Posts from the ‘Social Technology’ category

Facebook Face Off: Military vs. Health

Source: DK Web Consulting

Twice as many fans engage on Military Facebook pages than pages from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) according to new reports from DK Web Consulting. Surprised? Let’s explore.

Key Findings

To benchmark government Facebook use, DK Web Consulting looked at 16 Military and 66 HHS agency Facebook pages to provide insight on how social media efforts compare across government.

Military Agencies:

  • Military pages average between 3 to 4 posts per day (3.9), roughly 19 posts per week including weekends when 92.9% of pages posted content.
  • The most commonly used content among all military agencies is photos. The U.S. Air Force often posts photos and asks fans to caption the image, a strategy that has proved successful. A recent photo-caption post generated as much as 120 shares, 1,480 “likes” and 2,602 comments.
  • Nearly 4% of fans are “Talking About” each military page, the highest rate among all government segments, and twice as high as the average for HHS pages.

Health Agencies:

  • Content creation varies as 16 of the 66 pages (24%) did not have a single post during the 7 day evaluation time frame.  Of the other 50 pages that did post during that 7 day period, the quantity ranged between 1 and 15 posts per week, with 0.7 posts per day being the average. The percentage of posts-per-day drops significantly on the weekends, as only 6% of HHS pages published content on either Saturday or Sunday.
  • 26 of the 66 (39%) HHS agencies don’t allow fans to post on their Facebook walls.
  • The average HHS page post receives 24 engagements (likes, comments, or shares).
  • The average number of custom tabs used among all 66 pages was 3.4, ranging from 0 to 11. The most commonly used Facebook tab was one for videos.

What This Means for You

Automated vs. Manual Updates

In both the military and the health pages, the third-party tool most used to manage the page was Hootsuite. Military pages were also more likely to use a third-party tool than health pages and military pages tend to have more fans and overall engagement. Coincidence? Maybe/Maybe not.

Before you register for Hootsuite know this: Hubspot and others have found that the use of third-party tools can actually make your posts have a lower Edgerank in Facebook, meaning less people see them. Pages using Hootsuite probably showed stronger in the benchmarking study due to having a savvier, more informed and collaborative team working on the effort–not necessarily due to the use of Hootsuite itself. Success is due to thinking beyond the tool.

Talking About This vs. Engagement Per Post

The study found that military pages had twice the number of people engaged in their overall page. However, it also found that health pages had more engagement per post. So which metric do you measure? Both (if resources allow since one is automatically reported by Facebook and the other collected manually).

What matters–is that you algin both metrics to the right goals and objectives. For example, with’s Facebook page, we looked at “talking about this” as an overall engagement metric. For us, we tended to have 7% of fans talking about the page which is five percentage points higher than the average HHS Facebook page (1.9%) which extended the exposure and influence of our messages. We also looked at engagement per post because sometimes it correlated directly to participation in’s weekly health challenge. The challenge with its individual posts helped us gauge attitudes, knowledge and intentions around certain preventive health behaviors. Engagement per post would also matter if you posed a poll and wanted to gauge responses, asked fans a particular question, used promoted posts or want to illicit a specific action. As your college professor would say, “it depends.”

During the Week vs. Weekend Posts

The Military pages had more engagement overall and more of their pages posted on the weekends. While bitly advises not to post on Facebook during the weekend, there could be a correlation to explore here (as peak times for posting on social media often conflict by source).


Online and Mobile: The Potential of Personalized Health Information

Personalized Health

An average 24 year old will spend more time on Facebook than they will with their doctor in 20 years, according to Razorfish Health. Given this type of reality, how do you unlock the potential prowess of personalized health in online and mobile health strategies? That is the question.

Personalized Medicine vs. Personalized Health 

We are in an age of personalized medicine. Personalized medicine refers to therapies that can be tailored to an individuals own genetics and physiology. Some relate this to genomics as a way to bridge the gap between the Human Genome Project to individualized healthcare.  According to a report from the Kaufman Foundation, “personalized medicine” is a part of a broader field called personalized health.

