Tag Archives: responsive

Digital Strategies: Engaging Influencers, Creating Champions

I’m deviating a bit from my website strategy series to bring you a post that was originally published on NetSquared. I wrote it with Roshani Kothari, my co-coordinator of NetSquared DC.

Nonprofits often struggle with creating effective content and engagement* strategies. It’s not enough to just share stories about your impact, but how do you mobilize and engage people who are passionate about issues you’re working on? NetSquared DC organized a panel discussion at the innovative co-working space, 1776, on Engagement Strategy: Empowering Champions* and Influencers* on November 3, 2015, to delve into this question.

The panelists included:

NetSquared DC
NetSquared DC Engagement Strategies Panelists Maddie Grant, Andrew Nachison and Dale Pfeifer (left to right).

Here are some of the key points shared during the discussion, plus a couple of our own thoughts.

1. Put People at the Forefront of Your Stories

Your audience will respond to stories that immediately grab their attention. For example, a story that begins with a big emo­tional impact will leave the reader ask­ing ques­tions and want­ing more infor­ma­tion. It will keep them reading, and that’s what you want!

One of the best ways to do this is to tell the story from someone who has been impacted by your work. Interview people who are your influencers and champions, and find out why. Create meaningful relationships with both of these groups. Write their stories exceptionally well (hire someone for this if you need to; great stories told well are priceless). Share their stories with your audience.

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Mr. Penumbra, His 24-Hour Bookstore, and the Future

It all started with Mr. Penumbra and his bookstore, his 24-hour bookstore that is, and the clerk Clay and his girlfriend Kat talking about the future (page 60). This happens in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, a fabulous short novel about a bookstore that is more than it appears, customers who never buy but check out endless books and, of course, a budding new romance. What could be more enticing than that?

Where will the future take us?
Where will the future take us? (Photo credit: Infrogmation)

Here’s part of the conversation from page 60, as we’re going to need to discuss that.

Kat: “Okay, we’re going to play. To start, imagine the future. The good future. No nuclear bombs. Pretend you’re a science fiction writer.”

Clay: Okay: “World government…no cancer…hover-boards.”
“Go further. What’s the good future after that?”
“Spaceships. Party on Mars.”
“Further.”
“Star Trek. Transporters. You can go anywhere.”
“Further.”

I pause a moment and then realize. “I can’t.”

Kat shakes her head. “It’s really hard. And that’s, what, a thousand years? What comes after that? What could possibly come after that? Imagination runs out. But it makes sense right? We probably just imagine things based on what we already know, and we run out of analogies in the thirty-first century.”

Ok, we got a little sidetracked on the sci-fi angle here. It was honestly the hover-boards that pulled me in as I would love to ride one. But let’s just imagine even 20 years into the future.

If we can imagine taking one leap, and thinking of that as something that already exists, then we can build from there. Suppose in the 1980s, we had imagined (and I suppose some people did) that everyone would be online all the time by the next century. What could we have imagined from there? Could we have realized mobile devices were going to be as prevalent as they are today?

The point is that once you go forward 10 or 15 years and realize that one assumption might come true, you can look for the next one. And then nothing seems unrealistic anymore. But if you try and skip from where we are now to something like 50 years later, it becomes more difficult. What would be easier to imagine first back in the 1950s? Having a dial-up Internet connection, or everyone having mobiles that they would carry with them that would have access to the Internet?

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