I've been buried putting the final touches on some new curriculum for social media and nonprofit peer learning approaches. It's the dance floor and the balcony - both strategy and tactics but deployed in a lab with focused experiments, measurement, reflection and learning from peers. And, most importantly, designed for people to have fun doing it. (I'm drawing my inspiration from 4th grade science experiments and science fair.)
To build an effective strategy, one needs to identify an objective that links to a communications goal or theory of change and, of course, identify the audience.
I've been translating different audience analysis frameworks to a nonprofit context. These include:
- Audience Target Group Identification: This is the most important question and may be informed by research or listening. Who is target group you need to reach with your overall communications objective? For this, I'm drawing on the Smart Chart of Kristen Grim and from working with a cadre of smart nonprofit communications folks who have remixed the social media game.
- Primary and Secondary Social Media Research: Once the audience is defined, it is important to fill in the gaps with primary or secondary research. The primary research includes surveys, interviews, and observation. I've been collecting secondary research and stats on social media usage and typically share synthesis of the most recent information in every workshop.
- Socialgraphics: I have been using the Forrest Social Technographics framework, but it was developed a while ago and the environment has changed. A few months ago, Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang, offered a free webinar about Socialgraphics or understanding your audiences' social behavior. They presented a framework called "The Enagement Pyramid" which is based on Jake McKee's 90-1-9 rule and gave different corporate use cases for social behavior for each level. I used the framework to analyze nonprofit examples. I also created some fun group exercises for folks to learn the concepts.
In thinking about this, I felt there was something important missing. But, then I stumbled across a post by my colleague Adrian Chan who is an expert in social interaction design and I've had the opportunity to get to know and talk shop with for hours. His recent post Why User Competencies Matter in Social Design was a major breakthrough for me and circled me back to Jennifer Aaker's research.
In designing for social participation, Adrian Chan urges us to consider user goals and needs — even interests, features, functionality, and adoption. Best practices and popular ways of using social media guide us in our decisions. What is also important to consider users psychological motivations and build that into your strategy. Here's his suggestions:
Goals and rewards – Consider the kinds of goals you might set and the rewards that may be earned by users who reach them. These might be personal goals and rewards levels, tasks, challenges, or points. Or social goals and rewards, resulting in status, ranking, visibility, lists, features and spotlighting members.
Moods and feelings – Give expressive users ways in which to communicate their moods and feelings. For example, emoticons and gifts, or icons to be used and exchanged with friends or attached to messages and content. These small gestures, while small, can be curiously compelling.
Knowledge and learning – For users interested in research, information, bookmarking, and more search and browse-related activities, provide ways to share discoveries. Capture those learned moments and make them visible — perhaps surface and validate experts and top contributors.
Giving and receiving – For users who enjoy social transactions provide gifts and a means of passing them around privately and publicly. Gifting is a highly social form of communication, and besides being kind, engages a sense of reciprocity in most of us. So it’s naturally contagious.
Helping and assisting – Some users are just naturally good at paying attention to others, and enjoy helping and assisting those with needs or questions. Design ways to surface these needs and create channels by which helpers can pitch in.
Reviewing, recommending, and rating – Users equipped with opinions and a sense of taste can make valuable reviewers and recommenders. Design ways to capture their contributions as social content. This can be designed then into lists, favorite, trends, news and more.
Asking and answering – In a world of search, there are still many occasions when users want to ask questions and get personal answers. And in a world of search results, there are those who enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and help. But questions disappear if they are not captured and paid attention to.
Announcing and sharing – There are users so on top of news that furnishing them with means to announce their discoveries makes for an easy and effective way to keep social content fresh and interaction active. Topical organization, along with trends, help users sort and filter what’s relevant to them.
What do you know about the target audience you are trying to reach with your social media strategy?