January 28, 2013

When I speak at conferences, many people ask me to share case studies that don’t include big global brands or celebrities using social media. Fair enough. Digital Royalty has plenty of small business case studies and non-profit examples as well but this is one of my favorite examples found in my own Facebook backyard.

When my grade school friend, Nicole, sent her child off to kindergarten and attended her first Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting she learned that her son’s PTA funds art, drama, physical education (PE), science lab and computer lab. Many states have slashed education budgets across the country and the only reason her child’s school had these programs was because PTA funded them. And they aren’t cheap either; the budgets to keep these school programs alive range from six to seven figures each year. Nicole also learned that PTA wasn’t just comprised of parents and teachers. Anyone from the community could be a member.

So when the PTA announced a membership drive, my renegade friend decided to place matters into the hands of the people who loved her son the most – her facebook friends and family. She did this via a direct plea, recorded by her adorable kindergartener son and a direct link for them to donate. Nicole and her husband wrote, produced, filmed, edited and posted this lovely video via social communication channels. (You can learn how to do the same too, right here.) People didn’t need to send a check. All they had to do was watch the adorable video and click on a link to donate. (Note: We’ve removed her son’s full name and school from this version of the video in effort to keep talent agents at bay.)

As a side note, Nicole’s son won the membership drive competition (duh, we saw that coming). He got nearly 40 memberships while the second place finisher had ten. (Now that’s conversion and social media ROI!) They received so much feedback they decided to make the pitch again next year.

Why did this work so well? The intent, message and ask was pure, the audience was well-targeted and everyone involved actually cared. Also, it was easy to donate. The point is, you don’t need millions of followers or a red carpet to make a difference with social media. You just need the right education and value offering. In this case, the incentive of keeping PE, Art, Drama, Computer Lab and Science around was quite strong.

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