How do you make a 12 year-old care about the world around them?
No, I’m not talking about the Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift world concert tours. I’m talking about the REAL world. The complicated, unfair one.
DoSomething, the organization that partnered with INK2011 Speaker Vineet Singal to promote his 100k Cheeks campaign, thinks they know the answer to that question. Their raison d’être is to make volunteering as easy for teens as joining a soccer team, and their goal is to recruit youth under age 25 to become proactive social changemakers. Their statistics attest that they’re on to something big—they’re getting 1 million unique visitors each month to their website, they’re the fifth largest charity on twitter, they had 2 million people participate in their campaigns last year, plus, they’ve got the ears of teen celebrities like Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato to plug them.
So how did they do it? How did they gain a following amongst the demographic group all the rest of us thought it was impossible to recruit? After all, word on the street is that teens are notoriously apathetic about the world around them.
Here’s a quick DoSomething How-To-Create-Massive-Action Top 5 List, compiled from my conversation with DoSomething’s Director of Business Development, Melanie Stevenson.
1. Young people want to make the world a better place, but they don’t know where to start. DoSomething takes care of all the complicated logistics that are roadblocks to activism, and makes it easy for youth to turn their passion into action.
2. Talk to teens the way they talk to each other. DoSomething alerts its users about new campaigns by text messaging.
3. Don’t ask your users to change, adapt to work within the constraints of their resources and lifestyles. All DoSomething campaigns require no money, no car, and no adult.
4. Don’t try to reach everyone. DoSomething categorizes teens into four groups: the Presidents, the Vice Presidents, the Followers and the Slackers. Their target is the Vice Presidents and the Followers. Why? These are the people who want to take action (unlike the Slackers) but don’t know where or how to start (unlike the Presidents). DoSomething gives them the motivation and the tools to…do something.
5. Make a clear and specific call to action—and then get somebody exciting to say it for you. DoSomething gets celebrities that teens already care about to be spokespeople for their campaigns. It’s powerfully persuasive—just check out this 100k Cheeks – “Give a Spit” public service announcement.
DoSomething has been around for almost 20 years, but only in the past 8 years have they refined their call to action, and only in the past 3 years has their organization really taken off. So take a hint from them, and make sure you’ve got a clear and strategic plan to capture the attention of your audience and utilize them to build momentum for your cause.
By Nina Gannes, INK Program Manager
February 27, 2012