Jason Mogus , founder and CEO of Communicopia, is one of the world's foremost digital strategists. He has been in the digital trenches since its infancy and sees behind and beyond the dazzle of technology and social media to design elegant campaigns for social and ecological justice. He has won a Webby (the web equivalent of an Oscar) and a We Media "Game Changer" award. His campaigns include:
TckTckTck an open source digital campaign which convened the largest coalition for climate change on the planet
Nothing But Nets a campaign to raise funds to purchase malaria nets which overshot its goal by 800% and led to a multi-billion dollar commitment to fight malaria
The Elders – conceived as a global on line village involving Nelson Mandela, Peter Gabriel, former President Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and others to support "peace building and the shared interest of humanity."
Jason is exactly the companion you want if you are interested in integrating digital into your social change strategy. Thoughtful, involved, experienced and successful. Here with his permission is a re-post of his most recent web essay.
Six Principles of Transformative Digital Campaigns
In the last few weeks I’ve had calls from a high profile multi-city concert to grow the global women’s movement, an international network of freedom of expression activists who need to re-invent their organization, and a big international NGO that wants to “network their whole organization” so they can do more with the same number of people.
For each of these ambitious visions, digital lies at the core of their plans. It’s a way to land the conceptual changes they want in a practical way. The challenge is to design campaigns or new organizational structures that don’t just graft new tools onto old, linear models. If you want to know how that works, tell me how well your organization collaborates internally, or point to the transformative cultural changes you’ve pulled off lately.
The best results come when your organization or company marries the top down authority of your branding, media work, event organizing, education campaigns, and celebrities with the bottom up power of distributed global networks, growing the capacity of others and supporting local leadership. Your digital campaign can be the tie that binds these dynamically opposing efforts together for maximum impact. This is the potentially game-changing role of the web.
So how to do it? Here are some key principals that take advantage of how the web works:
Focused Vision: No matter how big you are, your resources are limited, the web is a crowded place, and if you have partners they are protective of their turf. Start with an analytics and research-backed process, that engages multiple internal stakeholders to gain their perspective and buy-in, but reserve the trump card for your users. This will ensure your vision meets a core need of your target audience, fills a clear gap in the marketplace, and leverages you and your partners’ strongest assets. And importantly that your site and tools have a clean experience to maximize inspiration, action and engagement
Open Design: to grow quickly you need to become a platform for others to achieve their goals, whether that’s your partners, sponsors, customers or supporters. How will you shine the light on their work, grow their interconnections and ultimately build their confidence and capacity? By designing your organization or campaign with “web values” of listening, collaboration, and engagement you will enable distributed growth while you maintaining central control over areas where only your organization’s core competency can deliver value. Open platforms give others something to plug into. Without it you’re on your own, and you know how well that’s working
Network Organizing: the strength of the web is in its ability to create network effects, where your supporters and partners are the ones recruiting others to join in. If you get lucky something you do might even “go viral”. Your job is to design network thinking into your model, lower the friction involved with sharing, and pour gas on small fires that catch. But thinking like a network is counter-intuitive to most organizations taught to protect, control, and always promote their brand first. Tapping into the reach and passion of supporters only happens when you give them something amazing to talk about, and that's the thing they care about – your issue – not your brand. Movements are bigger than brands
Compelling Storytelling: we all talk about changing the world. Social scientists know the way to change our culture is by changing the stories we tell ourselves and others. Taking a story and content-driven approach to your issue will help raise awareness, shift what people think is possible, grow a sense of momentum and inevitability around the change you seek, and empower leaders and early adopters by shining the light on their efforts
Leadership Engagement: everyone wants to reach hundreds of thousands of people, but if you don’t have a massive marketing or PR budget the way to get there is to deeply engage thousands or even hundreds of coresupporters first. Identifying, reaching, moving, and importantly directly supporting these leaders to take your campaign actions and then raise awareness in their own networks requires a sophisticated database contact (ie CRM) and leadership development strategy (ie getting on the phone, trainings, etc). It also means creating incentives to support their engagement. It’s not easy work but wouldn’t you rather have 500 highly engaged super-volunteers than 50,000 people on your list where 80% of them ignore you?
Offline Activity Integration: the head of social media at GM said it best recently, “everything you do online, you have to do offline”. Your organization has all kinds of real-world touchpoints where attention is paid and relationships are built. It is those places where your best online moments will come from, and from where your digital strategy should grow. Make sure you maximize opportunities to capture contact information and follow up with everyone reached via your real-world activities, and use them as rallying cries for your digital engagement. Finally ensure the people leading those programs and campaigns see digital as core to their goals, not just someone else’s job
These are all pretty high level ideas, but it's very dangerous to start a new project or even a re-think of your organization driven by shiny tools or tactics. Your organization's perfect concepts, tools, content strategies, social media, mobile, engagement, and promotions strategies will be developed as the outcome of the more core digital strategy questions you explore first.
What do you think? What have I missed?