Personalized health “includes predictive tests and technologies for individuals and for society, and science-based strategies to prevent or mitigate disease and poor health.” We don’t have to look too far to see personalized health at work, especially given the ongoing evolution in mobile technologies, digital strategies, online communities and health IT.

4 Additional Ps

In social marketing, we talk about 4 P’s (Price, Product, Place and Promotion) and sometimes 8 P’s (adding in Policy, Publics, Partnerships, and Purse Strings). Personalized health involves four Ps of its own as part of P4 Medicine:

  1. Predictive Medicine denotes the creation of therapeutics that will prevent a disease that a person is assessed to have a high probability of developing.
  2. Preventive Medicine refers to the development of a probabilistic health projection for a person based on his or her DNA and protein expression.
  3. Personalized Medicine refers to treating an individual based on his or her unique human genetic variation, completing the predictive and preventive efforts above.
  4. Participatory Medicine denotes patients’ active, informed involvement in their medical choices and care, acting in partnership with their health provider.
How can we best apply these concepts when developing personalized health strategies–especially for the expanding number of digital and mobile formats?

Going Online and Mobile

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released a new presentation titled, “Mobile is the Needle; Social is the Thread” which highlights the change in how information is integrated into our daily lives as compared to the turn of the century. One of the sound bytes that pops out the most  is that “information is now portable, participatory and personal.” Question for you: Would you describe your current online efforts, mobile initiatives or content in the same manner?

Herein Lies the Rub

Potential privacy questions aside, how can we apply personalized health online and via mobile devices–in an effective manner? Effective is the key word. Example: 80% of American Internet users have looked for health information online while 10% of American adult cell phone users have signed up for a health app–yet 26% of mobile apps are used only once.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in what Darcy Sawartzki describes in her latest post for Social Marketing Quarterly: People like to make stuff–vs. make stuff happen. Perhaps we should take a step back from creating more apps, more Web pages, more online communities and ask: What are the small steps we need to take first? What are the motivations behind the little behaviors that can add up to big changes?

Moving Forward

Thankfully, learning how to make small steps towards big changes is the theme of B.J. Fogg’s Mobile Health Conference this May. Fogg has been looking into the science and psychology behind habit making and how this leads to success in three areas: behavior change, collaborations, and experience design. B.J. Fogg is also known for saying: “Put hot triggers in the way of motivated people” when it comes to designing for success. This starts to make even more sense when you look at what mobile apps researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found to be effective:

  • Those that send reminders to keep patients, such as those with HIV or TB, on their drug regimens.
  • Those that send messages to help people change harmful behaviors such as smoking.
  • Those that use texts about specific goals and behaviors to aid in weight loss.

In their research, one participated said she preferred one app over another “because it was more personalized.” If your not familiar with the personalized health movement yet, it might be time to get on board. As one source says: Whether it’s  mobile or digital health–it’s all personalized [health] to us.”


Additional Resources:

Social Media Is Not a Marketing Strategy

There, I said it. Social media in and of itself is not a strategy (gasp). It does not replace a solid marketing approach or even a communications plan. To be successful, it must be integrated into a larger strategic framework. This applies to organizations as well as programs, initiatives and (my dreaded word) campaigns.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article titled “Separate Social Media From Marketing:”

…we need to break out social media and talk about more than marketing and technology. Instead, we need to talk about what social media enables: the ability to collaborate in new ways — which is particularly important for business leaders interested in creating more collaborative, innovative, and engaging organizations. […]

The use of these platforms can truly transform a business by moving beyond brand marketing. Social media has enabled business leaders to think differently about how they engage and interact with both customers and employees. But just because you’ve opened the door doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the threshold into a new way of working, managing, and leading.

Your marketing team might have the best handle on social media, but what about other departments in your organization? When you change the focus from the technology to more about what the technology enables and what you want to achieve, then you change the conversation. You start to be strategic.

