Monthly Archives: January 2012

What makes us the same is greater than what makes us different

This comes from “The Rise and Fall of Poverty Porn”— a thoughtful piece with even more stimulating comments on the current state of development practice and human connection and fund raising.

Finding the sharpest nail

The saying goes, “If you don’t have the biggest hammer, use the sharpest nail.” The discipline of the branding construct delivers the kind of fierce focus needed for organizations to thrive even in the midst of difficult economic times.

I was recently approached to make comments on a strategic plan for an organization. Having only the written document to go on, I made comments as to lack of a persuasive focus, particularly in their offering to their key stakeholders. The response was that I just didn’t know enough about their organization. As I listened to them talk, they did indeed have a compelling offer and some great stories to tell, but they were hidden in the hearts and minds of the leadership.

The art of branding is to listen, listen, listen and ask strategic questions. In that manner you extract the wealth of information, insights and stories out of those collective heads and weave them into a framework that allows a rich narrative to be delivered in appropriate doses time and again as people come into contact with your organization.

The starting point for branding is the positioning exercise, which delivers the kind of fierce focus needed for organizations to thrive even in the midst of difficult economic times. I find it helps my clients open the doors to new ways of thinking and seeing things. And it’s when I most often hear … aha! It forces you to collectively think about three key things that help you understand your unique offering:

  1. Primary target audience:  These are the people you want to speak to most powerfully because you know they share your values and you are certain you can make the most meaningful impact with them. It doesn’t mean you won’t speak to other audiences, but it does force you to focus on what will give you the most impact. It also reinforces the principle that marketing and communications starts with understanding and responding to your audience.
  2. Category of Competition:  We all live in a market context, and people who will choose to affiliate with your organization either by offering their voice, their influence, their talent or their dollars have choices. Going through the exercise of understanding the comparative landscape in which you exist strengthens your ability to be fiercely focused on the best you have to offer.
  3. Reason to Believe:  This is where you articulate the specific and unique benefits that only your organization can offer. The best benefits are not just practical, but emotive and inspiring. Dig down deep to explore what turns your crank about what you do—and that often translates into what will excite others.

Done well, the process of developing your brand brings your organization into alignment. But don’t jump into branding unadvisedly. It is like a marriage and you have to be in it for the long term. It is the outward expression of all you are and do. It is about saying what you are going to do and then doing it. If you don’t deliver on that promise, it’s grounds for divorce. Donors and clients will move on quickly.

You cannot succeed in difficult times trying to be all things to all people. The key is to be the sharpest nail, find your niche and deliver. It’s the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

An algorithm worth paying attention to

Tips to Increase Your Facebook EdgeRank and Exposure

By
Published April 28, 2011

social media how toEver wonder why you can have 548 friends on Facebook, yet only 15-20 show up in your news feed? It’s not that those other friends have stopped using Facebook; chances are they’re still there. It’s just that they aren’t showing up in your news feed.

If you haven’t noticed, there are now two settings on your Facebook news feed: “Most Recent,” which shows most of the content published by your Facebook friends in chronological order and “Top News,” which filters content based on EdgeRank.

Friends and fan pages with a high EdgeRank are more likely to show in your “Top News” stream. Users with a low EdgeRank may not even show in your “Most Recent” news feed.

For businesses or others looking to market, promote or just interact through Facebook, the implications of this change are huge. “Top News” is the default setting, so unless a friend or fan changes their default, it’s quite possible that they will never see your updates. No matter how good the content, no matter how well you manage your Facebook page, EdgeRank might be holding you back.

EdgeRank Defined

Facebook looks at everything published as “objects.” These can be status updates, links, photos, video or anything else that can be shared on Facebook. Every object receives a ranking (EdgeRank), which determines if it will show in your personal newsfeed. Objects with a high EdgeRank appear in your “Top News” feed. Objects with a low EdgeRank will not. According to a study conducted last fall by The Daily Beast, objects with a really low EdgeRank may not even show in your “Most Recent” news feed.

An object’s EdgeRank is based on three factors: affinity or the relationship between the creator and user, interaction with the object (likes, comments, etc.) and timeliness. Add the three factors together using a formula that only Facebook truly knows and you’ve got an object’s EdgeRank.

Unlike Google’s PageRank, which stays the same from user to user, every object is scored based on the individual Facebook user who may (or may not) view the object in their news feed.

Let’s take a closer look at the three factors that determine EdgeRank.

