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Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout
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Geoff Livingston: 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout

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Geoff Livingston, Author of “Welcome to the Fifth Estate”

As last Wednesday's Give to the Max contest and a a recent PayPal Research paper demonstrated, the secret formula for success in social media is not the most “influence” or size of account, rather it is engaged community, authenticity and a willingness to work. Any online brand can demonstrate that kind of investment and energy.

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  • Examination of several online fundraising campaigns that combine celebrity and online personality (or weblebrity) presence with social media reveals that many celebrities do not effectively raise money for nonprofits. Instead, lesser known celebrities and weblebrities fair better.social network fundraising. Nearly half (46%) of nonprofits in the study reported some fundraising via social networks in 2010, up from 38% in 2008. The vast majority of the nonprofit social fundraisers raised less than $10,000 in 2010. A tiny group of “Master Social Fundraisers” (just 0.4% of the study’s participating nonprofits) raised more than $100,000. Nonprofits have turned to their celebrity partners with fans and followers in the millions to raise money. The numbers can be astounding, both positively and negatively. Save the Children just ran a celebrity campaign on social media with the likes of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber that raised $100,000 in the first day. However, deeper analysis showed the fundraiser achieved $0.0001 per celebrity follower. As with traditional media and development practices, nonprofits wrestle with how best to leverage their celebrity relationships in order to derive tangible benefits for their organizations. Though the medium is new, the lessons from traditional boards and fundraisers apply. Online celebrities work best when you recruit individuals that are already passionate about the cause, and are willing to engage on your behalf. Nonprofits need to vet these online celebrities for deep and strong ties in their online communities. Many web celebrities have a presence, but not strong engagement.
  • Several recent social fundraising campaigns and contests that used celebrity participants to generate interest and donations, have shown that lesser known, but better-engaged, personalities produced stronger results for nonprofits. Some of the campaigns include: A campaign on Facebook’s Causes to raise money for a new children’s hospital. In it, a 9-year-old cancer patient with virtually no online presence generated more donations than any other individual, including television star Ashton Kutcher.A DonorsChoose.org fundraising competition among bloggers—including TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and All Things D’s Kara Swisher—was dominated by a blogger offering to parade around in a tomato suit.The launch competition of Kevin Bacon’s Six Degree’s social giving website. Despite recruiting more than 60 celebrities to create “charity badges” on the site — including Nicole Kidman and Ashley Judd— the top fundraiser was a woman who blogs about scrapbooking and has an autistic son.The PayPal-sponsored Regift the Fruitcake campaign on Facebook was won by Operation Smile with the help of Filipina singer Charice and her engaged fans. Other more notable celebrities like Paris Hilton participated, but didn’t deliver Charice’s impact.TwitChange, which hosts charity auctions where fans buy mentions, follows, and retweets from celebrities on Twitter. Through three auctions in 2010, two of the celebrities drawing the most attention and highest bids have been actor Zachary Levi (of TV’s Chuck) and celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart, beating stars such as country singer LeAnn Rimes and celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Our review suggests a universal theme across social fundraisers: The best results do not come from the most well-known celebrities and bloggers, but the most engaged ones. Real success in social channels occurs by cultivating influencers (celebrities, bloggers, etc.) with the same skills typically used for high-value donors. 