An Opportunity for Social Marketers

Craig Lefebvre on Twitter the other day shared an article on Paramount and how they are changing their approach to mobile from brand awareness to driving a behavioral outcome (buying a movie ticket). How we use social media should also evolve. In fact, how we view marketing and communications in general needs to evolve. Marketing isn’t something you think about “later,” it’s about so much more than communications and it doesn’t live within just one team. It’s integral to your success now and everyone plays a role.

I’ve written before about the “Word of the Year.” As December nears, I’m starting time for reflection early and designating all of December a time to ponder on the past, step back from the present and imagine tomorrow. My first thought? 2012’s”Word of the Year” might just be integration.

Facebook, Health and the Pursuit of Happiness

Facebook has become just about as integrated into American culture as apple pie. We all know apple pie tastes amazing–but when taken to the extreme and eaten on a consistent basis, it’s not exactly the healthiest food. This applies to Facebook as well. Facebook can offer a number of benefits–but it also has some potential drawbacks. And despite our shared love for Facebook, it’s important to be aware of its possible drawbacks. This post looks at a number of different research studies published in the past year that include some interesting findings.

Does Facebook help us feel more connected—or alone?

A recent set of studies found a paradox in Facebook psychology. The studies looked to answer the question: Does using Facebook help us feel more connected, or not? The results may surprise you.

The research was actually conducted through four different yet connected studies. The first study found that frequent Facebook usage relates to both increased connection–as well as increased feelings of disconnection. The second study found that disconnection motivates greater Facebook usage as a coping strategy as greater usage leads to greater connection (yes, this seems odd given the first study’s results).

The third study deprived participants of Facebook use for 48 hours. While feelings of connection decreased, the feeling of disconnection was unaffected. However, those who felt more disconnected actually engaged in increased Facebook use during a second 48-hour period.

In the fourth study, participants set a goal to reduce their use of Facebook. In setting this goal and working to achieve it, greater disconnection was felt. Those that had this feeling performed worse in achieving their goal.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Who has the best self esteem of them all?

Another study conducted by researchers at Cornell found that Facebook usage actually leads to increased self-esteem. “Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves,” associate professor Jeffrey Hancock told CNN. “We’re not saying that it’s a deceptive version of self, but it’s a positive one.”

Hancock is the co-author of a report titled, “Mirror, Mirror On My Facebook Wall: Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem” that was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. The study put 63 students in a university computer lab. Some computers were turned off with a mirror in front of it—while others were turned on showing the student’s Facebook page.

For three minutes, participants either stared at themselves in a mirror or reviewed their Facebook profile. When time was up, students were given a questionnaire to measure their self-esteem. The students who had been reviewing their Facebook profile gave more positive feedback than the others. The participants that edited their Facebook profile actually gave themselves the highest marks.

“For many people, there’s an automatic assumption that the internet is bad,” Hancock is quoted saying in an article published by CNN. “This is one of the first studies to show that there’s a psychological benefit of Facebook.”

Is the grass really greener?

Another study supports this finding as it found that those who like themselves tend to share more of themselves through social networks. And, that those more active on social networks tend to think more highly of themselves.

At the same time, another set of research published this past January, found that Facebook reinforces the idea that “the grass is always greener” and that everyone else is happier and better off than you. This research “suggests that people may think they are more alone in their emotional difficulties than they really are.” Not exactly a recipe for great self-esteem…

What does this mean for us?

Given the mixed results already discussed, we know research has also found that Facebook and social networking can help increase connectedness among certain communities–especially when it comes to our health. This post is in no way meant to be a down-with-Facebook rant. More so, here’s the take-away for us: Have a self-awareness of the good and the bad impact Facebook may have on you, to your community and in your work. Knowing and understanding the positive impact technology can have as well as its potentially harmful effects is a part of digital literacy. For those working in public Health, it’s an awareness we need to consider.

BONUS: BJ Fogg’s Psychology of Facebook class is on my need-to-do list. 

