What I Did to Help StandUpKids
As of June 26, 2015.
I thought it would be simpler to answer what education means to me. I suppose it means freedom. Freedom to pursue whatever I am interested in. I've driven submarines, dove thousands of feet in the ocean, rappelled from helicopters, and started businesses. None of which would have been possible without learning how to do it. I'm also the first person in my family to earn a college degree. Instead of stopping there, in five months, I will have my Master's - not to pursue a new career, but because I love to learn, and to set an example for my children. Both degrees have been earned in my 'spare' time, in between 2 jobs, a wife, and 3 kids (18 yrs, 2 yrs, and 1 week old). I'm passionately curious about the world, and education lets me experience it with greater understanding. The power of education is seen when a young child, hungry for knowledge, inspired Adam Braun to start Pencils of Promise, another foundation that I believe in, and have supported.
Starting with a personal social network of only about 120 people, I went on to reach over 43,000 people.
This is how i did it.
I decided to get behind this effort for a personal reason. School was a struggle for me. Not the grades though, that was easy, but focus. Sitting in a desk and paying attention to the teacher was nearly impossible. My mind would constantly wander and I would fidget or doodle. I actually had a few teachers put me in a desk that was like a tiny cubicle to block out distractions. I found it just gave me privacy to draw or read. My guess (my degree is in psychology) is I suffered from un-diagnosed ADD. I know the physical benefits to standing, as opposed to sitting, but the added benefit of increased focus will be just as significant for the students.
Because of my support for the cause, I went all-in to try to help. My personal network is very small - only about 60 friends on Facebook, and about the same on Twitter, so I knew I had to get creative. I'll do my best to quantify everything here, but please contact me if you would like links, screenshots, or any other proof. That said, here is how I managed to reach over 43,000 people, resulting in engagement from almost 900 people, and set things in motion that will continue well past this contest.
I had to reach out beyond my current network. I was sitting in the hospital during the days following the birth of my new son, and had some free time. I asked myself, 'what would Tim do?'. I had zero experience getting online traffic, but because of The Four Hour Workweek, other books, and podcasts, I am familiar enough with some methods for doing so. We got home and I had exactly one week to see what I could do. Of course, one of the first things, was to donate money.
I gave $38 in honor of your birthday wish.
I wasn't sure exactly how ads worked, and I wanted to have as many metrics as possible, so the first thing I did was set up a website, HelpStandUpKids.org I used Squarespace, signed up for a year, and registered the domain name. I then went on to design a logo. The logo and website took most the night, but I was (and still am) happy with the final product. On the page, the action button links to the Donors Choose page, and I don't collect any information from visitors. There is literally no personal gain from it. (except feeling awesome!) I also made it a point on the 'about' page to let it be know that I am not associated, and give full credit to the Starrett's. I also had an additional landing page for parody ads I ran, hoping for some level of virality (it didn't happen). This was HelpStandUpKids.org/minotaur.
Most of the next day was spent making ads. I put together two campaigns, each with multiple ads, to see what worked best. One campaign was straight-forward, used my logo, and was very successful. The other, was a parody, based on you saying 'no minotaurs' in the contest rules. I thought the humor of discrimination against minotaurs may have a viral element to it. I was wrong. It wasn't a flop, but it was far less popular than the normal ad. (although I still laugh at the pictures I made)
Once the ads were done, I set up a Facebook page, and started running ads. I may sound funny, but I was REALLY excited when I had 35 clicks the first day. It may be small, but it was a profound moment. I influenced behavior.
Next I started to tweet out about the cause. As I mentioned, my reach was only about 60 (@jroache1), so I'm not sure how many people actually saw the tweets. Engagement was low, but it was still progress. It was encouraging when a few people I mentioned favorited or retweeted. I also started using Buffer to schedule tweets for more efficiency. I wanted to do better, so I decided to pay for promoted tweets. I was blown away by how fast you can reach people, and get clicks, compared to Facebook. It was night and day.
Instead of sticking strictly to social media, I decided to go for some direct traffic. I hired a freelancer to do targeted seo for my site, and pretty soon, that started working very well. I also posted to Ideapod, and subredditt StandingDesks. (I was going to use subreddit Education, but it says no fundraising, and I didn't want to get banned) Both those postings helped a bit. Here is a summary of everything.
As of 6/26/15
*Update - 6/29/15 - As of today, the total link clicks has passed 1,200, and is still going!
Unfortunately, one things I'm not able to do is tell how many people actually clicked through to donors choose. Squarespace doesn't show you clicks on links (unless you change their code) so i don't know how many people actually gave because of my efforts. In hindsight, I now realize that I could have had the same impact without building a site, but I didn't know that ads would give me metrics like they do.
This has been a great experience for me. It was good to support a cause that I really believe in, and I learned a lot over the past week. It forced me out of my comfort zone, and it seems that the results could have made a significant impact.
The site I created to track metrics.
This was an additional landing page on the site for the parody ads I ran.
Facebook Ads (click to scroll)
This work of art (my personal favorite) and other tweets and retweets, can be seen on twitter https://twitter.com/Jroache1