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Do Something boosts SMS activity to talk more effectively with teens

Do Something is significantly increasing the number of its text messaging campaigns as the nonprofit tries to leverage mobile to have conversations with teens about the various causes it supports.

Last year, Do Something, which focuses on activating teens to support numerous social causes, ran approximately 17 text messaging campaigns to its 120,000 mobile subscribers. With a strong response rate of at least 10 percent for these efforts, the organization is upping the ante and will do up to 30 campaigns in 2012.

?The reason why we are so focused on SMS is that our demographic is 25 years old and under, with a sweet spot between 13 and 17 years old,? said Naomi Hirabayashi, director of marketing at Do Something, New York. ?They send over 3,500 text messages a month and we want to be where they are having conversations and engaging with their friends.

?We leverage mobile to have conversations with teens about cause and campaigns we are running to get a sense of what they are passionate about.?

Teen activation
Do Something began focusing more heavily on mobile in 2011. While SMS is the initial the focus of these efforts, the organization plans to begin building out mobile applications and optimized sites in the near future.

The organization runs two cause campaigns each month built to drive engagement and support for a specific cause. For example, the 5th annual Teens for Jeans campaign, which was launched Jan. 16 and runs through Feb. 12, seeks to mobilize teens to collect jeans to donate to homeless teens across the country.

Some of the other causes Do Something focuses on include environmental issues, education, bullying and teen pregnancy.

Every Monday, the organization sends out a mobile message focused on one of these campaigns to its mobile subscribers.

?We?ve seen really strong numbers, with a 10 percent minimum response rate,? Ms. Hirabayashi said. ?This is an incredible medium to activate teens for a cause.?

Do Something focuses on using SMS as both a push and a pull mechanism.

Do Something has also integrated text messaging into its Cause Concierge program, which is a help center to help teens with any questions they have around a campaign.

?Before, I don?t think people realized how to successfully use text messaging,? Ms. Hirabayashi said. ?They were using primarily as a push mechanism and have no idea what is coming back to them, what is the reaction to the messaging and how does it invoke them to respond.

?Beginning last year, we are thinking about text messaging as a push and pull mechanism,? she said. ?Teens want to have a conversation and we want to have a conversation with them, too.

?To do it in a right way, we need to make sure we are really thinking about the user.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York