The Sunlight Foundation boasts a clear, straightforward motto that comes from the words of Justice Brandeis:
“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
Founded in 2006, this organization has a “non-partisan mission of using the revolutionary power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens.”
Big goal, you say? Yes, and Sunlight is way on its way to achieving it. Already they have nearly two dozen projects underway, a bustling and eye-opening blog, and interactive contests and labs (including Apps for America, which awaits entries!). These all provide refreshing illumination on the inner workings of big brother, especially for people like me who may not tune into C-Span very often.
Founder Ellen Miller announced Read the Bill in an inspiring email today. This project represents a unique call to action for something that actually uses the internet to slow…things…down…for more thorough review. Another project, Party Time!, exposes fabulous and fascinating Capitol Hill party scenes. And, of course, Sunlight twitters.
Very cool—check them out. More to come.
Imagine you asked an open-ended question about how members of an audience learned about a concert. Imagine you came up with these responses.
38- Word of mouth
27- Print Advertisement
7- New York Times
4- Friend of an artist
2- Just walked by
1- block association newsletter
Thinking beyond the numbers, “word of mouth” permeates more than it initially seems. Why? Because “word of mouth” is not only words from lips. Recommendations, references, and interpersonal info dissemination come in forms beyond face-to-face and vocal. Here is my calculation of who really learned of this event because another human shared:
38 are self-reported “word of mouth” people
+ 15 (at least half of the “listings,” since these critics are trusted people)
+ 10 (half of the “emails,” since people, not just companies, send emails)
+ 4 (friend of the artist-this one is just a more specific “mouth”)
+ 1 (block newsletter could easily be considered friendly social gossip)
This really is 68 instances of social sharing (aka word of mouth)! (Though I wonder if we should be labeling it either of these terms.)
Line items on most arts marketing budgets (and probably most all marketing budgets, for that matter) and job descriptions are not in sync with the ranking above. Could it be because we cannot easily measure money allocated to and effort on behalf of sharing?
I would argue that measurable output is more important than input, especially today. We can cut budgets all we want, but providing customers with a megaphone undoubtedly gives organizations more bang (be it good or bad) for the buck.
So how can we spend time and money on social sharing? How can we make the shift in our budgets and job functions? (This goes for nonprofits and for-profits.) Here are two ideas, one simply and one not:
- Make every touchpoint sharable, via incentives, AddThis buttons, whatever.
- Think of every annoying audience member as a potential opportunity. (If someone is bugging you it is because they care. Even if they care only about themselves, in their mind it is still in relation to you. If you show you care back, they will notice and still care. If you don’t care back they will care even more. (Haven’t we all been here?) There is a chance they will tell others either way; at this point you cannot stop them from caring.) Here are some unconventional steps one arts organization took after embracing annoyances.
So now I ask, what could this be called in our budgets and on our job descriptions? CRM? Fire-fighting? WOMing?
As Kim and I were chatting Tuesday night, we realized that adding a website/blog link to the signature line of your email is an ideal way to (discreetly) spread the word. If you haven’t already, why not do it now?
PS- Thanks, Kim! (Media for the Misses)
Someone once told me that advice is only advice if it does not matter if the person on the receiving end follows it or not. That was good advice. But does the same go for sharing?
In my opinion, and for the purposes of this blog, I think not. To me, it’s more about the receiver(s) receiving (and hopefully processing and appreciating) than the sender sending. It’s market focused. In other words, sharing is not so much deontological as it is teleological/utilitarian (to harken back to intro class terminology…sort of).
Here are some instances of each. Let’s make this an on-going list:
Facebook in general
Really good blogs
This American Life
Blogspot letting me use my WordPress identity to post comments
Many Facebook status updates (i.e. “little junior has green vomit today”)
4th Generation iPod Nanos not supporting Firewall changing
25 random things
At my first job sharing was important business. I worked at a pre-school, my alma mater.
It must be from those summer days on the playground that I gained an appreciation for the sandbox, and for how it has since morphed to facilitate a totally new kind of sharing. Google docs, Open Office, Wikis, and countless more act as valuable labs for learning from and building on one another in the adult world.
(I find also it interesting that, like physical sandboxes, the new ones are not without drama about playing fair.)