The Webby for Good, produced in partnership with WP Engine, is a showcase of Webby-honored projects and campaigns that are promoting social good in the world
Describe your project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?
Invisible Stories was created for 826 Valencia, a nonprofit supporting under-resourced students, that BBDO San Francisco has worked with for the past four years. The elevator pitch for Invisible Stories was: “Hacking Instagram for a really good cause.” We found a way to hide invisible stories within Instagram posts, recreating our students’ writing one word at a time, by tagging users with names that matched those words. (The stories would only appear when you tapped our post.)
What key challenges did you face with this project?
The first challenge was the budget of zero dollars. The second challenge was how to engage a new generation of volunteer tutors, and show them how a little bit of their time can have a big impact on local students from underserved communities. These two challenges combined to lead us towards Instagram as our media channel, and then we had our idea. Challenge number three was “hacking” this familiar interface to deliver something unusual and unexpected: Invisible Stories.
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project?
The most rewarding part of the project was knowing that the weekends and evenings we committed to this little idea would have a real impact on the number of volunteer tutors helping this nonprofit. A couple of other highlights: being featured in The Huffington Post, and being reposted by the official @Instagram account—each of those moments showed the power of a little idea to generate a large amount of buzz. Every extra person reached was another chance to recruit a new volunteer.
When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?
We spoke often about staying focused on the effectiveness of the work (more tutors volunteering more hours). We knew the idea had to generate conversation if it was to have a chance of rippling out through earned media, so all our focus went to making the user experience feel original and unexpected—something worth talking about.
What did you learn from working on this project that you didn't know going into it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you, or that you weren't expecting?
We had a hunch that something like this might be possible, but it wasn’t until we sat down to comb through hundreds of Instagram names, and do some tests, that we saw we might be onto something. In the end, we learned that it’s worth pursuing those quirky little ideas; they might turn into something big.
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