This will be the second Dublin Startup Weekend, and the concept is simple – a roomful of people are brough together (c.50 – 70 developers, coders, marketers, product managers, web evangelists and startup enthusiasts) to go from concept to launch (or at least prototype) in 54 hours. The format is basically:
- Pitch an idea on Friday night
- Work with your team on Saturday
- Present your product on Sunday
The last Dublin Startup Weekend in May 2010 saw four start-ups formed, all of which are still plugging away (see BragBet; GeoDealio; CauseHere and HittheRoad). These start-ups emerged from the 60 participants, all of whom pay to take part, and form teams around good ideas.
Startup Weekend started in the US, but now has run in over 100 cities across the world with over 15,000 people having taken part. Billed by Forbes as a ‘Name You Need to Know in 2011’, two Startup Weekend originating companies have recently raised investment (Memolane.com raised $2m, and Foodspotting raised $750k)
Amy Neale and Sean Murphy (who are facilitating the event on the ground in Dublin) are passionate about creating a successful event for Dublin. The Dublin Start-Up weekend is run on a voluntary, not-for-profit basis by the duo (participants pay for tickets, which cover their food costs for the weekend), to see what great new ideas emerge from the community, and to help in any way to get them off the ground. The only agenda is to bring together great people with good ideas and support them to build a community and start companies.
This week’s Social Media Case Study is written by Niall Devine of MyCharity.ie. He is also a member of the IIA Social Media Working Group. In his case study he writes about some of the social media they have used and the decisions they made about how they would implement and what they learned from those decisions. He writes also about how recent change to a popular platform (Facebook) made some aspects of their social media forays difficult but happily not impossible for MyCharity.ie.
Background – what do we do.
Mycharity.ie provides online fundraising services to charities. We will enable and process more than €2.5M euro worth of charity donations to our 250+ charity customers. It is key to our business that our customer base (the charities) know that we exist and what we do. It is also key that the charities “customers” i.e. fundraisers and donors know that that we exist and what we do.
Viral Marketing – it is essential for us – how do we make it work?
We are very lucky in the way that our business works. Through email, it virally markets itself. If someone creates a fundraising page (sponsorship card) on the mycharity.ie site for a charity, they then email all their friends with the link to the fundraising page looking for sponsorship. All their friends now know about the site and what it does. Multiply 5,000 fundraisers a year x say 50 friends per fundraiser and you can see the 250,000 people viral marketing affect.
Viral Marketing – using social media
While we count ourselves as very lucky in the way that our business works from a viral marketing point of view using email, we recognise the huge contribution that social media can make.
As we all know search engines and their ranking mechanisms like video. So mycharity.ie commissioned a video from Media Concepts Ltd (a video production company) and placed it front and centre on our home page www.mycharity.ie. The text about our video says “Click here to see a short promotional video about who we are and what we do, and what our customers say about us.” It does exactly what is says on the tin and saves us having to answer the phone all the time to explain what we do saving on office admin overhead. It works very well for us as an SEO ranking tool. It cost us approx €2,000 and was well worth the investment. We can’t quantify exactly in figures what is has done for the business, many of our current customers tell us they watched it and were impressed. It all helps with getting new customers on board.
Search engines also like blogs because they create new content all the time (if maintained) and if the information is interesting and relevant it will create lots of inbound links to your site. Let’s not forget that people also like new content that is interesting to them and relevant. The search engines are just set up to reflect what people like.
So mycharity.ie has implemented WordPress Multi User on the mycharity.ie site. We have yet to upgrade the live site with it but it is coming soon. We can’t speak of what has actually happened yet, but we can tell you what we anticipate will happen.
We are giving ourselves our own blog, and we are giving all our charities their own blog for free. We will put our latest daily news, musings, funny stories etc on the blog and if people like it they will tune in. We will also use it to garner our customers thoughts and opinions on various questions that we may have, such as what services would you like to see next on the site etc.
We are also giving all our customer charities their own blog to do exactly the same as described above. But the key for us is that ALL the blogs are hosted on our site. All the inbound links and all the new and updates information will be found on our site, and hence our search and ranking, and the traffic to our site increases. It’s important to point out that we are not “stealing” traffic from our customers sites. They are of course free to implement their own blogs on their own sites. But by us doing it for them (for free remember) we get the benefit of the traffic and increased search engine ranking.
