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Traditional Media Harnesses New Media for Cause

by Research & Insights

Instead of fighting against the social media tide, some print media are harnessing a wave of social media tools to empower their brands and reputations. And a select few are taking it a step further by using social media to leverage cause efforts. Case in point: Newspaper giant USA Today.



The popular daily is turning to the Twitter community for its #AmericaWants contest, where followers can vote for their favorite charities. The reward for the winning nonprofit? A full page advertisement in the print edition. The ad space, valued at nearly $190,000, will go to the nonprofit that solicits the most Tweets that say, “#AmericaWants (name of charity) to get a full-page ad in USA Today."

By turning control over to the Twitter community, the publication has found an innovative and low-cost way to use social media to further its cause commitments. The contest aligns with several other cause-centric initiatives by the publication, including the Fall 2009 launch of the Kindness community, which is a site dedicated to inspiring and uplifting stories and resources. In addition, USA Today runs a semi-annual Sharing in the USA bonus section and has committed to a monthly philanthropy feature to help raise awareness and encourage giving efforts throughout its national network.

This latest campaign marks an impressive commitment by one of the nation’s largest traditional media publications to cross-promote its cause initiatives through online channels. And the possibilities for this medium are just beginning. Additional opportunities for in-kind giving could extend to online advertising or other new media networks.
 
What do you think of USA Today’s new twist on in-kind giving? Share your thoughts below.

 

 

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Rich Greif

This campaign certainly has lots of benefits for USA Today and I applaud them for using social media to further its cause commitments. However, the structure of this effort is less than ideal for non-profits. Tweeting or retweeting a specific phrase is simple enough to execute, but there is no easy way to measure the number of tweets you are generating and there is no structure here to see how your nonprofit is faring in the competition. So while lots of tweeting of a phrase is great for the sponsor, nonprofits may be expending a lot of effort with little chance of being competitive.

As a nonprofit that has participated in numerous social media efforts like the Pepsi Refresh Project, Change.org Ideas for Change, Chase Giving Challenge and TwitCause, we have to be very selective in the efforts we participate in and the "asks" that we make of our social media following. Voting/donating/tweeting fatigue can quickly set in. Followers will support your effort if you have built trusted relationships and make the asks easy. Nonprofits should quickly but carefully evaluate strategies to win a campaign before diving in so valuable staff time and resources are not wasted.

Rich Greif, National Executive Director
Everybody Wins! USA

Rich Greif

This campaign certainly has lots of benefits for USA Today and I applaud them for using social media to further its cause commitments. However, the structure of this effort is less than ideal for non-profits. Tweeting or retweeting a specific phrase is simple enough to execute, but there is no easy way to measure the number of tweets you are generating and there is no structure here to see how your nonprofit is faring in the competition. So while lots of tweeting of a phrase is great for the sponsor, nonprofits may be expending a lot of effort with little chance of being competitive.

As a nonprofit that has participated in numerous social media efforts like the Pepsi Refresh Project, Change.org Ideas for Change, Chase Giving Challenge and TwitCause, we have to be very selective in the efforts we participate in and the "asks" that we make of our social media following. Voting/donating/tweeting fatigue can quickly set in. Followers will support your effort if you have built trusted relationships and make the asks easy. Nonprofits should quickly but carefully evaluate strategies to win a campaign before diving in so valuable staff time and resources are not wasted.

Rich Greif, National Executive Director
Everybody Wins! USA

Damon Harris

With the rise of cause marketing we are beginning to see smarter concepts. But smarter doesnt automatically mean beneficial for the cause. I think the campaign is very smart for USA Today. They will increase readership and interest in their paper. As for non-profits thet have to be careful. If they try and jump on every concept that requires voting their brand is put at risk. You already have nonprofits without a true brand jumping on Pepsi Refresh Project, Change.org Ideas for Change and Twitt Cause these voting concepts are beginning to clutter the minds of consumers. You can't try them all. The see what sticks strategy is a bad one
 

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