Wed, January 02 2008
I got asked by Beth Kanter to post on this topic: “What if I could start all my social media and nonprofits work over from scratch? What would I do differently? What lessons have I learned that will stick with me for 2008?”
Having Beth Kanter asking me to post on social media is a little like Yo-Yo Ma asking me to play cello for him. Beth is THE maestro on nonprofits and social media (and she could probably accompany Yo-Yo Ma on flute). So read what she says first. Then read what Britt Bravo says. Britt, in addition to having The Name I Wish I Had, is also very wise on the social media front. Then you can read my list, which is below.
Four Things I Wish I’d Known from the Start about Social Media:
1. It’s not that hard, and I should have gotten over the intimidation factor sooner. Not too long into my job here at Network for Good a few years ago, I kept hearing people reference Web 2.0. I remember, filled with fear of ridicule for my ignorance, asking people what it meant. I’m glad I did, because I realized a lot of people had trouble defining it and were grappling with its meaning just like me. Today, social media to me means the electronic manifestation of the human desire to be heard and seen and part of a community. It’s using technology as a platform for personal expression and as a means to connect to others around things we care about. It’s not hard to learn how to do that online - you don’t need any real technology expertise (I’m living proof of that) as much as social skills - and it’s a lot of fun making new friends which is the real point. No matter how much of a novice you deem yourself, you CAN explore social media and find ways to benefit from it. If you haven’t, make 2008 the year you do.
2. It’s about “social,” not “media.” As I said in this post, while social media seems oh-so-new, what makes it hot could not be more ancient or old-school. What’s significant about social media is how it allows us to quickly and expansively fulfill our unending human need for connection. While I myself have fallen into the trap of focusing on my organization’s need to do Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, that’s not the point—what matters whether those are places to strengthen connections with my target audience. If my target audience isn’t there, I’m not going there.
3. Social media cranks WOM up to 11. What excites me most about social media, now that I sort of get it, is its potent potential to amplify word of mouth. Good word of mouth for your good cause is invaluable. People listen to people they know, and if those people recommend something, they listen. If people make recommendations, that good word of mouth spreads faster and farther through their circles of influence. Social media enables people to evangelize in their own way, in their own words, where their peeps congregate. We’re so underfunded and overworked in our sector - how great is it other people can help us spread the word so efficiently?
4. Think before you build something new, because we already have overdevelopment in social media. You could build (yet another) new social network. You could create yet another blog. You could make a new video. But if you’re one of those underfunded and overworked people, think twice and first read my Four Laws of Social Networking. You may get further, faster by connecting to existing infrastructure than trying to create it.
Wed, December 26 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
When I’m asked about whether I think a marketing campaign is good, I always ask:
Who was the audience and what action was the campaign seeking to effect?
These are good questions to ask yourself before you launch any marketing effort. Is it well targeted? Will it resonate with the audience in question? Is it consistent with your brand? Will it get people to act in the way you want?
In other words, you’d better knowwho and why you’re marketing before you jump to how
to market something.
Some colleagues recently called my attention to two campaigns, and while they both have merits, I"m not sure they nailed the “who and why” before they leaped to the “how.”
Here’s the first, which was a PETA campaign that was eloquently blogged by CK. It’s a website trashing the Olsen twins for wearing fur, providing interactive, bloody dress-up games, and a faux Full house video, which unfortunately is nearly as boring and unwatchable as the show.
So does trashing these celebrities make sense as a marketing strategy? It really depends on what PETA is trying to do. If they are trying to please their base, yes. It’s a highly negative, on-the-attack, celebrity-shaming, attention-grabbing campaign that is completely aligned with PETA’s brand and followers. If it’s trying to get online media attention for PETA, it also makes sense because it’s blogworthy. If it’s trying to get the Olsens or other celebs to embrace PETA’s cause and/or get new people to support PETA by writing to the Olsens or giving money, I doubt this will work. Going that negative will just estrange the mainstream, which includes people who like Mary Kate and Ashley or, if they don’t, prefer to visit Perez than PETA for their Trollsen dose. Quite simply, the campaign encourages people to think of PETA as being “fringe,” which I think is far less scary than being influential. So if the “who” is new audiences and the “what” is eschewing fur, I don’t think it works.
On to a campaign that is the polar opposite of the Trollsens - it’s a feel-good spot sent to me by a reader from Italy. Daniele writes:
I’m working for a campaign called superegali.org for the NGO Terre des Hommes Italia. It’s a fundraising campaign for PerÃ¹, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe to help kids of these countries. We made a viral video for this campaign where the protagonist is our mascot, a paper toy. The video is a spoof of Dove Onslaught.
(If you want to know what the Dove campaign is, I posted on there here.)
I thought the video was cute (especially if you’re familiar with the cultural reference of the Dove campaign) for an audience of potential supporters in Italy - provided they know the Dove campaign. But the “why” was unclear. What does the ad want you to do? It seems to ask you to rethink the concept of superhero, but it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do as a result, or how cutting out superheroes helps kids. I think the campaign is interesting but has a perplexing (perhaps even absent) call to action. So I asked Daniele what was the “why” of the campaign. She responded the purpose was to spread the word about their work and raise money. If that’s the “why” of the campaign, I think it could use some tweaking. Thoughts for Daniele?
