Mobile Giving: Successful or Not?

I have spent some time in the fundraising industry and I have to say – the more creative and memorable a fundraiser is, the more successful it seems.

In 2009, I was introduced to a text-a-thon put on by Electrolux to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Kelly Ripa has been a supporter of this cause for a long time, and simply by texting “KELLY” to a five-digit code, a $5 donation would be made. The $5 would appear on your cell phone bill – easy as that!

Truthfully, text-a-thons cost money and the charity might not get 100% of the donations, as the cell phone provider usually collects a handling fee, but I believe the benefits outweigh the costs in this trend. I would expect more people would be willing to give via their cell phone in lieu of taking the time to write a check, mail it, etc. Also, with a text-a-thon, the organization doesn’t have to worry about a check bouncing, people failing to send promised pledges, and the money could be easily calculated.

This past fall, the Electrolux still supported the OCRF, but they did something a little different; the idea was still creative and involved emerging media. Website visitors were encouraged to send virtual cakes to their friends and for each cake sent, one dollar would be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund from Electrolux. Here is an example of the process someone goes through when “making” their virtual cake:

The fact that the text-a-thon didn’t come back for a second year might show that numbers were not as high as expected for this specific organization, but this could also show the creativity and constantly changing ideas surrounding those at Electrolux and the ever-changing field of emerging media.

I believe that all emerging media can hit a road block or two, and that before long, mobile giving will become the “next big thing” for non-profit organizations.

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Customer Service, Social Networking & Small Businesses

Although I’ve been on Facebook for about five years, and Twitter for a few months, my parents were anti-social networking for a long time. The ultra-conservative duo viewed social networking as a “way to get your identity stolen” and just a bad idea in general. My dad worked at a college during the start of Facebook and often heard about cyber-bullying, inappropriate photos, suicidal status updates and much more associated with people’s presence on the site. Although I was on Facebook, I never tried to correct him on the benefits of the site.

My parents better understood Facebook last year on my 25th birthday. I ordered my cake from a local bakery and my mom picked it up for me. Upon arriving, the salesperson told my mom they recognized my name from being a fan of the bakery on Facebook and gave us a $5 discount. Anytime anyone mentions Facebook, the bakery, or business strategies, my mom chimes in with this story. This event proved to them, and me of course, the benefits of a business having a social networking presence. This is local business marketing at its best, and the efforts it took to monitor their social networking proved to be beneficial to their reputation.

Really, all small businesses who want to build a relationship with their customers should be using social networking. According to, interacting with each fan on a personal basis is one of the best things a company can do.

In fact, Facebook is the favored marketing tool among small business owners and this is in part of the promotion of Facebook Places, similar to FourSquare.

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How Ohio Libraries Were Saved Through Viral Marketing

As I stated in a previous post, I used to work in the marketing department of my local library. A library connection I have posted this video on Facebook, and six months after seeing it, still makes me smile. This video has traveled from Washington to Ohio, and I’ve even shared it on my Twitter page, Facebook page, and visit this YouTube site anytime I need a laugh. This is a wonderful example of viral marketing. As of today, the video has over 700,000 hits.

Librarians are quite the marketers! During the summer of 2009, on my six month anniversary of working in the marketing department (and coincidentally the final day of my newly hired “probation”) I entered work to discover my co-workers in crisis mode. Our budget was under re-consideration by the state government and we were at risk of losing funding. What did this mean to a part-time employee who was there to gain experience, a little money and health insurance? My job was bound to be slashed, as well as our number of branches and allowance for book buying if this funding cut was approved.

Librarians and library patrons across the state joined together and created an icon to be proudly displayed as a Facebook profile photo.

We made handouts asking people to call their local representatives and inform them what a valuable resource the library is. We also asked those who cared enough to share information via their social networking sites to do so. Other libraries across the state did similar marketing.

The Ohio Library Council created a list of demonstrations and a place to visit to have your questions answered. The budget cuts still effected our library but were nowhere near the 50% we expected. I always felt like I had a small part in saving the budget, and even though the summer of 2009 was quite a stressful one, it will be one I’ll never forget because I helped promote a place I loved and helped save an industry I hold very dear to my heart.

Without viral marketing, we may have seen that 50% cut which would have closed multiple branches (instead of the one we lost), showed me my first major stint of unemployment and of course, stopped spreading the importance of early literacy to area children.

In fact, nearly two years after the budget crisis, the Facebook cause still has over 56,000 fans. That is a lot of people still believing in their public library system and hoping the budget can continue to stabilize.

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Mobile Marketing & FourSquare

Mobile marketing is a great way to make it easy for customers to find deals! Within the past year, the social networking platform, FourSquare, has made it easy for businesses to know who’s visiting their store(s) or restaurant(s) and find out what they like about the venue. Visitors can check in with their phone and sometimes, those who visit are given special discounts or preferential treatment by proving they have “checked-in” or are the Mayor, the term FourSquare uses for the person who has checked in the most.