  • As time has progressed, social media based online fundraising best practices have uncanny similarities with traditional fundraising best practices. First and foremost is finding that truly engaged personality. Moving forward, helping the celebrity or weblebrity cultivate donations with their community is reminiscent of the white glove service large donors receive from their favorite causes in organizing private events. In traditional fundraising, having great name recognition and devoted fans can generate increased awareness and raise funds if a celebrity cares about the cause and invests time. Yet, online celebrity efforts are hit and miss, and often get outpaced by lesser know web-based personalities or weblebrities who have deep ties to their communities.……What’s it like to be a 9-year-old soccer superstar one day and a boy with Ewing’s sarcoma—a rare bone cancer—the next? Paddy O’Brien’s poem Needles tells some of the story young cancer patients at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital know by heart. But needles are only part of Paddy’s story. There’s also the so-bad-you-cry pain in his left leg, and the deep fatigue that turned out to be a cancer early warning sign. There are blood tests and biopsies and five-day hospital stays every two weeks for chemo. There’s his mom, Alma, asleep by his hospital bedside every single night, and his dad, Mark, holding the hand of a son in post-chemo slumber. There’s his brother, Barry, bringing Paddy his favorite blanket and bearing the anger when Paddy, home from chemo, found Barry playing video games, living a normal life. NEEDLESNeedles, my worst enemy. Here’s the good part of needles: Sometimes they are sharp and slide right through your skin like a knife through butter. So, if you think this is bad, wait to hear what’s next. I’m a cancer patient at UCSF and when I’m not there I have to get a shot to keep my immune system working. The bad shots are like having liquid nitrogen going into my leg through a syringe. One of these needles is as thick as a toothpick which goes into my port; it doesn’t hurt at all. That big needle helps chemo, saline, pain and nausea meds flow through my body. After all of this, needles are curing me of cancer. Needles, they turn out to be my best friend.Paddy O'Brien There are the moms of friends and friends of Mom’s who sat with Paddy while his parents worked to maintain the insurance that made treatment possible. There are the little kids still fighting cancer at UCSF, who look up to Paddy, and the caregivers inspired by his never-fail positive attitude. There’s the year off school (the good part!) and the months of not knowing if Paddy would lose his leg. There’s Paddy’s hair, which turned pitch-black and fell out (he saved it). There’s the radiation therapy that left Paddy’s leg raw, and red as a stop sign. And there are the cookies—baked by Paddy’s family and friends in pre-chemo marathons, enough to feed 10 hospital shifts. Here’s the best part so far: In spring, birds built nests from strands of Paddy’s lost hair, released in the garden last winter. Paddy’s grades have improved so much, he’s made the Principal’s List—remarkable in a year when cancer treatments came before classes. And tests show Paddy to be cancer-free. As for the future, Paddy’s mom thinks his talents might some day take him into a career in communications, or even fundraising. Paddy knows a good cause when he sees one, she says—and he has a story to tell.We give to people like Paddy. We give when we’re moved by the person in need or by how we are asked.THE STORY AND THE STORY TELLER ARE EVERYTHING. SOCIAL MEDIA IS A GREAT PLACE FOR BOTH.
  • In the Six Degrees social fundraising launch initiative, a contest awarded matching grants to the six causes who raised the most funds over a 10-week period. Network for Good saw similar patterns with scrapbooking blogger Ali Edwards. Edwards, whose son has autism, created a Charity Badge in support of Autism Speaks and began promoting it on her blog. She posted almost every week and engaged with the readers. Her badge quickly rose to the top of the leader board over thousands of others created.  After the 10 weeks, Edwards had generated 2,313 donors giving $47,849 to the charity. In contrast, none of the 60 celebrity-supported Charity Badges in the campaign finished in the top 10 and many were embarrassingly low. A Charity Badge sponsored by Kanye West, which lacked a personal story or tight-knit online community, failed to generate a single donation.  The Paddy O’Brien and Ali Edwards successes were clearly not due to any fame or previous notoriety. Through their compelling first-person stories of struggles related to their causes, they were able to generate tremendous results. Edwards’ blog posts about her Six Degrees campaign were often forwarded by her fellow scrapbooking enthusiasts. Many of her readers sent updates about the campaign and links to related stories. Late in the campaign, Edwards also wrote about how Six Degrees had to make technical adjustments to accept the donations from foreign countries being generated by her campaign. Talk about reach!
  • When Operation Smile sought to win PayPal’s Regift the Fruitcake campaign in 2009, social media specialist Kristi Kastrounis cites Filipina pop singer CharicePempengco’s network of loyal fans as largely responsible for Operation Smile’s success. Her fans “are very loyal and generous,” Kastrounis said. “When she puts a call out there, her fans responded in tweets, retweets, donations and fruitcakes.” Kastrounis said the campaign was promoted by a long list of celebrities Paris Hilton [4 million+ Twitter followers], Billy Bush of Access Hollywood, the NBA’s Lamar Odom and his reality TV star wife KloeKardashian, and weblebrities alike such as YouTube star David After Dentist [100K+ daily views, 92 million total views] and AdventureGirl blogger Stefanie Michaels [1.5 million Twitter followers]; but none had the sustained influence of the more-engaged Charice. “For longevity throughout the campaign, Charice and her fans were in it to win it,” Kastrounis said. 
