Saturday, December 12, 2009

Social Innovation and the Collective Power of the Little Black Dress...

The MTO-W Pageant 2010, originally uploaded by roberrific.

This is a photo from the stage of the Miss Teen Ontario - World (MTO-W) pageant shot last Sunday in Toronto. The MTO-W pageant is a popular event and a prelude to The Search for Miss Teen Canada - World (MTC-W) in downtown Toronto in July 2010.

While the concept of the beauty pageant has a long and storied history, that nearly faded into obscurity thanks to Gloria Steinham and the women's rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, in its revitalized format it is as popular as ever in certain circles.

And now, due to some innovative use of Social Media in Toronto, the beauty pageant is alive and well and thriving thanks to the MTC-W Contestant Blog Army. In the dog eat dog war of beauty pageantry, it takes an army to come out on top. Swap guns and ammunition for a little black dress and a keyboard and you can achieve great things with an army of bright, beautiful and energetic young women.

In an attempt to take their beauty pageant to the next level, the MTC-W organizers hired FRANK to devise a plan to tap into the power of social media to scan the nation for the country's brightest MTC-W hopefuls and to share the stories, the joys, the triumphs, the egos and the agonies with all who might care to be there.

Our electronic community showcases the trials and tribulations of the little girl from Smalltown, Alberta getting discovered by a big city beauty pagent, being flown in to Toronto to compete for fame and glory in pictures, video and real life stories. The genius of FRANK's innovative social media strategy lies in the boost in Page rank (search engine ranking popularity) generated by the competitive energy of fifty-four bright, young and beautiful bloggers. Essentially, our MTC-W blog army shares the experience better than the competition’s ad budgets and websites could ever hope to accomplish on their own. We have provided a hard working digital venue for photo, video and story telling—100 percent original content that you could never buy and the thirst for which never runs dry.

The 2009 Miss Teen Canada-World pageant came out on top of all others in Canada because of an intricate social media network of OnSugar blogs, photos and videos posted by the reigning beauty Queen, plus the 54 contestants in the pageant. In just ten days we signed up over 20,000 members to our VIP database and had over 10,000 votes cast in just a few days for the people's choice awards.

Its not all about swimsuits and glamorous dresses. What good would all of this attention be without harnessing it for the benefit of some kind of social cause thrown in for good measure? We all want to make the world a better place—right? Why not apply that thinking to everything we do? The Miss Teen Canada-World pageant is by nature an excellent draw and a model opportunity for pursuing commerce in aid of social purpose. In 2009, we set forth with a mission and a goal to raise $10,000 for Free the Children, an international charity that empowers children in North America to take action to improve the lives of fellow children overseas.

Through our combined efforts in 2009, the contestants collectively raised over $49,000.

Wow. Now that is something to be excited about.

Siera Bearchell, Miss Teen Canada-World 2009 is doing an outstanding job representing her title, getting out there and raising awareness for some excellent causes. In this me to we video, Siera steps up and speaks out on behalf of Me to We Style to promote the Challenge Your Style Competition—an effort to mobilize youth to help raise awareness and funds for causes of their own choosing. Way to go Siera. Awesome effort. Keep up the great work!

The moral of this story?

Never underestimate the power of social media and the little black dress.

We are back at it for 2010, with a whole array of innovative ideas and executions that we expect will deliver a breakthrough performance for the MTC-W pageant and its benefactors in the coming year.

What about you?

Do you have any stories you can share with us about how innovative uses of Social Media changed the landscape for people in need? Feel free to chime in here, share your stories, your dreams, your victories and your disappointments. Who knows, you just might help us help someone else make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than we are.

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