I'm giving away a copy of "Inbound Marketing" by Brian Halligan (Author), Dharmesh Shah (Author), David Meerman Scott (Foreword). I discovered it because of a charity challenge they're running on Twitter to raise awareness of their book, plus raise some money to help Room To Read. I'm a fan of Room To Read, so I asked Dharmesh for a copy of the book to give away to nonprofits, and he agreed - so if you want a chance to win, leave a comment on how your nonprofit could benefit from in-bound marketing. And of course, if you want to help out Room to Read, send this tweet.
The definition of Inbound Marketing is marketing focused on getting found by customers. You can read a more detailed definition here. I heard about the challenge because Laura Fitton posted this tweet. I guess you could say it is an example of in-bound marketing.
Now, a few critical thoughts about their charity challenge. Here's how it is described:
The Inbound Marketing Challenge
The Challenge: Get as many people as possible to tweet a link to this article, especially the people in the list below by midnight (ET) on Sunday, February 21 2010.
The Cause: Room To Read a not-for-profit organization that transforms the lives of millions of children by focusing on literacy.
How It Works: We will donate $Z to Room To Read (up to a whopping $10,000) based on the following formula:
Z = (Number of people on list below that retweet) x $0.01 x (Total Retweets)
Example: Lets say 20 people on the list below retweet the article (more on how to make this happen a little later). Then, each retweet is worth $0.20 ($0.01 x 20). If the article gets 10,000 retweets, that’s $2,000. If all 50 people below retweet and we get 20,000 retweets, that’s 50 cents per tweet and 10,000 smackeroos for Room To Read. Cool, right?
Here’s the diabolical part. My guess is many of you know a few people on the list below. Enough to where you can tweet them, and they’ll listen/respond. I even made it easy for you, just use the convenient link next to each of their names. (Yes, I’m just a helpful guy).Do Your Part: Retweet this article and try to get as many people on the list below to retweet it too. It takes just a minute for you and them. The more that tweet, the more that hear about and the donation amount goes up.
Before I launch into some of my criticism, I want to applaud Hubspot for experimenting with different ways to promote their book and help a charity. My criticism below is intended to help such efforts have more impact on the charities.
I've been reflecting on the importance of authenticity in CSR programs that my business partner at Zoetica Geoff Livingston wrote about the other day. I think cause-related marketing efforts could use a little bit more authenticity too or at least balance profit motives and altruism.
This charity challenge is more focused on getting the word out on the book than helping the charity. Why? I think they've set the bar too high for the number of re-tweets and influencer tweets and bar too low for what they'll donate to the charity. The should have donated something like $1 per retweet and put a ceiling on it.
There is also no psychological or emotional motivation to re-tweet. Plus, the influencer list is a not necessarily a list of Room To Read's influencers (and in fact, as of this writing, RoomToRead had not even tweeted about this challenge.) The influencer list is a list of influencers with reach who may be not the attention stream to look at all the replies where as RoomToRead influencers may have less reach, but more affinity with the charity.
The formula to trigger a donation is complicated. The amount donated per retweet is based on the number of influencers who retweet the message and the total amount donated is multiplied by the number of retweets. So, if 20 influencers tweet and there are 1000 re-tweets, they will donate $.20 cents per re-tweet or $200.
As of this writing they had 298 tweets and 11 people on the influencer list retweeted. (According to the TweetMeme Widget on the post - which could be underestimated) So, let's see - that's 298 x .11 cents = $32.78 donated to the charity. I guess if they sold one or two books, they're even.
What can we learn about the right formula from previous efforts?
Tweetsgiving which asked people to retweet a message of gratitude in a 48 hour period over Thanksgiving generated over 21,000 tweets. I know it is a different animal - a campaign implemented by a charity without a for-profit marketing motive lurking beneath.
But if we look at for-profit companies using the sponsored tweet model (e.g. retweet this message and our company will donate $x to charity), there is a better a benchmark. Take for example the Haagen-Daz campaign to raise money on TwitCause for honeybee research.
The fundraising campaign added some extra buzz, a sponsor, Ice cream maker Häagen-Dazs, willing to pay for any Twitter user who tweets out the support for the cause. The sponsorship worked liked this: Häagen-Dazs was offering to donate $1 per tweet for the first 500 people that tweet everyday with the hashtag #HelpHoneyBees. The money was donated to UC Davis research project to further look into Colony Collapse Disorder, as well as help fund the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which aims to teach people about how to create their own honeybee farms.
I got some of the back story form Julio Vasconcellos, VP for Business Development, for the Experience Project which operates TwitCause. "I think the #HelpHoneyBees hashtag campaign was very effective and helped
raise $7k for the honey bee research as well as get Häagen-Dazs some great exposure around the contributions they've been making to the cause (and of course, to their brand)."
For those that want the numbers:
- 6,818 tweets sent out during the official week (several more before) by 3,294 unique Twitterers
- Total followers reached was slightly over 5MM (these are non-unique followers, basically a sum of all the followers of each of those 3kTwitterers)
- Total Twitter impressions generated 12.4MM (here an "Twitter impression" is anytime a follower is presented with a tweet - if I have 100 followers and tweet twice, that's 200 "Twitter impressions")
- Häagen-Dazs donated $7,000 to UC Davis for research into colony collapse disorder which is afflicting honey bee populations
- Participation from some celebrities and notables
I know from my 53rd Birthday Campaign that it is possible to using the Twitter API, to measure impressions. (Julio Vasconcellio and Kumar Garapaty were kind enough to do the heavy lifting using the Twitter API to crunch impression numbers.) So, one could have set up a donation formula based on impressions.
Here's a few tips that might be useful to companies that want to help nonprofits by small cause-marketing campaigns:
- Don't set the bar too high in terms of what you'll donate per tweet. That's not being authentically generous. Rather, be generous and set a ceiling on the total amount to be donated.
- Work with the charity/cause so you can leverage their most passionate supporters. It's not just people who are interested in your product, book, or service.
- Incorporate some emotional or psychological message in your message spread.
Update: Wow, Dharmesh Shah knows how to listen and redesigned the challenge.