Do you know of additional research that looks into the psychology of Facebook? Please share!

flickr credit: Jason A. Samfield

Crossing the Double Divide, Two Million Dollar Questions

Earlier this month, Susannah Fox discussed a health Information divide based on a recent report. This divide was also confirmed in a recent literature review on the effectiveness of social media in public health–cited as a double divide:

“A common concern raised in the published literature (38, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70) relates to the populations with limited online access, poor literacy skills, and disabilities that impair access to social media platforms: “…health scientists exploring the issue of the digital divide have found evidence of a double divide. Specifically, those without internet access (a large portion of whom may be without adequate health care access) are prevented from gaining health information available on the Internet” (38).

Though this double divide exists, it does not mean that we should disregard the Internet and social media as a tool in our health communications and social marketing work. There are bright spots of the Internet and social media’s impact in public health and in impacting the health of vulnerable populations. As, the literature review goes on to share that some researchers suggest that social media platforms can actually “augment poor health literacy of basic literacy skills” and “that digital penetration into marginalized groups actually improves access to some specific demographics.”  And this is where the importance of the National Broadband Plan comes into play.

Why? Because of the National Broadband plan not only outlines how to increase access to the Internet across the United States. But, it also includes key recommendations for increasing digital literacy. One of the recommendations that caught my attention most was the call to create a Digital Literacy Corps with the objective of mobilizing thousands of Americans across the United States to improve digital literacy. Compound that with last year’s release of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the objectives set out in Healthy People 2020, and we’re on our way to crossing this double divide.

But what do we do until then?

The literature review offers the following recommendations on using social media to improve effectiveness for public health:

  1. Establish clear objectives.
  2. Know your target audiences.
  3. Design campaigns for longevity and/or have exit strategies and clear archiving processes.
  4. Determine resource needs.
  5. Determine agency content-clearance processes and/or prepare pre-approved messaging scripts.
  6. Listen to online health discourse.
  7. Encourage or sponsor research.
  8. Encourage coordination.

These are great recommendations, and number 7 is especially important. But value is gained from having a critical eye. So when data like this from Pew’s Health Topics report is shared, how can we be sure to reach the people who need our attention:

…fewer than half of adults in the following groups in the U.S. look online for health information:

  • African Americans
  • Latinos
  • Adults living with a disability
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Adults with a high school education or less

As I write and work to use social technologies for social good, I know their potential and understand the benefits they can offer. So I don’t necessarily need “convincing.” Instead, I’m on the lookout for case studies–from the local level and up.

A Case in Point

For example, in St. Louis, the St. Louis County Library and the physicians of Saint Louis University have teamed up on a series of free community health literacy programs, referred to as “60-Minute Health Check-Ups.” The check-ups are” designed to provide information and resources to help attendees learn more about health-related issues. Each program features health information presented by a SLUCare professional, followed by health literacy tips from a St. Louis County Library reference librarian and free health screenings.”

This might not seem wildly innovative–but it’s a strong example of the place “P” in social marketing. And, when you add these stats from the 2010 U.S. IMPACT Public Library study into the mix (borrowed from a comment made by Luke Rosenburger on Susannah’s Health Information Divide post)–you can see the opportunity increased digital literacy could provide for better health:

Research has shown that libraries are a very important nexus for this kind of connection. The “US IMPACT” study, released April 2010 by the University of Washington Information School and underwritten by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reveals that nearly one in three Americans age 14 or older — 32% or roughly 77 million people — used a library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the previous year. Among people living in households whose income was less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines ($44,000 a year for a family of four), 44% used library computers and Internet access.

Thirty-seven percent of library computer users, an estimated 28 million people, focused on health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options. In one particular group — seniors (65 and older) living in poverty — a full 54% used library computers for health or wellness needs.