  • Andresen notes that fans can tell when celebrities are just going through the motions, for example lending their likeness to a cause or have boilerplate promotions retweeted over their accounts. “Publishing photos isn’t authentic,” she said “Engagement, closeness to the cause, closeness to their own fan base, and the amount of energy the celebrity displays [all add to authenticity],” she said. She points to the research of Rebecca Ratner, Min Zhao and Jennifer Clarke on the “norm of self interest,” which means people expect that other people’s support for a cause is guided by a personal stake.  “Think of Michael J. Fox and his support of research on Parkinson’s disease or Cicely Tyson’s anti-smoking advocacy after her sister died of lung cancer --  When people have a personal connection to a cause (or know someone who does), that can lead them - and others - to be more supportive,” she says. “People are more deferential to advocates of a cause who have a clear stake in that cause.  People feel guilty and disrespectful turning away from someone with a clear self-interest in their position.  Advocates for a cause are granted special standing to ask for action if they have that self-interest.  If they don’t, the deference disappears.” Applying Andresen’s insights, consider Stephen Colbert’s collaboration with Reddit users to raise money for DonorsChoose.org in the Restoring Truthiness campaign. The tongue-in-cheek effort was a spinoff of Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive, itself a reaction to conservative commentator Glenn Becks Rally to Restore Honor.  A group of Reddit users launched the campaign initially without Colbert’s involvement. However, the ‘fake news” star was impressed by the group’s ability to quickly raise money—more than $100,000 in one day!—that he soon signed on. He engaged on several fronts including mentioning the campaign on his show The Colbert Report, submitting to an interview with questions from Reddit users after the campaign raised $600,000, and promoting the campaign via Twitter and Facebook accounts. Colbert’s authenticity was bulwarked by his service on the DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors, which predated the Reddit movement.  This authenticity of cause to the celebrity or weblebrity cannot be underestimated. A forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research study by Carlos Torelli revolves around the primary thesis that consumers are confused or don’t believe in cause campaigns when affiliated corporate brands and celebrities demonstrate an inconsistency between their product and public beliefs and the cause they support.
  • Throughout the research, there were several themes that we saw that might help those running online giving campaigns through social networks. The celebrity blogger effect was seen most clearly with the DonorsChoose.org effort. DonorsChoose.org reduced its blogger challenge participants by 95% to focus on its top weblebrities and work with them directly to cultivate best practices and maximize outreach. The result was more donation revenue from the 5% than the collective 100% from past efforts. Anna Doherty, Marketing Manager, Engagement and Social Media at DonorChoose.org, leads the organization’s social media efforts. She has a traditional development background and cites this as a primary reason behind its influencer cultivation techniques. “We identified the power users, multiple tiers, and focused on smaller campaigns,” she said. By using techniques traditionally employed for cultivating large donors, Doherty said the blogger challenges have been more effective. “We know that not everyone is a natural fundraiser. Now we’re working on ways to point people to resources. We can send them information and provide them steps to participate,” she said. “When we split them out on their own, each campaign was more successful.” Operation Smile has a similar success coming from its most effective celebrities. Kristi Kastrounis, who runs their online outreach, says they work with celebrities (or their managers) to provide content and information to make supporting Operation Smile easy for the celebrity - even sending pre-written sample tweets for celebs to use as inspiration or copy and paste to their Twitter or Facebook. Kastrounis’ technique of cultivating influencer relationships mirrors that of DonorsChoose, with its focused, hands-on support. TwitChange managers have also begun to be more selective in who they include in their campaigns. “Initially the only thing a celebrity had to do was say they were on board,” said Shaun King. Though this helped build out the number of involved celebrities and add to the publicity, King said managing the relationships and fulfilling the hundreds of auctions where fans purchased mentions, follows and ReTweets on Twitter was hard. “Vetting has reduced the number of donations, but there is much less on the headache front,” he said.
