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!
This week’s case study has been written by Gordon Jenkinson of Jenerate.
Bacardi Ireland distributor, Edward Dillon & Co, traditionally used normal micro sites such as www.blive.ie to promote their sponsorship of music events on the Internet throughout the year including the hugely popular Oxegen and Electric Picnic festivals.
In 2008 they looked at the possibility of using social networking to get better targeting and some viral penetration to a wider audience. Given the target audience and the fact that Bebo and MySpace were not receptive to alcohol advertising, Facebook was chosen as the platform upon which to build an interest in the brand, to run competitions in association with the Blive events and generally to help spread the word on the Bacardi Blive sponsored events throughout the year.
A Facebook profile page was set up and maintained as well as a Facebook application to manage competitions and acquire information for the Bacardi eCRM database. The general idea of the competition was a chance to win VIP tickets for you and your friends through a custom built Facebook application.
To encourage the viral spread of this through Facebook in the run up to the events the winner was the Facebook user that had the most friends with the application added to their profile. This gave users control over winning the competition rather than it being a pure lottery.
User positions were updated hourly and notifications sent to entrants on a regular basis telling them how many more friends they needed to add to get to first place. This information had the desired effect and entrants realising they only needed 10 more friends to get to the winning position started sending it around to increase there position. As well as this, they could see the top 5 people and also there current position at any time throughout the competition.
Banner advertising on popular Irish sites and flyers handed out throughout the year were used to seed the initial entrants and get the competition going. Other spot prizes for fans of the page and users of the application were given out between the events to encourage participation and interaction with the Bacardi Ireland Facebook presence.
As part of the competition sign-up, entrants were asked some brand questions to gauge brand recognition and opinions. Details were collected and stored in the Bacardi eCRM database and used for future campaigns and event notifications.
The final result was an almost four fold increase in the number of competition entrants and an even bigger increase in term of brand interaction across the Bacardi Facebook profiles and the blive.ie website.
A large aid to this interaction was the use of Facebook photo galleries where people were photographed at Blive events and encouraged to tag themselves in the Facebook albums. These photos were not only available on Facebook but also pulled directly from Facebook into the blive.ie website. These photo galleries created significant post event traffic to the Blive.ie websites as well as interaction and sign-up to the Bacardi Facebook pages.
One of the main lessons learnt from this successful experiment with Facebook was to create an application that runs with or without Facebook. As part of the process visitors were asked if they had a Facebook account and were directed to the normal competition site or to the Facebook one. Almost as many entrants came through the normal site as through the Facebook application.
Also, the integration of the Facebook photo albums using the Facebook API allowed the viewing of tagged photos within Facebook or from the normal site. It’s also useful to copy or mirror interactions with Facebook pages onto your normal site this allows visitors to what would normally be a static site to see some comments, events and other banter focused around the brand.
With the introduction of Facebook Connect late last year the options for this type of website integration to Facebook is even greater, allowing completely Facebook-integrated websites.
The other more complex aspect is ensuring that the promotion of the Facebook pages and application are sufficient to seed it and the rewards for sign-up are clear and worthwhile.
Monitoring of visitors and the decisions they make is very important. This was monitored using analytics during the campaign and the sign-up pages and the navigation from the initial page through to competition sign-up were optimised for more competition entries.
The IIA supports responsible drinking and encourages readers of this post to visit www.drinkaware.ie.
In today’s Irish Independent’s Digital Ireland supplement Marie Boran and John Kennedy take a different angle on social networking in an article entitled Bubble 2.0. (not yet available online – go on, go mad and spend €1.80 on a copy of the Indo!)
Edited 15:56: “Bubble 2.0: Are we about to witness another technology crash?” now online.
Those interviewed make some really good points. Conor O’Neill of LouderVoice points out that “historically bubbles are when all the great ideas and grand plans are hatched and tried”. I’m always reminded about my art history classes in school when I read comments about that: (early, classical and) high period wouldn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as bubble, would it? However technological innovations in painting, sculpture and architecture are plain to see as they are the cultural artefacts that are preserved in galleries, museums and cityscapes around the world. Which Web 2.0 app will be the Sistine Chapel of the future?