Affinity

An object’s affinity score is based on the interactions you have with the friend or fan who published the object. Friends or fans with whom you regularly interact receive a higher affinity score. Each time you visit a fan page, click the “Like” button, comment on a user’s status or look at a picture, you increase the affinity score with that user.

As The Daily Beast study points out, this affinity score only works one way. I can’t increase my affinity score in another user’s feed by constantly clicking on their “Like” buttons or looking at their pictures. Although doing so will increase the likelihood that you’ll see their updates, your objects won’t do better in their news feed until they return the favor.

Level of Interaction

Different types of interactions are weighted differently on Facebook. Activities that require higher levels of user engagement get a higher score than those that don’t. For example, leaving a comment on a photo takes more effort on the user’s part than clicking the “Like” button. Objects that receive higher levels of interaction are more likely to show in a user’s newsfeed.

Timeliness

Most people don’t want to read yesterday’s news. Newer objects have a better chance of showing up in your news feed than older ones.

Armed with an understanding of these three elements, here are six tips on how you can increase the likelihood that your content or objects will appear in your friends’ or fans’ “Top News” feed.

#1: Publish Objects That Encourage Interaction

Unless they’re interesting enough to draw comments, simple status updates aren’t going to move you into Top News feeds. Publish content that naturally encourages click-throughs or creates discussion. Objects such as creative games that require a response (i.e., trivia or caption contests) open up opportunities to add highly weighted interaction and build affinity with new users.

top news feedTop News is Facebook’s default setting. Top News only shows objects with a higher EdgeRank.

#2: Create a Forum

Ever notice how political content on Facebook can generate a ton of comments? Although it doesn’t take long to realize that Facebook and politics don’t mix, people love to debate and discuss hot issues. Make your fan page a place for constructive discussion on the latest industry topics. Although this approach takes careful management, objects from a fan page filled with healthy discussion are more likely to receive a higher EdgeRank.

surveyObjects such as surveys require user interaction which can build EdgeRank.

#3: Make the Most of Photos and Videos

Photos and videos show up in the Facebook news feed as thumbnail images. Due to their size, they almost require interaction as users click on them to make them large enough to see. Be sure to add a comment that encourages users to open the photo and add comments of their own.

videoBy their very nature, videos and pictures encourage interaction.

#4: Share Links

Links require interaction as users click on the link to view the object. While it’s good to share content from your own website, don’t be afraid to promote interesting content from other sources. Twitter users discovered long ago that the more content of value you share, the better chance you have of driving followers to your own content when the time comes. Again, a comment that encourages opening the link or leaving comments can go a long way.

commentsAn object that receives comments is more likely to show in the Top News feed and also builds affinity with users who comment.

#5: Keep It Fresh

The Facebook stream moves quickly. If you’ve got objects that aren’t getting a response, don’t be afraid to let them go and move on to the next thing. If the object is good but didn’t get the response you desired, consider repurposing it or sending it out again at a different time of day.

#6: Ask Users to Share

Don’t be afraid to ask users to share objects or click on the Like button—especially if you’re new to Facebook. It can take a little while for a Facebook page to gain momentum. Anything you can do to help it along will only speed the process.

Although the introduction of EdgeRank may make it more difficult to share information on Facebook, ultimately it still comes down to content. Publishing content that users want to share and interact with has always been vital to any Facebook marketing campaign. With the recent Facebook changes, that content may now need a little extra push to get it the attention it deserves.

New website for Wildlife Preservation Canada

We were pleased to work with the good folks at Wildlife Preservation Canada on their new website that went live just before Christmas. WPC works only with species that are on the brink of extinction. Their biologists work to provide what amounts to an intensive care unit for species at risk who need much more than habitat protection. Fascinating work.

As with many cost-conscious non-profits, WPC’s previous website was built by and relied on the kindness of talented volunteers. But it was cumbersome and difficult to update.

They received a generous grant from MEC to build this new site. We built it on WordPress so that it’s easy for them to use and to update. The design draws you in with the beautiful photos of the wildlife they work with, and then clear navigation takes you into the depth of the information they have to offer. At every stop, it’s easy to find where to make a donation to the cause. It links to a blog so that their biologists can send updates from the field — and you can feel like you’re right in the trenches with them. In the background, we built in analytics and SEO optimization so that WPC can watch their site’s performance and refine the site as it lives and grows.

Kabisa worked together with Mondodigitalis (web development) and MereName Design (graphics) to create this new virtual home for WPC.