August 31, 2007 by Colin
“You guys got nothing to worry about, I’m a professional.”
In some ways, corporate social responsibility programs can be a Faustian bargain. We’ve become accustomed to corporations claiming environmental and social awareness, but we still listen to their claims with a cocked ear. We need to see a concrete action plan. More importantly, we need independent and verified proof of an effective CSR plan.
That’s why Mattel’s recalls have been so damaging to their reputation. A twenty year relationship with your foreign contractors isn’t enough anymore. Especially when your compliance program, while extensive and detailed, is self-monitored.
Nike learned that lesson a few years ago. CSR is no longer a cape to be thrown over your corporate shoulders, at very little cost and relatively little effort. CSR now demands an dedicated corporate infrastructure, a detailed reporting program, and carefully maintained relationships with non-governmental organizations and verification authorities.
Today, the problems fall to Woolworths – the Australian supermarket chain. Despite a report full of CSR programming, Green groups have challenged the company’s claims that its premium paper products were composed of “Sustainable Forest Fibre.” In fact, they have far harsher things to say about Asia Pulp and Paper, the source of the fibre.
As a result, Woolworths has had to pull the product from the shelves. They’ve also begun to redesign the packaging, to eliminate the questioned claim of sustainability. Finally, they’ve asked the World Wildlife Foundation to audit their supplier’s claims.
And therein lays the problem. Most consumers would prefer to hear from a slightly scruffy and clearly environmentally concerned specialist directly and in advance, rather than waiting for one to be called in.
As soon as you have to start swearing that you’re not cheating, you become the Horshack, Epstein or Dylan McKay of the CSR world.
The standards for a CSR program have shifted. Self-monitoring, in the face of increasing claims of health and safety risk, does not appear sufficient. It doesn’t matter if your monitoring program is effective: it’s the appearance that matters.
Especially if the claims of risk are coming from groups vested with more authority in the subject. Even two environmental specialists in a basement office can send a corporation running if their claims appear weak. Once again, in a crunch it’s the appearance that matters.
h/t to PR Watch
[tags] csr, corporate sustainability, Woolworths, grocery, supermarket [/tags]
August 31, 2007 by Colin
It’s tough being a small alternative paper. You have to be edgy. You have to be insightful. Sometimes, you have to fill a big news hole:
“…On Thursday, August 9, at 4:35 p.m., my Corolla came rumbling over the horizon of the causeway. Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries — the music that accompanies the napalming mission in Apocalypse Now — blared at full volume from the open windows. A small stack of dinner plates and a large claw hammer sat at my side. When I pulled up to the attendant, I waved a dollar bill in time with the ear-splitting German music and smashed the pile of plates into smithereens. White porcelain chips flew out of the car, striking the wall of the tollbooth …” (Miami New Times)
That’s from “For Whom the Hell Tolls:What’s it take to get a tollbooth attendant to crack? We wish we knew.”
[tags] toll booth, Corolla, alternative news, newsweekly [/tags]
August 29, 2007 by Colin
“Op is a youth brand focused on the surf lifestyle,” said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “It will help expand the range of our apparel offering as we leverage the brand equity to address this growth lifestyle.” (Women’s Wear Daily)
That’s right. Wal-Mart has entered into a distribution contract with the holding company that now owns the Ocean Pacific brand. If you were holding out any hope that your rainbow-coloured board shorts and windbreakers, originally bought in 1982, were cool – forget about it. Unless you live in Japan. Don’t ask me to explain the Japanese retail market. Please.
In the rest of the world, Ocean Pacific’s old position as market leader in the “scruffy yet cool surf wear” market segment has been sucked out to sea by Hollister.
Still, some retail experts are holding out hope for Wal-Mart – if they handle the launch and the brand management right:
“It’s an incredible opportunity for Wal-Mart,” [former OP CEO Dick] Baker added. “To have a brand like this, a true American lifestyle surf brand, as part of their stable is great. … My only issue is if you look at the landscape of mid-tier and mass retailers, there’s been a lack of execution with these brand deals over the last 10 years. The good [deals] have been Mossimo and Target because there was a lot of product and brand strategy that went into it, and the Candie’s strategy with Kohl’s. Other than that, there’s a lot of roadkill of brands that attempted to fit into the retailer’s domain.”
