Social Media for Social Good: Engaging and Empowering Your Brand Ambassadors

By Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO and Founder, Waggener Edstrom

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking to a room full of top social good experts, business people, influencers, activists and entrepreneurs at the Social Innovation Summit 2012. I think one tweeter summed it up quite well when speculating that the people solving more than half the world's toughest problems were in the room.

Given the unprecedented economic and societal change happening all around us, businesses, governments and nonprofits — all working in collaboration — need to help develop creative solutions. This is important work and something in which we deeply believe.

I spoke about new research we conducted with the Georgetown University Center for Social Impact Communication, which looked for an understanding of perceptions, behaviors and motivations for cause-support — both local and global — among digitally engaged American adults. We sought answers to three primary questions: who are the different audiences, how do you engage with them, and what tactics do you deploy to move them to action?

Although we will not release the full survey until February, below (and linked here) is a summary of the four key archetypes we identified.

  • The Mainstreeter. Our largest group represented some of the most involved with social causes. The respondents were parents and grandparents, often retired, with moderate incomes ranging from $35,000–$75,000. They may be present on social media but are skeptical to support a cause through that medium. Mainstreeters have a strong desire to be involved, so how do you connect their offline activity with online engagement?
  • The Minimalist. This was the smallest group. These respondents are far more likely to become involved in social causes than you might suppose. They tend to be single, more likely to be unemployed and make less than $50,000 a year. Minimalists are almost exclusively engaged with online social causes. Half will add their influence to a cause through a "like," and nearly half have given financial support to a cause through an online donation. Minimalists want a chance to get involved, so how do you inspire that involvement?
  • The Moderate. Nearly one-third of respondents fell into this next group, and we believe Moderates represent an opportunity for greater activation through social media. Their average earnings fall between $35,000 and $100,000, and they are well educated, with nearly half possessing a four-year degree or higher. They are highly connected — more than half have smartphones. Nearly 60 percent became involved in a social cause after supporting it via social media, and Moderates are particularly likely to become involved online after seeing a friend or family member take action. Moderates donate or volunteer for a cause and then talk about it on Facebook. So how can you help them demonstrate even more robust online activity to attract greater engagement?
  • The Maximizer. Less than 20 percent of respondents were Maximizers — if you have one in your midst, you'll know it and appreciate it. As their name suggests, Maximizers go all out to support the causes they care about — online, offline and everywhere in between. On average, this extremely motivated group supports a whopping 12 causes — which is double of every other group — and their support is split evenly between local and global causes. This is the youngest group, with most respondents falling between 18 and 34. They have the highest education levels of any group; half have a four-year degree or higher, and 19 percent have a post-graduate or professional degree. Not surprisingly, Maximizers are also the most affluent, with 21 percent earning more than $100,000. They are also hyper-connected with 64 percent owning a smartphone and 41 percent owning a tablet. Nearly one in four were born outside the U.S. or have parents or grandparents who live abroad. This group is primed for greater involvement and motivated to influence. Maximizers make connections through any and all sources and consider themselves to be highly knowledgeable about both local and global causes. No question, this is an extremely significant group already, so how do you turn them into your ambassadors?

For answers to the questions above, sign up for a free copy of the research in February. Through a thorough understanding of how to connect with these archetypes and inspire a deeper level of engagement, we can have a greater impact on the world around us.

Thank you to Zeev Klein and his team at Landmark Ventures for organizing the conference and to Robert Wollcot of Kellogg School of Management for moderating. This event is a catalyst for critical conversations focused on achieving good outcomes and I look forward to participating again next year.

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