Flash Drives for Freedom is a Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280 initiative aimed at informing and educating the citizens of North Korea through the use of USBs. Activist groups based in South Korea secretly bring flash drives into the country via balloons, rivers or land. They are loaded with current news, books and even entertainment like reality shows. Their end goal is to arm North Koreans with freedom of mind by providing them with facts that dispel Kim Jong-Un’s propaganda.
When I first started my position at USB Memory Direct we were already sponsors of the project. It wasn’t until Flash Drives for Freedom pitched a tent at SXSW 2017, one of the largest most influential conferences on the globe, that I became more actively involved with our partnership. To be honest, it has always been a dream of mine to work for a tech lead non-profit and our sponsorship gave me a little taste of what it would be like.
It’s not every day a small company gets the chance to be represented by the Human Rights Foundation in front of a massive crowd. So for this event, we thought big.
USB Memory Direct launched a viral social media campaign during the weekend of SXSW that would match any number of mentions using #FlashDrivesForFreedom with a USB donation to support the cause. As tens of thousands of conference goers passed by the booth of Flash Drives for Freedom, they either donated a memory stick of their own or took to social media and posted #FlashDrivesForFreedom to @USBMemoryDirect.
The response was overwhelming. At first, we limited the mentions to Twitter but due to the activity on all platforms we opened the donations to include mentions on Facebook and Instagram as well. Within two days over 550 mentions were posted, reposted and shared. Since there were no limits set, we counted each and every hashtag @-ing our company. We also responded to each tweet with either a comment or a ‘like’ as a receipt of donation.
The campaign took off on the first Saturday of the event. I was out at lunch with my family when our social media manager, Jon, called me. He said our social was blowing up like never before. We were super excited! To keep the momentum going, we put together a list of political influencers keen on the North Korea debate to Tweet the campaign’s shareable at. The list included some Ted Talk activist, public officials and companies at the SXSW conference.
The initiative captured so much attention, that the Human Rights Foundation came out on top as the 3rd most loved brand at SXSW on Twitter alongside Nickelodeon, IBM Systems, Twitch and WWE.
Creative Director, Doug Burnett, did a great job capturing the project in his recent video titled “Flash Drives For Freedom”. He is the brains behind the brand’s image and artwork. Check it out below or watch it here:
If you were given this same opportunity, what would you have done differently or added to this campaign to expose your company further?
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