Roadkill. Ouch. How about a rope-a-dope metaphor:
“… Harry Bernard [who] worked on research for Op’s repositioning by Baker … called the deal “a fascinating combination of totally different cultures. Wal-Mart has been hit across the bridge of the nose enough times to figure out they can’t do it on their own …
“They’re going to make it what they want to make it,” Baker said of Wal-Mart’s handling of Op. “If I were them, I would put a lot of time and effort into positioning and strategy. It’s an iconic American brand. If they do it incorrectly it will be an injustice.”
A final note: at Dick Baker’s house it seems that the easy and laid back nature of the surfer is not appreciated. This from an O.C. Register article about his wife’s otherwise very stylish redecoration of their house:
“…No eating on the couch: Key thing in my house: We only eat in the eating areas. If you are hungry in England or Italy in the middle of the day, you go to the kitchen, you have tea and you have a sweet, and look at a magazine. Or, if someone is there, you chat. You don’t zone out in front of a TV. Also from a cleanliness standpoint, you get kids and pizza and popcorn and a sofa, you’ve got a disaster.”
[tags] Wal-Mart, Ocean Pacific, OP, surf, Hollister [/tags]
August 28, 2007 by Colin
How’s this for a “personal brand”? I don’t think I have to introduce Billy Beer. Personal qualities? Principal selling point? Emotions the marketer hopes to prompt? This picture of Billy Carter and his eponymous beer says it all.
The idea of a “personal brand” has become a familiar term, especially as a generation of ambitious and technically adept workers shape their identities at work, among their friends, in their community and with others in their profession.
It’s the logical extension of The Brand Called You – Tom Peters’ exhortation to strike your own path to personal and professional success.
“… It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand …” (Fast Company)
That was 1997. We really didn’t understand what change the internet would bring in just a few years. I was still downloading .pdfs of the New York Times from Pointcast. Fast Company, whose design was edgy and innovative, was stuffed full of ads. I bought Christmas presents from eToys.
We had no idea that the internet would evolve, that it would eventually give every “me-preneur” a dozen different instruments to trumpet their personal brand. Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, online sites that solicit bylined articles by “experts.”
Despite the effort, some of these personal brands are, like Billy, one trick ponies. With a tin ear.
Whatever happened to uncertainty? Variety in thought and action? Floating ideas just to gauge the reaction? Rooting through sources, subjects and philosophies outside your comfort zone?
Apparently, that sort of behaviour won’t help your SEO. Your personal branding strategy. Your PageRank. Your ongoing campaign to segment and segment until you create a niche where you’re the only occupant.
But man, once you hit that sweet spot, you’ll have the power of buzz and exclusivity behind you!
At least until JR Beer comes along.
[tags] personal brand, Brand You, Tom Peters, branding [/tags]
August 28, 2007 by Colin
Algonquin College is a local community college with some reputation for an innovative new media program. Which makes the news that college administrators have “suggested” instructors not “friend” students all the stranger.
The note I’ve pasted below is unattributed, so I’m willing to withdraw it if challenged. But if it’s true, what was the motivation? Too many college instructors found wasted at keggers?
Even more damaging – the assertion that students are not “peers.” This from a college that encourages several professional development programs and career advancement courses?
“In order to maintain a professional working relationship at the college, with all students, it has been suggested that Profs not accept Facebook friendship requests from current students. Any current Facebook friendships should be terminated. However, once students have graduated, and become peers, then Facebook friendships can be restored.”
[tags] Facebook, Algonquin College, student relations [/tags]
August 27, 2007 by Colin
We’re all used to talk about the “long tail” and that portion of the market that didn’t prove profitable until e-commerce tools helped “monetize” all those fans, hobbyists, obsessives, nit-pickers and contrarians.
The idea of “long tail,” as applied to the insurance industry, becomes known as “tail risk.” It’s the work of compensating for the risk of highly unlikely catastrophes – like Hurricane Katrina.
Michael Lewis discusses one expert’s work in assessing and monetizing “tail risk” in the latest New York Times Magazine (August 26).
It’s an interesting and informative piece, even if this quote wasn’t in it:
“If there’s been a theme to John’s life,” says his brother Nelson, “it’s pricing tail.”
John Seo works in the market for catastrophic bonds – or cat bonds. When Katrina hit, the market for cat bonds moved, just like it had after every catastrophe.