See some screenshots below of places in my area that have quite a few check-ins and of course, some interesting tips…all good and complimentary to the venue.

As of the end of the 2010, over 5 million people worldwide were utilizing FourSquare.

Specific badges are given out for people who do things frequently – badges have silly names such as the Newbie badge or the Animal House badge.

Location based services, such as FourSquare, are just scratching the surface on their popularity and will continue to become extremely useful to businesses and consumers.

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“What’s the Internet” to “I can’t live without it”

Someone at work shared this video via their Facebook page, which fits perfectly into this week’s IMC 619 topic.

In 1994, respected journalists, Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel didn’t know what the Internet was. Today, Couric and Gumbel have their own Twitter pages.

In fact, the Internet is one of the most effective ways to advertise to consumers. Types of advertising on the Internet include banner ads, viral marketing, widgets and of course, corporate websites.

Corporations can do much more than have a website promoting their brand – they can utilize social networking. Specifically, Whole Foods does a wonderful job of using Twitter as a customer service tool. They respond to customers’ tweets with fixes to their customer service problems. As shown below, they also use it to address questions and rumors.

Non-traditional corporations are utilizing social networking, too. I worked in a library for 3 years (I’m still a library girl at heart) and I watched our social media go from being a small way to promote happenings to the first place we would post unexpected closings, large events and really – anything else we  thought our patrons would like to know. Although we didn’t do this during my time at the library, Twitter can used to answer reference questions and to help patrons find out information only a library would know.

Although 1994 wasn’t that long ago in theory, seeing the video of educated and respected journalists ask someone to define the Internet, which today is something many simply couldn’t live without, makes us realize what a terrific resource the Internet is for people in all professions.

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Intellectual Property & Freelancers

The web makes it easy to steal images, words and even designs, but in reality, the web also makes it easy to catch plagiarizers. Let’s say a student steals a paper online. By simply typing in a sentence or two of a research paper into a search engine, a teacher or professor could catch a plagiarizer.

Plagiarizing is of course stealing work without giving someone credit.

For freelance writers and designers, this idea gets tricky because of money and contracts. A freelance designer might have a graphic they created online somewhere without their credit, but they were paid in lieu of this credit.

The history of intellectual property and the rights of freelancers is important to know for those in the field of emerging media, especially freelance writers and freelance web designers.

For freelancers, the issue of intellectual property is really up to the contract and those involved. If someone designed an ad or a logo for a client, who does that really belong to? It’s a toss up. In fact, different resources state different facts, so two parties could easily fight over who owns what aspects. It is always better to have a statement explaining a company’s thoughts behind  intellectual property before beginning work for them. This can help prevent headaches, unnecessary arguments and even lawsuits if done properly.

Social media can even create intellectual property issues. For example, with Facebook, even if you “quit” your page, your personal information is still kept and truly never goes away.

What is your opinion on intellectual property? Is it right for a designer to own their work even if they have been paid for it?

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Marketing Toward Children: Ethical or Unethical

Growing up in the 90s, I collected typical stuff: rocks, baseball cards and bugs. I also had a strange fascination with things that came in cereal boxes. Did these items hurt me in any way? No (but after awhile – the bugs started to die off, hence my parents reasoning for getting me a puppy at age 6).

Did I spend my allowance on my ever-so-pretty rock collection and baseball cards? Sure, but I also would talk my mom into buying name brand cereal strictly because of the Saved by the Bell trading cards or Rugrats stickers.  I most likely wouldn’t have chosen those brands if it hadn’t been for the free items inside. Like with anything, the freebies were a gimmick to get my mom to spend the $3 or $4 on a specific brand.

These toys were fun and if the cereal had been outrageously priced or extremely unhealthy, I doubt my mom would have agreed to purchase the product in the first place.

Marketing to children has become a different game since the childhood obesity crisis came to life in today’s society. While doing research this week for my IMC 619 paper, I discovered a kid-friendly site put together by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. When clicking on one of the games, this screen appeared as the game was loading.


I am very much in appreciation of Kraft’s efforts to encourage children to get off the computer at least an hour a day. The Kraft product isn’t bad for kids, in fact, it is more nutritious than fast food or fried items, but Kraft still encourages the site’s visitors to exercise.    

Kraft seems to be at the top of its game – they offer a nutritious product that kids enjoy, offer kid-friendly games on their website (that don’t push the product in an obscene way) and encourage their customers to exercise. What could be better?

International non-profit organizations, such as Right to Play, encourage kids to do exactly what Kraft is doing – teach kids who might not be athletic or have the means to learn a sport that they can still be active. Even Nickelodeon turns off its channels for Worldwide Day of Play.

Although my bedroom was filled with rocks, baseball cards, bugs, stickers and trading cards, I frequently had grass stains, bruises or soaking wet hair from swimming. Marketing to children can be done successfully, and with anything, it is the parents (and child’s) responsibility to keep a balanced life.

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