A Twitter Testimony from Operation Smile | npENGAGE

A Twitter Testimony from Operation Smile

By on May 29, 2009

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Last week I spoke with Renee Alexander from Operation Smile, and she filled me in on a campaign her nonprofit is launching tomorrow using none other than Twitter to show the true power of multi-channel marketing. Rather than write about the campaign myself, I asked Renee to provide a preview of the campaign herself and fill everyone in on the Twitter fun and social good Operation Smile has planned starting tomorrow…


by Renee Alexander Hamilton, Social Media Strategist, Operation Smile


It’s Friday May 29th, the day before I launch the Operation Smile Twitter based fund raising campaign 140 Smiles. As I dash towards San Francisco and reflect on the last two months leading up to this trip I am amazed not only by what we are about to launch but how we got here. The genesis of this campaign is a true testament to the community nature of Twitter.


About two months ago Audra Platz, one of our Student Programs team members told her friend about the organization she was working for. Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that repairs cleft lip and cleft palates around the world. That night, Audra’s friend tweeted the Operation Smile mission statement in 140 characters. As social media strategist for the organization, I am always checking Twitter so I can reply and follow folks who mention us or message us, late that night I saw and responded to the Tweeted mission statement.


As luck would have it the Tweeter in this scenario was Stef Michaels AKA @adventuregirl, a power twitterer with almost half a million followers. Not only that but Stef has an incredible personal connection to our mission which she shared with me the following morning when we connected via telephone; she blogs about her story and newly appointed status as Twitter Smile Ambassador here.


This connection was the start of a series of events that has landed me in this van careening towards downtown San Francisco. Stef was scheduled to speak at TWTRCON, the first Twitter for business conference. When she told the organizers at Modern Media about her story and how she was committing to spread the word about Operation Smile through the internet, they thought it would be a great idea to bring us on as a nonprofit partner for the conference.


Not wanting to just have a table at the conference, our team saw this as an opportunity to do something really different and strategic to mobilize the Twitter users that would be speaking and attending the conference as a catalyst to launch a large scale campaign. We devised the 140 Smiles campaign with a mission to provide 140 surgeries to children through the power of Twitter. The average cost of a surgery is $240 setting our fundraising goal at $33,600.


We had just signed on with Common Knowledge, a company that creates web strategy for non-profits who incredibly offered to work out the strategy and web implementation pro-bono. Chris Carson of Modern Media offered to develop the Twitter API and came up with some great functionality. Hyper Media, working with Common Knowledge branded the campaign with a perfect little Twitter bird to bring the campaign to life.




All of this in about three weeks!  Twitter became the central tool for this campaign, we needed a t-shirt sponsor and after tweeting out the need, Spreadshirt a custom t-shirt company offered to create special promotional tee’s.  Threadless, who has just launched a line of twitter themed t-shirts donated tee’s as prizes for the campaign. Twooting a Podcast about Twitter had us on and Non-Profit Tech guru Beth Kanter even blogged about the campaign, all through exposure on Twitter.


It is exciting and incredible how this new tool works, I will write an update on the functionality and successes/challenges of the campaign soon.  The campaign is a live case study and will fuel a whitepaper being headed by Common Knowledge, Operation Smile and Modern Media with help from Convio so look for that. And in the meantime-you can be part of the campaign! Visit www.140smiles.org on May 30th to start a twitter team and start following #140smiles and @operationsmile on Twitter to find out the latest and greatest. 

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