It's day two of the Target User Forum here in Boston. The morning starts off with the keynote session Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Josh is one of the most sought after speakers on the topic of practical, data-based strategies for getting results from social networks.
I had a chance to talk with Josh before his presentation. He took some questions that I thought readers of the blog would be interested in having answered. So here's a brief Q&A:
Q: What is a social media trend you’re seeing in 2009 that’s new or different than in 2008?
Quantitatively, despite the recession, companies are even more interested in participating in social media in 2009 than they were in 2008, and consumer growth in participation is also up. Qualitatively, businesspeople are starting to pay a lot more attention to Twitter and are less interested in blogs. Communities are extremely interesting to all sorts of companies right now.
Q: Many nonprofits are looking for the ROI on social media. Isn’t it more about Return on Engagement? How should they be thinking about the metrics behind all this?
Your metrics and ROI depend on your objectives, as we tried to hammer home in the Groundswell book. Every business investment should have a return, so ROI is important to measure. But if you’re looking to spread awareness, you’ll measure changes in buzz; if you’re looking to energize your biggest backers, you’ll measure how many friends they reach; and if you’re looking to support the people you serve, you might examine the number of participants. The important thing is to measure something that matters to you, not just traffic.
Q: Often times lessons learned in the for-profit world can be applied to the non-profit world. What is a trend or tactic you’ve seen that corporations have learned that nonprofits could benefit from knowing about? Are there any major strategies that might only work in the nonprofit space?
Non-profits have fans, just like other brands. You want to give your fans the chance to spread the word. While this is a great idea for Nike or Coca-cola, it’s potentially even more valuable for a non-profit. Also, we are slowly driving the fuzzy-headed thinking (“Hey, why don’t we do a blog! It’ll be great for us!”) out of marketers’ heads as they concentrate on getting real work done here. Non-profits that want to succeed should skip the fuzzy-headed part and go right to clear objectives and matching technologies to those objectives.
Josh's keynote was titled "Engaging Donors in a World Transformed by Social Technologies." He started off by noting that while we are in a recession, the same rules of marketing and awareness still apply. Josh talked about the funnel that people go through: Eyeballs, Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase, and Loyalty. The problem in this environment is that there is a black hole between Consideration and Preference right now. And social media is what is influencing people about what they buy and where they give.
If you only focus on the technologies then you'll get "Groundswell Approach-Avoidance Syndrome" and this isn't good. The reason this happens is because people know something big is happening, but they don't understand what is really happening. Using an example from Comcast, he discussed how social media won't fix all your problems, but it will help fix your message.
Josh makes the point that this isn't just about the social networking websites. Search engines love social media content. And that means that your message get spread in lots of ways whether you like it or not. People don't take information from organizations anymore. They are now taking it from each other. The key point is to engage in the conversation. Embrace the groundswell.
He then went through the POST process that's outlined in Groundswell. People | Objectives | Strategies | Technologies. Josh spent some time talking about the different kinds of people that use social media. They aren't all the same. They are Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives. The percentage of these groups keeps changing and the demographic makeup of these groups keep changing as well. "If you don't know anything else about your groups, then knowing their age can tell you a lot," says Bernoff. And then Josh showed how these groups apply to high net worth individuals, volunteers, and low income individuals. Some patterns in the storm with the numbers he presented. Matching these groups or roles to specific objecitves is the next key step.
Josh talked about a story from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and what they are doing online to engage cancer patients. It's an example of a very focused community, built with the help of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and it allows these organizations to listen to what patients are saying. What is the problem faced by your donors, volunteers, etc., and how can you help address them in an open way? Josh then talked about the US Campaign for Burma website and how this nonprofit has used social media to drive traffic, attention, and awareness about their cause.
The key is to engage, energize, and provide support for people. One example was from Massachusetts General Hospital and their use of carepages. The most surprising social network that Josh has seen is Homeless Nation from Canada. The Brooklyn Musuem is another example of how nonprofits are using social media to embrace people in new ways. They have built an online community that allows people in interact in very cool ways. Josh closed by noting that while the groundswell might be threatening — it is something that you can turn to your advantage.
(Updating and Tweeting Regularly)