Web 2.0 Influencer: ONE Campaign

Web 2.0 Influencer: ONE Campaign


by Michael Hawker


Organizational summary

The ONE Campaign was established in 2004 (May) by a coalition of 11 non-profit humanitarian and advocacy organizations and has become a sophisticated and large international advocacy and campaigning non-profit and non-partisan organization. Arguably, ONE would not be the size it is today had it not been for the boom in web social media and tools. ONE works chiefly to raise public awareness and place pressure on world governmental leaders to support policies for a number of causes:

  • Ending extreme poverty
  • Assist with debt relief for poor countries
  • Increase basic education in poor countries
  • Fighting against the AIDS pandemic, and other diseases (malaria, tuberculosis, etc.)
  • Support for clean water, and fairness practices for farmers
  • Lessening corruption in countries
  • Increasing effectiveness of relief aid

Based in Washington, D.C., with seven satellite office centers throughout the world, ONE is comprised of two main operational arms:

  • the ONE Campaign, a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization, that also includes the (RED) product campaign to raise awareness and fight AIDS
  • the ONE Action, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that uses grassroots and lobbying efforts to policymakers and key influencers in support of smart and effective policies and programs

With a staff of 159 people, and an expense budget of $32 million (average/year for 2012 and 2013), ONE has gained nearly 6 million members. Total revenue for ONE the last three years has been:

  • 2011: $13.8 million
  • 2012: $57.5 million
  • 2013: $27.4 million

ONE’s key spokesman is co-founder Bono Vox from the music band U2, and he is on a multi-tier leadership, management, and advisory board comprised of many international business leaders.

Website history

ONE started with a website almost from the start. Here are screen shot pictures of the website home page over the years. Note the development of its sophistication, content, and social media links, not to mention the viral increase of subscribers/supporters.

ONE website, March 2005March, 2005

ONE website, October 2006October, 2006

At this early stage, the site contained an “events” section, had a member form to subscribe, a privacy policy, and within a year added a “press room”, a “blog”, a “photo” gallery and began selling T-shirts.

ONE website, June 2007 June, 2007

By 2007, the sophistication begins by adding a Yahoo Groups section that essentially identified a ONE community. Google Videos were added. The photos section is now listed as being on Flickr. Subscribers in support of ONE reach 2.4 million people. Clearly social media is being put to work at this stage.

ONE website, May 2008 May, 2008

For 2008, the website is given a visual overhaul, refined in its structural elements, more punch in color, and includes additions of social media network logos at its footer. They included Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube. An advertising banner is also added. The video section is now an iFrame showing an “embedded” YouTube video feature. ONE now has a “store” for purchasing product, and continues to have a “blog” section.

ONE website, December 2009 2009 thru 2011

In 2009, the website was refined further, now featuring prominently a slide show of article links. The blog is highlighted, but the store is minimized. Social media still has its presence at the footer, and now Twitter is included.

ONE website, February 2013 (linked in, pinterest, google plus added)   February, 2013

A short-lived, but catchy, website home page in 2013 read like a large scrolling advertisement. ONE has now gained by this time well over 3 million subscribers.

ONE website, December 2014 December, 2014

Current website indicates more social media sites links (LinkedIn added). Subscribers now reach over 6 million. Design of page is for prompting clicks from visitors; the objective is to push the content.

Social Media presence

ONE works mainly to gain subscribers and signed petitioners for the purpose of awareness and pressuring policy makers to enact supportive programs. Networking, connections, and an ever-expanding visibility is a key strategy for ONE, as evidence by their continuous refinements on the web.

ONE has developed a strong presence on the following web 2.0 sites:

  • Facebook – 1 million “likes”
  • Twitter—807,000+ followers; has posted over 18,000 tweets
  • Google+ — 146,000 followers, while earning 2.6 million views
  • YouTube—45,000 subscribers, and 20 million views
  • Flickr—25,000+ photos posted
  • MySpace—120,000 connections to ONE (reached 100,000 friends by 2007)

More recently, ONE has expanded their social media presence to include:

  • Instagram – 7,500 followers and 530 posts
  • Pinterest—4,100 followers, 2500 pins with 25 boards, 360 ‘likes’
  • LinkedIn—3,400 followers (2000 members on the “ONE Campaign” page)

ONE has maintained a blog since its beginning, but currently there are three running blogs, one for the United States, one for International, and one for Africa.

Determining the exact staff responsible for generating and maintaining all these sites was not available. Based on the expenses listed in the 2012 Form 990, a large expense was listed for marketing, communications, creative consulting and website design – executed by contracted firms. Big Spaceship was responsible for the web design (they also have BMW, Chobani, YouTube, Ken Burns, Teleflora, and a long list of other large organization clients.

The use of music – no doubt aided by the work of U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello, among others – and the web has made an impact. ONE cites in the 2013 Annual Report the connection of 2.3 million album streams off of Spotify, the gaining of 250,000 new members and 384,000 signed petitions, and 500,000 “actions” taken. Also, music has connected ONE to 9.2 million YouTube views.

Determining ONE’s strategy for using social media would require tracing it historically, logging and analyzing its posts; an exhaustive study in the least. A look at its current social media profile pages indicate clearly the strategy: push content on as many sites as possible to reach as many people as possible. Supporting this assertion is the pure numbers of followers and friends. Most posts are repeated from site to site, which allows visitors and subscribers to share the posts and push the content to every corner of the web. Post generation is a balance between infrequency and overabundance, and ONE has found that balance: 10 to 12 ‘tweets’ a day, and up to 5 posts per week on both Facebook and Google+, and an average of 60 photo posts per week.

Shown below are what each of their profile pages look like:

ONE of FBFacebook

One campaign on YouTubeYouTube

ONE on GoogleplusGoogle+

ONE on FlickrFlickr

ONE on LinkedInLinkedIn

ONE on PinterestPinterest

ONE on TwitterTwitter

The ONE 2013 Annual Report indicated that there were 2,328 global mentions in the media, with 1,802 of them online, versus 275 in print, 141 on t.v., and 110 on the radio. The use of the internet social media and blogs, etc., are invaluable to ONE’s marketing and public relations strategy. ONE’s YouTube channel views listed in the same report surpassed 6.3 million for 2013.


Simply put, keep doing what they have been doing. Don’t let up. A potential improvement would be to assure that unique content was posted at each social media site, but this would be almost counterintuitive to the power of social media.



http://www.one.org/annualreport/                             , i

2012 IRS Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax for THE ONE CAMPAIGN

Cooper, Kent (2014). “Bono’s One Action Ramps Up Lobbying”, Roll Call, http://blogs.rollcall.com/moneyline/bonos-one-action-ramps-up-lobbying/?dcz, viewed December 2014.

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