Mobile media and fundraising: how to get $100,000 in donations in less than two hours

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Momentum Awards Dinner, organized by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) and held at the Hilton Chicago, where about 950 attendees contributed to raising $100,000 to help the CEC reach their total goal of more than a $1 million raised.

At 7 pm, the fundraising total stood at a little over $900,000, but by 9 pm, the total had topped $1 million. How did the CEC raise $100,000 in less than two hours while we ate dinner? Brilliant yet simple–they launched a mobile phone campaign using provides the platform for people to pledge donations using their mobile phones.’s website describes their services as the following:

“Add excitement and raise more money at your next event with a mobile phone campaign by During your event, guests will be able to send tribute messages and philanthropic pledges from their mobile phones. Within moments, their messages appear on the video screen and their pledges are added to the tally. Your donors receive instant recognition for their generosity, which encourages other guests to give spontaneously. More than 78% of people who attend fundraising events are non-donating guests or comps. And more than 91% of those will never become donors. With a campaign, you can convert these prospects into donors at your event, when their interest is at its peak. The donors receive instant recognition, while your organization captures their phone number for future follow-up.”

And it worked. People texted, people gave, their messages popped up on the screen, people clapped, other people contributed, bigger and bigger donations started rolling in to top the previous ones, people cheered. Text messages were heartfelt and some were funny. Most pledges ranged from $50 to $5,000, plus some bigger donations and matches. The crowd was charged, sitting at the edge of their seats, looking up at the screen every time a new pledge popped up, and the crowning achievement came at the end of course, when the final tally was revealed.

You could say that the strategy here was the use of “mobile” media and not so much traditional “social” media, but I would argue that the “social” aspect comes into play because the CEC engaged their audience and encouraged them to take action by donating. Engagement and a call to action are the cornerstones of any good social media plan.

A little background on the CEC: The CEC identifies promising entrepreneurs and helps them build high-growth, sustainable businesses that serve as platforms for economic development and civic leadership for the Chicagoland area. Since 2003, the CEC has helped entrepreneurs secure $268.5 million in revenue, raised $160 million in financing, and created or retained 6,350 jobs. The CEC is funded through private entities, corporations, budding and successful entrepreneurs, established businesses and academia.

Takeaway: Nonprofit organizations, such as the CEC, that depend on contributions to run their programs should integrate mobile device technology into their marketing strategy to increase donations and aid in their fundraising efforts.

Posted in Integrated Marketing, Mobile Devices, Nonprofit, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other website

Social media not only connects people with each other, but also with just about everything they buy, watch and consume. Nielsen’s new social media report looks at trends and consumption patterns across social media platforms in the U.S. and explores the rising influence of social media on consumer behavior. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, their biggest finding is that Americans spent over 53 billion minutes on Facebook during May 2011, making it the most visited site on the internet.

Some other important findings by Nielsen’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report” include:

• Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the internet
• Females and 18-34-year-olds are the most active social networkers
• Nearly 40 percent of social media users accessed content via mobile phones
• Users aged 55+ are driving the growth of social networking through mobile devices
• 53 percent of social networkers follow brands and 70 percent of active adult social networkers shop online

As marketers, now that we know that Americans are on Facebook for extended minutes each day, how do we engage them? Fan count (liking a page) alone is not a good metric for engagement. Community engagement (likes and comments) on average sits around 3 percent, according to Moontoast. To increase interaction with the fan, companies and organizations should utilize different types of content to drive conversations that deepen the relationship with the community and drive “potential fans” to “superfans.” According to Moontoast, there are five types of fans at different levels of engagement: potential fan, engaged fan, advocate fan, purchasing fan–and last but not least, superfan. In order to attract a potential fan, you must have reach (active fans, high count of shares, likes and comments that help word of mouth advertising). Once a potential fan has chosen to “like” your brand, you must interact with them to take them from potential fan –> engaged fan. After engagement, it becomes critical to drive impressions into sales (ROI) and turn the engaged fan –> purchasing fan. A purchasing fan then becomes –> advocate fan or super fan by referring and promoting your brand to their network of friends and family.

The following graphic by Moontoast shows the anatomy of a Facebook fan (click on graphic for full-size image).

So how do you turn potential fans to super fans? Here are some key methods to engage fans on Facebook:

Surveys – Ask your community questions to get feedback – do you like this or this?
Photos – Share photos of live events, behind the scenes at the office, photos that prompt comments (what do you think of this?) and photos of new products. Ask questions in the title or description of the photo and participate in the comment thread.
Videos – Use a similar strategy to photos or take a queue from the Old Spice guy and make custom videos for specific users in your community based on a question they ask.
Comments – Comments are what started social. Jump in to your community’s posts and comment on them. Conversations take the relationship to a deeper level.
Free Downloads – Offer communities something for free. Free is the first step toward commerce. Some of the best campaigns have been free offers that let people discover something new from their friends. Friend-to-friend marketing is the essence of social media.
Commerce – Fans want discounts and they want to receive notices of the next sale. Learn from the wave of discount retail sites and implement similar strategies to your Facebook page.

