Archive for the ‘Face-to-face’ Category

With all the focus on social media it’s easy to forget that helping members of your target audience get together “IRL” (in real life) is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing and communications toolbox. Barack Obama proved this during his campaign that encouraged, and provided tools for, people to organise their own meetings with neighbors. The campaign also provided ways for people to share what came out of those meetings online (i.e. now Organizing for America)

Face-to-face meetings are powerful for two key reasons:

1) they send the message to people that their views matter

2) attending a face-to-face meeting requires more commitment and emotional buy-in then participating online so people are more inclined to share the results of those meetings – if given easy ways to do so.

I attended a powerful example of a face-to-face meeting last night and wanted to suggest that organisers encourage people to share what they got from the meeting – and some ways they could help people do so.

The meeting was a feedback session after an amazing one-woman show by actress d’bi.young anitafrika. Her play, Blood.claat, tells the story of Mudgu SanKofa, a 15 year-old girl in Kingston, Jamaica, bridging the gap between innocence and maturity, through a number of vividly rendered characters portrayed with “wit, charisma and power.” The “charisma and power” part is an understatement. Anitafrika’s performance was riveting from the moment she took the stage until the powerful conclusion an hour and a half later.

She could have ended it there but, instead, took the unusual step of inviting people to stay after to discuss the play – and people did. They did because, today more than ever, people want the chance to contribute. People shared comments and suggestions about the play and asked questions – including some tough ones. Anitafrika answered them all with the same intelligence and passion she showed in the play.

This was great content that should be shared – if only to market the play. To do this, in their intro to the feedback session, organisers (who I hope are listening and will comment) could encourage people to:

  • share what happens in the feedback session by live tweeting it (they could create a hashtag like #bcfb [for Blood.claat feedback]);
  • write about it on social networks they frequent;
  • check in at the Great Canadian Theatre Company on the mobile social network Foursquare and add a tip about the great play they just saw; and
  • if they allow it, encourage people to record the feedback session on their smart phones and share it.

Face-to-face meetings leveraged online are powerful additions to any marketing and communications mix and organisations that understand this will win.

Are you leveraging face-to-face meetings online? Could you? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

When most people think of social media strategies they think of doing things online when what they should be thinking about first, always, is people meeting face-to-face. People think about doings things online because they’re not actually thinking about social media “strategy” they’re thinking about social media tactics and that gets them thinking about Twitter and Facebook. What they should be doing is thinking about their objectives and building a strategy around them. Doing that, these days more than ever, reveals that one of the main objectives is – or should be – helping build community by joining, and adding value to, existing ones. The best way to do this is for people to meet face-to-face.

Now before you say, “yeah, but we can’t meet all our customers or target audience face-to-face” let me tell you about a face-to-face meeting I attended this week.

I joined about 10 others at a friend’s house for a simple meal and discussion of the ideas in the book Transforming Power by Judy Rebick. The book looks at  various movements around the world where people are organizing informally to take back power in their own lives – including the power to elect presidents such as in Latin American and the US.

Rebick was at the meeting and gave a short summary of the book to launch discussion. The discussion was wide ranging but one thing that was mentioned frequently was the success of Obama’s social media campaign. One key reason for its success, however, was framed fundamentally differently from how most mainstream media reported it. The discussion at the meeting made it clear that the success started on the ground in face-to-face meetings in people’s houses and community centres across the country. The job of the super sophisticated online strategy was to help make these meetings happen and then magnify their effect a million times online. They key is that, without the face-to-face meetings, that sophisticated online strategy would have failed.

Obama campaigners didn’t meet all their potential voters face-to-face however: they gave people tools to organize their own meetings – and then got out of the way and let those meetings happen. They let go.

For most organizations letting go, online or off, means transforming the way they do things; transforming culture; transforming systems – transforming power.

Rebick highlights one of the most powerful recent examples of the power of face-to-face communication in her book: the 2007 United States Social Forum.

It was modeled on the World Social Forums that started in Porto Alegre Brazil and have been bringing together thousands of activists annually since 2002. It was organized by, and prominently featured, people of color and was the most diverse social forum ever according to Rebick and others who attended.  It attracted 12,000 people – face-to-face on a big scale. Obama was elected the next year using a campaign built on many of the same values as the social forum: inclusion, decentralization and local empowerment.  Exactly what part the US Social Forum played in electing Obama would be an interesting study…

So the message is simple and clear: get out there, talk to people, help them talk to other people – and get out of their way.

Yeah: I am officially a geek!!

Author: Robin Browne

That’s right, I am organizing my first geek dinner! What’s a geek dinner you ask? It is one of the coolest elements of the social media world: online acquaintances getting together in the flesh when they visit each others’ cities. I initiated this one because Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation is coming to Ottawa to keynote at the Government Communicator’s Conference next week Wednesday and Thursday. So I asked Mitch if he was in to doing a geek dinner and, after he enthusiastically accepted, I put the word out to the Ottawa social media crew by email (having not yet fully joined the Twittermania) and the dinner is on!

Realities of the digital divide?

Author: Robin Browne

The family and I are going to Charleston, South Carolina for March break. Why Charleston? Well, we wanted to go somewhere warm but going to see the parents in Jamaica or the Bahamas was too expensive so we looked at warmer alternatives…

I had recently read Canadian author Lawrence Hill‘s amazing book, The Book of Negroes which tells the story of a Aminata Diallo, a young African woman who gets ripped from her West African village by American slavers. She arrives and is sold in Charleston and lives a big chunk of her life there. Well, it turns out that the descendants of the people with whom she lived, called the Gullah, have kept much of their culture intact to this day and live off Charleston on the Gullah Islands.

So what’s the social media connection? Well, one of things that has so impressed me about the unconferences I’ve attended and the people who organize them is that they make a point of using social media to hook up with people physically whenever they can. So, I have been trying to find a Gullah blogger to hook up with for an inside tour. However, I did a Google search last night and didn’t find anything which disappointed but didn’t surprise me. It didn’t surprise me because an African-American friend of mine tells me that, unfortunately, Gullah culture isn’t the only thing that has remained intact from slavery days: poverty also has. So my fruitless Google search may illustrate one of the glaring issues with social media: those who do it are firmly on the wealthy side of the digital divide.

I will continue the search before we go and when we’re there…..

To learn more about Gullah culture check out this web site.