Companies spend endless hours trying to figure out the best strategy for their social media activities and yet they remain confused and end up messing the entire thing.
Stanford University marketing professor Jennifer Aaker and marketing strategist Andy Smith have tried to find answers to why companies goof up social media activities in their book titled – “The Dragonfly Effect”. The book contains a lot of case studies from real life and one such case study that is very interesting and gives us a lot of things to ponder upon is the Harrison case study.
The story is about a guy name Scott Harrison who is a 28 year old New Yorker, promoter of a nightclub and fashion. His main skill is to bring models and hedge funds together and sell them $500 vodka. Money, power and fame, he had it all, yet inside he felt his lifestyle was empty.
So one fine day he decided to walk away from his lifestyle and volunteered to sever on a floating hospital serving the world’s poorest nations. He served as a photojournalist and soon he saw that the world is very different from his own life in New York. People who came to the hospital had various problems, tumors, cleft lips, and other water borne diseases.
After 8 months he came back to New York but not to his previous lifestyle. He realized that most of the problems he had were due to lack of clean drinking water. Thus, in 2006 he formed a charity called “water”.
The charity was launched on his 31st birthday and he asked people to not send him gifts and instead donate $31 to his charity. His birthday alone generated $15,000 and since then today the total donations amount to $20 million equal to 3,000 water projects in various parts of the world.
So what can we learn in terms of social media engagement from the success of “water”.
- Tell a Story – You must have read this article and instantly gotten attached to Harrison. He also told the story on various media channels like Youtube, Facebook, etc and instantly was able to engage people and get them to donate.
- Empathize with your Audience – Let people get attached to brand and how it related with your campaign. Water was a success with the photos and videos of the people who were suffering from water borne diseases. Instead of showing numbers, organization showed real picture to help their audience connect with the gravity of the issue and how “water” can help.
- Emphasize Authenticity – Social media is very vulnerable. It is very easy to break a brand image and thus it becomes very important to show authenticity. When you claim something, it better be true. You cannot simply go and say we are number 1. Water’s commitment was transparency, donors knew what the core issue was and where the money was going. Reports and updates on the charity’s website helped people know that indeed their money was put to use in a good cause.
- Match Media with Message - “Water” has a staff dedicated to updating all the social media streams such as Facebook, Twitter. It also uses videos heavily because no better way to convey human emotions. Big celebrities like Terry George also came forward to promote the charity. Even a spot was reserved in the popular reality show, American Idol.
It is very important for us to get our social media tactics right and simple case study such as this can actually convey a lot of lessons.