Introducing commerce as part of your overall social media strategy is a great way to reward fans and create buzz about your Facebook page. Commerce comes into play when you empower your Facebook page to reward those fans with great offers. That could be deep discounts, items only sold to Facebook fans, limited edition or autographed items, etc. Teach a community to show up every Tuesday at 10 am for a deal, and you will reach an entirely new level because suddenly it will be worth it to them. Commerce is a great way for a Facebook fan to get a payoff. If you treat customers well, word will spread.

Takeaway: While Americans spend a lot of time on Facebook, fan count (liking a page) is not a good metric for engagement. To increase interaction with the fan, marketers should utilize different types of content to drive conversations that deepen the relationship with the community and drive “potential fans” to “superfans.”

Posted in Advocates, Facebook, Mobile Devices, ROI, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

People care about causes more than brands

People rarely wonder about what they can do to promote or support a brand or product, but they do dream of ways to help their favorite cause. Whether it’s ending poverty, saving the environment or supporting a local charity, many people are more likely to share something they are passionate about.

It comes as no surprise that non-profits and charities, more so than major corporations, have made a push into the world of online social media–and reaped its benefits. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research recently completed its fourth study on the usage of social media by US charities. While in 2009, ninety-seven percent of charitable organizations were using some form of social media, the latest study found that ALL of the top charities in the US are now using at least one form of social media. Their strategy appears to be one of promoting their cause through blogs, video and social networking sites.

So how do you get people to support your cause, regardless of whether you are for- or non-profit?

1. Create a strong theme with clear goals

CREE created the “Lighting the LED Revolution” campaign that aims to “make energy-wasting, traditional lighting technologies obsolete through the use of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly LED Lighting.” While not a cause in the humanitarian sense, this does educate people and get them excited about being a part of something bigger than a brand or product.

In this video, TreeHugger founder Graham Hill explains the mission of one of his campaigns “Life Edited” as “less is more” and promotes a contest designed to bring awareness to the campaign.

2. Identify your target audience and best social strategy

Rather than leap into every form of social media, for- and non-profit organizations should think about what best fits their needs. They should identify their target audience and choose the channels, messages and types of activities that work best for those audiences.

Most charities feel that video is by far the best way to tell a story online. The organization Invisible People brings awareness to the plight of homeless people by using simple, candid videos like the following:

Another social media tool used effectively by non-profit organizations is Twitter. The hashtag #charitytuesday allows anyone (on Tuesdays) to give thanks or raise awareness for charities they care about. By using this strategy, non-profits can get their name in front of people who already support other causes and may be interested in finding out about new ones.

3. Energize and motivate your supporters to take action

Do you want your supporters to bring in new volunteers, raise general awareness of your charity and its work, or is there a specific call to action that you want your supporters to perform? For each goal, you should think about how best to motivate your supporters to to take action.

The Pepsi Refresh Project is giving away millions of dollars to individuals and non-profits who come up with “refreshing” ideas that receive the most votes. Pepsi successfully connects their brand with social causes and attracts millions of people to their website without asking them to purchase a single product. One of the organizations entered in the Refresh Project is Life is Labs and to get more votes, they have the following calls to action on their Facebook page:

And the best way to get animal lovers to take action—show them who would benefit from their help:

Posted in Advocates, Social Media, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using social media effectively in the real estate industry

The key to using social media effectively in the real estate industry is not to simply create a presence online, but to participate. According to, 84% of real estate professionals are now using social media. The main benefit of social media is an increase in the quality of the referral traffic back to an agent or broker’s main website. Experts are not only seeing more traffic coming in, but visitors coming in from social media sites are staying longer and looking at more content—something that had been seen with search engines but not in such large numbers.

Click the image to enlarge
Social media killed the blog stars
Via: Fixr

The Corcoran Group, for example, created a Twitter account strictly for new listings, while their main Twitter account stays fresh with local and industry news. Because there are so many factors that must align to make a listing pertinent to a single customer, such as pricing, location and size, there is a high probability that most listings do not pertain to everyone. While an occasional listing may be appreciated by your social media community, many experts advocate engaging your audience with industry knowledge (education and statistics) and an expert perspective (commentary), rather than alienating users with useless information.