“A few investors would inevitably become jittery and sell their cat bonds at big discounts, what with the Weather Channel all hysteria all the time. (“The worst place to go if you’re taking risks,” says one cat-bond investor, “is the Weather Channel. They’re just screaming all the time.”)
And THAT is why I’m poor. Because I don’t have the nerve to bet on the Weather Channel.
[tags] economics, tail risk, long tail, quant, insurance risk, economics humour [/tags]
August 27, 2007 by Colin
This morning, it’s a refreshing 15 degrees celsius. The sky is a crisp clean blue, with not a hint of a cloud. Thanks to several days of strong rain last week, the grass is a vibrant green, the bushes and trees are full of life, and the sidewalks and roads are as clean as can be.
On my daily commute, my bus travels down the Ottawa River Parkway. It parallels the wide Ottawa River for at least five kilometres. At one end, there are abandoned mill works and a lock, dating from the river’s past as a logging route. At the other, Parliament Hill – the seat of government.
Across the river, the less developed Quebec shore is covered in vegetation, all the way up to the escarpment in the Gatineau national park.
Ducks, geese, groundhogs, rabbits and the occasional deer are a regular sighting alongside the Parkway.
During the summer, the rapids found mid-river are a popular destination for world-class kayakers.
So why are all the mindless automatons blindly staring towards the front of the bus, their hands tightly gripping one of three things: their coffee, their briefcase, or the handrail on the seat in front of them?
Is there a compelling urge to see your office building before anyone else?
If I was fifteen and back in school, I’d be cutting on a day like today.
[tags] work/life balance, cutting school, absenteeism [/tags]
August 24, 2007 by Colin
There’s a lot to be said for aggregating all the information you seed across your many online apps: Flickr, twitter, IM, del.icio.us, Facebook, your personal blog, and your work blog. Your family finds it much easier to keep up with your life. All those momentary details – like favourite coffee shop, new girlfriend, apartment changes, travel schedule – can be shared with family, friends and colleagues. People who want the “brand you” experience can refer to one handy url.
Trouble is, so can the less desirable. And I’m not just talking about Russian hackers who use that information to clone your credit card and buy Israeli diamonds and ship them to their cousin in Boca.
I’m talking about the mildly unstable.
Maybe an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. Or that guy that no-one talked to in high school. Or an old neighbour who still thinks you killed her cat.
I think everyone has had that one moment – the moment where they regret being so open and transparent on the web. Maybe it was after the fifth unsolicited pitch of the morning. Or when some blogger inferred intellectual weakness and emotional immaturity based on something they wrote while on the can. Or when an old, old girlfriend “friended” them on Facebook.
I’m sure that, in some form, we all try to keep track of the personal and professional information we have made public while participating in our many social networks, 2.0 widgets and transitory communications like twitter.
At some point, all those digital breadcrumbs can be aggregated into a loaf of information. At what point to you pinch off access to that loaf?
[tags] lifestreams, tumblr, digital breadcrumbs, digital loaf [/tags]
August 24, 2007 by Colin
Earlier this month, Joe Engressia died. That name may not mean very much, but the term “phone phreak” may. Engressia was one of the first phone phreaks: using his natural ability to whistle the tones that controlled the AT&T switching network, he helped a generation of nerds to discover their interest in electronics. Along the way, they manipulated the nation’s electronic infrastructure to learn new skills, meet new friends around the world, and talk about dating and sex.
Forty years ago, personal computing was a largely inconceivable proposition. Computers, networks, phone switches and other electronic equipment were the property of large corporations. Sure, there were engineers, technicians and researchers working for those corporations, but they were employees, generally following the rules and maintaining order in the systems.
It took a small group of technically-minded and generally socially awkward people to bend those systems to their own advantage, in the process creating some of the first electronic social networks. A lot has been written about the phone phreaks who delighted in developing new tools and techniques to thwart Ma Bell – here, here and here.
“… (Joe)Engressia might have gone on whistling in the dark for a few friends for the rest of his life if the phone company hadn’t decided to expose him. He was warned, disciplined by the college, and the whole case became public. In the months following media reports of his talent, Engressia began receiving strange calls. There were calls from a group of kids in Los Angeles who could do some very strange things with the quirky General Telephone and Electronics circuitry in L.A. suburbs. There were calls from a group of mostly blind kids in —-, California, who had been doing some interesting experiments with Cap’n Crunch whistles and test loops. There was a group in Seattle, a group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few from New York, a few scattered across the country. Some of them had already equipped themselves with cassette and electronic M-F devices. For some of these groups, it was the first time they knew of the others.
