Friday, March 11, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: KarmaKorn lets you challenge others to do good

Special thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

Cause marketing has become increasingly popular for brands – to give just one example, Pepsi is basing a huge portion of their marketing on it. When a brand as big as the big P makes a decision like that, it’s apparent that both consumers and marketers value it as a marketing strategy.

KarmaKorn is an early stage start-up that is helping consumers – and brands challenge their connections to take action on important causes. The goal of this self-funded start-up is to make social media and networks more than just places for wasting time and gaming. Rather, they want people to challenge and be challenged to take positive steps that improve society and address persistent problems.

It works like this. You connect to the FB app, and read or post challenges that encourage some form of positive action. It might be something fairly simple, like pledging not to consume any plastic retail bags for a week. Or it might be taking action in your community, or uploading a video, or signing a petition.

There’s an important virtual currency layer to all this. Each positive action by a consumer earns Korn kernels – the number of kernels earned relates to the complexity and commitment required to complete the challenge. You use the Korn to challenge others to take action and earn their own kernels. Their goal is to create a virtual economy for good. Having more Korn also becomes a badge of honor, if you will, which gives people emotional reward for their positive actions.

Here’s the overview flick:

KarmaKorn uses FB to take the challenges – and the concept itself – viral. What I like about that is that most people would like to do more for others, but find it difficult to keep the goal top of mind what with so many other life priorities.

From a brand perspective, participation in cause marketing in social media adds an important noticing value and virality to the program. The Chicago-based KarmaKorn team is open to working with brands that have a genuine interest in doing well by doing good.

I could see a brand making a platform like this the center of cause marketing. Or simply using KarmaKorn as a means of magnifying the impact of their cause marketing efforts in earned media. Whichever way you slice it, now is the time to ensure that your cause marketing is as social as can be.

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