Not much has been heard from Jumo since it launched in the fourth quarter of last year. The site promised to become the next generation gathering place for change activists. As you can see from the above traffic statistics, hype did not meet reality. Mainstays Care2 and Change.org barely felt its presence.
GOOD, however, has a competitive presence. A more social GOOD could become the number one online change network, uprooting Care2 and its 16 million users.
Beyond that, no one has ever really answered what Jumo adds to the competitive mix. When Jumo launched, executives — including Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes — briefed dozens of influencers, and ignored their advice. The product launched with bugs, an over-reliance on the Facebook platform, and failed differentiate itself with any kind of distinguishing feature set or functionality. There was no evidence of strategic product marketing. Jumo was dead on arrival, and that’s why its traffic is still so low.
The combination of GOOD and Jumo may have potential, but only if GOOD seriously revamps Jumo’s interface and feature set to make it clear and valuable. Otherwise, the second coming of Jumo will also be dead on arrival.
On a larger scale, the acquisition acknowledges how hard it is to enter established markets with new social networks. New entrants need to do more than offer unclear and undifferentiated services if they are going to lure away their competitors’ communities.
There are times when a cause campaign is not about mutual reward for brand and beneficiary, rather responsible citizenship. Disasters are such times. There’s no greater example of this than the current triple crisis of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. Using online tools, it’s easy to participate in charitable activities, and help situations like the Japanese crisis.
When your cause or company’s employees and stakeholders want to act and participate on the frontlines of the relief effort, there are several things you can do. Whether it’s leveraging your online community, offering financial resources or volunteering, almost every person and organization has assets to offer.
Before going too far, please ensure that the organization is motivated by a clear desire to resolve or provide relief to a devastating event. If your goal is to market or strengthen the social responsibility factor of your brand, the disaster campaign could easily achieve the opposite and tarnish your brand with an opportunistic hue (consider Spirit Airlines oil spill faux paux). Disasters are a time for social responsibility and altruism.
When the Deep Horizon oil spill occurred and companies began stepping up their response, Dawn dish soap stood out. Dawn soap products were donated as a means to clean birds, and the effort was well received publicly. The company simply publicized it was donating the products. Further Dawn’s bird cleaning ads can be considered in good taste because they had been deployed prior to the oil spill accident. In fact, because life matched brand promise, the ads were strengthened.
Here are some tips if you are considering participating in disaster relief…
Spur of the Moment
If an event happens such as the Japanese earthquake that’s so compelling it inspires you to act, the best thing to do is to affiliate with an entity that is well prepared. For example, the America Red Cross literally exists for crisis situations and its business is preparedness. If you prefer a less organized effort, consider Crisis Commons and the fantastic job they do getting coders and other techies to help out in crisis like the Sendai earthquake.
The point is that there are dozens, even hundreds of causes and organizations that prepare for such events. Rather than reinventing the wheel on the fly, find and support them in the ways that they suggest.
Many of the more experienced players have grassroots systems for you to participate in and fundraise. Further, independent fundraising platforms like Crowdrise, Razoo, Causes and Jumo allow you to set up your own social fundraising campaign autonomous of a charity’s oversight.
One of the best things a communicator can do is create a crisis communications plan for missteps and disasters. Similarly, preparation to help in advance of disaster situations makes sense. This allows the organization to literally pull a book off the shelf and follow directions or adapt them to unique situations. Network for Good was able to send attendees to SxSW AND prepare its network for recovery efforts thanks to prior planning for crisis events. As of last evening, Network for Good had raised $4.3 million for its group of earthquake causes.
With a pre-determined crisis plan, you can deploy resources in a manner that better plays to your strengths. Further, the nonprofit or company can save funds and allocate other resources for that unfortunate day in advance, ensuring impact.
For example, Google has a crisis preparedness team for disasters. The team has been actively engaged in the Japan crisis since the earthquake, using tools like Person Finder, Checkout for direct donations the Japanese Red Cross, maps via Google Earth, and news aggregation. Google’s impact is significant and helpful, using its tools and networks to ease the situation as best as it can.
The questions you have to ask is how the organization can best assist in a time of need and how much is it willing to give. From there building a plan becomes easier.
Free Agent Experimentation
Many organizations and people feel like they can do more than the current authorities and causes involved. Or they feel inspired to use tools in an unthought of way. Whether it’s an independent fundraiser or a new tool, this is the heart of innovation. If innovation can possibly make a difference it only makes sense to engage.