The exposure of Engressia was the catalyst that linked the separate phone-phreak centers together. They all called Engressia. They talked to him about what he was doing and what they were doing. And then he told them — the scattered regional centers and lonely independent phone phreakers — about each other, gave them each other’s numbers to call, and within a year the scattered phone-phreak centers had grown into a nationwide underground. …
… The last big conference — the historic “2111″ conference — had been arranged through an unused Telex test-board trunk somewhere in the innards of a 4A switching machine in Vancouver, Canada. For months phone phreaks could M-F their way into Vancouver, beep out 604 (the Vancouver area code) and then beep out 2111 (the internal phone-company code for Telex testing), and find themselves at any time, day or night, on an open wire talking with an array of phone phreaks from coast to coast, operators from Bermuda, Tokyo and London who are phone-phreak sympathizers, and miscellaneous guests and technical experts. The conference was a massive exchange of information.
Phone phreaks picked each other’s brains clean, then developed new ways to pick the phone company’s brains clean. Ralph gave M F Boogies concerts with his home-entertainment-type electric organ, Captain Crunch demonstrated his round-the-world prowess with his notorious computerized unit and dropped leering hints of the “action” he was getting with his girl friends. (The Captain lives out or pretends to live out several kinds of fantasies to the gossipy delight of the blind phone phreaks who urge him on to further triumphs on behalf of all of them.)
The somewhat rowdy Northwest phone-phreak crowd let their bitter internal feud spill over into the peaceable conference line, escalating shortly into guerrilla warfare; Carl the East Coast international tone relations expert demonstrated newly opened direct M-F routes to central offices on the island of Bahrein in the Persian Gulf, introduced a new phone-phreak friend of his in Pretoria, and explained the technical operation of the new Oakland-to Vietnam linkages. (Many phone phreaks pick up spending money by M-F-ing calls from relatives to Vietnam G.I.’s, charging $5 for a whole hour of trans-Pacific conversation.)
Day and night the conference line was never dead. Blind phone phreaks all over the country, lonely and isolated in homes filled with active sighted brothers and sisters, or trapped with slow and unimaginative blind kids in straitjacket schools for the blind, knew that no matter how late it got they could dial up the conference and find instant electronic communion with two or three other blind kids awake over on the other side of America.
Talking together on a phone hookup, the blind phone phreaks say, is not much different from being there together. Physically, there was nothing more than a two-inch-square wafer of titanium inside a vast machine on Vancouver Island. For the blind kids there meant an exhilarating feeling of being in touch, through a kind of skill and magic which was peculiarly their own…”
[tags] Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, blue box, phreak, Engressia [/tags]
August 22, 2007 by Colin
Some people have an opinion about information design. Stephen Few really dislikes pie charts - 14 pages of illustrative and explicatory text about the weakenesses of pie charts.
This isn’t a new theme. Aside from past critcism from Edward Tufte and other information design specialists, Michael Janssen lumped the pie chart in with Jeff Spicolli, Stifler and other ne’er do-wells:
“…Pie charts are the bad seed of the graph world. They aren’t very useful, hang out a lot, and don’t help you much. The worst thing about pie charts is that they aren’t even good at the thing they’re supposed to be the best at: comparing relative sizes.”
[tags] pie charts, graph, information design [/tags]
August 22, 2007 by Colin
The new paper from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy was tugging on my heartstrings from the moment I read its title:
Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal (.pdf)
William Powers, normally the media critic for the National Journal, has penned a wonderful and rambling discussion of modern attitudes towards news, newsprint and paper in general. Mixed throughout are citations from much older texts that speak of the impact of innovations in paper felt by contemporary societies.
More importantly, his essay doesn’t hew to either of the well-worn straw men seen in the current “online vs. traditional” discussion: online isn’t the harbinger of the end of paper, and paper isn’t naturally and eternally superior to the ephemeral qualities of online information.
Instead, Powers draws from texts, interviews, web extracts and book citations to look at the role of paper in our world today. At 74 pages the download may seem , but it’s a quick and interesting read.
