- Wed, February 01 2012
- Filed under: Social Media
While I was living in Ukraine, the government tax authority launched a campaign to motivate taxpayers to stay honest and continue paying their taxes. The tax authority developed several ads. One was a cartoon illustration of a bee in front of a hive with a slogan celebrating the fruits of a collective contribution to the government. It looked like an ad for Honey Nut Cheerios with worker bees starring as the cereal mascot. Another was a photograph of a new well and water pump where city residents could fill containers with fresh water from the well. An accompanying slogan thanked taxpayers for making the well and other city improvements possible. In one of my trainings, I placed the ads side by side and asked a roomful of Ukrainians which was more effective given the tax authority’s marketing goals. Not surprisingly, they were unanimous in their judgment that access to fresh water was far more personally relevant, and therefore motivating, than a role in building a metaphorical hive.
This example seems obvious, yet in our communication we often focus more on hives than on wells. We talk about saving the earth, ending poverty, or creating a great society. Every day, we have to remind ourselves that the hive is what we’re building; the well is what our audience needs to see.
At this week’s Social Media for Nonprofits conference, Paull Young of charity:water shared what he’s learned about digital engagement in his work over the past two years, and it reminded me of my story of the hive and the well. Charity:water has done 6,165 water projects over the years - which is a lot of wells - and the exceptional job they do in talking about their work holds lessons for us all.
Paul shared five keys to success:
1. Be positive: Inspire and create sense of collective impact. Don’t lead with guilt and sadness—it is not the stuff of a long-term relationship, nor the kind of content people will want to share with others.
2. Focus on stories not money: You do better as a fundraiser telling great stories about your work rather than spotlighting the dollars. (Charity:water never asks for money on social media or in their emails. I wouldn’t go that far but agree with the overall principle that you should focus on the good you do rather than what you get.
3. Do it wrong quickly: Try a lot of things - with the Internet economy, it’s quick and affordable to test.
4. Be personal - and that doesn’t just mean using a donor’s name. Charity:water made videos singling out and thanking 250 supporters - each staff member participated.
5. Focus on impact - wells, not hives! This is where charity:water shines. They have great photos from the field, GPS coordinates for donor projects and an overall amazing donor experience.
No doubt about it - charity:water is well worth emulating. Think about them when you’re gravitating toward the hive.