The Power of Social Technology at Stanford Business School

Social NetworkTake a second and consider: out of all the articles, videos, and blog posts you see in a week, which ones do you breeze through and forget, and which ones stick with you?

Which ones do you forward onto your friends, and which ones do you relegate to internet oblivion?

Out of the requests you get on Facebook to support a cause or become a “fan,” to the e-mails you get from Barack Obama to watch a short video about healthcare reform, to a link someone sends you to donate to their charity, how many of them do you take the time to engage with deeply, and how many go, in one eye, so to speak, and out the other?

Most of us are inundated with requests online to take notice of social causes: to “Save Darfur” or to “Campaign for Cancer Awareness”.  And yet many of us glaze over and ignore them; or perhaps we join a group but end up taking no real action towards the cause. Indeed, for anyone who has ever created a YouTube video, written a blog, or tried to get someone to join their cause on Facebook, you likely know that simply sending out a request doesn’t always lead to action.

Yet, the power of social technology, when fully engaged, can be nothing short of revolutionary. Micro-loans websites like Kiva.org, which allow people to lend money over the internet to small-business owners in developing countries, have enabled people to change the lives of entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries at the click of a button.  With over 2 million online registered users, members of my.barackobama.com mobilized and planned over 200,000 events, wrote 400,000 blog posts, and created over 35,000 volunteer groups during campaign season; and through these online avenues, the campaign raised over 500 million dollars from 6.5 million online donations (the majority of which were under $100 each).  And in recent months, The Red Cross has raised over $30 million dollars for Haiti relief through text message donations, allowing people to literally lend a helping hand by using it to send a text.

Picture 9

The same technologies that enable us to “poke” our friends or “retweet” an interesting article are the ones that can connect and mobilize us to bring about change in profound ways.  This week I had the exciting opportunity to be on a panel evaluating the final presentations of students taking “The Power of Social Technology,” a course at Stanford Business School taught by Professor Jennifer Aaker devoted to looking at how to promote social good by harnessing the power of social networking technologies.

Professor Aaker’s course was inspired by the phenomenal story of Sameer Bhatia, a Stanford grad who was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 32.  Sameer needed a bone marrow transplant, and he needed to find a genetically matched bone marrow donor, fast; but out of 6.8 million people registered at the National Marrow Donor Program, only 1% were South Asians, and the chance for a genetic match was exceedingly low; indeed, Sameer had less than a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match from the national donor registry.

Sameer’s friend Vinay had also been diagnosed with Leukemia the year before.  Both men needed donors and had only weeks to find them.  So what did Sameer and Vinay and their family and friends do? They joined forces, took action, and used social media – Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter – to spread their story.  Through videos, Facebook ads and groups, and viral messages, Sameer and Vinay’s team reached out across the US and within a matter of weeks, succeeded in registering over 24,000 people of South Asian descent as donors. As a result, Sameer found a direct match, and Vinay a close match, in the time frame they needed, and both underwent transplants shortly thereafter. (Read more about Sameer and Vinay’s incredible story here).

HelpSameer.org

HelpSameer.org

Sadly, despite finding successful donors, both Sameer and Vinay passed away from complications from their diseases; however, their legacies live on strong, through family and friends, as well as the over 250 lives that have been saved as a result of the donors that Team Sameer and Vinay managed to get registered. Their story is one with a powerful, enduring impact: it shows how the technologies we have at fingertips can enable us to share stories, mobilize support, and take action and change lives in ways that have never before been possible.  With a collective will fueled by deep friendship and love, Sameer, Vinay, and their friends and families achieved a monumental task that has continued to have positive ripple effects reaching far beyond their original goal.

Picture 3

Professor Aaker, taking inspiration from Sameer’s story, charges her students with a similar mission: in just 5 short weeks of the course, identify a cause, brainstorm how to represent it, and then, make it go viral.

The student groups chose a wide range of topics, from helping students from East Palo Alto get on the track to go to college, to creating a food traceability network to help people know where there food comes, to creating a website where students can ask each other questions and share notes (see all the group projects here).  There were three group videos that stood out to me the most:

  1. Group “Project Baby Warmth: Embrace” promoted a simple product with a simple story: spend $25 and you can support the life of low-weight babies in poor conditions by providing them with a sleeping bag that keeps them warm – and alive.  Watch a segment about Embrace on ABCNews:

2. “Women 4 Women” seeks to bring the crafts from artisans in the third world to a market in the US, where one can buy a one-of-a-kind item (instead of say, a carbon copy from Pottery Barn) and in turn, support the livelihood of a woman abroad:

3. “The Bubbles Project” aims to bring people together, on and offline, to “inspire, create, and connect” through community based art projects: The Bubbles Project from Raja Haddad on Vimeo.

