Traditional Media Harnesses New Media For Cause

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.


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