Social Media Strategist at Effective Student Marketing Gets 6 Year-Old Cancer Patient to Meet Justin Bieber

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Lauren Barber leveraged the power of social media to help Avalanna Routh, a 6 year-old cancer patient, fulfill her dream of meeting Justin Bieber.

We’re very proud to have Lauren on our team here at Effective Student Marketing, both for her social media genius and her selfless attitude.

Effective Student Marketing, Inc. has mastered the art of using the power of social media to help career colleges across the country find, start, retain, and place students. But last week, a member of the Effective Student Marketing team leveraged the power of social media to do some social good. Senior Social Media Strategist, Lauren Barber, and her sister, Leslie, launched a social media campaign in hopes of helping Avalanna Routh, a 6 year-old girl suffering from a rare type of brain cancer, fulfill her dream of meeting Justin Bieber. The story quickly went viral, spreading across the globe. Just eight days after Lauren helped to launch the social media campaign, Avalanna was flown to New York City to meet her man.

Avalanna Routh was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, or AT/RT, when she was only 9 months old. She was a guest on a Boston radio show, the Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI, in 2011 during a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund. During the broadcast, she told the radio announcers about her “wedding” to Justin Bieber; something the Jimmy Fund nurses put together to cheer her up after she went through a particularly tough round of chemotherapy.

Lauren and her sister, Leslie, are family friends of the Rouths. For months, the sisters had been tweeting trying to raise awareness about Avalanna’s disease, but the only other people to join in the tweeting were Dennis & Callahan and Heidi Watney from NESN. Instead of being discouraged, Lauren and Leslie decided to go full force with a social media campaign.

“I don’t have a million dollars, I can’t donate a bunch of money. I thought, ‘What else can I do for this girl?’ She just brightens my life. I have to help her,” Leslie said.

With permission from Avalanna’s parents, the sisters launched the “Get Avalanna to meet Justin Bieber” Page on Facebook. In one day, the page gained over 1,000 “likes”. They started tweeting links to the page to Scooter Braun, Bieber’s manager, and his close friends, in hopes that he’d see the page. By the fifth day, the page had over 4,000 “likes” and Braun contacted Avalanna’s parents to set up a meeting.

Boston news stations picked up on the story and featured Avalanna on the evening news, then shared their footage with their affiliates nationwide. There were reports on Facebook that the story had made it to Canada, Mexico, South America, and Japan. It seemed like every news station in the country was calling Avalanna’s family and the Barbers for a scoop on where the meeting would take place.

Exactly eight days after Avalanna’s Facebook Page was launched, and the day before Valentine’s Day, Bieber’s team had Avalanna and her family flown to New York City. Justin and Avalanna spent the afternoon in his hotel room, where they played board games, ate cupcakes, and talked baseball. Justin even let Avalanna play with his famous locks and autograph his hand.

After the meeting, Justin tweeted: “that was one of the best things i have ever done. she was AWESOME! Feeling really inspired now! #MrsBieber” The #MrsBieber hashtag quickly began trending third on Twitter worldwide. The next morning, the story of the couple’s rendezvous was featured on The Today Show and Good Morning America.

Avalanna may have met Justin, but this social media campaign is far from over.

“I’m so happy we were able to help Avalanna’s dream come true. Now it’s time to use this social media campaign to help raise awareness about AT/RT and find a cure,” Lauren said.
Lauren Barber has been working at Effective Student Marketing, a leader in social media marketing in the higher education industry, since 2010. She’s the Senior Social Media Strategist for the company and a self-professed social media nerd. Lauren has helped colleges across the country strategize, launch, and optimize successful social media marketing campaigns.

“We’re very proud to have Lauren on our team here, both for her social media genius and her selfless attitude,” the Founder and President of Effective Student Marketing Andy Kelley said.

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