Two recent examples, include Kira Siddall deploying widespread Twitter networks to find Taylor Anderson in Japan, and the MIT Media Lab’s use of hot air balloons to document the oil spill. Further, technological innovation can seed breakthrough applications, including unique Uhsahidi map deployments, Google People Finder, and several tools developed by Crisis Commons. In times of crisis, inspiration can save lives and make a big impact.
A Book of Five Rings, written by Miyamoto Musashi in 1645, is one of the world’s classic sources of strategy. Its influence extends beyond military schools to the entire Japanese business culture, and has made its way into Western culture, too. Musashi’s work is one of the texts that comprises the foundation of Zoetica’s strategy services. This blog series looks at each of the Five Rings (chapters), and discusses how some of the phrases apply to the modern communications market.
The Water Book is the second primary chapter of the Five Rings, following the Ground Book. This book primarily focuses on the The Five Attitudes and Approaches to strategy; Upper, Middle, Lower, Right Side and Left Side. Here are interpretations about how these approaches apply to today’s communications marketplace.
“Your attitude should be large or small according to the situation. Upper, Lower and Middle attitudes are decisive. Left Side and Right Side attitudes are fluid.” Musashi.
To be successful in strategy, one must be able to assess the situation, which in turn determines your approach. This requires research to garner a basic knowledge of the marketplace dynamics and stakeholder motivations. By assessing this data, a strategist should see obvious paths towards attaining desired outcomes, and choose the one that is most likely to succeed with the resources at hand.
In social media, the meme is to listen before participation, content marketing and other actions. This is no different than focus groups in advertising or public relations, market research studies prior to product marketing, or competitive research in all fields. The market landscape, current attitudes and opportunities should be revealed in research.
Dell is one of the better modern examples of consistency when it comes to listening and research. From its original online reputation turnaround campaign Dell Listens to its current social command center efforts in Austin, the company constantly reads its community to anticipate response and direction.
“The Middle attitude is the heart of attitudes. If we look at strategy on a broad scale, the Middle attitude is the seat of the commander, with the other four attitudes following the commander.” Musashi
Whenever possible, marketers and communicators want to directly interact with their primary stakeholders. This is the best and fastest way to achieve an outcome, if it is mutually advantageous to all parties. Whether that is sales, donations, input on ideas, agreements on civil action, public resolutions of customer or donor issues, customer reviews, or other actions, direct communications are more likely to produce outcomes.
One of the great benefits of social media to the strategist is the ability to build relationships and conduct direct interactions. Direct community interaction through conversation is one of the most powerful Middle Attitudes that a strategist can take.The travesty of the media form has been the use of it like a PR newswire or advertising media, when these media clearly lend themselves to different tasks.
Other direct interactions include a true opt-in email list (in some cases a preferred interaction to social media for core community members), live events like conferences and trade shows, and direct mail. Some of these approaches are more effective than others, and depend on execution. Integrating several approaches may be necessary for success.
One of the best examples of direct community engagement remains the Lance Armstrong Foundation via its LIVESTRONG brand. From its very visible Facebook, Twitter and blog efforts to its grassroots fundraising platform, email efforts, and experimental marketing via platforms like Gowalla, LIVESTRONG consistently directly engages its community with great successes.
“In the second approach with the long sword, from the Upper attitude cut the enemy just as he attacks… In this method there are various changes in timing and spirit.” Musashi
The Upper attitude is one where media and influencers are used to “inform” the marketplace about the right direction. One addresses the marketplace from a position of authority, in essence hoping that the position of media voices and bloggers are enough to trickle down to the community and persuade it.
This has varying levels of success depending on the communicating organization’s position of trust within the community. When an organization has a prominent place in the market and is trusted, it is likely that the approach will be accepted easily. Apple masters this approach better than any company or nonprofit in the marketplace. Consider how Apple successfully uses blogs to leak information, media to report on blogs and vice versa. Every product announcement is like watching a symphony.
When trust is not in place, dissent occurs. Both Facebook and Komen suffer from dissent because they are not fully trusted.
If an organization does not have either a prominent place or trust, than at best influence can buy the entity an opportunity at success. Quora’s hype bubble and subsequent reduction in traffic, and Jumo’s unsuccessful launch are both examples of the inherent weakness in this approach.
Top down PR and PR 2.0 approaches are good as a primary tactical direction when an organization can dominate a market, or cannot engage with its community directly. Otherwise it should be used as a tactic to galvanize a community within a larger strategy.
