Maria Sipka is on cloud nine. And it doesn’t look like she’s coming down any time soon. Last month her new venture, Linqia, secured a second round of funding. And yesterday she heard that Plug and Play – the high powered US incubator – will seed Linqia’s expansion in the States.
But the thing that’s really got her buzzing was an event organised by Procter and Gamble on Wednesday night: in the last 36 hours Maria’s team has raised £7,265 to help vaccinate newborn babies against Tetanus – all as the result of a social media campaign that they set up in minutes.
“This event was held in Geneva last Wednesday and 200 employees from all over Europe attended, plus 50 people from social media – Google, MySpace etc. Over a few hours, they created this amazing experience.
“You can’t get 200 people in a room and motivate them without having a story to tell: social media is all about story-telling. P&G have this initiative with UNICEF, fronted by Salma Hayek, funding Tetanus vaccinations – the idea was to raise money for the cause.
“The event lasted around two hours. The way it was set up is that there were five different rooms with about 50 people in each room. We all walked into our assigned rooms and had to get started. I didn’t know what was going on, no-one knew what was going on. Everyone was like a herd of sheep.
“It was collaboration on a massive scale. At the start, it was the simple act of just sharing information: ‘What’s going on here?’. Then we had about ten minutes to define our strategy. And the leader (each room had a designated leader) asked ‘Shall we all work on the same thing or should each table do something different?’.
“We said ‘Let’s each do something different’ – so we had one table deciding key influencers, another table looking at SEO, one generating content, another identifying ‘big fish’ – super wealthy people – and another covering media buyers.
“And then it was like ‘Bang – go!’. And on the fly we had to define strategies. So I was sitting there telling people what Twitter was, for example. I had to identify ten followers who had a lot of followers: Mike Butcher, Robert Scoble etc. As a result of that initiative I had exposure to 100,000 people.
“Every time something important happened it flashed up on a big screen. And we could also see the results [of the fundraising] in real time. Someone called Salma Hayek and got her to donate. Someone else said ‘Hey who are the 100 most followed on Twitter? And got on the phone to Ashton Kutcher. Every time there was a success we celebrated it. We raised £12,000 in two hours, we were trending on Twitter. People’s heads were spinning.
“Overall more than £30K has been raised since Wednesday night. And that’s all as the result of a campaign which we invented on the spot – the great thing is that we got quick tangible results. That’s the sort of uplifting experience that says to anyone ‘You can do it!’”
The experience has created a Eureka moment for Maria:
“One of the biggest issues is getting people internally to evangelise. There’s no better way to indoctronate than to get people involved in an activity…This type of format works really well in convincing the cynics. It could be used anywhere.”
If engaging people and inciting their passion is the best way to get them to learn, it looks like Procter and Gamble have found a great way to crack it.