Fri, May 02 2008
Filed under: Social Media •
Here is my May column for Fundraising Success.
Put down your iPhone, close your Facebook profile and stop Twittering for just a second. I have something to say to you, head to head and heart to heart.
Technology is cool. It can be incredibly effective way to promote your cause. But hard wires don’t necessarily create human bonds. Your social media strategy can’t simply be a toolset – it needs to be a conduit to living beings. “Java” doesn’t inspire people unless you’re talking about the kind you get from Starbucks. Technology doesn’t compel people. People do.
I’m taking this precious space to make this point because I think it goes in the forgotten fundamentals category that is the focus of this column. It is all too easy to fall in love with all the sexy social media tools out there and forget WHY people are attracted to social media in the first place. If you don’t stay grounded in the basic human needs that fuel the success of those shiny tools, you will be – in the words of Nicole Engelbert from Datamonitor – a fool with a tool.
There are a lot of lengthy and overwhelming definitions of social media, social networking and Web 2.0 out there – pick your jargon. I will not quote them here. Let me give you my definition.
All that social media stuff is simply people using the Internet to:
1. Be seen and heard
2. Connect with each other
That’s it. And that’s as basic and human as you can get. Social media is about the social, not the media.
Here are some examples.
Bloggers and vloggers want a platform for personal expression, and they like connecting with people who care about their content. (In case you’ve been living off the grid for the last few years, blogs are personal online journals/columns. Vlogs are video blogs.) Everyone can be a pundit in the world of social media. Even I have one.
Social networkers want a platform for personal expression (think a MySpace page), and they want to connect with others (think online “friends”). So do people (including your kids) who love instant messaging.
Being seen and heard and connecting are the emotions that drive social media, and they should drive your online outreach strategy.
This should be a relief to all of us who think we lack the technological chops to successfully participate in the online world. You don’t need to be under age 20 or an IT director, you just need to grasp what makes it work.
Here’s a six-step way to make that happen. And you need to make it happen. Why? Because online outreach is a cost-effective and efficient way to reach people at a time when we’re all low on resources. Because it’s a way to find new constituencies and reach a new, younger generation of donors. Because giving up control of the message and having a conversation can strengthen your relationship with the people with support you. And if none of that moves you, remember that people tend to donate more money online.
The Six Steps to Winning Hearts and Minds on Web 2.0:
1. STOP! If your Executive Director is commanding you to start a blog or get a Facebook presence today, stop right there. Spend a bit of time thinking more strategically. You want to figure out WHO you’re trying to reach online, WHERE they are, and HOW to best communicate with them. If starting a new blog (and there are already tens of millions of them), you want to be sure there’s a case for it.
2. LOOK AND LISTEN! The beauty of the Internet is you can quickly find the people online that are predisposed to your cause. In a world where there are active online communities of people fascinated by medieval pottery or support groups for people struck by lightning (really), there is surely is a constituency that loves your cause, somewhere out there. Find those people, watch where they are congregating and listen to what they are saying. This is very easy to do by setting up simple alerts so that each time someone mentions your organization or anything related to your cause online, you will be notified. Check out http://www.google.com/alerts and watch lists on http://www.technorati.com
3. SEE AND HEAR! Start acknowledging what potential supporters are saying. Post friendly comments on their blogs with constructive thoughts and useful information, openly identifying who you are and your organization. Bloggers love those kinds of comments. They like having an audience! Do the same on online communities, MySpace pages, etc. Give online communities useful tools and interesting content from your organization. Be generous.
4. CHOOSE! At this stage, you’ll have a growing sense of whether there’s a need for you to blog or participate more formally in a social network. Be strategic about concentrating your efforts in a few high-yield areas.
5. BE EASY TO FIND! Part of social networking is going out and connecting to people. Also make sure you’re easy to find so people can connect to you. Be sure your website can be easily located via search engines. If you decide to have a social networking page, give it an obvious name. Don’t be so clever you don’t show up in search.