“In the third approach, adopt the Lower attitude, anticipating scooping up. When the enemy attacks, hit his hands from below.” Musashi
A more powerful, yet difficult approach to successfully garnering strong community interaction is the Groundswell, as first discussed in concept by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. The Groundswell and its Technographics ladder helped dissect online grassroots actions, but really word of mouth and grassroots efforts occur just as frequently offline as online. A synergy between both is ideal as the Obama presidential and GOP 2010 midterm elections have shown us.
To successfully influence a market using a groundswell, one most focus on both content creators and critics (commenters). Both have voices, and as they continue to speak they create momentum that trickles up until the heart of the community is abuzz. There are a variety of ways to achieve groundswells and word of mouth, including David Sifry’s Magic Middle theory on the social webs, a trickle up media relations theory via trade press to influence mainstream press, and the use of community gatherings to drive larger community and media attention.
In many ways, the Middle East uprisings with their blend of community protests, behind the scenes, organizing, social media peer-to-peer networking activities, and blogging from outspoken dissidents created the most powerful groundswell we have seen since Europe’s nationalist revolutions of the 19th century. On the for-profit side, one of the greatest examples of word of mouth is Zappos.
This is a hard strategy that requires time, patience and constant effort. Do not assume you can achieve it over night. It takes practice.
5) Flanking Techniques
“Left and Right attitudes should be used if there is an obstruction overhead or to one side.” Musashi
The techniques discussed so far — the middle, top and bottom — are from the social, public relations, networking or direct marketing disciplines. But sometimes there is no community in place at all, no way to engage with the media, and/or there may not be time or the means to use a direct approach. This could be because of lack of market attention as a start-up, the need to circumnavigate an entrenched market leader, or other market factors, such as restraining communications or legal policies.
It is in such times when flanking techniques such as advertising, content marketing or SEO must become a primary thrust for a communications effort. BP’s failed communications effort last year — grounded in ethics issues and fear of liability claims — resorted to advertising and SEO placement to combat negative publicity about the Deep Horizon oil spill.
All of these strategies work best when integrated as part of a holistic campaign, but invariably one technique or another is the primary lead for an effort. In addition, the Water Book has many more interpretative lessons to offer from bearing and stance to specific tactical technique.
Jonathan Bask published a fascinating article in AdAge discussing the dangers of the social web for real businesses. While the article meanders to become the latest in a flurry of “ills of social media” articles, the real takeaway was social media doesn’t replace business skills. At the behest of the queen of successful blogging Liz Strauss, this write-up discusses core business skills — specifically those of product marketing — and how they cannot be replaced with social media savoir faire.
Somewhere along the way, social media folks thought they should completely reinvent business. That they knew better, and that could they completely disregard history’s many lessons about how to build great products that work. But more goes into product marketing then just listening to memes of what’s cool. Online idea markets have inherent weaknesses to them, including making bad ideas popular (personal branding, anyone?).
Bask writes, “[The business owner] needs to sell better hubcap fasteners, and there are a wide variety of operational ways he can do so. Sharing that reality with his customers is the marketing opportunity offered by the social web, not a substitute for it.” Meaning that having social media conversations — or even a neat collective idea about a cool thing — can’t replace hard product marketing skills.
Perhaps a recent example can illustrate the point. This week’s launch of Jumo was supposed to be the second coming of cool to the causes segment of the social web. But the launch was a nightmare, bogged down with bugs and early adopters questioning the network’s purpose. Frankly, Jumo as a product offers no new value to a cause-oriented social web that already has established private networks serving it. Some have argued that this was just the beta phase. If so, major changes need to happen for Jumo to survive.
Founder Chris Hughes is supposed to be a social media genius (Facebook, Obama campaign), but clearly the basics of product marketing were missed. Specifically, what makes Jumo different, does the market really need it, who will use this, and how will it be marketed to them? The marketing launch could have been tested a little more closely to avoid the many errors in code, content and interactivity on Jumo.
The polar opposite of Jumo would be Apple’s iPad. Steve Jobs and company had little social web interaction at all with the iPad being a thing of conjecture. The name was railed upon by social web sycophants, and it was an oft questioned product. Nine months later, the iPad is a runaway hit. Why? Brilliant product marketing and development by Apple, an example of why the company continues to stay relevant.
That’s not to discount social business and its usefulness towards product marketing as a whole. Consider that this tension has occurred with each new wave of communication technology. The dot com era had its fair share of winners (eBay) and losers (Pets.com), too. Just like social media, the dot come bubble changed businesses but did not unwrite core tenants of business like product marketing skills, salesmanship, human resources, executive leadership, etc.