So what makes an online cause successful? The most successful groups, in my opinion, were those that brought together all the elements to engage a viewer – the audio, visual, and stylistic components, as well as the storytelling and individual connection that makes you feel invested in the cause.  The videos with the most impact each seemed to touch upon these elements:

Get Attention, Then, Tell A Story

  • What makes a video go viral?  It’s pretty simple: people watch your video, and like it enough to send it to friends.  But achieving this, as anyone who has created a video knows, is far more difficult.  In the sea of content on the web, how do you stand out?  How do you keep someone interested and watching? Those initial moments that open the video are critical in engaging the viewer; and keeping the pace up is important so that they don’t lose interest.  The most effective videos were those where style informed substance; where visuals and songs elevated the message; where you forgot you were watching a video but were simply inspired by a story.  This “attention-grabbing” component is critical: because no matter how important your cause, or how moving your story, no cause can be promoted if people don’t take the time to learn about it.

Identify Concrete, “Actionable” Goals

  • Creating a viral movement is more than just getting people to watch your video; it’s about inspiring people to contribute to a cause.  How do you get someone to not only view your video, but to have it stay with them in a meaningful way?  How do you create a goal that is measureable and achievable? Focused and actionable goals were an important element of these projects; and certainly, of any movement for social good.  It can be hard to look at a large issue like poverty or lack of education and feel like you can have any impact; but when you remember that you have the power to affect one life in one, measurable way, the illusion of helplessness dissipates and you feel inspired to make a difference.

Turn Awareness Into Action

  • Making someone aware of a cause is half the battle; getting them to take real action to do something about it is really the ultimate goal.  And though the internet has the capacity to engage a worldwide audience in social good, it also can breed internet apathy.  Membership in an online group does not equate with true commitment; we all know it’s one thing to join a Facbeook group for a cause, but it’s quite another to turn that group membership into real-world action. How do you get people to translate their online membership to actually donate their money or time? The groups that succeeded were those that were able to pair their online movements with real life actions, so that the cause didn’t simply evaporate and dissolve into the internet ether.

network

So from a viewer’s perspective, what came across about using technology for change?  It was clear from the group presentations that promoting causes and goals is inherently social, and to be successful, there needs to be that feeling of participation, of networking, of growth, of ripple effects, all of which are a combination of tangible and intangible forces coming together to create a movement that people feel they are a part of.  Indeed, the teams that really excelled were the ones that were able to represent their enthusiasm and spirit for their message in an engaging and thoughtful way; in a way that tells a powerful story; and in a way that generates that ‘kinetic energy’ that drives social causes — leaving you with that feeling you get after seeing a video that causes you to continue to reflect on it long after you are away from your computer.

I left Professor Aaker’s class with that feeling: and with the feeling that the power to use social technology for good,  to create, motivate, and perpetuate social movements, is a profound power indeed.

Picture 4It’s truly remarkable to see how quickly and effectively technology can be used to bring people together, whether it’s to register bone marrow donors, or to send a quick text to help Haiti.  With over 175 million people logging onto Facebook each day alone, and over 600 “tweets” going out on the web each second, it’s incredible to consider the impact we could have if, both local and global, if we continue to identify and harness these networks for social change.

So the next time you get forwarded information about a cause, remember: every movement starts with one person — one person, and maybe one click of “play” on that YouTube Video.

To learn more about The Power of Social Technology and watch all the group’s videos, click here.

  • To learn more about social innovation, and how to harness social media for impact, follow Professor Jennifer Aaker on Twitter.
  • To learn more about Sameer and Vinay’s story, go to http://www.helpsameer.org/strategy/, and to read about how to harness social media to help save the life of an individual, see the cases found here.
  • To watch one of my favorite “viral videos” for social change, “The Girl Effect”, click here.

**Portions of this blog post, along with my own original contributions, will appear in Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith’s upcoming book, The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change. Read more at TheDragonflyEffect.com.

23 Responses to “The Power of Social Technology at Stanford Business School”

  1. kdermody says:

    I feel very passionate about this blog. For causes like these to be so successful from social networks, such as other blogs, Facebook, and Twitter is remarkable. In an book which we read in class written by Turkle, Turkle suggests that all of us are cyborgs, dependent on technology and social networks. She states that because of these networks and our attachment to technology, we have lost sense of relationships and being with someone in the present, not being put on “pause.” This is the case in some situations. In other situations, being a cyborg and connected to technology and social networks has been a positive outcome for many people, especially those who have a cause to share. I agree with what was stated earlier. To catch someones attention for a particular cause, they have to posses some sort of movie with music and a lot going on to grasp people’s attentions. I would agree with the statement that it is easy for someone to join a cause, but to have them follow through and help is a whole different story. With the help of blogs and Facebook groups, these has been possible. Especially with blogs, people can share the information with friends more easily. Thanks to technology, more causes have been brought up and more people have read individual’s stories that have begun to help people around the world everywhere. According to the blog on the White House’s web page called, “Champions of Change: Making a Difference through Service and Innovation,” many people from around the country, who are not specifically involved in the government but can be, can show all the different community service projects and causes in which they are passionate for and have been working on already. These types a blogs show government officials that not all drastic changes come from the White House and officials. Normal people have stepped up, gotten the attention of others through blogs, to state a cause that they think should be acknowledged. Especially this particular blog, located on the White House site, can show high ranked government officials particular causes that they find important and should be brought to the national level. Because of technology, it is easier and more accessible for people like the President to hear the concerns and strong feelings of the community in which he runs.

    • epostell says:

      I agree with Kathleen’s response. I feel that social media sites can be incredibly beneficial in bringing awareness of social problems. If I take a look on my Facebook event page I have multiple requests to join a group for a cause, such as Breast Cancer and Donations to Uganda. Although, not all the time I accept or move forward with being a personal help to the cause, the message still gets sent to me as well as hundreds of my Facebook friends. Social medias easily connect people around the globe, nation, or even just in small communities to all come together and make a change and I feel that the efforts have been successful and will continue to be in the future.

  2. jpasquarella says:

    I have similar feelings about the content of this entry as kdermody did. I find it amazing that charities and causes can be so easily accessed through Internet and so heavily supported. Regarding the author’s comment that many web pages and causes go “in one eye, so to speak, and out the other,” I completely agree. This concept reminded me immediately of sites such as Stumbleupon and Tumblr. You encounter so much information in these sites, but only a rare few stick. I also agree with the author’s ideas under Get Attention, Then, Tell A Story. In such a vast world wide web there are millions, even billions, of other content for people to look at. To develop a video that goes “viral” so that your cause is supported is very difficult and takes detailed attention to the presentation of the message. Harrison discusses in The Evolving Medium is the Message: McLuhan, Medium Theory, and Cognitive Neuroscience the importance of the medium. I think this argument applies to this idea. Bringing together “the audio, visual, and stylistic components, as well as the storytelling” makes a difference. Harrsion explains the McLuhan believes the content is less important than the medium. Here the media is video combined with audio and without these factors the cause would be lost in the sea of the Internet.
    The purpose of the project discussed reminds me of an article I read in a religion class. In Kristoff and WuDunn’s Half the Sky I read about a woman who used one of these micro-loan sites to access money to start a business. The woman was severely beaten by her husband and made fun of for how poor she was by her neighbors. With her loan she started embroidering and beading cloth to sell. Soon she sold all her products and applied for another micro-loan. The same thing happened. This woman became so popular that she could not meet demands on her own and eventually ended up employing her entire neighborhood and her husband for her business. She is now the most wealthy and powerful member of her neighborhood and her entire achievement can be traced back to these community micro-loan sites that have begun to succeed due to their presentation.

    • Alice Gaber says:

      Building on what Jpasquarella says, I agree that it is vitally important to combine different technologies together in order to effectively spread and promote social causes and movements. A slogan may not be as memorable as a slogan with a video and a song, for example. In fact, Henry Jenkins, in his book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, explains how the proliferation of a wide variety of different technologies facilitates the flow of information in society and how people can maximize the information that they obtain and convey to others by using different technologies. For example, Jenkins argues that producers and corporations are “learning how to accelerate the flow of media content across delivery channels to expand revenue opportunities, broaden markets, and reinforce viewer commitments” (Jenkins, 2008, p.18). Thus producers and corporations can broaden the scope of their marketing by making it accessible via different media technologies, in this way attracting more consumers. For example, music production companies can make their music available through channels such as the television, the cell phone, and the Internet. Thus the wide range of media channels caters to a greater diversity of consumers and has the potential to satisfy varied consumer preferences and needs, because consumers can choose any of these channels to access the music. In this same way, social groups can utilize a variety of different technologies to make their messages more memorable and more meaningful to their audiences. Spreading information about a social cause through different media channels simultaneously also increases the chances that the information will be heard by more people and perhaps multiple times by the same people – increasing the audience’s awareness of the information being conveyed.
      Jpasquarella relates the importance of combining different technologies to McLuhan’s idea that the “medium is the message.” I agree with her argument that promoting social causes and movements through a myriad of technologies is more effective than through one technology, but I want to clarify McLuhan’s idea that “the medium is the message.” Jpasquarella says, “Harrison explains that McLuhan believes the content is less important than the medium [in conveying the message].” I want to expand on this idea and explain exactly what McLuhan meant by saying that the medium through which we access information is more important than the information itself. In “The Evolving Medium is the Message: McLuhan, Medium Theory, and Cognitive Neuroscience,” Teresa M. Harrison explains that for McLuhan, “media technologies are extensions of human senses” because they “augment, embellish, and enhance perceptual processes, changing the pace, scale, and/or patterns of sensations experienced in everyday life” (p. 114). What Harrison is essentially saying is that McLuhan saw the process of interpreting a message through a given medium as influencing the way we later think, act, interpret, and create meaning in our everyday life. So for example, McLuhan would argue that reading a book provides us with a set of skills for gleaning meaning from the book based on the need to read the book linearly, to think logically, to delay our gratification by reading to the end of the book to find its conclusion, etc. etc. After learning to use these skills and these perceptual processes in obtaining meaning from a book, we would then project these patterns of thinking and these sets of skills onto our society and into our societal values. As a literate society, for example, we value logical thinking. However, the idea that a literate or a non-literate society is characterized by certain traits such as logic deserves caution because it relates to the “great divide” theories. The “great divide” theories, according to Chandler’s “Bias of the Ear and Eye,” argue that there are very basic and clear differences in the ways that literate and non-literate societies/cultures think. A great divide theory would say that the bringing of literacy to a non-literate society or culture would result in that society or culture’s social, cultural, and intellectual development. But the problem with such binary distinctions is that they often unrealistically simplify relationships between different social and cultural experiences, often exaggerating the differences and failing to account for the aspects of culture that does not fall into its designated category. Non-literate cultures, for example, have the same capacities for rational and logical thinking as literate cultures.

      References

      Class Reading – Chandler’s “Bias of the Ear and Eye”

      Jenkins, Henry. 2008. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New

      York, United States: New York University Press.

      Class Reading – Teresa M. Harrison’s “The Evolving Medium is the Message:

      McLuhan, Medium Theory, and Cognitive Neuroscience.”

  3. mileenz says:

    Ironically enough, before reading this I had just spent 10 minutes going through my Facebook account and all deleting all of the invitations, causes and other groups I had been asked to become a “fan” of. I usually let these things pile up on my account and never really take them too seriously because of the vast amount that are spread around social networking sites including Facebook. A lot of these causes are legitimate and are really pressing matters in our society today, however I believe that this ties back into McLuhan’s idea that “The medium is the message.” When vital causes such as fighting for breast cancer, saving a child with leukemia, ending hunger in Africa or donating bone marrow end up being publicized virally through twitter or Facebook- it decreases the value and importance of it in my opinion. It is true that creating groups and events can help spread the word about something, but the reality is that most people who join a group don’t end up following through with any action. So it doesn’t matter if a “Help fight breast cancer!” group has 1.5 million members or people who “like” it, because in the end, all that really matters is how many people are going to commit to participating in a breast cancer walk, donate money or help advocate for the cause. In Harrison’s article, “The Evolving Medium is the Message,” she talks about how “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” make use of the internet in today’s world. She says for “digital immigrants,”- “ Their complaints range from the general difficulty of processing more information, arriving fast than ever, via increasingly plentiful electronic channels, to a cultivated distractibility that interferes with normal writing and reading tasks.” I thought this was really interesting because it could infer that along with the fact that more and more individuals and organizations are spreading their ideas on social networking sites and the internet, it could also mean that the older generation (digital immigrants) are going to have a much more difficult time following along. This would interfere with their ability to hear about things that go viral and participate or join all of these groups on Facebook, etc. My next point is more relevant to those in my generation. Harrison talks about the effects the internet as a medium could have on “digital natives.” She says- “Young media users have developed behavioral patterns and habits with implications for reading and learning. Among these are the tendency to multitask, which reduces learning abilities and increases susceptibility to irrelevant information.” I think this is incredibly true, especially when talking about websites such as YouTube and Facebook. As users, we are generally multitasking while browsing the web; we could be texting, making a phone call or even doing homework simultaneously. This should be factored into why many people don’t pay especially close attention when receiving group invitations or emails that say to watch a specific link on YouTube. On the flip side, it is so important to note how the internet as a medium has affected and indefinitely changed our society as a whole. This article for example presents the reader with a great example about how the internet helped spread awareness for Sameer and Vinay. Although there are many important and vital messages out there that need to be shared across our world, activists and leaders need to keep in mind that the way in which they share their messages whether it be via internet, magazine article, etc. is crucial.

