Social Media Crowdsourcing for Social Good

We had the opportunity to attend a remarkable meeting about “Social Media for Social Good” sponsored by the Social Media Club Philadelphia. The first hour included a panel discussion featuring speakers from 3 local causes. The last hour, attendees were encouraged to brainstorm a broad range of Social Media strategies and tactics for a non-profit benefitting children and their families.

CrowdsourcingNorthern Home for Children (@NorthernHomeFC) is the nation’s oldest orphanage and child support non-profit. Annie Heckenberger (@anniemal), of Philadelphia-based ad agency Red Tettemer, raised them to the group’s attention. She wanted to brainstorm on ways that Northern Homes could better utilize Social Media. Annie wrote the first idea down and stood at the whiteboard, marker ready. She was not disappointed.

The flurry of ideas did not end for a full hour. The moderator Gloria Bell (@gloriabell) did a wonderful job directing the chaos. There were still four hands in the air with fresh ideas when she reluctantly called an end to the brainstorming.

As a result of this impromptu brainstorming, they have already shown remarkable results. When the SMC-Philly meeting started, @NorthernHomeFC had 3 followers. Today, just five days later, they are up to 126 followers. Mary Fran of Northern Home tweets for them. She reported that they have already exceeded their first Twitter challenge of 100 uniforms in 100 hours (@anniemal contributed this first idea).

While it was my first meeting, our colleague Marilyn Moran (@PhillyMarketing) is a social media veteran and member of the @SMCPhilly operating board. Marilyn confirmed that what happened on Tuesday night was indeed unique.

The range of ideas ran the gamut of tactics to strategy including: platforms, audiences, content, memes, talking points, comparable non-profits to study, strategies and campaigns.

While the results that came out of this particular brainstorming would take a small e-book to fully capture, here were five of my favorites:

  1. The 100 uniforms in 100 hours was a call to action that was easy to get behind. Targeted, focused and with an interesting story behind it. It turns out that many kids in economically distressed situations can’t attend public schools because they don’t have the $20 for the required uniform! It sounds crazy, but this is exactly the kind of plight Northern Homes is struggling to overcome.
  2. Follow Journalists on Twitter. Susan Jacobson (@susanjacobson), Professor at Temple University’s School of Journalism, reported that journalists are quickly moving to Twitter. They are publishing their editorial calendar. Christine Cavalier (@PurpleCar) layered on that the Journalists can be easily monitored as a group using a tool like TweetDeck or Seesmic desktop.
  3. But what if the staff at Northern Home doesn’t have the time to write relevant articles for the journalists? “Consider crowdsourcing!” one SMC Member exclaimed. “Just ask your followers if someone could help with an article on a topic by a certain date.” What a great way for someone to make a contribution if they aren’t able to help financially!
  4. Collecting money online? Consider using the Chipin Widget. These widgets can be customized to your needs and embedded on the web site.
  5. Finally, taking inspiration from @headmutha Rocky Turner, the organization called Mothers Fighting for Others was highlighted by one group member as a successful Twitter fund-raiser. A quick check of Rocky’s Twitter stream revealed what seemed to be a globe-trotting, world-changing mother hoping to just “pay it forward”.

Now, a lot of this content needs to be organized, prioritized and otherwise scrubbed before Mary Fran has a full-blown Social Media Strategy. But I’m betting she saved weeks or months of time learning the hard way. Furthermore, the collective wisdom she tapped into was far beyond what any single agency could provide. Hats off to @anniemal for pulling the wisdom of the crowd around this one pressing need.

Got me wondering if any of you are using crowdsourcing to help with aspects of your marketing campaign strategies? We’ve used a variant of this approach by have the public provide usability and aesthetic feedback client Web sites through I’ve also seen a number of people crowdsource their logo at 99designs or similar sites.

This blog post covers crowdsourcing for a social media strategy. What other areas could benefit? In what ways have you used crowdsourcing to help your team or your clients? What problems might you see with crowdsourcing a marketing strategy?

Also: if you were at at the SMC-Philly meeting, what are your thoughts? What did you like or not like about the impromptu brainstorming? Did you find it worthwhile? Did you learn something from it?  What are other ways you can crowdsource social media strategy?

Please drop us a comment and let us know what you think about crowdsourcing your marketing?

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