Cover Story: New Media … Same Strategy
At ACS, the issue was less about leadership buy-in and more about helping people understand the utility and value of the various tools, then helping them get comfortable with the idea that Web 2.0 is interactive and that content often is generated or augmented by users (constituents) versus providers (ACS).
“The thing about social networks, the thing that you love and you hate, is the fact that it’s really viral and it really is about user-generated content,” Music says. “So you can’t control what other people are going to say or the kind of information that they’re going to drop in. But we do try to manage what we put out there from a corporate perspective.
“Beginning in 2002, we’ve brought the leadership of the American Cancer Society along very well in realizing that the customer is going to drive the decision making when it comes to marketing … and they’ve never been shy about the new avenues, particularly as we explain to them this is where
the new world order is, and this is where people really are gathering,” Music adds. “So it’s been a relatively easy sell.”
In 2004, when the concept of a virtual world inhabited by avatars still seemed like sci-fi, ACS hosted a gala in Second Life, raising about $2,000 (in real dollars, Music says — not Linden dollars, Second Life’s official “currency”). Invigorated by that success, the organization decided to try its major community event, Relay For Life — which celebrates cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost and offers participants a chance to pledge to fight against the disease — in the virtual world in 2005. That first virtual relay was a small event, but after taking a few years to perfect its Second Life chops, ACS held the virtual relay again in 2008. More than 80 teams took part, and the event brought in more than $214,000.