The study also suggests that library computer use leads to positive action on health and wellness: roughly half of the people who used a public library computer to find doctors or health care providers reported that they made follow-up appointments. Among those who reported researching diet and nutrition issues online at the library, 83% decided to change their diet; among visitors who searched for exercise and fitness information, 84% decided to change their exercise habits. The benefits also reach beyond just the individuals who come into the library: nearly two-thirds of library computer users (63%) logged on to help others; 56% reported helping friends or family with health matters specifically.

So are libraries the answer? From the information provided and from knowing some smart and savvy librarians, I’d say yes! But, I feel like they are just part of the answer.

The Million Dollar Questions

One:  What are people doing to cross this double divide and what results are they seeing? Show us the case studies and share the lessons learned!

Two:  In what ways can we reach people on the side of the divide without health information and without digital literacy skills–and bridge the gap in terms of health disparities and health information, services and products? (And before you answer “MySpace” or “mobile” –show me the evidence. As, I feel more and more strongly, to cross the divide, we need a markets-based approach to health that addresses changes regarding the social determinants of health. No?)

BONUS: CDC’s January 2011 Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (CHDIR) — The information in this report is astounding and eye-opening.

flickr credit: kcryder

Quote of the Week: Impersonal Engagement

This week’s quote comes from Joseph Yoo of Step by Step–a blogger I discovered through Andrew Conrad. Yoo talks about a time when he was in seminary and worked at the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington. In his post, Yoo shares a story with us about a small significant moment that I think is significant still today and outside the walls of the church.

On this particular day, Yoo was helping out with the church’s youth ministry  where the youth would go out to the parks of DC and hand out sandwiches to the less fortunate. On this day though, there were more people than there were sack lunches available and the following interaction occurred:

As the kids were getting in the car, one of the homeless men came up to the passenger window of the van. Thinking he needed a sandwich, the pastor said, “Sorry, we don’t have any more sandwiches. But Jesus loves you.” The man started yelling back, “I know Jesus loves me! But what about you?”

Impersonal Engagement

Yoo goes on to say how the pastor just kept repeating the same thing: Jesus loves you. And the guy kept asking the same thing: Yes, but what about you? until the car drove off. I won’t do it justice, but Yoo goes on to talk about how impersonal things get sometimes–even when you have good intentions. And that sometimes, to truly make a difference and show you care, you have to get engaged and this may mean you have to roll-up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and get involved.

Your Challenge

Does this sound familiar? I find Yoo’s story relevant because in the world of social media–it gets easy to thank someone for a RT. It gets easy to post a photo. It gets easy to give a #followfriday shout out. It gets easy to ask them for feedback or respond to an inquiry. It’s gets easy…and impersonal. So, here’s your challenge:

Take Five Steps Back

  1. Review your communications. Look through your Twitter feed and Facebook postings. Count the number of times you have an authentic interaction with a customer versus the number of promotional postings or generic responses.
  2. Review the conversations you’ve had with customers. Have you taken the conversation to the next level? Did you answer their question?
  3. Talk to outsiders. For example, call local media–not to pitch a story. But just to ask them what they think about your organization or cause.
  4. Know your competition. Look at your competitor’s website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. How are they engaging people? What can you learn from them? What gaps exist?
  5. Get outside your comfort zone. Talk to people that don’t work in your department or function within your organization. Showing people you care inside the organization will build an attitude of caring.

What else? How can we make sure we are authentically engaging people and building relationships?

Like they say: If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Don’t be everyone. Be unique–this is how you will offer true value to your customers.

flickr credit: Matthew Yaktine

Twitter Promotes Social Good

There’s been a development with Twitter (surprise). But this time, it’s for social good. A little link found itself on the Twitter homepage, and with it, Twitter has entered a more formal “Twitter for Social Good” status. See the screen shot below.