Mon, December 24 2007
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Before the year ends, I wanted to thank you. Thank you, readers, for all you have done to make the world a better place in 2007. I know from conversations with you from this blog just how much you have done - to end homelessness, clean up our environment, protect our lands, feed the hungry, shelter animals, comfort survivors of violence, stop the spread of HIV, and restore hope to the hopeless. Your commitment to your cause - and your effectiveness in promoting it - is a daily inspiration and a source of deep gratitude. I wish you all the best in your work in the New Year and always.
Thu, December 20 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Today’s edition asks the question, what do Mac users, Hillary Clinton and alcoholics have in common? Noah Goldstein, Ph. D., explains:
First-time Mac users have switched from IBM-compatible personal computers, longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous have turned their lives around by abstaining from alcohol, and Hillary Clinton switched political affiliations from Republican to Democrat over thirty years ago. In a sense, all three are converts of one form or another. But what can a convert do for us when it’s important to persuade others to take our point of view, give us buy-in for our initiatives, or take a particular course of action?
Social scientists John Levine and Ronald Valle conducted a study to find out. In their study, they had participants listen to a persuasive message in which the speaker was clearly an outspoken critic of alcohol use. Whereas some participants learned that the speaker had abstained from alcohol his whole life, others learned that the speaker was formally a heavy drinker who quit drinking two years prior. The results of the study revealed that participants were far more persuaded by the speaker who was formally a heavy drinker than the lifelong teetotaler. Although there are several reasons why convert communicators are more persuasive, perhaps the most powerful is that they are simply viewed as more experienced in the domain of their conversion. It’s this experience that leads audience members to view them as more of an expert authority on that topic.
This research suggests that when trying to convince others that your position is the right one, you should look for people who have converted to your way of thinking. For example, within an organization, this might mean that when trying to get employees to willingly adopt a new software system, you should ask others who have already adopted it to pitch the idea to more stubborn employees. Similarly, when attempting to get prospective clients to switch to your product from another company’s, try to solicit testimonials from others who have made the same switch, and then convey these testimonials to your prospects.
This is a great insight. People listen to converts. I think converts are not only credible to an audience, they are also especially passionate and eloquent spokespeople.
So who are your converts? Could they speak for you? Any skeptical donors who have seen the light? Any beneficiaries who have done a 180? Find them, and give them a platform to talk about their conversion. People will listen.
Wed, December 19 2007
Filed under: Social Media •
About every 2-3 days, I get a phone call from someone starting a social network with a social conscience angle – a network for shopping for good, or for volunteering, or for donating, or for doing all of the above. Since I’m often asked for advice on this topic, I thought I’d share what I say.
It’s a timely topic to cover because Network for Good, where I work, just formed a new partnership with one of these social networks for social good – change.org. We chose to partner with change.org because its founder, Ben Rattray, is very focused on the principles I’m sharing with you here. In fact, change.org has lived up to its name and undergone a lot of interesting change itself. Once a more generalized site for doing good, it’s now increasingly focused on helping nonprofits use its social networking tools to connect to their donors in more personal and profound ways. Check out more on that here. Since we’re both focused on helping you – nonprofits – connect to your supporters and motivate them to action (and donations), it made a lot of sense to make that happen together.
So here’s some advice, before you start a social network for good – or join one:
1. Don’t build to a concept, build to people. People don’t look for a social network to join – they look for people like them. Networking technology is about NETWORKING – being amidst people like us – more than it’s about the tools or technology. So don’t build a network because you think you have a great concept – build a network because you have a real group of people that wants to spend time together, connecting.
2. Don’t try to create a constituency, serve one. Related to my first point, focus on serving an audience rather than creating one. Start with a passionate constituency – even a small one – and help it grow with your tools. A great example of point #1 and #2 done well is kiva.org. They built their entire site around people – individual people on the other side of the earth who need loans to change their lives and people who want to help them achieve their dreams. All the tools are tailored to that relationship, and their community grows by the day because of this.
3. It’s the cause, not the structure (or network) around it, that compels action. People give money because they feel moved to make a difference for a specific cause – because the cause is important to them, moves them, or matters to friends or family. It’s that simple. I can tell you from experience, nearly no one comes to Network for Good to wander around looking for a cause. They don’t Google “donate to charity.” They are looking to do something about cancer or global warming or the hungry person they saw on their block. The relationship that matters is the one the donor has with their cause. So a good social network seeks to enhance that in every way possible. A bad social network gets in the way of it.
4. Communities are nice, but the most important relationship (and the deepest) is the one-on-one connections – the connections between the donor and the cause, the donor to their friend, etc. Focus on that in all you do with networking or any outreach at all. Beth Kanter is a good person to listen to—and emulate—when it comes to designing your outreach.
I’ll leave Ben with the last word, and it’s a good one: “Donors want a better giving experience, and social networking technology, properly used, can significantly improve this experience by making it more personal, by giving people a sense that they are a member of a community and not just a cash machine, and by enabling people to dramatically magnify their impact. Social networking will fail in the philanthropy space if it’s seen as a vague end goal (as in, our goal is to build a big community of people who care), and should instead be seen as a tool to solve real problems – as in, our goal is to use social networking technology to address the impersonal nature of most solicitations, the sense from donors that their individual contributions have no significant impact, the need for nonprofits to have authentic voices spreading their message on their behalf rather than relying on inefficient and decreasingly effective direct mail prospecting, etc.”
Happy networking in 2008!