    • jpasquarella says:

      I find Mileen’s points regarding multi-taksing very interesting. The idea presented in Harrison’s work that “Young media users have developed behavioral patterns and habits with implications for reading and learning. Among these are the tendency to multitask, which reduces learning abilities and increases susceptibility to irrelevant information” is incredibly true. I believe that Mileen’s point that this also relates to presenting important causes or messages is crucial. Since we have developed a tendency to multi-task and focus far less on an individual cause at one time, promoting causes through social media, like Mileen states, “decreases the value and importance of [vital causes].” I find myself, like Mileen, disregarding “invites” to causes and, conversely, accepting invitations to causes I do not contribute to. Prior to this post I did not think of these actions as connected to my use of technology, but Mileen’s idea that this connects directly with the concept of multitasking that Harrison presents seems like a valid argument.

    • kdermody says:

      I also find Mileen’s points written in her response to the topic very interesting. I first totally agree with the first statement she says and how it applies to “medium is the message.” Similar to Mileen, I also just click and accept when a cause on Facebook comes up on my notifications. I see it is for something important, but I never take the time to sit down, read what has been said about the cause, and actually done something to make a difference. I feel like because of Facebook and the new ways to promote causes, people are aware but do not take action and do something about it. This also intermixes with Harrison’s idea of multi-tasking. Usually when we receive the notifications about new causes, we as multi-taskers are typically doing something us such as homework, texting, watching YouTube, or listening to music. Multi-tasking has become a way of life that is seen in every action of our life. I agree with a lot of what Mileen is arguing. All of these statements are connected to the new wave of technology.

  4. mileenz says:

    (In addition to my post above, here is my cited source.)
    Teresa M. Harrison. “The Evolving Medium Is The Message.”

  5. jfahey says:

    I was very struck by this blog. There have been so many negative comments about the bad effects that social networking sites have on people and this shined a new light on this. It reminded me of what Turkle spoke about in her book, “Alone Together” and how she spoke of life mix and the lines between real and virtual. I think that in her case, she was speaking more of the negative side of it but in this case it shows the positive. This blog shows that Facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. can you be used for good causes and to raise awareness, not just for letting people know about the minuscule details of your life. I enjoy seeing how people have used these websites as tools to help the world become better. Although people try to get their message out there through videos and websites, it is hard because most people are so overwhelmed with event invitations, as Mileen discussed, and updates, that no one really takes notice to anything anymore. This reminds me of something that was said in another one of my classes: “if everything is important, than what really is important.” But I think in this case it would be more “if nothing is important, than what really is important.” I can say from personal experience that I rarely pay attention to anything unless it catches my attention in the first 10 seconds. Even if I am enjoying a video, I usually fast forward anyways. This adds a lot of pressure to people that are trying to publicize a message. I think the videos also tie in with Turkle’s point that with advancing technology, people have become “pauseable”, as Kathleen spoke about as well. When we are watching these videos, we can simply pause them and miss the important message that we are unaware of. As for the videos on this blog, the first did not work on my computer but the other two were okay. I fast forwarded through the 3rd one to see the finished painting and the second one bored me. Although both were for good causes, I would not have known what these causes were for without the explanation above the videos. I think this shows just how hard it is to make videos that do stick with people. I think that in order to make a video about a certain cause really stick with someone, you almost have to be overly dramatic. For example, the commercials about donating to help animals or to children in underdeveloped countries have gruesome images and music that could bring anyone to tears. They also usually have a celebrity with an animal or child pleading with the viewer to donate just 39 cents a day. This ties in with the idea that you have to have grab the viewers attention, have the visual, and the music all tied together to make a very powerful video.

    • Charlee says:

      I can really resonate with this blog. Before reading this article, I was looking on Facebook and noticing the similar videos that my friends are posting on each others walls and I thought to my self, what is making this video so popular in the eyes of my friends? You do not really realize how important viral videos are in our society. Personally, being at college now, I get all my information about the world from the internet. Most of my information comes from websites but at of things that grab my attention are the videos that I see on You Tube. Mostly all the videos you see now are made for a purpose, most of the time they deal with important message. Making these videos they are trying to reach the public easier. It is weird to think how you tube and facebook are used for good, that they actually raise awareness to the younger public. This is in part due to the fact that our society now is so wrapped up in technology. Like mentioned by JFahey, we sometimes are unable to determine the difference between real and virtual. Turkie explained this idea, in a negative way though. I believe that though sometimes we are unable to determine the difference between real and virtual, overall most of in this case I believe that viral videos are working better in the community today. Our generation is primarily using technology for sources of information etc. This is the best way to reach us, through this we are being exposed to information about the world through a medium that reaches masses of people. This brings into effect the idea of how the community is shifting. In generations before, people were not into technology it wasn’t available to them and they didn’t understand it (this relates to the concept of digital immigrants). Now, we are surrounded by technology and what better way to reach the young public then by posting videos of things that you want to get attention (dealing with the idea of digital natives). Although, not all the video are reputable I believe for the most part they do spread the awareness. When receiving any information you need to first find out where it is coming from and then secondly you need to make sure that the source is a reputable one. No matter if you get your information from the internet, from a book, or an article in a magazine all information found has the possibility of being bias. You just need to realize that you need to be cautious because not all information read or seen is real. (You can’t always believe what you read)

      • Charlee says:

        Sources for above:

        Teresa M. Harrison. “The Evolving Medium Is The Message.”