Our own Fergal O’Byrne comments that many Irish businesses that were established before March 2000 are still thriving. It is this very global success that attracts all sorts of visitors to Ireland to learn about how we do this so successfully.
Pat Phelan and Tom Raftery also talk sense. Pat refers to Facebook’s finances and wonders what your local bank manager, looking at a “negative cash flow of US$150m”, would think if you said “I have an estimated value of US$15bn just like Facebook!” Tom (who currently has posted a presentation about Web 2.0 toolset for business for those of you who just can’t get enough – looking forward to video of same) insightfully suggests that Microsoft’s purchase of Facebook was strategic: “The only logic to paying US$240m [for a 1.6% share] was to get Facebook valued beyond anyone else’s reach”. Mmm liking the taste of the wine from that poisoned chalice, Facebook?
Also interviewed in the article are three others who spoke at our recent Congress: Philip Macartney and Mark Charkin from Bebo with the last word going to Barry Meehan from Worldwide Cycles, living proof that blogging can make you money.
One thing that surprised me in all of this talk (and a delegate at the Congress also mentioned this to me) is the focus on advertising and marketing while there is scant talk about the collaborative power of web 2.0. The IIA recently set up a Social Media Working Group who specifically mentioned that, in order to undertake their work as a group they will be using Basecamp from 37Signals.com. I’d love to hear more about how companies are using online collaboration and wikis for their work. I would be particularly interested in hearing the experience of those who aren’t neccessarily tech companies like GPs or retail managers or those in tourism or to paraphrase the young people, “Whoever!”
It was a sad day in the IIA office when I had to tell my colleagues that no, they could not do the survey and be in with a chance to win a 16GB Apple IPod Touch. So come next December if you are scratching your head and wondering what on earth should I get Roseanne, Fergal and Irene in the IIA for Christmas…
We had a great response so thank you very much to everyone who completed the survey. The results are available on our website – currently just available to members so please log in to access them*. We will announce the winner at Congress, on the IIA site and here next Thursday. Oh the suspense – it’s just like Next Top Model!
One statistic that interested me was the 46.9% who indicated that the absence of a business case was the main barrier to deployment of social networking and new media technologies. We hope, with the presentations of case studies at next Thursday’s congress, that those of you who wish to be convinced, will be and those of you seeking to convince, will have ample ammunition when next you are asked, “What’s so brilliant about social networking and new media anyway?”
And now for some Friday fun. For the 7.3% who responded “What are you talking about?!” when asked which social networking and new media technologies they use in their business I will leave it to the good folks in Commoncraft to explain it all. (Buíochas leis an Imeall don nasc!)
Have a great weekend and see you all next Thursday!
*Have you forgotten your username and password? Email email@example.com and I’ll get one out to you ASAP!
I mentioned that I am in total research mode while finishing up my M.Sc. in Social Research Skills. So here goes my first attempt at picking your brains! Please tell us how does your business use social networking and new media technologies?
In advance of the IIA Congress 2008 “Beyond Websites: Business uses of Social Networking and New Media” (which I may have mentioned here once or twice 😀 ) we and our newest member, Ciall.com, would like to get some idea of how you use these technologies in your company or organisation.
We have developed a survey which will take no more than 3 minutes to complete. This survey asks 10 key questions about your experience and use of these technologies.
Take part in the survey and be in with a chance to win a 16GB Apple IPod Touch with thanks to the IIA’s newest member, Ciall.com. Ciall.com provide professional expertise to their clients in information systems, business process and strategic planning.
Take the survey now!
The information gathered in this survey will be anonymised. The resulting anonymised data will be shared with Ciall.com and key findings will be reported on the IIA website and in the press. If you have any queries please contact Roseanne Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org