6. ASK! Once you have relationships with supporters on social media, give them different ways to help you – not just by giving money, but telling their story, spreading the word and expressing their opinion about your issue – in their own words. Turn the conversation into collaboration for social change. Give up control. You never had it anyway.
Thu, May 01 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Pursuant to my post yesterday, I want to show two wonderful examples of establishing the trust triangle with unlikely yet completely authentic messengers for an important cause.
Read these stories and ask yourself, “Who should be my messenger?” No matter your marketing talents, there is probably someone better than you to speak to your cause - especially someone helped by it!
STORY ONE - MEN BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD
David Stoker of Ashoka wrote me today to say:
Read your post today about trust and the power of trust between friends in combination with a cause. That is really the underlying mechanism that drives the idea of, what we call, a Citizen Base. When citizens own, operate, and market to other citizens, the cause becomes rooted in the community at a level of connectivity that makes it more likely to succeed and grow. A great example we’ve seen in this regard is Men on the Side of the Road in South Africa. The personal connection they forged between individuals was the key to their success. I find it quite compelling in terms of building trust between segments of the population that would perhaps look at each other with suspicion.
Here’s the story, in Ashoka’s words, about this project:
MSR was created when Ashoka Fellow Charles Maisel devised a way to employ the 18,000 males who gather at roughly 180 sites throughout South Africa waiting for a day’s labor. Through a national marketing campaign, MSR initiated a massive tool drive for old, unused, and even broken tools, which can then be repaired and used by the day laborers. Instead of having to go to anonymous drop-off points to donate, citizens are asked to call MSR, who then sends out these day laborers to pick-up these tools directly from the community, thereby building a human connection.
Imagine if the next time you donated something, a person who was benefitting collected it from you! Wow.
STORY TWO: THE DOG WITH A BLOG
Pets for the Environment has a brilliant new spokesperson—a dog. Here is Eddie’s story (he has a blog, too, natch):
I’m a dog on a mission.
When nonstick chemicals from a frying pan killed my buddy Feathers, and my feline friend Cleo and I found out that we’re full of chemicals too, I was barking mad. Did you know that the humans’ government doesn’t make companies test chemicals for safety before they start using them in our toys, furniture, or even our food? And where do you think all those flame retardants, mercury, and perfluorochemicals end up? In us! And I know because I was tested. The chemicals in me are the same kinds of chemicals in people, and scientists think that other cats and dogs—and horses and birds and bunnies and snakes—around the country are full of them, too.
That’s why I started Pets for the Environment. The humans have made a mess, and they aren’t doing anything about it. I need your help educating our humans and getting their government to pass toxic chemical reform legislation. They’ll never listen to just one pet, but all of us barking and meowing and cawing and squeaking together can make a lot of noise. Join Pets for the Environment and help me make a difference!
Check out the site, where you can find the blog, a wall of cute (dog photos sent in by fans) and other great examples of messaging with the right messengers.
Trying to reach pet owners? Speak through a pet.
Wed, April 30 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
My dad visited this weekend. He’s a psychoanalyst and quite brilliant, so I spent time asking him about some of the issues I’m exploring with Mark Rovner under the topic, “the seven things everyone wants.” My dad had some particularly fascinating comments about trust.
I want to share those today because there is a huge demand for trust in our sector, yet a serious supply problem. Holly at NTEN blogged on it just yesterday. She cited a some important data:
Want to guess what the number one source of trusted information is for most Americans? People like them—their friends, colleagues and peers.
So we trust people like us. That is definitely true. But how does that work? What is trust, really, and how does it come about? That’s what I asked my dad, since he’s spent a lifetime understanding people’s minds.
