fishing reel off the boat at sunsetFollow @NameYourNonProfit and you could feed 5 villages, save 1000 Trees and create wind energy. Sounds great right? It seems that online, in the social change arena, this seems to be the new infomercial. I’m all for it–if it brings success. And even further–is it affecting real change? Therefore, let’s break it down.

From my own observations of these initiatives, here’s what I have to offer to your organization if you’re working on a “follow-and-fundraise” plan:

  1. Wait. Join Twitter first and gain a solid, respectable following according to your organization’s side and market share of the issue at hand. This way, when you make your “call to follow,” it won’t be an empty room you are inviting people to.
  2. Set realistic and attainable benchmarks. This will motivate potential Twitter followers to support your cause and spread the word to their own networks. 500,000 new followers, when you are only at 300, might seem a bit daunting and dis-enfranchise people early in the game.
  3. Mirror realistic rewards. Similarly, if you want to gain 500,000 followers to merely plant one tree is a bit disheartening. Yes, planting one tree any time is a good thing. However, that’s a lot of work and a lot of people to recruit for one tree. Make the effort worth it.
  4. Extend the initiative. So you are working to generate a following and spread the word about a particular event/issue. Don’t stop at that. Extend your overall strategy to incorporate or integrate Twitter into the overall strategy. Or, extend Twitter to off-line events by hosting live-events. Either way, make the message and the action live beyond the technology.
  5. Keep momentum. Okay, I’m following you today. But who says I’ll keep following you tomorrow? Or even a month from now? Provide fresh, timely and relevant content that will not only speak to me, but draw me into your mission.
  6. Make it fun. Give me a reason to encourage my friends to follow you as well. In fact, provide me with the words to say. Detail it out–It could be a Twitter meme even. For a made up example, imagine @lovewater wants to recruit followers to build X amount of wells. Here’s an idea: Share the call to action. Tell three people you love them and water, and you want them to join the pool party @lovewater. (I was going to say hot tub–but hey, this isn’t the Bachelorette!)
  7. Follow-up. If I follow you, give a shout out. Or, keep me updated with how your progress is coming. Have you achieved your goals? What were the results? How can I help or get involved more? Think of the person hitting the “follow” button as the bite. What are you going to do to reel in the fish?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to participate in these campaigns. After all, it’s at low cost to me, the end-consumer. My main point is that I just want these initiatives to be better and the experience to be greater–and overall, I’m wondering why, if it is a low cost, does it seem to not always work?

  • What other tips would you suggest, and what are your own observations for these calls to action?
  • If your organization has implored this strategy, what were the results, lessons learned or key take aways that we can all learn from?

flickr photo credit: crjr2003