If you click on that little link, you are directed to “” with a personal note from @ev and @biz, the founders of Twitter. They share that in this space, they will highlight social movements that deserve our attention. Currently, the site features Haiti efforts and efforts for World Malaria Day. A stream called the “Ecosystem of Hope” also provides tweets provided by nonprofits. On individual cause pages, Twitter provides a variety of action-oriented ways to get involved:

  • Highlights tweets from related organizations working towards the cause,
  • Highlights tweets from around the world about the cause,
  • Provides sponsors names,
  • Provides actionable retweets for fund-raising efforts using,
  • Offers real-time fund-raising results,
  • Promote mobile fund-raising efforts,
  • Suggested Twitter accounts to follow,
  • Tips on how to best use Twitter to support a specific cause,
  • and more.

It’ll be interesting to see how this space evolves–how Twitter will choose what to highlight and how nonprofits react. In a way, it reminds me of BlogCatalog’s “BloggersUnite” initiative. For those wanting to be featured, Twitter refers you to its case studies to learn best practices. To be officially considered for what Twitter is calling its “Twitter for Good” program, they provide a contact form.

What are your thoughts–how should Twitter use its leverage for good?

Making Behavior Fun, Popular and Easy

If you know social marketing extraordinaire Nancy Lee, then you have heard this saying. Recently, on the social marketing listserv, some dialogue has been shared in response to Nancy Lee and Philip Kotler’s article in Stanford’s Innovation Review titled “Best of Breed,” which looks at corporate social marketing. This could be its own post, but alas, I want to focus on the message of being fun, popular and easy.

Why? Because whether it’s social marketing or corporate social marketing, you are still working to effectively change or influence behavior for good–and an effective way to do so is making your desired behavior fun, popular and easy–which is exactly what started bubbling through on the social marketing list serv as others started sharing some of their favorite fun, popular and easy social marketing initiatives. Enjoy–and when you find yourself running around ragged, ask yourself: Is anyone having fun? Is this easy for people? and go from there.

The Piano Staircase

To encourage passerbyers to take the stairs rather then the escalator (and thus promote physical activity), this group turned the stairs into a piano–whenever you stepped on a stair a different sound would echo–in effect, making taking stairs more exciting than an everyday escalator. I can’t find the source, but it apparently had a 60% success rate. Who’s behind it? Volkswagon. Apparently, Volkswagon has been trying out some experimental marketing based around “The Fun Theory” to see if they could create desired behaviors if the action was made fun. You can read more about the piano staircase and other initiatives such as the recycling arcade and more at

The Pink Glove Dance

You may have seen this one already, as it’s been circling the blogosphere for a while. But, it’s an example of everyday people–hospital employees–finding a way to make their job fun while communicating a message–that you aren’t alone when taking steps to prevent breast cancer, like getting a mammogram.

Musical Hand Sanitizer

Aas part of Volkswagon’s initiative, they are hosting an awards program on the best “fun” applications for healthy and good behaviors. One entry was a University who had installed hand sanitizers to prevent the spread of germs during the flu season. They found few students using them. Thus, they adopted the fun theory and installed some sounds. Each time someone went for hand sanitizer, a funny noise was created. Results? With the sounds included, students were seven times more likely to use the germ-reducing resource.

Pedestrian TV Traffic Light

In this example, you get some free entertainment while waiting to cross the street. Instead of staring at a red outline of a person wishing it to change with your desired mind control, this traffic light shows TV clips–vidoes from YouTube, funny clips from TV shows, etc. This way, the hope is that you’ll actually wait until it’s safe to cross the street.

Make Your Watermark

Design you own bottle at the vending machine. Granted, I know bottles and paint on bottles isn’t good for the environment. But if you can’t quite get that change initiated, then check out what this group did. To encourage people to buy water over sugary pop or juices form the vending machine, they enabled it so people can design their own water bottle from the vending machine at the point-of-purchase. Now that’s easy, and fun!

Fun, Popular and Easy…Online?