Because I’m quirky sometimes, I was drawn to a story Powers tells of the clash between old and new cultures – a clash that modern store clerks are incapable of resolving:
“…I chose a box of basic cream-colored note paper, took it to the counter and handed the clerk my credit card. “Do you have cash?” she asked, explaining that the computer was down. I didn’t have enough – couldn’t she just get the charge approved over the phone?
Alas no, she said, waiting for the approval takes forever. “It can be, like, ten minutes.” We stared at each other for a moment. “Couldn’t you go around the neighborhood and find a cash machine and come back?” she asked off-handedly, as if I’d created the problem and needed to fix it. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said. She shrugged. I left the box on the counter and walked out.
It was almost unimaginable: A chain store in a modern American city demanding payment in paper currency. One of the paramount values of consumer culture is convenience, and I suppose I was punishing the store for violating that ethos. But then, think about the errand that had taken me to Papyrus in the first place.
… The clerk was essentially asking me to make the same choice I’d already made, choose the paper medium over the electronic one, even though it required a little extra time and effort. And why not? The store is called Papyrus.”
I remember my first job, more than twenty years ago. I felt an enormous sense of pride when the assistant manager asked my to authorize a credit card. It was a VISA. Not a branded VISA – just a plain old card.
I ran the card through the table-mounted imprinter, making sure that I pressed hard enough to make an impression on all three tissue-thin pieces of paper. I asked the customer to sign.
Then, I picked up the phone and called VISA directly. I read the card number and the expiration date out loud – loud enough for most of the store to hear. Then I wrote the authorization code on the imprinted paper.
Even if one person today was willing to wait for that five minute process to finish, all the other people in line would not be willing to wait. And so, one of the daily applications for paper has disappeared.
[tags] death of paper, newspapers, online vs. inline, Powers, National Journal, Shorenstein [/tags]
August 21, 2007 by Colin
Some people may say that the popularity of Freakonomics has had a negative effect on the weight and seriousness of subjects being researched and discussed in economics faculties across North America.
I’m just glad the Economist magazine isn’t the only source of humour for economists anymore.
Professor Robert Oxoby, of the University of Calgary, has published the results of what was, most likely, an argument in the faculty lounge:
On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson
We explore the effects of listening to the music of AC/DC in a simple bargaining environment.
“…The question as to who was a better singer, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, may never truly be resolved. However, our analysis suggests that in terms of affecting efficient decision making among listeners, Brian Johnson was a better singer. Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band’s Brian Johnson era discography.
Please, before you snort and perhaps mock, realize that this was a finely tuned scientific experiment:
“…In our Bon Scott treatment, participants listened to “It’s a Long Way to the Top” (featuring Bon Scott on vocals) from the album High Voltage. In our Brian Johnson treatment, participants listened to “Shoot to Thrill” (featuring Brian Johnson on vocals) from the album Back in Black. These songs were chosen in order to avoid pre-conceived preferences for the band’s biggest singles (e.g. “Highway to Hell,” “You Shook Me All Night Long”).”
Here’s the SSRN page.
[tags] economics, AC/DC, Bon Scott, Brian Johnson, University of Calgary [/tags]
August 20, 2007 by Colin
Yeah, you know me. I’m the guy or gal in the aisle, leaning over my Blackberry or Treo.
By the time you shuffle over to ask “if I’m alright?” it will be all over. Your chance to influence my buying decision will have evaporated.
Forget that after-hours training from the manufacturer. Forget the features card you keep in your back pocket. You had a chance to be the professional. To be the expert.
You could have helped me evaluate features and reliability. You could have offered honest opinions about the brand and the product, identified benefits and weaknesses among competing products.
Instead, I turned to Google. Or CNet. Or Consumer Reports. I txted a friend who just bought one. I emailed a buddy who had some things to say about that brand. I’ve already sent a picture to my mom and she doesn’t like the cut.
You’ve lost the advantage. Your bosses paid the money to drive me to your store through advertising, yellow pages ads, paid placements and covert word of mouth. And you pissed it away in those few minutes.
The days of spoon feeding information to customers are over. We can carry our personal, professional and technical network around in our pockets, and you won’t beat that unless you’re faster, better informed than you are now, and more willing to compete on price and features.
The irony is, I found your store by looking it up online. Your paid yellow pages ad was the first result on my BlackBerry or Treo screen. I looked at your flier – online – while standing on the sidewalk outside.
