Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding facebook virality: how a nonprofit's 800 fan page received 43k impressions in a week

You don't have to be a giant to make a big splash in social media. You don't need to have a huge advertising budget, a stellar digital team or a silly meme to make something go viral on facebook.

Actually, you don't need anything except a great concept.

Here's my proof:

If you love social marketing like I do, you'll gasp with delight when you see that graph. It's true: a nonprofit organization with 847 facebook fans launched a social media campaign that reached 43,000 impressions in a matter of hours without spending a penny on anything but the salary of its Online Marketing Manager (that's me!).

My goal was to bring online supporters into the fight for Child Abuse Prevention in April. I used the month's symbol of a pinwheel and asked people to "pass" it around social media to raise awareness of the signs of child abuse.

The final concept:

I used sparked.com for the graphic design because we had no digital budget for the project. In wordpress, I designed a complementary landing page.I also designed an email to our supporters and launched everything April 2nd.

When I shared the pinwheel on our facebook page....crickets.

I expected that.

I had ticked off everything that social marketers will tell you to do for a successful campaign. I had my landing page, my email, my great graphics and content.

But, social media is not a "build it and they will come" platform. It's a network.

I hunkered down and did good-old email outreach with facebook pages I'd built relationships with. For months, I'd spent about fifteen minutes every day liking, commenting, sharing the content of other nonprofits. When I emailed them, many were happy to share our pinwheel. Within 24 hours, our graphic had been shared on multiple pages having thousands of followers. We had hundreds of shares in a couple of days.

We spread our message in a viral way, creating a virtual facebook miracle.

Only, there wasn't anything miraculous about it.

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