        Turkie, Sherry. “Alone Together.”

      • Diego says:

        I agree with you Charlee. It has a lot to deal with digital immigrants and digital natives. Because we use alot of technology now, so now they publish infomation on the internet to reach the public. It is very interesting to see how much Americans go on youtube for more than music.

  6. salmendras says:

    I hate to admit that these stories are inspiring in how they used social networking and social media websites to get their messages heard, but sometimes that’s not always the case. As useful as social technologies seem in getting messages across, sometimes the efforts are at a waste. A lot attempted awareness campaigns are shrugged off as games, such as the Breast Cancer awareness campaign. Women would post certain phrases that corresponded to colors, or articles of clothing, or even pregnancy symptoms, as a way to “increase awareness” of breast cancer — but in the end, it turned out to be more of a guessing game between the sexes than a boost in awareness. Less racy attempts at getting messages across result in a lack of interest in the audiences. It becomes hard to find that perfect balance of seriousness and entertainment in order to gain followers to a cause. It takes a lot of creativity and skill to market a cause in the right way. This blog seems to showcase the power of social media in a way that’s too optimistic. Big organizations like the Red Cross or the Obama campaign have the necessary tools to create a wide audience, but it’s not easy for any random person to reach people on a national scale. Even already established nonprofit organizations are having difficulty adapting to social networking. In an article regarding the digital future of nonprofit organizations, author Caroline Bermudez brings up the issue of digital media and the relative advantages of nonprofit organizations. In an interview between a social media marketing manager and a CEO of a nonprofit organization in Austin, Texas, the issue of the difficulty of marketing online is raised: during the development of a traditional campaign, the campaign itself is launched, statistics are taken and evaluated, and from the feedback, the campaign is adjusted — in the fast-paced industry of social networking, there isn’t enough time for feedback and re-launching, causing some campaigns to have little to no impact. The fact that there is this division between “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” may be part of this difficulty of a charity’s success rate. Although digital natives are becoming apart of everyday adult society, the majority of CEOs and marketing managers are still learning the ropes of social media. It’s difficult to run a campaign through a medium you’re not fully comfortable with. Although hiring younger employees to do the work may be useful, they still lack a degree of experience needed to properly run a campaign. Yes, some charities are managing to make an impact through social networking, but there are many that can’t manage to get from under the radar because of the difficulty of transferring from print to digital media. It will still be a while before these mediums are used to their full potential, because at present, it’s just too difficult to create marketing strategies around something we don’t fully understand how to use.

    Sources :
    Bermudez, Caroline. “Authors Offer Glimpse of the Nonprofit World’s Digital Future.”
    Teresa M. Harrison. “The Evolving Medium Is The Message.”

    • salmendras says:

      Source, appropriately cited :

      Bermudez, C. (2011). Authors offer glimpse of the nonprofit world’s digital future. Chronicle of Philanthropy, 23(14), 06-06.

  7. Diego says:

    I believe that this blog deals with the idea that we read about in one of our homeworks. It is the idea of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”. (Digital natives are people that have grown up with technology where as digital immigrants have not) Technology is very important in life now because our society wants it. Because of this, the only way to reach us is on a medium that we use all the time. The internet is a great way to receive information because we use it everyday. This makes us able to receive messages easier as well. It is a great tool for companies to give out information. For example, when I watch the video of babies I was able to get information in a fast way. What I am saying is that using videos makes getting the information faster for the public. So I think it is a great tool for companies to use. In Spain, we view videos from youtube but do not get information from it like you do in America. We use it for music and fun. So it is hard to relate to this topic, but I do understand how it can be important. I have asked some of my American friends about the importance of Youtube videos and they have told me that it is important in society today. It is interesting to understand how technology effects other cultures.

    Harrison, Teresa. “The Evolving Medium Is The Message.”

