These contests are multichannel marketing and social media driven adventures that can be extremely exciting! Contests produce a ton of data, including hard numbers such as the number of donations, highest and lowest donation, etc. that can make the biggest stat geek and ROI analysts thrilled. They also produce fantastic survey data, case studies and media reports. The end result is an incredible jambalaya of data.
In the banking industry, every banker sits on their own personal gold mine of knowledge, best practices, policies, spread sheets, vendor experiences, etc. What if all of a sudden every banker got access to everyone else’s work? Imagine how much money they could save, benefitting from all the new ideas they would each have to improve their business – it would change the way everyone does their jobs. The playing field could finally be leveled for small and large banks alike.
But that doesn’t happen, does it? The reasons are purely human nature: Between being too busy, leery of posting items on open discussion forums, protective of the time invested in a project, and reluctant to have their work fall into their competitors’ hands, few are inclined to relinquish their intellectual property online.
Through trial and error over the past three years, cbanc Network has built a model that addresses all of these natural concerns, and we have successfully convinced risk-averse, low-tech, competitive business professionals to proactively, willingly share their best work online.
cbanc works on a free market concept, where bankers ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ intellectual property using points instead of dollars. People are incented to share because the more they sell, the more points they earn to buy what they need. No one gets taken advantage of. No one can free load. Users can hide their content from their competitors. This is an online portal that is safe, secure, and certain to help save banks time and money. Everyone wins.
While the platform creates engaged users, introducing the points economy increases the back-office complexity. All of the sudden, you have to think about micro-economic factors that can influence members’ usage, such as point inflation, point velocity and ensuring that the value of the content sufficiently backs the points.
With positive growth and adoption from a normally risk-adverse industry, cbanc is now the largest repository of banker-authored, board-approved, exam-tested content on the Internet. Is this the next generation for social media engagement, i.e. a LinkedIn on steroids? Hard to say. Our takeaway in the end is that the word ‘collaboration’ can have real meaning and impact if structured in a way that resonates with users.
An example of the Fifth Estate and the Long Tail theories at work is Twestival, an online fundraising event run by the enterprising Amanda Rose. The organized group of meet-ups uses a wide variety of social media tools to organize and promote simultaneous events in hundreds of cities across the globe, all to fundraise for charity. People throughout the world were empowered to set up their own event, show up and act on behalf of causes.
With three Twestivals in 2009 and 2010, Twestival has seen tens of thousands of people partake in charitable fundraising. Two of the fundraisers were for specific charities, charity: water and Concern, with the middle Twestival benefited local charity in each host city. At the time of writing a fourth Twestival for 2011 was being planned, again to benefit local charity.
Twestival provides people a means to benefit a cause and the opportunity to volunteer and be apart of something bigger. They can participate in event organization, or simply show up and network. Organizer Amando Rose enforces brand and basic event guidelines, and lets cities get creative with their events.
Twitter plays a primary role in outreach for the fundraising series of events. “Twitter allows a platform for organizers to shout out requests that normally might have taken weeks or months to arrange,” said Amanda Rose. “Thanks to a sea of people who pass it along, a tweet might appear a few minutes later that reads ‘I can help with that.’ It is extremely motivating for a local volunteer team to see the way their community pulls together to make this event a success.”
Additional tools have included WhatGives!? widgets powered by PayPal linked to cities and real-time leaderboards. WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous blogs are used for local city events. GoToMeeting is used for global organizers for meetings and presentations without being in the same room, and Huddle was used great for online collaboration and sharing of documents.
The tools are used to foster relationships on a local level. Rose and organizers do connect on the national level, too. Finally, the two global charities found that they developed grassroots networks on a local level as a result of Twestival.
The three Twestivals have raised more than $1.2 million via micro donations in the form of a small $25 cover charge, individual sponsorships and small corporate sponsorships. In addition to the $1.2 million, tens of thousands of people across the globe have attended a Twestival.
“Twestival is able to attract a large number of people because we make it a special event and different from your average meetup,” said Amanda Rose. “For those attending events I think it is really satisfying to know that every single dollar of your event is going directly to support projects – it is something people can feel good about.
“What we are asking of people with Twestival isn’t just donations; it is their time, talent and resources if they want to give it. The way in which we self-organize on Twitter and other social media platforms gives us an opportunity to engage people, before and after the event, in a way that is diverse and layered. People aren’t just participating in an event, they are having an impact.”
The above is draft material for my next book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print). Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of the new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.
Darius Goes West — originally started as an award winning movie – but lives on as a nonprofit online. Per the above video the nonprofit was faring well in the Challenge, but was not placing in the top ten, and would not win a prize. The organization rallied its significant supporter base using videos and its Facebook community.
But it goes beyond passion, and this is the genesis of the comeback in my mind. Darius West deployed great calls to action in its out-bound communications. People feel passion, but when they are given something to do with that emotion, well, look out. Things happen, including comebacks.
Calls to action that I liked in the Darius Goes West Campaign:
It’s clear that while not a “professional” marketing effort, Darius West gets basic marketing principles. Beyond the stellar, simple calls-to-action, the campaign was integrated across media channels, allowing for maximum success. Good cause + passionate fans + smart marketing = one America’s Giving Challenge comeback.