Big things are happening at Kiva.org. Not only does the organization's day-to-day impact continue to grow virally, but it just won $300,000 from American Express for placing third in the company's annual Members Project competition. The contest invites individuals and organizations to submit their ideas for a project that will help change the world. The idea is to get AmEx card members to vote on what they think are the most worthy projects and then AmEx doles out $2.5 million in total to fund the top five vote-getters. (The grand prize was $1.5 million).
Kiva's project was all about what they are already doing -- changing the lives of entrepreneurs in developing countries through microloans -- and building on the impact of their online lending model to reach an even greater number of deserving entrepreneurs around the world. According to Kiva, the $300,000 grant will allow for $6 million in loans to be given out to 12,000 additional entrepreneurs over the next ten years.
So, besides the potential that this brings for a still-relatively-small non-profit, why is this such a big deal? Well for one, Kiva placed third out of almost 1,200 projects submitted, meaning that in just a short amount of time, they influenced enough people to take action and vote for their cause. With the help of Involver, one of Inc.com's 30 Under 30 companies this year, Kiva created an online video campaign that ran on Facebook, MySpace, and their own Website, which made it extremely easy for supporters to spread the word about Kiva through their social networks and professional circles.
Involver, which was founded in 2007 by 26-year-old Rahim Fazal and 27-year-old Noah Horton, helps companies create lucrative online marketing campaigns by providing them with a platform to build, manage, and distribute videos across large community platforms like Facebook. Involver's technology is results-oriented, so companies that use the technology are not just putting out a self-promotion video, but they are offering their customers a way to engage. With the Kiva campaign, anyone who watched the video on Kiva's Facebook page was prompted at the end to vote for them in the American Express competition. A simple click registered a vote for Kiva's campaign without redirecting the viewer to navigate their way around the American Express site. (Watch Kiva's campaign video here.) Besides voting, viewers also had the option of joining the campaign through Facebook or sharing the video with their friends. Friends can watch the video and vote without having to add an application to their profile. By the end of the competition, the Kiva video had been viewed 140,000 times, and those that passed it along shared the video an average of 12.75 times.
Kiva is certainly an Involver success story. In the American Express competition, they were up against much larger corporations with greater marketing budgets in a race for votes and supporters. And they got those votes without spending a lot of money or effort to publicize their project. Too often companies waste marketing money for online campaigns that turn out to have little to no impact. But Kiva and Involver have proved that when customers are given a direct way to engage with your brand, they almost always become proactive. Do you think Involver's model for online marketing could work at your company? Why or why not?
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