There are many sites with specialized sections for real estate professionals to lend their expertise, such as Trulia Voices and Zillow Advice. A typical question on either site will yield quite a few answers from agents or brokers specializing in a specific geographic region or area of real estate. This type of interaction with potential customers is a great way to build a credible reputation and name recognition for future consideration.

YouTube also presents a valid platform for sharing real estate tips. For example, Keller Williams Realty International maintains a YouTube channel full of videos on monthly real estate reports, real estate advice and current company events. They boast more than 970,000 video views, 294,000 channel views and more than 4,500 subscribers. Similarly, the Corcoran Group uses their YouTube channel to feature CEO Pam Liebman answering questions posed by Facebook and Twitter followers regarding the state of the housing market and New York living tips.

In order to use social media effectively as a real estate professional, you must find ways to showcase your expertise and local knowledge. As you provide useful, relevant information to others, you will see an increase in interaction and as a result, an increase in business.

Posted in Branding, Real Estate, Social Media, Strategy, Twitter, YouTube | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to inspire brand loyalty in a crowded marketplace

When it comes to earning and maintaining brand loyalty, there’s no one right strategy–grocery stores have loyalty cards, airlines have frequent flyer miles, some online retailers offer free shipping, while others award exclusive member discounts. But marketers need to understand that loyalty is not just a program, it’s a long-term business goal. Loyalty programs should focus on two things–engagement and building lasting relationships with customers. With the help of social media, it is now easier for marketers to inspire brand loyalty because there are more touch points than ever before. You can build brand loyalty, even in a crowded marketplace, by following a few basic rules.

1. Meet customer needs

Customer loyalty centers around the perceived value of your brand. Good marketing involves identifying the needs and wants of customers and offering products and services that satisfy these needs and wants. Consider Zipcar. Zipcar identified a customer segment living in densely populated areas who wanted the convenience of private transportation without the hassles and cost of owning a car. Zipcar now enjoys the support of more than 400,000 loyal users.

Good user research is not just about finding out what customers want, but to develop empathy. Costco CEO Jim Sinegal walks the aisles every week to feel what their customers feel. Without that level of empathy, a lot of Costco’s innovations wouldn’t have come about–like their “14% rule” that limits the markup on every item in their store. It may not make sense to a shareholder, but to the shopper on the floor, it stands for value and fairness, which makes Costco shoppers some of North America’s most loyal customers. The snowboarding company Burton provides another great example of customer empathy. A designer walked in one day with a photo of a snowboarder’s calf, covered in bruises from a long day on the slopes. “Fix this!” he demanded, and the team immediately knew that this was a problem worth solving and began looking for a solution.

2. Customer satisfaction

Harris Interactive reports that even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers, with 60% often or always paying more for a better experience. A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience and about 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people, according to a Consumer Affairs report. On the other hand, happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4 to 6 people. With social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it is now faster and easier for people to share their experiences with their friends, so companies need to keep their customers happy and give them a good reason to talk about them.

With more than 25 million members, Netflix believes that honesty and an apology go a long way in building customer loyalty. On August 31, 2009, they emailed a large number of their subscribers to apologize for a streaming outage that occurred the day before and offered everyone, even users who were not affected by the outage, a refund. As a result of actions like this, Netflix gets more than 70 percent of its new customers from referrals.

3. Give valuable rewards

Whether it be coupons, discounts, giveaways or other gifts, a reward is only good if it means something to the customer receiving it. Imagine getting socks for your birthday when you wanted something else–that’s not going to inspire any kind of loyalty. Today’s customers want loyalty programs to be “about me” — individual, relevant and meaningful. Personally relevant deals are the second most frequently chosen reason for spending more with a company, mentioned by 48% of people, according to new research by Ipsos Mori and The Logic Group. Data collection and usage is extremely important in building relevancy. Brands need to use the information they collect strategically to show customers they’re listening and give them what they’re asking for.

4. Engage and be human

Marketers now realize that although spend and number of transactions are important, the real goal of customer loyalty initiatives is to engage customers. Because with engagement comes loyalty, advocacy and trust. According to Gallup research, organizations that have optimized engagement have outperformed their competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth. Their customers buy more, spend more, return more often, and stay longer. Companies can use social media to provide useful and engaging content and give their fans a reason to visit their site regularly.

One way to engage customers is to show that your company is human. For example, Lands’ End tells customers upfront that the people, not machines, who make their clothing sometimes make mistakes. It’s a proactive olive branch that if you buy from Lands’ End and receive something that is not up to their usual standards, they will take care of you. It humanizes the company and strengthens the connection between Lands’ End and their customers, thereby building a lasting loyalty.

Posted in Brand Identity, Branding, Customer Service, Reputation Management, Social Media, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why do companies provide customer service on Twitter, but not on Facebook?