  8. Jay says:

    This article gave me an interesting perspective on the different social causes and movements that are on facebook and other social networking sites. Before reading this article, I ignored all the different social causes on facebook because I knew that joining those groups did not really mean anything because I did not know how to actively contribute then just being passively part of the group. In my opinion, networking sites are a good way to spread awareness of a social cause but it is difficult to become actively involved in a movement or cause without actually being “present”. The article mentioned that most of us join the cause on facebook but fail to actually do something to be part of the group. I think this is true for most of us because of the fact that it is arduous to participate in a social group through a virtual experience. I do think that social media has revolutionized the way awareness is spread in society; this is evident through the way social media was used in the Middle East during the recent democracy movements against authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Syria. The way social media was used by those in Egypt and Syria was never envisioned by the creators of their respective media. However, it has its drawbacks too because those same regimes are fighting back by cracking down on the movements through the use of social media and people are even getting arrested for using such communicative tools against the government (Ward). Social media was used to keep people of the public informed and to keep the community united against the government. However, it soon became difficult to be involved in those groups when the authoritarian regimes used the same social media to prosecute those involved. At the same time, social media was the primary tool to raise awareness and organize the democracy movement. Although it may be difficult to actively participate, nowadays awareness is enough for a movement to develop.

    Source:
    Ward, Stephen J.A. “Social Media — Tool of Revolution or Repression? | Center for Journalism Ethics.” Center for Journalism Ethics | School of Journalism and Mass Communications | University of Wisconsin-Madison. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .

  9. jfahey says:

    It was interesting reading people’s responses to this blog and how they differed with my opinion. After reading people’s comments, a few things really stood out: Charlee brought up an interesting point that I did not think of while reading this blog. She talked about sources and how important they are. I learned about this in one of my other classes. We had a workshop in the library and one of the librarians showed us that you can’t always trust a certain web page. This is important because depending on the source, there might be a certain bias about the information. For example, I saw one web page about Martin Luther King and then when you look harder you discover that the source was actually by a Nazi group.
    Salmendras brought up something that made me think about how we are constantly bombarded with videos and information that we usually overlook most of it. I brought up this point in my original post that its hard to tell what is important when there is so much. There are millions of videos on youtube so it is hard to tell which are the ones that really matter. Salmendras also brought up about how to make a video stand out. There has to be the right balance of “seriousness and entertainment.” I think that this is very important because if a video is to serious that people may feel intimidated or apprehensive to support a certain cause. On the other hand, if it is to humorous or entertaining, then the viewer won’t take the message seriously and they are unlikely to support it.
    Lastly, I was really interested in how Diego brought up the fact that youtube isn’t used the same way in Spain as it is here. This reminds me of the idea of Universalism. This contradicts the idea of Universalism in a way because although the technology is widely known, the same technology is used for a different purpose.

  10. katkins says:

    I never realized that facebook is actually a great place to post blogs and social causes so people can see them and for the word to get around. I agree with some students above that when i go onto facebook i never look at the invitation or social cause events, i always ignore them and let them accumulate. there have been a few friends on my facebook that would post comments about causes such as breast cancer and encourage people to repost these comments and start a train so the word will eventualy get to everyone that owns a facebook, which is probably the majority of Americans. i often thought about these events and posts as meaningless and didnt really put much notice into them, until now. I think this is a brilliant idea to put these types of events and information on facebook because people will eventualy see it. Most everyone owns a computer, has access to the internet and goes on facebook at least once a day, it will help put these causes into consideration. in one of my readings in my comm 12 class the author Turkle would constantly theorize that technology isolates people and alone. Turkle also theorizes that Facebook in general causes lonliness in people instead of connecting people together. People try to escape from their problems by going onto these social networking sites instead of dealing with the problems. i considered her theory correct when it comes to cellphone usage and too much internet access, that it causes people to be less socialized and more isolated from one another. I however feel that events for social causes and movements on facebook can actually bring people together and make some people actually happier with their lives. It brings people together that have the same ideas and feel the same way about certain causes and movement. Facebook has its pros and cons but i must say that it defiantly brings people together and helps the social media.

    source: Turkle, Sherry. ” Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” 2011
    http://hnn.us/node/139861

  11. salmendras says:

    I think I can relate to everyone when I say that sometimes Facebook isn’t the most effective way to get a point across — or maybe too many points are being sent at the same time. A lot of people mentioned how they constantly let their invites accumulate until their inboxes are full. It’s almost as if charity awareness has become synonymous with spam. I think the contrast between this, and what Diego said, is really remarkable. Diego mentioned that in Spain, using YouTube for educational or marketing purposes is rare — usually YouTube is strictly used as a form of entertainment. It’s weird how one nation can over-use a digital medium, while others have yet to experiment with it’s marketing potential. This kind of reminds me of the discussion in class today about the digital divide, and how the use of technology is relevant to the community and cultures it’s within. In a capitalist society, it’s only natural that any form of social networking is used and manipulated in a way that can promote business — but in a European setting, the internet isn’t used as an online cataloge. I understand that this point sort of deviates from the original blog post about how the internet can help with charity — but I just think it’s something worth considering. It’s amazing how somethings as universal as YouTube or Facebook are being used differently around the world.