Social Networking Sites
These are very powerful if you can make them work for you, and we are doing our best to make them work for us. Lets explain what we have already done and how we did it, and then explain what new stuff we are doing now and why.
Old Facebook – Facebook changed in terms of its look and feel in October of last year (2008). Unfortunately we started to build a facebook application for the mycharity.ie site in September 2008. We ended up chasing a moving target. The application was designed to allow users of the mycharity site to post a mini version of their fundraising page to their facebook profile. The idea being their friends could see it and donate to it. We chased the ever moving facebook and eventually got there. We used a designer for cost purposes based abroad. We got the application built for approx €1,200, and it did what we asked for. However the language barrier and time zone difference proved frustrating much of the time and we had to put in many more hours into the project than we wanted to. Also their knowledge of the abilities of Facebook as a site wasn’t brilliant so we had to tell them what we wanted rather than them telling us what we could, should or might do. We soft launched the application to the charities on the mycharity.ie. It’s free at the moment because it’s not viral enough as far as we are concerned (more on that in a bit). It’s actually the users (the public) that are asking for the FB functionality to be switched on for a given charity rather than the charity themselves. The requester recognises the benefit to them to their fundraising efforts.
New Facebook – This is where it’s at. Now that FB have more or less finished messing about with their site we have a non moving target to hit. Always helps! We have engaged an Irish company to develop further FB functionality for us. No language barrier, no time zone issues, and they know so much about what FB does and is capable of, that they are able to suggest to us what we should and can do. It’s in development at the moment. We hope the new application will be far more viral. At the end of each process on the mycharity.ie site (sponsor a friend, donate to a charity, create a fundraising page) the user will have the option to “share” what they have just done on the mycharity site with their friends on facebook (and Bebo, Twitter etc). “Sharing” might be a message on the users Wall saying “I have just donated €20 to Jane Smiths Women’s Mini Marathon Fundraising page in aid of the ABC Charity”. The message is posted to the users Wall on Facebook for all their friends to see, and hopefully follow suit and donate. Many FB users would have 200+ friends in FB. So once again the viral affect of promoting mycharity.ie, the charity and the fundraiser is huge.
The cost of getting the development done is Ireland is higher but the expertise, if you find the right company, is well worth the extra cost. They will also be able to tell you if your business / business model is likely to benefit from this kind of marketing…or not as the case may be.
So mycharity.ie uses email, video, blogs, and social networking sites to good effect to promote itself. We will in the future bring the ability for users to post pictures and or videos to their fundraising pages using www.flickr.com and www.youtube.com . There are other aspects of social media such as podcasting that we may yet use. Imagine you got an email or a message on FB from a friend with an audio file of their verbal request for your donation to their fundraising effort. Personal, fun and very different. Might just get you over the line to make a donation. Our strategy is to look at everything to see if we can make it work for us. You should too!
The IIA welcome their newest member Locallotto.ie. This is, as the Americans say, a neat idea and, based on the roller on their homepage, is paying off for the organisations using it. Basically if your club or organisation run a lotto already locallotto.ie will bring it to a wider audience and make it easier for existing entrants to keep on entering no matter where they are. Their system also allows people entering the lotto to set up their entry for one draw or all the draws in the upcoming year. So even if you don’t win your favourite club or community or voluntary organisation does. If you can’t find your personal favourite there is even a facility to send an email to them telling them about locallotto.ie. You can also catch up on the latest local club or society news on their homepage.
I love writing these little snippets about our new members. It’s a great way for me to get to know a little bit about all these organisations who are joing the IIA and to start a conversation with them. I was thinking about this on my way home from Tipperary on Sunday with a friend who is a web designer. She spotted a company for whom she had designed a site and pointed this out to me and was very curious to see how they were faring. I asked her a bit more about what they did and I swear they couldn’t have got a better sell if they had paid her as a marketing executive! I imagine many passionate service providers are like this about their clients and their work, no matter how far removed it might be from their own experience. That’s how I feel about our members too: I’m genuinely curious about their businesses and, of course, their motivations for joining the IIA. That said it can be tough to write a snippet about a company especially if their business is in an area where I have no experience myself. I do worry that I am misrepresenting some of our new members. I have said it before and will say it again: please use the comment box to correct any erroneous details. I welcome the help in getting it all right.