Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Small, Slow and Closed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.

During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you.   Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change?  He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed.  Small  in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.

Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:

Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers.  By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable.  Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits.  Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs.   Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.

In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities.  This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills.  This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.

The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection.  I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.

LinkedIn Jumps on the “Follow” Bandwagon

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

In a move that makes the professional networking site LinkedIn a bit more comparable to Facebook and Twitter, the site recently added a new feature that allows individuals to opt-in to “follow” companies.

Followers have the ability to customize the content they receive from companies – opting to get notifications about staffing changes, new job opportunities and company profile updates, and selecting how frequently these updates arrive.  Additionally, when I opted in to follow MWW Group’s page, I received an email alerting me about some of the most popular companies on LinkedIn, with prompts to follow.

While this has some implications in terms of ease of use for job seekers, former employees, partners and stakeholders  looking for a continuous stream of company information, I still think company profiles have a far way to go to reach their full potential.  Some other features I’d like to see:

  • Ability to customize company pages to include blog feed, twitter stream, photos and videos.
  • A list of affiliated groups and/or top groups in which current employees participate
  • An alert feature, that would allow companies to quickly and easily post new job openings or share big news (awards, mergers, earnings, etc).

What do you think? Are there other features you’d like to see on LinkedIn company pages?

Inspiration from PSFK

Monday, April 12th, 2010

On Friday I had the tremendous opportunity to attend the PSFK Conference here in New York.  While I only made it to the afternoon sessions, I was simply blown away by the creativity, innovation and excitement coming from this year’s presentations.  The talks that I most responded to fell within the heading of “Changemaking” and challenged us to think beyond our current definition of progress, to challenge the openness of government, to push for simple solutions, and to re-think the way art and digital collide.  A couple of themes from these talks included:

Small is the new big: From No Impact Man’s lessons from taking a year to step off the grid and appreciate the little things (community, togetherness, diaper duty), to John Dimatos sharing simple digital solutions that can significantly expedite disaster relief for Unicef, it is clear that the economy and the environment are both creating a greater need for simplicity in everything we do.

The innovation being driven by that necessity is exciting, and there is a lesson to be learned for brands as well.  Often times stripping down products, programs and services to their essentials can lead to better experiences, enhanced offerings and more creative thinking.

DIWO (Do It With Others) is the new DIY: This phrase, coined during Zach Lieberman’s inspiring talk about art and technology, spoke to the recurring theme of collaboration and community (a theme that was reinforced by the collective energy of the PSFK community).

By outlining the changes implemented in just the past year to new York State Senate web site, Andew Hoppin made a strong case for a more direct, more participatory government, enabled and empowered via social media.  Taking a page from the White House, the NY Senate is providing a way for Senators to have direct contact with the people they represent, and gives constituents a louder voice through social network integration, commenting, rating and response all within nysenate.gov.

And I’ll leave you with this video – one of my favorites from Zach Lieberman that demonstrates the power that comes with creating amazing, truly extraordinary experiences.  His demos had everyone open-mouthed.  You can see more  at http://openframewords.cc.  Enjoy.

night lights from thesystemis on Vimeo.

For more videos from the conference, check out PSFK here.  To stay in the loop with PSFK if you’re not already, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe via RSS.

‘Tis the Season: Social Shopping

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Social Shopping 1Given that the next 48 hours marks the final days of shopping sanity for while, it seems like a good opportunity to talk quickly about social shopping.

A recent study by Deloitte showed that 17% of consumers would use social media during their holiday shopping. Just over one-half of that group was ages 18 to 29.  The graph to the right shows the breakdown from there.

Maybe more significantly, Deloitte showed that:

  • More than one in five (22 percent) consumers anticipate they will shop primarily online this year and
  • 44 percent of shoppers expecting to use a coupon they obtained online.
  • 39 percent) indicating they often read consumer-generated reviews of stores or products online, and
  • 25 percent) saying they will likely purchase a product this holiday season based on an online recommendation.

Similarly, E-marketer reported on a study that showed that while relatively few  (7%) online shoppers who plan to both research and buy holiday gifts online this year will look for ideas on sites such as Facebook, nearly one-half (45%) will use social networks to research items, compare prices and look for offers.

Mashable categorized social shopping into a few buckets- the most important of which, especially given the stats above are:  instantaneous product reviews, real time deals, and group gifting.  For products and brands – especially during the mayhem of holiday season –it is more important than ever to rise above the clutter and create incentives for shopping and recommending.

Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide quick and easy ways to promote customized deals and amplify those positive real-time product reviews.  While community-based shopping sites tend to fall into two categories.  Group gift sites, like eDivvy and others make it easier for cash-strapped consumers to make bigger ticket gifts, and curated gift sites, like StyleHive, and even Best Buy’s community forums that allow for highly personalized, recommendation-based gift ideas.

And with that – let the Black Friday games begin!

Social Fund Raising

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The topic of fund raising came up in a meeting yesterday, and when I got home and was trolling through my Google reader, I came across  KickStarter, a Brooklyn based site that allows users to pitch in to fund creative projects – artwork, design, animation, music, and more.  Donors receive updates throughout the process and can track the project as it travels from concept to reality.

Kickstarter

I love that the concept of social networks and fundraising has the ability to translate beyond the bounds of charities and non-profits (which are obviously important), and help foster creativity and innovation and other under-funded pursuits.

The social web allows entrepreneurs, non-profits and ambitious individuals (often-times students) greater access to a wide range of potential donors.  We’ve seen sits like Kiva take off in recent years – allowing donors to provide micro-loans to fund small businesses in developing countries.  Closer to home, donors can help a student pay off their loans or help a friend save money for a trip.

Individuals, like Drew, have created movements through the use of sites like Twitter (just search for #blamedrewscancer), and major corporations have backed similar projects- equating mentions (awareness raising) to matched funds (#beatcancer is another).

One of my favorite examples is American Express’s Members Project, which allowed members to submit charities and projects needing funds, and vote on the most worthy causes.  American Express donated $1 million dollars to the cause with the most votes.  This concept has sparked others, such Target’s Bullseye Gives program, hosted through Facebook.

All of these opportunities- community based, often event-driven- succeed because they put faces to issues.  Through these social platforms, donors can track progress, follow the people they are helping, feel ownership though voting and promotions, and ultimately feel connected enough to continue the cycle of giving.