Perhaps you watched the CNN Heroes Awards show on Thanksgiving night. There are many wonderful charitable organizations and events out there, but I was moved (and quite fascinated) by the way CNN integrated social media into their worthwhile program.
For those of you who don’t know, over 10,000 people from over 100 countries were nominated for the CNN Heroes program, which honors everyday people doing good deeds in their communities. CNN narrowed it down to the top 100 and a Blue Ribbon panel selected the Top 10. Voting began on www.cnnheroes.com in October and ended 3 days before the ceremony. An awards show was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on November 20, 2010, hosted by Anderson Cooper. Each of the 10 finalists received $25,000 and the Hero of the Year (the top vote getter) received an additional $100,000. The show was broadcast on Thanksgiving night.
CNN wisely used influential people to help create buzz and spread info to their fans. The night of the awards ceremony, CNN set up a social suite. As the celebrities arrived at the end of the red carpet, they were ushered to the suite where they were offered iPads and Macbooks to log into their social accounts and tweet or update their Facebook status. Although manned by CNN staffers, the social suite was hosted by a celebrity, Holly Robinson Peete.
The celebrities also were encouraged to post status updates on their fan pages, reminding fans to watch the show on Thanksgiving. Here’s just a few:
Celebrities were also encouraged to tweet about the show for example, here’s one from Demi Moore.
@Mrskutcher has a Twitter following of over 3 million people, and her tweet was retweeted by another 62 people, so imagine the reach this one tweet could have. Also, some celebrities tweeted about photos taken during the show, for example:
About a month before the awards ceremony, CNN began using their Facebook Heroes page, and also created a Facebook event for watching the show on Thanksgiving. On Facebook, not only were fans able to see videos of the 10 finalists and their causes, but they were also able to donate to the causes of these incredible heroes. Facebook even waived the processing fees for donations made through this app, so the causes would receive 100% of the money:
The week between the Awards show and the airing on Thanksgiving, CNN began using its Facebook page to post clips of performances from the show. The Facebook page also provided some “behind the scenes” snippets, including photos taken backstage by CNN staffers. In addition, during the airing of the show, the CNN Heroes Facebook page wall was opened for comments (something CNN rarely does). Staffers came on to comment and show appreciation to their fans. For example, here’s one I posted:
This strategy has been enormously fruitful for CNN (from a social media perspective): thousands of people posted comments on the wall, expressing warm sentiments, showering praise on the Heroes and thanking CNN. Even Facebook promoted CNN Heroes by posting on their own page, reaching their 28 million fans:
On Twitter, the hashtag #CNNHeroes was used to promote voting and viewer interactions, and also to promote the videos of the 10 finalists (driving traffic back to CNN’s website). The strategy for Twitter was to recreate the event live during the broadcast, even though the show had actually occurred 5 days beforehand. Of course, the social suite played a role in acquiring tweets from celebrities. And during the preshow, a board was mounted in the social suite where tweets using the hashtag #CNNHeroes could be seen via live streaming (seen here).
During the airing of the Awards show on Thanksgiving night, the staff at CNN started to retweet some of the more interesting tweets made during the Awards show… but they did it in real time (so it seemed like the tweets were “live”). For instance, this tweet appeared as the 33 Chilean miners were about to appear onstage:
Or, CNN staffers tweeted their observations about the events, again in real time. We got these classics from Jack Gray (Anderson Cooper’s producer):
For those following on Twitter while watching the show, this strategy helped create a two-screen experience that granted “Easter Eggs” to loyal Twitter fans, providing content available only to them. By the end of the night, CNN achieved a milestone… making #CNNHeroes a trending topic:
Any one of these tactics by CNN could be used by smaller organizations to help promote their social media good projects. I hope this comprehensive look at the CNN Heroes campaign helps to get you thinking about your next project, and how social media can be used for good!
- Donate Facebook Credits To Charities Through CNN Promotion (allfacebook.com)
- CNN 2010 Heroes Saluted By Celebrities (socialitelife.com)
- Susan Stiffelman: My Time With CNN Hero of the Year: Watching Dedication Up Close (huffingtonpost.com)