Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti & Social Media

from Mediapost yesterday:

The Red Cross Just Had A Marketing Breakthrough
This week has been a heart-wrenching week for many people around the world. Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, was practically destroyed by a series of severe earthquakes. One must search long and hard to find the silver lining in a tragedy such as this. Although, the silver lining in this tragedy already seems to be the world's response with money and aid. Nothing pulls a community (even the world community) closer during harsh economic times than working together to help our brothers and sisters in a vital time of need.

The opportunities to help the Haitian people are numerous, but one technique stands out to me as the "ultimate participation opportunity" for Gen Y. But before I reveal what this brilliance is, we must first identify the problem that existed in Gen Y's willingness to give (and I don't mean the earthquake).

The problem: how can a charity make itself easy to give to? The cause itself rarely is enough. And although Gen Y gets a bad rap as an apathetic generation, we are not. We have a better understanding than most generations when it comes to viewing the world as "one big community."

But, often times, charities aren't meeting the "needs" of those it asks from. No one writes checks, and even online giving isn't doing the job for Gen Y. The fast-paced, multi-tasking nature of Gen Y often is a hindrance when it comes to charitable giving.

The Red Cross figured it out (or at least I'm giving it credit for figuring it out). It is allowing mobile phone users to simply text the work "Haiti" to 90999. By doing this, it has cracked the code to Gen Y giving.

The good people of Gen Y average 740 texts per month, according to a study conducted by Participatory Marketing Network and Pace University. Now Gen Y (and everyone else) can type in 10 characters into their mobile devices and affect a tragic situation in another part of the world. That, my friend, is what technology, marketing, and ingenuity is all about.

As marketers we all know that Gen Y uses alternative forms of communication (although they really don't seem that alternative anymore). But the Red Cross should serve as an example of an organization that puts lightning in a bottle. The right process met the right generation at the right time.

Here's hoping that this program has continued success. God knows that Haiti needs it.

Peter Dunn is the Gen Y financial expert who created the successful financial education programs Green Candy and 60 Days to Change. His book, "60 Days to Change: A Day by Day Guide to Changing Your Financial Life in Just 60 Days," will be published in the fall of 2009. Peter appears regularly on Fox Business News and Studio B with Shepard Smith. He is also the host of the popular radio show "Skills Your Dad Never Taught You" on News Talk 1430 (WXNT). Peter blogs regularly at Email him or follow him on Twitter. Reach him here.

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