The Case (Studies) for Social Media
"It's that ability to be able to reach out to more people and make the connections. And it's about the people. We all feel good about supporting friends and family we know have causes that are important to them," she adds.
Light It Up Blue
Autism Speaks is another organization that has had some success using social-media widgets for its Walk Now for Autism Speaks events — according to Chief Community Officer Marc Sirkin, the Walk Now events raise about $30 million a year, with approximately $15.5 million to $16 million coming in online, and almost 6 percent of those online donations come from its version of the Facebook widget. But the national autism science and advocacy organization's most shining example of the power of social media is its Light It Up Blue campaign.
During certain times of the year, Autism Speaks uses social media to mobilize its donors, supporters and volunteers to create their own Light It Up Blue events — events centered around the color blue to raise autism awareness.
"The campaign began to celebrate Autism Awareness Day [April 2]," Sirkin says. "We basically challenged our community to do events that have something to do with blue in them — Watch 'Blue Crush' on DVD, wear a blue shirt to work, etc."
To add an even richer social element, Autism Speaks created a microsite for the campaign and invited people through Twitter, Facebook and other communications to create events, share stories and upload photos on it.
"We let people have a lot of fun with it, and lo and behold, the thing took off like a rocket," Sirkin says.
The site was launched three weeks in advance of Autism Awareness Day, and on April 2, Autism Speaks had more traffic on its Light It Up Blue microsite than on AutismSpeaks.org. Social media drove the whole thing. Autism Speaks posted the site on Twitter for about eight hours, and it exploded from there. Followers flocked to the site, where they could make donations, share stories and ideas, and upload photos to a Flickr account.