As organizations invest in building online networks and deeper engagement with constituents, we constantly need to refocus on how that engagement leads to mission-centric action. It’s not just enough to have eyeballs, or even likes. What does it look like to design and implement an online strategy that has on the ground impact? Specifically, how can your content jump offline?
One primary driver of this jump is value. What content is of value to your audience, and what will they do with that value? I like to think about this as a Venn diagram — one circle is your mission and goals, and the other are the very specific and honest needs of the people you’re trying to engage. Only when you are able to create content in that “sweet spot” in the center can you really move the needs. For your content to travel (online and offline), it needs to build the social capital of the people who are going to share it. Why would someone want to claim your content as their own? What does it say about their identity, values and/or interests? Being brutally honest about this intersection is the first critical skill to solve this part-art-part-science question.
The second driver of traveling content is momentum. What is happening on the calendar, in politics, in local or world events that has created momentum in the news and in social media? How can you surf that wave? Remember when the lights went out at the Superbowl in 2013? Within minutes Oreo had launched “You can still dunk in the dark” — a fantastic example of taking advantage of the momentum online at that moment. Where is there natural moment that aligns with your mission and goals, and how can you create content to surf that wave?
The Jewish community at this time of year is a great example of such a wave — everything is about Passover. The Passover seder is the most widely observed tradition in Judaism today. As we recall the exodus of the Israelites from centuries of slavery in Egypt, themes of renewal, redemption, and freedom illicit a kind of surge of content from Jewish organizations of all types. Individually, people are planning their seder — who to invite, how to make it special, and how to stretch the themes of the seder to be applicable to our modern world (and a diverse group of people around the table).
Many organizations publish Passover seder inserts – readings to complement the traditional Haggadah (book that tells the story of the exodus and sets out the order for the seder). It used to be that these came in the mail to donors (and prospective donors). Today, they are published online and emailed as well as circulated through social media. This approach is both cheaper (no printing and mailing!) and also allows the content to reach farther than an organization’s own mailing list.
American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has always been one of my go-to Passover sources. Their mission to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world aligns so well with the themes of the holiday, This year, they published a seder supplement written by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt focusing on the role of 5 women in the exodus. Not only did the content align AJWS with the themes of the seder, but it capitalized on the theme of women. This resources has been shared more widely in Facebook than anything I’ve seen lately. As you can see here, 22 shares from the AJWS main Facebook page, and countless more links to it through individual profiles and organizational pages.
Users then print the PDF and read from it at the seder, carrying the AJWS brand and mission to the table. (I even once sent the PDF to FedEx Office to have it printed and laminated to use year after year.) AJWS leverages the alignment of their mission with opportunity of the seder, and offers value to the audience by bringing a highly relevant and much adored voice — the Supreme Court Justice — to your own table. A very smart and effective effort.
This year, Interfaith Israel is thinking about how to market their new summer Israel trip for teens from interfaith families. They realize that educating people about the opportunity, plus making the case to send a teen on an overseas trip for the summer is not easy. Their best success has been a very high-touch approach at in person events — but it’s very hard to scale. They realized that there’s a larger conversation underlying their program. “Why this summer in Israel?” which echoes in the line from the Haggadah, “Next year in Jerusalem!”
Building off of this connection, Interfaith Israel has developed a seder supplement that simple seeks to cultivate a conversation about how we can be on a constant journey to explore our heritage, roots and values. Their addition to the seder invites reflection at multiple levels. What does Jerusalem represent for you? For your family? For the World? And then progresses to ask about modern Jerusalem today, and how visiting this center of multiple religions is an important experience for all Jews, and perhaps especially those with multiple heritages in their family. By providing a widely accessible and applicable value-added resource, Interfaith Israel is getting their brand and their upcoming teen trip into the homes of thousands.
So the lessons here for you? First, make sure you’re insightful about what is TRULY valuable to your target audiences. Second, develop content that rides the wave of attention, capitalizing on holidays, social trends, or other big events. Third, to jump from online to offline, create content that real applied, practical value in offline settings.
Stay tuned for a future post about designing for engagement that starts offline and jumps online! Have a good example? Share it with us!