketing in social media for charities is that they are a charity. Asking people to vote for a person or a product is one thing, but asking them to give to help feed starving children, well it just tugs at the heart strings. Which is the driving success of any social media effort. It's not just about messaging, imagery, user experience, numbers, and any other traditional marketing strategy. It starts with emotion and social engagement first and then messaging, imagery, user experience, and numbers to drive the success.

So I started naturally started with a post to my Facebook status asking people to vote and share it out as well. The awesome thing too is that the page for the charity offers up ways to share it out and get people to vote (smart). A simple click to the Facebook like icon and I added a comment "This one is VERY important - we need 200,000 votes by May 25th. Help me spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status..." But oops - I forgot the call to action to "vote", so while I shared it out, I didn't quite get the messaging right. What I should have said was "This one is VERY important - we need 200,000 votes by May 25th - go vote and then help me spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status..." but then I didn't tug at the emotions of the people I am sharing to, so some of my friends thought it was spam (doh). So once again, I revised the post "Help us fight childhood hunger and promote education to the children in India. We need 200k votes by 5/25 to raise $25k - go vote and spread the word by copying and pasting this and posting to your status...".

From there I utilized some of the pages and groups I manage. The only thing is that the message and the nature of the charity didn't match up with the demographic of some of the pages. The "I had 'Learning Disabilities' as a kid and now I'm a genius" and the "Breakfast Sandwich" pages were both a prime example of where NOT to post a request to help a charity. The fans of those pages are looking for certain things, and starving children in India was not one of them. But I have others - and those pages (while not 100% the demographic we where looking for) could be worked into helping out. I refrained from using any of the Wappow business pages (the Wappow page, and the Social Day page are focused on marketing and social media marketing and to stray for even one post would discourage our fans), but the SEOGoddess fan page has a level of personality, and enough fans to make a difference, that twisting the message to work with the audience could actually grab some attention. So here's what I posted "President of SEOmoz, Gillian Muessig asked me to help her get votes for her favorite charity. I'm a sucker for helping to feed children in other countries so I voted... If you get a chance, go vote and get your friends to vote - we need 200k votes by 5/25 to raise $25k from Chase Community Giving." It ties in the SEO community by mentioning Gillian and the company she runs (in which SEOGoddess fans are also familiar with), and validates the post by mentioning what the charity does, and where the money is coming from. I also pulled in the sense of urgency and challenge (which sparks the competitive emotion in people) by mentioning the goal of getting 200k votes by 5/25. If you also notice, I validated why SEOGoddess is helping the charity herself (or myself as you look at it).  By tagging Gillian, SEOmoz, and Chase it also puts the post on the walls of each of them (if they allow it in their settings) which validates each mention with a link to them, plus gets more exposure. Oh, and I didn't forget the 2 call to actions - 1) Go vote, and 2) Share with your friends.

But I didn't stop there...
I have a few strategies and tricks up my sleeve as a marketer. Asking friends to help share things out on a personal level goes a long way. I have found most times if I write out the message myself and send an email with an explanation as to why I am asking them, and why they should do it most times they are more than happy to help out. The trick is to email the people who's followers (and friends) are going to be the right demographic for the message. I wouldn't ask my Mother or Father to share this out (my Mom had a hard time even taking a cruise to Greece as it was just too foreign for her) so supporting children in another country isn't her thing. Not to mention her friends would think something is wrong with her. My Father is in Real Estate... (do I really need to explain why that demographic won't work?).  So I selected a handful of friends in the SEO industry that know Gillian and SEOmoz well. I also hit a couple of friends that have been known to support charities similar to this one that aren't in the industry. So between Googletalk and Emails I managed to  ask over 50 of my friends to help out. Each one came back with a "I'd be happy to"... It was because of the choice of demographic in friends, and their followers, and the personal messaging from me that encouraged them to say "yes". Now whether they message it right is up to them. I do at times have something to copy and paste, but a lot of times how I say something isn't necessarily the way they would say it so it doesn't quite come across right.
Of course there is still lot's more we can do - but at least we are off to a great start.
As of last night (after a full day of sharing) they where up to 260 votes (6:15 pm pst) and 690 this morning (6:30 am pst). As of now they are at 925 (1:35 pm pst) and growing each time I refresh the page. So according to the plan we should end with 2,000 today and continue to grow as each person votes each day (up to 5 times) and shares to 5 people who vote, and those 5 people share to 5 people who each vote and share and so on.

So when you get a chance today - go vote and share to at least 5 friends: http://wppw.me/4ZwVP 
Don't forget to ask your friends to vote and share (and dont' forget to get your messaging in)...