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BizReport : Viral Marketing : March 21, 2007

Chinese Messenger users barred from donating to charity

When Microsoft recently launched a charity donation program for Windows Messenger Live, participation was limited to U.S. users only, but it’s taken China by storm and now they want in.

by Helen Leggatt

Microsoft’s online communication program, Windows Live Messenger (WLM), is used by over 20 million Chinese teens and young professionals, a fair chunk of the country´s estimated 137 million internet users.

When WLM started a charity donation program, called "I'm", via the instant-messaging tool it was an instant hit. One advantage is that the sign up to the program is easy. It simply requires users to enter a short code next to their username. Once entered, every time that user starts a WLM conversation using the word “I’m” a small portion of the advertising revenue is donated to whichever charity the user specified. Codes used represent the user’s preferred charity, such as ‘bgca’ for the Boys & Girls Club of America. Other charity partners include the American Red Cross, National MS Society and the U.S. arm of UNICEF.

Despite its geographical restrictions and U.S charity bias, WLM’s huge Chinese user-base, second only to the U.S.’s, has embraced the scheme in their masses. The intriguing green ‘I’m’ logo, which appears next to the participating user’s name has, according to Zheijang Online, “..invaded the Internet in China with no actual promotional campaign from Microsoft.”

The simple, un-intrusive and “feel good” campaign has the added attraction of being for a good cause, and not seen as using the communication tool, or its users, for the proliferation of promotional messages. Many of the Chinese participants “...hope their instant messages will actually become donations to charitable organizations someday," said the Chinese report.

Tags: China, instant messaging, Microsoft, Windows Live Messenger

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  • Gramj

    Wow, can you imagine the income generated for a charity donation program based on the population in China? That has humongous proportions and potential. They may like sites such as where they can pick what charity they want to donate to or help set up their own group and organize something that motivates them or they care deeply about.



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