In 7 years of talking about social media, I have never thought that I would be the one to say, “There is too much information.”
In the early days of social media, there were huge debates about the value of user-generated content vs the media (old media vs new media). Although I rarely participated in these debates I usually found myself on the side of new media. Even some of my early presentations illustrated how new media was just as valuable and trustworthy as old media, and maybe even more so because of the power of the network to call out anything false and for ongoing dialog that will expose the truth.
This was before Marketing and PR hijacked social media.
In 2006 and 2007 I gave a lot of presentations to Marketing and PR professionals. The question that I was asked at every presentation was “how do we control the message?” My answer was that you can’t. I was wrong.
I have watched as lots of money has been poured into social media campaigns to get people excited or inspired to spread the message to their friends thus using the power of the network to imply that the message was true. We can see this in political smear campaigns and branded marketing campaigns, which is to be expected. But the recent Kony2012 campaign is what recently got my attention and has made me quite concerned.
My first exposure to the Kony2012 campaign was when I read a headline in my Google Alerts that basically said a new social media campaign was about to be launched and I should not believe it. I did not read any further. Then my friends on Facebook started posting the video and expressing their heartfelt support for the campaign. I even learned that one of my connections was actually from Uganda and had first-hand experiences with warlords. I thought back to the initial report that warned me to ignore this campaign and made a mental note to do more research. Then my teenage son came home and told me about the campaign. As we talked about it I mentioned the headline I read that said to ignore the campaign. He explained to me that everything, even a good campaign such as this, will have haters. Haters are gonna hate. The hater’s side of the story is there is nothing we can do, or it is not our problem and so forth. Typical apathy. I made another mental note to look into the campaign.
This morning my 11-year-old son was on my laptop. When I was finally able to win the custody battle for my Mac I noticed that my son had not logged off the chat he was having with another 5th grader about the Kony video. At this point, I knew I had to look into this.
But before I began my Kony research I decided to go through my Daily Google Alerts. My alerts were full of articles about the Kony2012 campaign. Mostly of how well the campaign has been executed. Social Media Today had a great post titled Ripoff or Revolution? which pointed out Grant Oyston’s Tumblr account which was asking good questions about the Kony2012 campaign.
Then I came across the post How Kony2012 gets it wrong. There are a lot of good questions being asked about motives, message, and facts.
When it comes to wanting to do something good for mankind or to stop horrific evil, we can do little things every day. Those little things add up. But when those little things are part of a misdirected larger effort, then ultimately more harm is done.
Perhaps I was right many years ago in believing that social media brings out the truth because of the ability for others to respond. But what I have learned is that there is so much noise on the web that many people miss the responses. It takes time to research the validity of a story, which is why so much misinformation gets passed around. And unless a response to such a story is positioned in a way that it makes a person look good or feel good to share the other side of the story, the response will never gain the power from a strong network. How can one feel good about telling their friends that they have been duped, that their good deed for the day may have caused more harm than good? More importantly, how do we keep from getting cynical and apathetic?
More than ever, we all have a responsibility to do a little more than sign our name to a list or share a story with our friends. If we truly want to make a difference in our world, we need to get involved with the world even if it means taking a little time to learn more than one side of the story. There is a lot of information on the web that if we take the time to read more details and ask more questions, the truth should never get lost.
It’s that time of year;
- The ringing of the Salvation Army bells
- The opportunity to donate food as you buy your groceries
- Events that require toys for tots as an entry fee
Whereas all of these activities are successful because they make it easy to give, they seem to lack the personal touch of knowing who you are supporting, where your gifts are going, or how you are changing lives. They also require enormous effort to attract partners and volunteers to be everywhere shoppers and party-goers are.
Even though the end of the year is a time of giving both for altruistic reasons and for tax reasons, it is also a time of great competition for dollars among nonprofits. The smaller nonprofits need to be extra creative within very tight budget constraints.
My client, Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation, has created a campaign that is creative, compelling, entertaining with a personal touch.
It starts with a video, Santa Claus Needs New Eyewear.
The video is funny, showcases the work that the Lighthouse does, and has a call to action. The Lighthouse produced this video by showcasing the talents that existed in their own building. The lyrics were written by a staff member and the vocals were provided by another staff member.
