Last year, Barnes & Noble College entered into a new partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the highly respected non-profit that believes “every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.” Donating $100,000 in support of Habitat’s “Build a Future” program, Barnes & Noble College stores also coordinated grass-roots support through their local campus chapters. But a big element of the support came from social sharing initiatives which, in addition to raising an additional $30,000 for Habitat for Humanity, also built awareness for its mission. This academic term has seen the launch of a new string of social initiatives to create a fun and positive program in support of a good cause.
“At the start of each program we like to sit down with Habitat for Humanity and discuss the themes behind each of the initiatives they’re promoting,” explains Tamara Vostok, Consumer & New Media Marketing Manager for Barnes & Noble College. “This semester, we wanted to help promote Act! Speak! Build! Week.” This week-long program had a particularly relevant appeal and the challenge for Vostok to design an exciting and engaging campaign that appealed to the student body, once again, involved the use of social media as a key component.
To promote Act!, students were encouraged to take action on Facebook, sharing status updates for Habitat for Humanity in a Share to Donate promotion. With every ‘action’ or share, a dollar donation was made on behalf of their Facebook Fans. Speak! involved students speaking out, generating intrigue and interest with Post For Habitat updates, including the color of their childhood homes. “It was fascinating and very engaging to see all these colors on social media.” Vostok recalls, “And we then had the opportunity to explain the colors, the #ActSpeakBuild hashtag, and the meaning behind the program.”
The third piece was coordinated as a Build & Play Challenge where nine Barnes & Noble College café locations were chosen to host in-store Lego competition events. Competing teams were given one hour to construct their ultimate Lego Home in support of Habitat for Humanity, with the winning teams receiving $50 bookstore gift cards. The designs were judged by a member of the booksore staff based on the creativity and originality of the builders, and runners-up received complimentary coffee for one week in the bookstore café. “There’s a difference between just constructing a house and creating a home – with the memories of family, and the love, really being the home’s foundation – and that is the thought behind all of this engagement,” Vostok says.
The semester of promotions has proven to be a great success, with the Share to Donate promotion alone generating a donation of $5,000. “There really is so much passion from our students around this cause, and we’re excited to be able to keep building and developing the relationship,” Vostok explains. In many instances, these social initiatives have grown into deeper partnerships, with many college campuses taking extra steps to volunteer on projects with their local Habitat chapters, a move Vostok understands completely. “Our students want to be able to support a cause that not only has such global reach, but can also touch their local communities in a very positive and very profound way.”