Here’s what happened: Ashton Kutcher (actor) posted a tweet saying he could get to one million followers before CNN did.
Before anyone could say boo, twitterville (www.twitter.com) was abuzz with people tweeting about the race. Long story short, Ashton did make it to the finish line; but not as easily as he expected to and not before he had to throw in an incentive for people to follow him.
Yes, Ashton promised to donate $100K to the “No More Malaria Fund” if he got to one million followers before CNN. And although CNN said they’d match the donation, they still lost the race to Ashton.
Now, this was all fun and people got into the race because they either liked Ashton or hated CNN or were drawn in my the “donation to the malaria fund cause”. I myself decided to follow Ashton; but only after and because he offered the $100K donation for such a noble cause (eradicating malaria).
But the race highlighted that:
1. Spreading the word about a cause, initiative, or product using social websites is easier, quicker and less expensive than traditional marketing methods. It is viral marketing at its best; just post a tweet & voila!
2. Implementing cause marketing strategies is a sure bet to getting higher visibility to others. Cause marketing is when you let people know that if they buy from you; some of your proceeds would go towards a particular cause, charity, or non-profit.
3. The six-degrees of separation is perhaps now not even that far off – all you need is one connection to connect with pretty much anyone out there using the world wide web.
Bottom line? Use social networking & cause marketing to gain branding, visibility, feedback, and connections. The traffic and customers will come thereafter.