More examples are found on the Web site mentioned earlier, and I have to admit–it’s fun just looking through them. But, my mind started going: How can you make your online and social media communications fun, popular and easy to help you achieve your behavior change mission? Now, that’s a weighty question. Then, I started thinking about what is it in a Web or social media behavior change initiative that makes it fun, popular and easy:

  • FUN: Community-based, drive accountability of others through accountability, collaborative in nature
  • Example: Certain online communities help training for a 5k easier by focusing on accountability or making the desired behavior fun by making it social. Other communities, such as the Sister to Sister Foundation’s online community focusing on healthy behaviors for heart health amongst women. These type of communities make healthy behaviors fun by creating accountabilty and making the behavior social.
  • POPULAR: Driven by influencers and respected peers in the community or content area the desired behavior resides.
  • Example: video-storytelling. encouraged state officials to create their video on why its important to get tested for HIV. Another example? HHS’ flu PSA contest. Not only was this driven and announced by the HHS Secretary herself, but it was also supported and promoted by all of HHS’ agencies. And it’s winner–come on, who’s more popular than a rapping doctor?
  • EASY: This may be the most important when it comes to the online arena. Because, for people to use the technology combined with the messages, etc., the technology must first work. It must incorporate usability best practices, be accessible and depending on your audience, address literacy issues, including technology literacy. You technology could be great, but if it’s too complicated and no one uses it, it’s just techology.
  • Example: Most recently, hosted the “Face AIDS” campaign asking people to join in. The effort involved a few steps, but made it easy and fun by creating a collective flickr account to display all the images. Here’s a thought: Some social media is easy to adopt. one click and your a fan, one click and you are a follower. One click, and you’ve downloaded a healthy recipe book. One click and you have a mobile app to track your physical fitness. How can your organization leverage these easy tools for behavior change?

What about you? What are some of your favorite fun, popular and easy social marketing efforts? Any of those take place online?

Four Phases of Online Social Change

red heartYou may agree or disagree with me on this, so I encourage your thoughts as I’m transcribing some of my own observations into the online social change field. These observations boil down to four “phases” of online social change that I think reflect our maturity into using social media tools to meet our organization’s aims:

  1. Awareness Building
  2. Fundraising
  3. Contests and Competitions for Change
  4. Advocacy

In the beginning, I feel many tools were leveraged as awareness-building mechanisms. From the initial launch of Causes to recruiting fans, followers and friends, many tools were initially set out to further awareness-building of an organization.

Then, I felt like the tools and our use of them matured as we discovered ways to leverage the tools into dollars–from Twestival to Tweetsgiving to Goodsearch. Even Causes adapted and identified birthdays as a way to increase micro-donations. You could say that online fundraising in and of itself has seen a phased formation and continues to evolve. See Beth’s Kanter’s recent post: 5 Social Media Fundraising Trends for 2009.

Then, enter the behemoths–contests and competitions like “America’s Giving Challenge,” hosted by the Case Foundation entered in the next rendition. You could say this ties into a more advanced type of fundraising, but I felt like it deserved to be on its own. As, I don’t yet think this area has been “tapped out” and neither do organizations according to Andre Blackman who interviewed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who uses contests and competitions to further public health innovation.

However, where I feel we are still in our infancy is with online advocacy for social change. It’s starting to creep up–just look at LiveEarth’s 2009 campaign “Love, the Climate” where people were encouraged to write love letters to office holders who worked to prevent climate change or the “Be a Voice for Darfur” movement which utilized activist and blogger toolkits to further realize the campaign’s objectives. Even provided a way for people to create and spread petitions with a call to action via Twitter.

Like I said, I think advocacy is where we have the most potential to further expand. I could be biased based on my government and citizen engagement day-job type of work–but I think there’s more ways we can get involved, as citizens, in decision making and peace keeping in our local, state and Federal governments–even internationally. What about you? Where do you think we have the most room to grow and what do you predict as being phase 5? Perhaps, partnerships and collaborations might be a phase five as we see how online and social media open up new doors of opportunity across organization firewalls. Or, another phase 5 might be storytelling–as more of these functions become interwoven and organizations get better at telling their story.

What do you think?

flickr credit: flatfield