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The power of storytelling- What nonprofits can teach the private sector about Social media

The power of storytelling- What nonprofits can teach the private sector about Social media

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Published by: Miguel André Duranteau on Feb 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Companies are spending countless hours and millions o dollars trying tomaster social media. Is this a revolutionary platorm that can drive every-thing rom customer relationships to product development—or just anotherorm o marketing? In a new book titled
The Dragonfy Eect
, StanordUniversity marketing proessor Jennier Aaker and marketing strategist AndySmith seek to answer these questions by examining numerous exampleso social media at work, distilling a ramework or inspiring inectious action.One o the our “dragony wings” that comprise the authors’ ramework andgive the book its name is
, which they defne as “truly makingpeople eel emotionally connected to helping you achieve your goals” throughstorytelling, authenticity, and establishing a personal connection. Presentedhere is an excerpt adapted rom the book, ollowed by a discussion betweenthe authors and Dan Singer, a director in McKinsey’s New York ofce. Theconversation ocused on lessons useul or leaders seeking to boost their orga-nizations’ marketing eectiveness by engaging customers through socialmedia. The bottom line: using social media to capture people’s attention isdierent rom traditional advertising, and companies that measure theeectiveness o these new channels by simply counting Facebook ans shouldrethink their approach.
Learn how to harness the power o social media in this case study excerpted rom
The Dragony Eect,
 by Jennier Aaker and Andy Smith. Then hear more rom the authors in a conversation withMcKinsey’s Dan Singer.
The power o storytelling:
 What nonprots can teachthe private sector about social media
2The power o storytelling
Scott Harrison was at the top o his world. The 28-year-old New York–basednightclub and ashion promoter excelled at bringing models and hedge-und kings together and selling them $500 bottles o vodka. He had money and power. Yet his liestyle brought something else: emptiness. Harrisonelt spiritually bankrupt.So he walked away, volunteering to serve on a oating hospital oferingree medical care in the world’s poorest nations. Serving as the ship’s photo- journalist, Harrison was quickly immersed in a very diferent world.Thousands would ock to the ship looking or solutions to debilitating prob-lems: enormous tumors, clet lips and palates, esh eaten by bacteria rom waterborne diseases. Harrison’s camera lens brought into ocus astonishingpoverty and pain, and he began documenting the struggles o these peopleand their courage. Ater eight months, he moved back to New York, but not to his ormer lie. Aware that many o the diseases and medical problems he witnessed stemmedrom inadequate access to clean drinking water, he decided to do somethingabout it. In 2006, he ounded charity: water, a nonprot designed to bringclean and sae drinking water to people in developing nations.Harrison launched the organization on his 31st birthday by asking riends todonate $31 instead o giving him a git. It was a success—the birthday gen-erated $15,000 and helped build charity: water’s rst ew wells in Uganda. Inthe three years that ollowed, Harrison’s simple birthday wish snowballedinto donations that today total more than $20 million, translating into almost3,000 water projects spanning everything rom hand-dug wells and deep wells to protection or springs to rainwater harvesting. The organization hasnow provided clean water to more than 1.4 million people spanning 17 coun-tries. Its success can be explained through our design principles or gener-ating engagement with a brand through social media.
Tell a story.
Harrison’s personal journey—evoking themes o redemption,change, and hope—engaged others on an emotional level. By candidly discussing in media interviews and YouTube videos why and how he startedcharity: water, the thoughtul, accessible, and youthul Harrison helped viewers all in love with him and his cause.
Empathize with your audience.
Let people engage with your brand tolearn what’s important to them and how it relates to your campaign. charity: water evoked empathy through the use o photographs and videos thatrevealed the urgency o the water problem in the developing world. Instead o relying just on statistics, the organization promoted compelling storiesthat orced people to think about what it would be like to live without accessto clean water.
Social-media engagement:
 A case study rom
The Dragonfy Eect
This case studyis adapted romJennier Aakerand Andy Smith’s
The Dragonfy Eect
(Jossey-Bass, September2010).
February 20113
Emphasize authenticity.
True passion is contagious, and the more authen-ticity you convey, the more easily others can connect with you and yourcause. Because o charity: water’s commitment to transparency, donors notonly understand the history that gave rise to the organization but also knowexactly where their money goes. Reports and updates on the charity’s Web siteconnect donors directly to the results o their generosity.
Match the media with the message.
How and where you say somethingcan be as important as what you say. charity: water has a staf memberdedicated to updating various social-media platorms and creating distinctivemessages or Twitter and Facebook an pages. The organization also reliesheavily on video. One o charity: water’s most efective video projects involvedconvincing Terry George, the director o the lm
 Hotel Rwanda
, to make a60-second public-service announcement in which movie star Jennier Connelly took a container to New York City’s Central Park, lled it with dirty waterrom the lagoon, and brought it home to serve to her two children. The pro-ducers o the reality TV show
 American Idol 
agreed to broadcast thespot during the program, ensuring that more than 25 million viewers saw it.
Viral-videocampaigns and a ocus on social media helpcharity: water  spread the word.

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