Regardless of industry, there seems to be a disparity in how companies respond to customer complaints online. Some do a great job of addressing customer issues on Twitter, but some of these same companies seem unwilling to respond to complaints on Facebook.

According to Edison Research, social media now reaches the majority of Americans over the age of 12, with 52% having a profile on one or more social networks. Twitter is as familiar to Americans as Facebook (with 92% and 93% familiarity, respectively); however, Twitter usage stands at 8% of Americans 12 years and older.

So if Facebook is more widely used, why are companies giving customers the cold shoulder on Facebook? The airline industry is notorious for ignoring customer complaints on Facebook. Most of the major carriers have the following statements posted on the info section of their Facebook page:




While it is becoming more common for customers to seek out service online, it seems that companies are not willing or equipped to handle service issues on Facebook. In contrast, Twitter is growing as a channel for customer service as more individuals and businesses sign up for Twitter, and also as customers are more successful at getting their issues resolved via Twitter instead of traditional communications channels.

There are several advantages to using Twitter for customer service–it is real-time and provides an easy way to search for customer mentions/complaints that can be addressed or replied to very quickly. Customers spend a lot of time on the phone on hold and companies can save both time and money by using alternative channels to communicate with current and potential customers. Twitter also makes it easy for customers to share their gripes, as well as their positive experiences, with all the people in their network. Let’s be realistic–how many people have a good customer service experience on the phone and then call their friends to tell them about it?

All of Twitter’s advantages hold true for Facebook–it is also real-time (companies would know as soon as anyone posted anything on their wall) and complaints are also easy to track and can be replied to in the same amount of time it takes to reply on Twitter. It’s basically the same concept–just a different platform. So if a company has a dedicated person or team to address customer service issues on Twitter, why can’t they do the same on Facebook?

A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that two important benefits of using social media are to increase favorable perceptions of a company/organization and its products and services and to identify service opportunities. It can also reduce business costs (provided that a significant number of your customers are on Twitter and Facebook). But none of these goals can be accomplished if customer complaints are left unacknowledged on company Facebook pages.

A lot of businesses (like the airlines) view their Facebook page as a billboard for their company–something static that distributes a message in the outbound direction only. When in fact, they should be thinking of it as an interactive community where customer complaints are not only heard, but acknowledged and resolved immediately. Every touch point is an opportunity to make a good impression on customers, especially on such a high-visibility platform like Facebook. Turnover is so quick on Twitter that a complaint gets exposure for a few hours, but a complaint on a company’s Facebook wall is permanent (unless deleted) and more visible for others to read over and over again.

Here’s an example of the same company (Southwest) addressing a customer complaint on Twitter but ignoring a complaint on Facebook:

And here are just two examples of many customer complaints ignored on Facebook:

Here’s an example of the way complaints should be addressed on Facebook, however, Delta made the mistake of deleting the first part of this customer’s complaint, making an angry customer even angrier.

Sometimes your largest protesters can become advocates with a little bit of care and attention. If you don’t provide some source of customer service on both Facebook and Twitter or redirect to someone who can help, you’re risking your company’s reputation.

Posted in Advocates, Airlines, Customer Service, Facebook, Reputation Management, Travel, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to empower employees to interact directly with customers via social media

While traditional marketing and advertising lets you maintain control over your message, social media lets you bypass gatekeepers and interact directly with customers to collect immediate feedback and facilitate real-time interactions. This ability to bypass the “middle man” allows communicators to be more efficient, responsive and helpful.

Some companies are testing this theory by putting their employees on the front lines. They are creating Facebook and Twitter accounts for their employees and training and empowering them to post content, interact directly with customers and build networks online.

Case Study: Trunk Club

The business model for Trunk Club (Men’s Outfitters) is ingenious. It’s based on the notion that most men would rather have a root canal than to go shopping for clothes (or they’re busy professionals who don’t have time to shop). Trunk Club associates step in to save the day by personally hand selecting a “trunk” of clothes for you based on your preferences. The process is described in three easy steps:

Step 1.
Talk with a Trunk Club expert via phone or email, or build your profile online.
Step 2.
Receive your personalized trunk via FedEx along with a pre-paid return label.
Step 3.
Try on your clothes. Keep what you like, send the rest back at no cost to you.

On Trunk Club’s Facebook page, their sales associates interact directly with customers–it’s a fun and friendly way to promote their services and products and also to showcase feedback from happy customers.

In addition to providing a direct communication link to your target audience, this type of employee-customer interaction via Facebook can lead to more website traffic, additional sales and increased brand recognition and loyalty.

For more information on how Trunk Club works, see the following video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Posted in Customer Service, Facebook, Retail, Social Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment