Book Review: Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Beth Kanter's first book, The Networked Nonprofit, taught us how to use social media tools. Her latest book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, which is co-authored by Katie Delahaye Paine, teaches us how to measure what we've done.

The whole idea of measurement and insight has been on my brain for two reasons.

First, During Pinktober Megan Strand and I interviewed the author of Pink Ribbons Inc. on CauseTalk Radio. I initially thought we'd be on opposite sides of the argument, but I found myself nodding in agreement throughout our conversation. She wasn't against cause marketing, as I had wrongly assumed. But she did have some good questions on measurement and insight within the pink ribbons movement. What was the real value of breast cancer awareness? How was success being measured? What goals have and haven't been achieved? You can listen to the show yourself, but I concluded Pinktober needed less emotion and ribbon-waving and more measurement and insight.

My second run in with measurement peaked after the presidential election. How could so many people say for so long that the race was so close only to have Romney lose in a landslide? They're now saying that Romney will get two to three million fewer votes than McCain did in 2008. How is that possible as no one ever called that race a close one? What was and wasn't measured and why did pollsters draw different conclusions from the data?

Lastly, who the hell is this wicked smart guy Nate Silver that everyone is talking about?

Obviously, I have a lot to learn about measuring the success of just about everything.

That's why I want to finish Beth and Katie's book so I can better teach my clients how to measure the success of their social media efforts. What I've really liked about the book so far is it has a ton of case studies. The authors also don't assume you've read Beth's first book (or even her blog) and implemented all the things she suggested.

This book has something for everyone. Even if you're still crawling when others are walking, running and flying (the four stages of becoming data informed in the book), you'll learn something.

A book like this raises the bar for everything you do. Sure, it teaches you how to measure your effectiveness on social media and how to make better decisions. But It also challenges you to do everything better through measurement and insight. For nonprofits, the result will be a better world, which I'm sure Beth and Katie are eager to measure.

Why You Should Use Social Media to Sell Cause Marketing

Everyone wants to be more successful selling their cause marketing programs. But how? Try social media. It's been a key part of my success, and I bet social media can help you too. I'll talk about how to use social media to sell cause marketing in another post. But let's first confirm why you should use social media for cause marketing in the first place. Social media makes the selling process easier. Selling is hard enough, that's why you need a non-sales sales tool. In steps social media. Social media isn't good for selling, and, not surprisingly, people don't like to be pitched on social media. But they do want to be engaged. Engagement is key as persuasion occurs through identification. People buy you from you when they can identify with your attitudes, values, interests, background, beliefs, etc. You don't use social media for selling. You use it to engage stakeholders and to build identification.

Social media keeps you top of mind. Samuel Johnson famously said that people need to be reminded more than they need to be informed. Social media tools--if you're active on them (no, they don't work if you just sign up for them and then abandon them)--have an ever-present quality to them. Social media puts you just a tweet, a wall post or a comment away from connecting with your prospect.

Social media allows you to be useful. Don't just be good. Be good for something. I always try to be useful to my followers. I share case studies, introduce them to people, congratulate them when they succeed and encourage them when they fail. Social media is a great way to be and stay helpful.

Social media allows you to be your wonderful self. Social media is conversational, interesting and fun. It lets your personality shine through! You can use acronyms, contractions, abbreviations. You can speculate, debate and be light-hearted. In short, it encourages you to communicate authentically and sincerely. People don't buy from causes or companies, they buy from people. Social media allows you to be the man or woman that people want to buy from.

Social media keeps it real. Long letters nobody reads. Emails with attachments. Stupid, wasteful meetings. Meet and greets with lots of gladhhanding. You won't find these on social media. But if you find even a semblance of them, you can move on quickly. Social media in general is direct, brief, informal, highly engaging and solution-oriented. Isn't that just the kind of communication you want with a prospect?

Are You Ready for Mobile Cause Marketing?

"Fate leads those who are willing. The unwilling it drags." - Seneca

I've been thinking and talking a lot about mobile and cause marketing lately. Mobile seemed to be a big buzz word at SXSW earlier this month and I know firsthand there was lots of talk about it at Nonprofit Technology Conference the following week. Over the two days I was there, the only sessions I attended were on mobile. A lot of chatter about mobile devices!

Frank Barry got me thinking about mobile again this morning (Frank does that from time to time) with this infographic. Mobile is pervasive, inescapable and dominant. Like a tidal wave heading for our shores, there's no running or hiding from it. As cause marketers we have to man and woman up!

But many of us are still playing in the sand oblivious to the impending wall of smartphones, apps, check-ins, texts, and mobile web sites bearing down on us.

As cause marketers we need to resize our thinking for mobile and prepare for the future.

1.  The change begins with you. I'm surprised by the number of aspiring cause marketers I meet that don't even own smartphones, or choose to use them like regular cell phones. You can't lead your organization's mobile efforts if you've never looked at a web site or replied to an email on your smartphone. While people nod their heads when I say mobile is important, they strangely don't believe that this revolution applies to them.

2.  Get busy. Think about everything you do as an organization and what needs be optimized for mobile. A little daunting, huh? Take a breath. A speaker at NTC talked about this (beginning at slide 19) and identified four key areas to rethink for mobile: text campaigns, mobile web sites, applications and email campaigns. This is great place to start.

3.  Start using Foursquare. Sure there are other location-based services to try: SCVNGR, Facebook Places, Gowalla, Loopt, etc. But Foursquare is the Facebook of location. So if you're pressed for time or interest, stick with Foursquare. Check-in to locations, click on "Specials," add pictures, leave tips (something I've only begun to do thanks to a push [more like a shove!] from Estrella Rosenberg.) Focus on becoming more comfortable with how location marketing works for businesses and where cause marketing is playing and could play a key role.

4.  Get social NOW! "Wait a minute!," you might be thinking. I have to embrace mobile and jump on social media too?" Yep, here's why. Social media is the ying to mobile's yang. They belong together. 50% of the people on Twitter use Twitter mobile. People watch 200 million Youtube videos a day on their mobile devices! Mobile devices are social devices. If you're not going to pick up a bat and glove and play along with people, don't even bother showing up for the game. Or sit in the stands as spectator.

5.  Stop talking about your fricken web site. I do believe that web sites are important. I don't believe they are the digital holy grail for your cause. Without innovation, engagement and portability it's an online billboard that doesn't change or engage, and the people that do see it generally just ignore it. Get over your web site.

We all have limited time and resources. The cause marketing of tomorrow requires that you give your full attention to mobile, location and social media.

The mobile wave is hurtling toward you. Will you float or flounder?

Food Bank Bags $15k with Cause Marketing, Social Media

I love examples of local cause marketing, especially when they involve social media.

Take the recent partnership between Massage Envy and Second Harvest Food Bank in the Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California.

Huh? You might be thinking. Massage Envy has 600 locations nationwide. Second Harvest Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the largest national hunger relief charity in the U. S. with 200 locations in all 50 states.

It's hard to think of these two as local, but they are.

Massage Envy are franchised stores. In Santa Clara they're run by regional developer Charles Goodwin. He and his wife are local supporters of the food bank and he came up with the idea of having a social media challenge with the charity.

Second Harvest Food Bank is a certified member of Feeding America. But they're an independent food bank in many ways. They have their own logo and didn't change their name after the 2008 brand makeover to the parent organization.

We can learn a lot from what these two organizations did in December.

It started with Massage Envy putting up $15,000 and challenging the food bank's supporters to earn it via social media.

  • “Like” the food bank’s Facebook Page ($5)
  • Comment on the page or “like” any posting ($2)
  • Follow them on Twitter ($5)
  • RT or mention Twitter handle, @2ndharvest ($2)
  • Post a photo showing your support on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr (bonus $5 each!)

Goodwin wasn't asking the food bank to do the impossible, which already had an active blog, thousands of friends on Facebook and lots of Twitter followers to boot.

This is one food bank that knew how to butter its own bread. You should too if you want to replicate its success.

Not surprisingly, the food bank hit its goal and got the $15k. I bet it got some great new, engaged fans too. I'm sure Massage Envy benefited also from all the people who took took notice of their wonderful support.

I really admire Charles Goodwin and Massage Envy for cause marketing the right way. They made it all about the cause. And in doing so, people will never forget him or his company. If only more companies knew the power of forgetting themselves and focusing on making a difference.

Karma really does exist

Social Media for Social Change - The Mobility Edition

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Social Media Breakfast - Boston today. It was great seeing everyone and talking about the intersection of social change with social media and mobile devices.

As promised, I've included my slides above and below are links to some posts you might find useful.

What is Cause Marketing? If you still have questions, this post should answer them. Be sure to check out the comments as they offer varying opinions from mine.

Point of Sale. This is our bread and butter cause marketing strategy because it's easy, lucrative and works well with social media and other types of fundraisers. For a primer on point of sale, start with this post. Keep in mind that point of sale is sometimes called register programs, mobiles, paper icons and scannables. The words change, the strategy is the same.

Our latest point of sale program is with Ocean State Job Lot.

Location-Based Services. The future of location-based cause marketing is bright with services like Foursquare and Checkpoints. Check out these posts.

QR Codes. A big complaint about transactional cause marketing is that it's, well, too transactional. Shoppers give a buck not always knowing what they are supporting or how it helps. But with QR codes cause marketers can inform, educate and inspire shoppers right at the register (or in the aisles). Read about the future of these offline hyperlinks here and here.

The Grouponing of Small Business. Groupon has had a big impact on how small businesses view marketing partnerships, including cause marketing. Small businesses are actively looking for a social component to their marketing. They are increasingly expecting personalized, sophisticated campaigns that effectively segment and target consumers. Finally, discounting and couponing have earned a new priority for small businesses. All of these new priorities need to be factored in to cause marketing programs.

Humans Rule. Social media, mobile and cause marketing are merely tools for connecting human beings for a charitable ask. Check out the findings of the Cone 2010 Cause Evolution Study. You should also read my case study of William-Sonoma and St. Jude to read about good people doing good point of sale for a good cause.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. If you either work for a cause or with one, my employer and I also share best practices of point of sale programs, including how to make them work with social media, in a three part webinar. The next one will be in late January.

The Cure Won't Have a Ribbon

Cause marketing won't cure cancer. Or end hunger. Or stop domestic violence. Or usher in world peace. Or save puppies from the pound. I know this because cause marketing is blessed and cursed by having what Malcolm Gladwell calls "weak ties."

[I immediately connected with Gladwell's concept of weak ties when I read The Tipping Point years ago. Like Roger Horchow in the book, I prefer friendly yet casual social connections. It's no surprise I love cause marketing and social media.]

Here's how Gladwell recently described weak ties in relation to social media in The New Yorker.

The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand ‘friends’ on Facebook, as you never could in real life.

The ties surrounding cause marketing are equally weak. You check-in at a billboard for a cause and a company makes a donation. You donate a buck at the register to feed homeless families (or was it homeless dogs?). You buy a pair of sneakers and you may or may not know that a percentage supports breast cancer research.

You've read this blog enough to know that cause marketing has its merits and raises millions for causes. But it will never be the first, third or twentieth reason people cite as why we cured AIDS, stopped global warming or left no child behind in the classroom.

Why? For the same reason social media will never bring peace to the Middle East, unite Africa or save the oceans. Ultimately, it takes bands of people (offline, not shopping), organized for change, to accomplish these great tasks. Not wall updates, tweets, posts and check-ins. And certainly not pinups, cause products and promotions.

One of my favorite social media experts, Jason Falls, explains:

Social media [and cause marketing] are communications channels, not power structures. The hierarchy of order that produced the civil rights movement may have been helped by social media, but it would have (and did) happen without it, too.... Sure, Facebook messages may be the carrier pigeons, but carrier pigeons don’t win wars.

And pink ribbons won't cure cancer.