Connecting Consumers to Causes on BloomSpot
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Emily Smith, Manager of Marketing and Business Development at BloomSpot, sharing her experience in using social media to help build a mission-based business initiative. BloomSpot is an online lifestyle magazine featuring the best restaurants, hotels, spas and more in SF, NY and LA. BloomSpot’s Community Circles program is a social buying program, enabling members to contribute to a cause of their choice, while shopping online.
In a space where competition is strong and barriers to entry are relatively low, it’s important as an entrepreneur to always be testing new ideas. Although your business may offer a particular service, there are many creative ways to appeal to your customers. When launching a new initiative it’s important
to be open to all avenues that a certain program can take and let the direction ultimately be guided by your users.
With Community Circles, any organization can easily create a Community Circle on BloomSpot, and anyone can join to support their cause. From that point on every time a Circle member makes a purchase, BloomSpot will donate a percentage back to the organization. Like any new initiative, dedicated outreach is critical to getting started. However, organic growth plays a huge part in sustaining expansion. By leveraging social media channels and promoting success stories, Circles has grown significantly since its launch in June.
We encourage all of our partners to utilize a variety of channels to share their Circle, as each channel reaches and affects people differently. We encourage the use of Facebook and Twitter, but also emphasize the value of personal email and super-users who can help drive the message. In addition, we make it very easy for a user to share their Circle with others on the site. Designing a user interface that facilitates viral growth is critical. We’ve also set up our own Circle specific Twitter account (@BloomSpotCircle) to share stories with other nonprofits and interested users. While sharing our story is important, we also emphasize participation in the overall dialogue around social business online.
In tough economic times, this extra and low-effort stream of fundraising has been a huge benefit for nonprofit organizations. Organizations of all sizes are taking advantage of Circles as a source of online fundraising. Kiva, an international nonprofit that empowers individuals to lend to entrepreneurs across the globe, is launching Community Circles for their supporters to join in cities across the U.S. At the same time, more local organizations such as the Voices of New York are also getting great results.
To find the right solution, in any industry, it’s important to keep an open channel of communication with your users. Encourage open feedback in the design process and truly listen to what it is your users need. “Working with Circles at BloomSpot has been a delight”, says the Executive Director of a participating Circle “it’s the easiest fundraising we’ve ever done.
You can easily join or start a Circle to contribute to a cause of your choice by visiting the BloomSpot Community Circles page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! As consumers become more socially and environmentally conscious there are huge opportunities to sustainably integrate “doing good” into your business model. This will not only result in a socially responsible business that you can be proud of, but also help differentiate from competitors in a way that builds loyalty with your users.