He says trust is a triangle. Person A trusts Person B when Person B authentically represents or speaks to something that matters to us. Think of that thing as “C” - the third point that makes a triangle. For example, a person might trust a politician that stands for their vision of America. A customer of Amazon will trust another customer at Amazon who credibly reviews a book they are considering buying. A person might trust a brand if it consistently stands for quality. A person will trust their spouse if they stand for a faithful marriage. It’s not so much the person on the other side of the relationship as the stakes we share, the point that forms a triangle.
Given the power of word-of-mouth marketing, if we’re trying to promote a cause (the “C” of our triangle), we need to ensure that our target audience (“A”) sees a triangle—that they actually care what we stand for—and that the other person in their triangle is not necessarily us but someone very close to them. That creates a strong triangle of trust. We don’t get a triangle if they don’t care what we do or don’t know the person speaking.
What does this mean to us? That our triangle requires new points. It’s time to change our message - so we are creating a point of trust that matters to people - and the messenger speaking to that point. We won’t have trust without that kind of shape.
Mon, April 28 2008
Filed under: Social Media •
See3 recently sent around this nifty list of video tips. I really like it, so I’m sharing it in its entirety, followed by a video I think exhibits many of these principles. More on See3 at the bottom of this list. Thanks See3!
10 Things to Remember When Shooting Video for the Web
We are consistently meeting organizations that are thirsting for more effective and creative ways to use video in their online strategies. We think that integrating video is critical, but doing it the right way can make all the difference to your campaign. Here are some useful tips for making a better video.
1. Tell a story. If you want your audience to identify with your mission, you need a compelling story that connects your work to real people. If a story moves you, it will likely move others as well - and become the foundation for deeper involvement.
2. Keep the audience in mind. Are you trying to reach urban street youth or retired veterans? Tailor your messaging for a targeted audience and consider how you want it to feel before the camera starts rolling.
3. Make a clear call to action. You have their attention, now tell your viewers how you want them to engage, whether it’s donating money, visiting a website or volunteering.
4. Shoot video with repurposing in mind. Video footage can be reused for different projects and messages. Building a media library is a valuable long-term asset for your organization. Have a camera ready for every important event. Ask volunteers to document their work and make it available for future events, trainings, and online use.
5. Think outside of the box. Consider new ways to make your video edgy or gripping. Use music, stills, or archival footage to reel a viewer in and then maintain energy throughout the piece.
6. Prepare a script and get some feedback. Yes, even a one- or two-minute video needs the arc of a well-considered story. Scripts help lay the foundation for every piece of good production out there. Use feedback from trustworthy sources to make improvements.
7. B-roll (footage where people aren’t talking) is important. Too many talking heads can make it difficult to hold a viewer’s attention. Collect all the footage you can and choose your best content when it’s time to edit.
8. Sound is critical. One of the most underappreciated aspects of production is sound quality. Web viewers are more likely to watch a poor-quality video with good sound than a good-quality video with poor sound.
9. Give the viewer the right web tools. Can the viewer forward the video to a friend, subscribe to your RSS feed, get involved, and sign up for your newsletter right there on the spot? If not, they should.
10. Host a screening. Working with award-winning documentarians makes screenings here at See3 one of the most exciting parts of our work. Professional films rely on screenings, so why shouldn’t nonprofits? Screenings foster discussion and feedback from others who care about your message. It’s also an opportunity to meet up with others in your nonprofit community. For See3, it helps us maintain the award-winning video quality that we strive for with every project.
Fri, April 25 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Mark Rovner and I have been working on a little project - maybe it will turn into a book. We test-drove some of the content at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, and the NTC conference attendees were brilliant and contributed much to our thought process! The session was received warmly enough that we were asked to type up a little summary for the NTEN newsletter. I wanted to share that (it’s below), as well as the official blog for this topic. We welcome thoughts, comments, additions—any input at all!
Here’s what we said:
The NTC in New Orleans was full of fantastic, sparkly, shiny new technology tools. And then there was our session. No winsome widgets, no witty Twittering, no Dopplr-found Doppelgangers.
