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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

The power of social media for Hurricane Sandy

With charity events, it all comes down to public awareness. Charity isn’t something that you “sell” but something that you spread to other likeminded individuals. Working in the internet marketing field I primarily work with selling ad space, improving company branding and exposure. However, when I had the unique opportunity to work with a local company on marketing a charity event; it was an enjoyable yet different experience.

The two companies we worked with were A Family Storage, which is a self-storage company, and Cool Box Portable Storage, which is a mobile storage company similar to PODS. Any donations that were dropped off at A Family Storage would then be moved in a Cool Box container up to Hurricane Sandy relief centers.

To market our event online, we decided to use the power of social media to spread awareness of our charity event, specifically Facebook. Facebook gives us a unique approach to targeting different demographics than you would be able to achieve with traditional internet advertising platforms such as Google Adwords or MSN Adcenter. Although we could target different demographics, we still paid the traditional per click basis that Adwords or Adcenter uses.

After deciding to use social media, we set up a campaign with a relatively small budget to test what kind of interaction we would receive from our ad. We first set up our campaign to geo-target our location which was specifically Tucson, based on the companies’ location. Next, thanks to Facebook’s unique platform, we were able to target who our ads were shown to contingent upon pages that users had “liked” or listed as interests. We chose to target users who had liked “Charity”, “Charity Events”, “Non-Profit”, “Hurricane Sandy Relief” and many similar variations. This helped to refine who our ads were sent out to and prevent unnecessary ad spending.


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We ended up using an ad that was essentially a sponsored post. This means a post that you specify from the Facebook page will show up as the ad. We created a post that specifically gave donation instructions and used an image from our KOLD coverage to help give credibility to our charity event.

Facebook allowed us to track our exposure to our targeted demographic as well as our clicks, likes and shares of our post. Our ad showed up on over 15,000 profiles located in Tucson alone and we received several hundred clicks on our ad for more information. This of course included an increase in likes and shares of our post which further helped to spread the word of our event. Although it is difficult to measure social media impact in the event itself, we knew what kind of exposure we had achieved.

The end result appeared to be significant as the Cool Box units that we ended up shipping to New York were packed to the brim with donated items. After this latest experiment we had with Facebook and charity, we truly believe that this is one of the best platforms for quickly increasing charitable online exposure.

Trevor McCann is the CEO of Rainbow SEO, a Tucson based internet marketing agency. He has over 6 years of experience marketing through search engine optimization and pay per click advertising for small to large businesses. He also has provided subcontractor work for Google and believes innovation is the key to success in an ever evolving online environment.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog