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Barnes & Noble links mobile photo uploads with nonprofit donations

Barnes & Noble is running ads in Facebook’s mobile newsfeed encouraging college students to upload photos and have a donation made to Habitat for Humanity.

The #StudentsDoingGood campaign will see Barnes & Noble College donate $1 to Habitat for Humanity for every photo of students doing good that is uploaded. Photos can be uploaded using the hash tag #StudentsDoingGood via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

“We know text messages are opened 97 percent of the time in under one minute of their delivery,” said Jenifer Snyder, executive director of The mGive Foundation. “So for the generation lovingly named ‘The Thumb Generation’ because of the ninja texting skills, nonprofits and businesses who want to move college students to action are smart to collaborate to inspire social good through the mobile device.

“With the explosive popularity of photos on social channels, – let’s be honest, the most fun part of using social media are the shared photos – it’s genius that Habitat for Humanity and Barnes and Noble added the component of uploading photos showing students doing good,” she said.

Ms. Snyder is not affiliated with Barnes & Noble and commented based on her experience in mobile.

Barnes & Noble did not respond to a request for comment.

Acts of kindness
The campaign runs through April 30, 2014, with Barnes & Noble College promising to donate up to $25,000 for uploaded photos.

Suggestions for acts of kindness to a take a photo of include volunteering and joining a Habitat for Humanity campus chapter.

Students can also click through to the campaign page on Facebook from the ad to see what others are posting.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit focused on building affordable housing.

Hash tag marketing
Targeting college students with a campaign like this makes sense because they are interested in helping out in their communities and are very active on social media sites such as Facebook. With social use increasingly taking place on mobile devices, an ad in the mobile newsfeed is a great way to make the target audience aware of the program.

The campaign is also smart to build the program around uploading photos, as this is a favorite activity for many mobile users.

Hash tags are increasingly becoming part of the way that consumers share and communicate from mobile devices by making it easy to flag things they want others know about.

With this in mind, marketers are increasingly using hash tags to help them find an audience and reach users at the moment of intent when people are talking about something from geolocation perspective.

This is not the first time a consumer brand has teamed up a nonprofit to leverage mobile.

For example, Birds Eye and nonprofits Partnership for Healthier America and Share Our Strength recently partnered on a text messaging program offering families tools and information to make healthier meal choices (see story).

“Many nonprofits feel like mobile is hard to integrate into a communications campaign or is only for disaster fundraising,” Ms. Snyder said.

“Over 90 percent of our clients are non-disaster nonprofits and they are successful with mobile because we teach them how to use texts for emotional engagment and fundraising,” she said.

“Nonprofits that do not use mobile as a major part of their communications strategy will get left behind as the Thumb Generation is leading the way to doing everything through our mobile phones.”

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