And that was the point.
Which is this: What makes technology tools great is not the technology. It’s the people behind them. Successful technology is about bonds, not wires. It’s human connections that matter. “Social media” is about “social” more than it’s about “media”.
If you missed our session, we summed it up in the title: The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We’re Forgetting) about Online Outreach.
Some very human principles make or break the success of absolutely everything you do online. These are the kind of truths Buddha or Freud – explorers of the deepest recesses of the human mind—talked about. To achieve true marketing “enlightenment,” you need to tap into fundamental human needs with your technology – rather than hoping technology can inspire alone. You may think this sounds a bit like Maslow – and it is – but with a twist: Maslow was uncovering human needs; We are showing how his and other deep needs can be employed to foster a more humane world.
There are at least seven of these fundamental needs, and that’s what we covered in our session. We threw out a need, and the folks in the session talked about how they’d met it through online communications. (Hat tip to Britt Bravo for capturing the examples so well in her blog.) There are other human needs – we’d like to add simplicity and humor to the list of seven – but this was a start.
Here is a taste of our discussion. But the conversation is far from over. Please help us continue it – we’re headed toward a book of some kind, we hope. Talk to us at our official blog for the topic.
PLEASE: Don’t just read this article, tell us your story.
Need 1: To be SEEN and HEARD
Making someone feel seen and heard is the most powerful thing any of us can do with online communications. On the other hand, not listening is the root of most problems, personal (just ask your partner!) and professional (just ask your co-workers!).
Examples of great listening:
•Teen Health Talk engages youth to talk about health issues rather than lectures at them.
•Oxfam has used Flickr petitions successfully in several campaigns. Two of their staff members recently returned from Darfur and are putting together a video to raise awareness about it. They are collecting questions from supporters to include.
The bottom line: See to be seen, hear to be heard.
Need 2: To be CONNECTED to someone or something
People are sociable creatures, and they want to find other people that share their interests. That’s what fuels Facebook or Twitter or any number of examples. In fact, one could argue that connecting people to each other is the highest and best use of technology.
Examples of great connecting:
The bottom line: Engage by connecting to what your audience (NOT YOU) wants to hear.
Need 3: To be part of something GREATER THAN THEMSELVES
We need to lay out the grand, inspirational vision of our cause. We should show how together we can leave the world a better place.
Examples of vision:
•18Seconds.org shows the cumulative effect of everyone changing their light bulbs to CFLs.
•The MoveOn “endorse a thon” for Barack Obama is only the latest in a long line of creative, uplifting and inspiring efforts.
Need 4: To have HOPE for the future
Forget doom and gloom, finger-wagging campaigns. People hate them.
Example of hopeful messaging:
The bottom line: Ix-nay on the apocalypse. Persuade through inspiration
Need 5: To have the security of TRUST
People are starved for a sense of trust. That’s why we glom on to authentic messengers.
Examples of authenticity:
•76% of givers according to Cone say they are influenced by friends and family. SixDegrees allows people to create widgets that feature a photo of themselves and 250 characters of text about why they support a particular cause.
•The Packard Kid Connection site helps kids get ready to go to the hospital. It builds trust because it looks like Club Penguin (Club Penguin is a social network for children), and it has videos of children explaining how things work at the hospital.
The bottom line: Cut the crap. Your authenticity is everything.
Need 6: To be of SERVICE
The #1 reason people stop giving to a nonprofit is that they feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. They want to help, but they also want to be of service and to have different ways of serving. That need is not being fulfilled if all they hear is the unimaginative drumbeat of dollars.
If you are reading this, you already understand – and embody – the deep need to be useful and of service.
Need 7: To want HAPPINESS for self and others
The core of Buddhism is that everyone wants happiness and to be free from suffering. The more you want happiness for others, the better it is for you, and them.
We wrapped up the session with the following happy dance. Remember, it’s about people. People who want to be happy in this world.