When buzz turns to bucks in a disaster: Hope for Haiti

Buzz often starts with a great story. When Americans heard about the tragic 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, there was a lot of buzz. And one group that did an excellent job of turning that buzz into bucks was Hope for Haiti. They used social networking sites to encourage chatter, they brought together major celebrities for a benefit concert, and they presented transparency on their Web site, by assuring potential donors that their 100% of their money will be spent on the relief effort.

In sum, they followed seven keys to inspiring word of mouth:

  1. They had an excellent story–it was a tragic event of historic proportions. And everyone was talking about it, and how they wanted to help.
  2. Their supporters could show their involvement in a visible way–by donating and then asking their friends to do the same.
  3. They offered something new to talk about–more than 100 world-famous celebrities gathered for a star-studded benefit concert.
  4. They let their supporters be creative by donating through any possible medium–text message, tweet, Facebook causes, and more. They asked for people’s involvement and organized volunteers interested in rolling up their sleeves and helping in Haiti.
  5. Anyone could participate.
  6. In return, donors were given thanks and could feel that they became part of an unprecedented donation drive.
  7. They made it clear how to spread the word–every badge, button and highlight on the Web site leads visitors to either donate or encourage others to do so.

In all, the power of the buzz brought in $57 million in donations, which will be used to help a nation recover from a disaster that left more than 230,000 dead, 1 million homeless, 380,000 orphaned, and 63 million tones of rubble in its wake.

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