    • Jay says:

      Salmendras makes a good point about how social media is used differently in various parts of the world. Some of my professors have used youtube as a supplemental learning tool and I’ve used facebook to post comments and current news for educational purposes. It is interesting to see how social media was originally made for entertainment and now has changed over a short period of time to be useful for many different purposes including education. Over time, new innovations were added to the social networks to add a new experience for the user that includes more features that make communication easier and faster. Another example of this is how the article talks about how social media is now being used for social movements. Over time, social media has evolved into something more important than just for entertainment because of the variety of purposes it can serve. It can unite the community but at the same time destroy it if everyone is constantly using it instead of socializing face-to-face. I think the upside of social media outweighs the potential downfalls because of the way it has revolutionized how people communicate through the internet.

  12. Alice Gaber says:

    I think this blog post accurately addresses the potential advantage that the Internet has in helping to spread and promote social causes and goals. In particular, I believe the actual medium of the Internet allows people to spread ideas about social causes and to promote these social causes with more speed and efficiency. It’s a lot harder to go from door to door handing out pamphlets and getting your neighbors to sign a petition than it is to send out, hypothetically, a thousand such pamphlets with a click of a button on the Internet. Sherry Turkle (2011), in her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, argues that “a ‘place’ used to comprise a physical space and the people within it” (p. 155). She goes on to question the implications that technology brings to our traditional understanding of a “place” – what happens, essentially, when people who are physically present in a given place are actually using a technology that enables them to be mentally absent from that physical space, or else conversing with people who are not in that physical space. Turkle does not like this ability of technology to mentally draw people away from the physical space they occupy. She says “at a café a block from my home, almost everyone is on a computer or smartphone…these people are not my friends, yet somehow I miss their presence” (2011, p. 156). While I agree with Turkle that technology is beginning to blur the boundary between “physical” and “virtual” space, I think she does not address the potential benefits that this very blurring of our conception of place provides for the promotion of social causes and movements. To illustrate, imagine trying to organize members of a common organization to host an info fair in their respective countries. You would have to let them know when to host the info fair, what information to feature in the info fair, etc. etc. It would be virtually impossible to communicate with these people without the aid of technology. Now imagine how much easier it would be to set up a Facebook page for the organization’s info fair, with all of the instructions, information, and contacts available upon demand. My point, in sum, is that the Internet offers the opportunity for thousands, if not millions, of people to come together at one place simultaneously – exchanging ideas, innovations, and information in a highly interactive relationship that can not be achieved if these people are bound to the physical space that they occupy.
    Turkle (2011) is also concerned about the impact of technology on our relationships with other people. She believes that technology lessens our expectation of our relationships with one another because we can manipulate and control these relationships through a tool that allows us both easy access to, and exclusion of, other people. Turkle claims that “networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone…there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed – and only for the parts we find useful, comforting, or amusing” (2011, p. 154). But while Turkle sees technology as contributing to an objectification of people, I believe somewhat differently: for many social groups and social movements on the Internet, the technology allows people to find the support and the friendships that they would not have been able to find without the aid of the Internet. Moreover, the medium of the Internet allows many social groups to find the support, information, and help with anonymity and discretion – which is vital for people who feel that they cannot confide in their close friends and family. For example, in the book Technology in Our Time, Laura Robinson et al. (2011) explore the function of Online Social Support Groups, or OSSGs, in providing informational and emotional support. OSSGs offer support for people struggling with issues such as alcoholism. These people are usually embarrassed to talk about their issues with immediate friends and family, or even with doctors. Instead, they want the security and comfort of self-disclosure through anonymity, and this anonymous support often helps them overcome their difficulties. Robinson et al. (2011) affirm “the anonymity can provide the freedom to express oneself with less shame and without the feeling that one’s privacy is violated, and allows people to ask intimate or potentially embarrassing questions that they would not ask as easily in an offline context” (p. 108). The Internet, then, can offer many social groups like OSSGs the perfect channel of self-disclosure with the benefits of anonymity. In addition, people who make use of OSSGs especially rely on this easy access to other people for the “parts that [they] find useful” (Turkle, 2011, p.154). I think that the Internet can thus offer social groups and movements a special kind of relationship with other people that are not available in real life, and that these relationships can further offer positive benefits rather than simply objectifying people.

    References

    Robinson, Laura et al. 2011. Technology in Our Time. United States: Cognella.

    Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less

    from each other. United States: Basic Books.

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