For charities and non-profits, raising awareness of social problems is one thing but getting people to take action is something else entirely. While the web provides an unparalleled opportunity for the public to better inform themselves about current events and the issues surrounding them – sites such as Upworthy have even managed to harness the techniques of viral marketing to spread important causes – clicks and shares can only go so far towards something actually being done about it.
That’s where ShoutAbout hopes to make a change with its widget, designed to appear at the end of online news articles to give readers more context about the issues behind the story and also offer ideas for positive action they can take. Reaching the end of an article about the Occupy Wall Street movement, readers could be directed to information about meetings or marches, for example, or a piece about school shootings could link to a petition to ban firearms. As Mat Morgan – responsible for business development and strategy for the startup – explains, nonprofits can use ShoutAbout to “easily promote links beneath articles on relevant issues, enabling them to educate and mobilize new supporters right when people are most likely to care.”
Morgan co-founded ShoutAbout in 2011 alongside developers Albert C. Lai and Micah Ting and the team launched the first iteration of their widget to the public at the Mashable Social Good Summit in 2012. “Our product was in its early stages, but we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to launch at such a high profile event,” he says.
Although the widget at the time was functional, ShoutAbout has spent the last 12 months refining the way its system works. Nonprofits no longer have to browse listings for pertinent news sites to connect with – instead the platform uses keywords to make a match for them, which they can completely automate or screen links before they go live. News outlets can now customize the look of the widget to match their own designs, as well as integrate ad campaigns, direct readers to further content on their site, and create a more engaging experience for their audience.
The service also produces useful data about how readers interact with both the news piece and calls to action. According to Mat: “Organizations and news sites use our deep analytics to understand which articles and links are most compelling to readers.” ShoutAbout has also also used A/B testing to improve its results for both sides of its clientele, increasing click-through rates to direct more readers to nonprofit sites. The team has tracked tens of thousands of clicks since its launch, with one article receiving more than 1,300 engagements. ShoutAbout currently sees around a million widget loads per month.
It’s these statistics that have attracted news sites such as The Christian Science Monitor, GlobalPost and PBS NewsHour, and nonprofits like Amnesty International, Oxfam America and the Sunlight Foundation to form partnerships with the startup. Mat hopes that this list will continue to grow as the company focuses its efforts on reaching out to more partners in the future and increase its visibility.
The idea behind ShoutAbout offers a way to change how readers engage with content on the web. It disrupts the typical path of reading an article and leaving a comment by directing readers towards avenues where they can make a real difference at the exact moment they feel the most informed and incensed to do something. The service empowers consumers and gives journalistic reporting even greater scope for effecting change. If you’re in the media industry or are a nonprofit interested in partnering with ShoutAbout, then be sure to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.