You paid all that money to drive me through the door. And then you hit me with old fashioned retail placement and marketing. Take a hint from the insurance industry: they are willing to serve up 5 competitor’s rates just to convince a consumer to stick with them.
If a bunch of actuaries can figure it out, why not you, the intrepid retailer? ‘Cause the enabled consumer is not going away.
Oh – and when we’ve made a decision without your help, don’t offer us the extended warranty. I REALLY hate it when a retailer offers to bet me that my new product will break right as the warranty expires. Shows real confidence in the product, and just confirms in my mind that you’ll squeeze me for every last cent.
[tags] retail sales, in store promotion, sales training [/tags]
August 17, 2007 by Colin
File this under market segments you have no sympathy for. Just like the baby industry and the wedding industry, the prom industry plays upon vanity, peer pressure, short time frames and aggressive upselling to make a pleasant experience a real chore for most people.
“There’s an absence of joy in this industry,” said Mike Denton, … president of the National Prom Association. “This year, more than ever before, I’ve heard consumers say, ‘I just want to get this over with.” …
“We are charged with creating the most exciting shopping experience possible. If we’re not doing that, we’re not doing our job,” said Denton. “We need to resurrect the brand of prom itself.” (WWD, August 3)
You know what they need? They need to leverage the notoriety of a “B” list celebrity to make another teen movie centred around a prom. Like Kellie Pickler, who has that small town charm, a little bit of talent, and a slightly embarassing prom history.
For your comment and amusement, the Top 10 High School Characters:
- Michelle Flaherty (American Pie)
- Duckie (Pretty in Pink)
- Olivia Newton-John (Grease)
- Hard Harry (Pump up the Volume)
- Screech (Saved by the Bell)
- Lea Thompson (Back to the Future)
- Marcia Brady (Getting Davy Jones)
- Long Duk Dong (Sixteen Candles)
- Suzette (Absolute Beginners)
- Jimmy Cooper (Quadrophenia)
[tags] prom, rite of passage [/tags]
August 17, 2007 by Colin
How does an advocacy organization think MySpace stacks up against Facebook? What about making presence on a social network pay off, in terms of fund raising, awareness building and community support?
Carie Lewis, the internet marketing manager for the Humane Society of the United States, spoke to the Wild Apricot blog about their work with social networks. Here are some excerpts:
I think it’s a little too early to tell, but so far, we’ve seen more success with fundraising on Facebook, and advocacy on MySpace. This is mostly because of the third party applications that are available on Facebook, which make it easier to participate in group fundraising. There’s something really “grassroots-y” about MySpace; it’s a little “edgier” than Facebook. Facebook is built on networks and how you’re connected to others into those networks, whether it be location, school, or workplace. It’s very clean and structured. MySpace is more of a free-for-all, and I think people like the fact that they can do whatever they want on their page. So if they want to post banners, videos, or other content, then can do so wherever they like. Our advocacy banners are very popular on MySpace, but people don’t really have any place to put them on Facebook. They can, however, feature us as a nonprofit or one of our causes that they support on their Facebook profile. We’ve also been involved on MySpace for a lot longer and therefore have gotten more exposure and opportunity to do outreach. It’s important to remember that every network is different and has a different crowd.” (Wild Apricot)
Another lesson to be learned? Social networks are not a cheap substitute for community work:
“…Outreach is the most time consuming. It was easy to get started; we created an account, filled in all the information, put up some photos, and started a conversation on the discussion board. But we need people to participate and keep the group lively. It’s no good to just talk to ourselves. So it takes the most time to recruit new people. Not just any new people – people who care about animals and animal welfare issues. Then, it takes time to keep the group fresh and interesting, as well as communicate with our group. It’s important to us that we respond to every message personally, as well as participate in discussion board and wall posts. That’s what makes social networking what it is…”
What about measuring success? Here’s a metric from a different interview:
[The Society's anti-sealing campaign called] Sunny (the seal) had over 2,000 friends and 14,000 profile views in 3 weeks. We had about 500 new signups to our email list from MySpace. That includes the advocacy actions and the web banners. This does not include those who were already in our email system or have participated in advos in the past, so you can imagine the total # that participated is much higher.
[tags] advocacy, Humane Society, Facebook, community [/tags]