The call to action is for you to visit their holiday website Check It Twice. At the website, instead of just asking for a donation, the Lighthouse has developed a holiday gift catalog where you can choose the amount you would like to give by choosing the gift you would like to give. Not only does this make your gift more personal, in one snapshot it also tells the story of all the work that the Lighthouse is involved with.
Not only has the Lighthouse developed an entertaining campaign that is seeking end-of-the-year gifts, they are also effectively enhancing the community’s awareness of the work that they do all year long; work that not only makes a difference to the lives of individual clients but also makes a difference for the whole community.
About a year ago I was offered the gift to work with Liz Hayes, the Marketing Director for the Center for the Visually Impaired, to build out their social media strategy. Liz is one of those amazing clients who is not only a sponge for information and ideas but also someone who will effectively implement those ideas.
The past couple of months Liz and I have had the opportunity to co-present at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. At a presentation yesterday Liz was able to showcase how all her hard work in social media is paying off.
Each time I speak to a group of nonprofits I start by asking a few questions.
1. What is your mission?
Practically everyone can answer this question….by rote memory.
Because the mission statement is usually memorized, it is too common that people have to think for a moment about why their mission is what it is.
3. Who have you specifically helped?
90% of the time this question is answered with a statement that sound like it is right out of a marketing brochure. “We have helped 25,000 people who have found themselves without the means to….blah blah blah.” There is nothing to pull at my emotional strings in such statements.
The statement that more the 7,500 soldiers have died in Afghanistan does not have the same impact as hearing about the soldier who had only 2 more weeks left in Afghanistan before he could come home to see his newborn daughter but was killed while on the side of the road changing a tire for a stranded citizen.
4. How does what you do impact my life?
This question almost always stumps my audience. The typical answer is that they are there if I or anyone I know ever need them. That is great, but how are you going to raise money when the only people who know about you are the people who need you? The goal of this question is to help my audience see how what they do has a larger positive impact on society as a whole and that we all benefit from their work and therefore we all have a responsibility to support them.
This is the consultation that Liz has run with at CVI. The CVI Facebook page is full of personal stories, valuable resource information, inspirational stories, and stories of how CVI impacts society as a whole. And it is paying off tremendously.
In a year her community has grown to over 400 members – which is a strong following for a locally focused nonprofit organization. However what is so impressive is the 25% of that following is talking about CVI to their friends.
And what are people talking about? Personal stories of the impact that CVI is making on people’s lives and on society.
Jack and Luke are four years old, visually impaired, and on the path to a lifetime of learning and adventure as braille readers. You can help Jack, Luke and CVI clients of all ages with the vision to see beyond their disability.
What is the secret to CVI’s success? Liz would tell you that before she posts anything on Facebook she thinks about who it is for, why they would care, and what action they would take. She always puts herself in the shoes of her community first.
originally posted on Concept Hub
If you have been following on any of my networks, you should have seen me promoting my latest project The Change Challenge. If you have not heard of The Change Challenge yet, it is a 6-month project that Concept Hub, Inc and GSU have partnered on. We are putting together 5 teams that will support 5 different nonprofits through social media. At the end of 6 months, there will be a conference where each team member can showcase their expertise and case studies as well as an awards dinner where teams will be recognized for their achievements. I have recently posted a few FAQs about the project.
The Change Challenge is a project that was created to solve a few problems I have recognized.
Long ago when I got started in social media, it was all about grassroots activism. Recently we have read and watched big stories about revolutions being credited with social media. That is great, but what about using social media to make a difference in our own communities. That is where the power is, but due to a lack of training and resource, many nonprofits are still well behind the curve. The Change Challenge will provide 5 nonprofits and provide them with the training and resources to get a good program launched.
But who will be on these teams? I have met many, many people who express a desire to learn social media. I have also met many people who have gotten involved with social media and are trying to get some credibility for running a project. What if these people joined a team and received 6 months of hands-on training for FREE? That is what The Change Challenge is offering to those who are selected to be part of a team.
By making it a competition, the whole project becomes fun for us to watch. That is what is really unique about The Change Challenge. You could go to 5 events a day and hear about a social media case study, but can you watch 5 competing cases as they evolve?
We are approaching our first milestone. This Saturday the team will be meeting to select the team members and the nonprofits. There is still time to get your application in. If you are interested send me an email at sherry[@]concepthubinc.com or give me a call at 404-386-9801.