The Daily Gamecock

Social media company wins $100K for Columbia’s hungry

LoudDoor uses Facebook to gain support in competition

The city of Columbia captured third place in Walmart's "Fighting Hunger Together" campaign, receiving a $100,000 donation with the help from local social media company, LoudDoor.

In an effort to address America's hunger problem, the Walmart Foundation introduced a competition among the top 100 most food insecure cities.

Launched on Nov. 15, Walmart's initiative challenged the respective cities to gain the greatest amount of support through online voting. The contest lasted through Dec. 31, with $1.5 million in donations to be given to the six cities with the most support.

"We knew we had the tools at our disposal to bring some portion of that $1.5 million to Columbia's hungry, and our team worked tirelessly to achieve that goal," said USC alumnus and LoudDoor graphic designer Stephen Stanton.

The LoudDoor social media company represents many large brands on Facebook such as Big Prize Giveaways and General Motors. With an already established audience, LoudDoor utilized its Facebook resources to reach the masses and attract support for the state capital.

"Instead of focusing the campaign on a small group of people willing to cast thousands of votes each, we reached out to millions on a nationwide level using our portfolio of large Facebook pages and applications," LoudDoor Director of Product Development and USC alumnus Bobby Redfern said. "We asked our users for their support and used relevant promotions to educate them about Columbia's food hardship rate and the Walmart Fighting Hunger Together campaign."The company's efforts helped generate 356,020 Columbia supporters, and as a result they received a portion of

Walmart's donation money to be distributed among charities and food banks throughout the metropolitan area. According to the Food Research and Action Center's Food Hardship Report, approximately 20.7 percent of Columbia families cannot afford regular meals, compared to the national average of 9.2 percent. Not only was Columbia listed in the top 100 cities eligible for this contest, but fellow South Carolina city, Charleston, also qualified. LoudDoor noticed it had an opportunity to bring Charleston up in the rankings and refocused its efforts to help generate more Charleston support.

"We stepped in to help Charleston when it became clear that Salt Lake City and Fresno were surging past a point where we could catch them and that Columbia had accumulated enough [support] to not lose its third-place ranking," Stanton said. "It was at that point that we made it a goal to get Charleston into the top six so that they could also receive $100,000."

Charleston ended up taking fifth place, accumulating 167,694 supporters and bringing in $200,000 total prize money for the state of South Carolina. Incentives also played a part in LoudDoor's strategy to attract voters, as the company gave away prizes to thank voters for supporting Columbia and Charleston.

"Our biggest competition were the top two cities, Fresno, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah, both had an extremely supportive local media and were able to gain extra exposure through traditional media," Redfern said.

Fresno and Salt Lake City both reached over four million supporters by the end of the competition.Since several LoudDoor team members and interns are USC alumni, winning the overall $200,000 in prize money was a very rewarding experience.

"Bringing that $200,000 to the state of South Carolina was an opportunity that we are very thankful to have experienced and a memory that we will carry with us for a long time to come," Stanton said. "We're hoping the impact is felt by the 21 percent of families with food hardships in this city."