Have you noticed lately an increase in requests to “vote” for an organization, business or entrepreneur? “Just 20 more votes and we’ll win!” The social media contest seems more ubiquitous than ever.
The Pepsi Refresh Project was one of the for-profit pioneers of social media contests. In 2010 it awarded $20 million in grants to those individuals, businesses and nonprofits with “fresh” ideas for making positive change. The Project was funded by Pepsi’s marketing department not by the corporate foundation, and it did an excellent job of garnering press. Codes printed on Pepsi cans could be redeemed for “power votes” encouraging direct sales and deeper engagement of already loyal customers. They were, after all, only partly trying to crowd-source for social good.
But does every social media contest offer a return on investment for pure nonprofits? Is it worth the investment of time and money when resources are limited?
Organizations that used to do a traditional solicitation are now sending emails and tweets soliciting votes or “likes” on Facebook. The social media contest might be the nonprofit sector’s answer to keep donors involved in the midst of a struggling economy when donations may still be lagging. It is also the smaller nonprofit’s low-cost way to achieve big results.
The Santa Clara County Bar Association recently participated in the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal’s Social Madness competition. Although the SCCBA did not win the contest, the organization boosted its social media following by 62% and received numerous print and online mentions.
SCCBA’s marketing and communications director Kristen McDonnell observed that the pay off was multi-faceted. “It was a great opportunity to focus on increasing our social networking activity, followers, and content, which cultivates new membership and event participation. Additionally, during the course of the contest, we identified and followed legal press, organizations, and civic leaders, who in turn began following us back.”
Next week, we’ll talk to social media expert JD Lasica at Social Brite about what an organization should consider before embarking on a social media campaign.
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