Yesterday, Zemanta, an application that suggests tags, links, photos, and related articles to enrich your blog based on keywords extracted from the text of your posts, launched its “Blogging for a Cause” campaign. Putting up $3,000 of their own money, Zemanta is asking bloggers to write about their favorite nonprofits, the top five of which get the most bloggers to endorse them, will receive the donation. The process is simple: write a post, embed a trackable link at the bottom for Zemanta to tally it as an official vote, and share the link with your friends and networks as you normally would in promoting your blog. Zemanta has also created badges that can be added to blogs or nonprofit websites in maximizing exposure around this initiative.
The Social Innovation Greenhouse at Weber Shandwick has also stepped in with a matching donation of Zemanta’s $3,000 pledge, and Zemanta is also seeking any other socially motivated entities who want to add to the pot, making this an even bigger opporunity to make a difference for the winning nonprofit.
The beauty of this initiative from a cause marketing standpoint is that it engages the blogosphere, who are able to reach the masses within their own sub-sets of the population, in generating significant exposure for the nonprofits they feature. And it won’t cost them a dime. Unlike most cause-related campaigns that are hinged on transactions, Zemanta has simply asked that bloggers do what they normally do. . . blog.
With the number of bloggers out there, and an increasing number of “participatory journalists” who are focused on using their blogs as forums for making a difference in the world, the potential impact of this campaign could be substantial. And while Zemanta does stand to benefit greatly from the exposure as well, I can’t seem to find a catch in the campaign. It seems to be an authentic effort, well integrated with the service and the bloggers they serve, but let’s see if it passes my causewashing litmus test:
- Is the program aligned with the company or mission? Yes. Zemanta is built upon the premise of helping enrich blog posts in a variety of ways, and linking them to causes is a natural extension of that. In fact, Zemanta has been working with Social Actions, a site that links users with credible causes and aggregrates actions from 50+ action sources, to seamlessly add this feature for bloggers. Zemanta now recommends “actions” from the Social Actions database, to help bloggers connect their readers the with most relevant action depending on the topic of the blog post.
- Will both the company and cause benefit equally? Yes. While this campaign will definitely bring increased exposure of Zemanta’s service, and help them gain more users, the causes also stand to benefit in equal proportion. Not only through the winning donation, but by the blog posts and endorsements for their efforts. Each article will open up a new level of awareness for their organization, so even if they are not awarded the donation, that level of press can be invaluable for a nonprofit — and it’s all for free.
- Is the investment enough to make a tangible impact? Yes. In addition to the actual dollars that Zemanta and the Social Innovation Greenhouse at Weber Shandwick are investing, there are also considerable benefits to having bloggers focused on spreading the word about nonprofits. Through a highly coordinated month-long effort, Zemanta is able to affect change by harnessing the power of the blogging community in positively impacting multiple causes and charities. And it’s not only empowering the bloggers, but the readers of those blogs, who may become new supporters or volunteers, in mobilizing a movement that will continue well after the campaign concludes.
So, it looks like Zemanta has passed with flying colors, and developed a well-intended cause marketing program with multiple beneficiaries, demonstrating the true value of aligning your business with a cause that is not aimed solely at promoting your own services, but instituting a sustainable vehicle for ongoing change. I predict that this will be the first of many initiatives to employ the blogging community as agents for change, and that bring greater focus on the tremendous power of giving back to go forward.