  • Image: TomatoNationfundraiser on Donors ChoosePersonal connections and authentic passion for the cause. As demonstrated by cancer survivor Paddy O’Brien in UCSF’s Causes and blogger Ali Edwards in the Six Degrees launch contests, personal connections are critical in generating donations. DonorsChoose’s Doherty notes the vital connection between passion and success. “It is more about identifying the person who would be a strong advocate,” she says, “It’s not social media. The base level [for successful campaigns] is really a passionate advocate. Social media just helps them.” Willingness to ask their personal friends to get involved and not just their ‘publics.’ For its blogger and social media challenges, Anna Doherty at DonorsChoose.org said they have learned that this is critical for social fundraising success. She said the celebrity champion should be willing to go beyond their public contact. “Once we know that person is willing [to contact friends and family] then we know it is going to be successful,” she said.
  • Zach Levi, Op Smile and TwitchangeIdentify avid users of social media, both by the celebrity and their social networks. TwitChange’s King said they now look for celebrities who are better engaged with their fan based, specifically citing Zack Levi as a model. “His followers are part of a community,” King said. “He engages with them a lot. They feel personally connected.” Another example is Colbert, who had twice promoted social fundraising campaigns for DonorsChoose.org, raising $190,000 and $167,000 respectively. His collaboration with the Reddit community was much more successful. By adding his star-power to the already engaged social network on Reddit, the Restore Truthiness campaign raised more than double his first two efforts, netting $610,000 from 11,000 donors. Finding this kind of nexus of celebrity combined with a passionate online community can be huge benefit for nonprofits. Operation Smile’s Kastrounis said they sought out singer Charice because of her engagement with fans. “She’s young and social media savvy, and she had just joined our cause as a Smile Ambassador so we figured she would be great face for the campaign and mobilize her fans to support us in this campaign,” Kastrounis said.
  • Welcome the non-traditional celebrity. TwitChange’s King notes that they kept being surprised by which celebrities had the most response in their auctions. “Having followers is not the same as a fully devoted fan,” King said. “We have learned that.” Additionally, blogger Ali Edward’s and cancer patient Paddy O’Brien’s success on Six Degrees and photography Jeremy Cowart’s on TwitChange have shown that lesser-known and even “unknown celebrities” can be extremely effective fundraisers.
  • Transcript

    • 1. 1,886,434 Ways the Long Tail Beat Klout11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 1
    • 2. Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington • $2 million • 18,000 donors • Charities like Little Lights Urban Ministries, For Love of Children, Kristen Brooks Hope Center won • Keys to winning: Engaged community, authenticity and a willingness to work and activate a network.11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 2
    • 3. How Little Lights Did It • Social media outreach • Focus on Facebook, and direct messaging • Friends and ambassadors took on the message • Prepared constituents well before contest • Cultivated strong email list11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 3
    • 4. Big Nonprofits Did Well, Too “I havent seen this much excitement since I came to the Corcoran. Everyone is crazy about Give to the Max.” Mark Swartz • Actively engaged their Twitter community • Emailed frequently • Demonstrated true passion and care! • 3rd place most $, 4th place most donors11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 4
    • 5. PayPal Paper on Celebrity/Weblebrity Based Social Fundraising11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 5
    • 6. How We Derived Our Conclusions11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 6
    • 7. Success = Combining Development and Social Media Best Practices11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 7
    • 8. Factor 1: Personal Story about the Cause11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 8
    • 9. Factor 2: Engage a Pre-Existing Community11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 9
    • 10. Factor 3: Authenticity of the Ask11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 10
    • 11. Tip: Vet Celeb/Weblebrity Partners11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 11
    • 12. Tip: Passionate Willingness Includes Activation of Connections11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 12
    • 13. Tip: Avid Use of Social Media BetweenSpokesperson or You and a Community11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 13
    • 14. Tip: Embrace the New Ambassador11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 14
    • 15. Summary Points • Influence metrics matter very little • Personal connections w/ community, authenticity , and passion/willingness • Incorporate development best practices11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 15
    • 16. Questions?11/17/11 Social Media for Nonprofits: Atlanta 16

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