Activating Change with the Real-Time Web
Inspirational takeaways from #140cuse
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge sucker for anything inspirational – maybe it’s a photo, video, quote or story – that makes me want to go out do something good in the world.
I had the pleasure of attending #140cuse last month – and it hit the sweet spot for me on the inspiration scale. Aside from being overly excited to be back at my alma mater, Syracuse University, I was extremely impressed with the line-up of speakers from brands large and small, all with their own individual stories about how Twitter and the real-time web has given them the opportunity to do something meaningful in business and in life. (PS – Major Superstar awards go to my coworkers who had to deal with listening to me get nostalgic all day! Thanks Bethany Latta & Sara LaFauci.)
After spending the day tuned in to the short stories shared by the speakers, I left with one big message: Thanks to the real-time web, the timing could not be better than it is RIGHT NOW to make a difference and spread ideas.
On the cause-related level, I was inspired by a talk from Harrison Kratz from TweetDrive about building a “cause-passionate army.” Harrison mentioned three things that work to get people rallied around a message – whether it’s cause-related, or otherwise:
- Inspiration – What elements of your message are going to make people care? Look at examples from KONY, SOPA or the Wall Street Movement – none are necessarily charity-related, but all had ideas threaded within them that got people heated enough to spread a message and debate.
- Leadership – Every good cause has a leader willing to be the face and spokesperson for the initiative – someone who is willing to answer tough questions and get the cause past the initial “boom.”
- Communication – Consider what tools your community can best use to connect to discuss the ideas and build them up. It could be a Facebook group, Twitter hashtag, or an internal network like Yammer. It’s through this communication tool that you empower your army to go out and take action.
With every piece of information I took away from #140cuse, I tried to relate it back to the PR world. In terms of Harrison’s ideas, they are all concepts that should be old hat to us: identify the elements of your brand’s message that will get the public to care; identify a solid spokesperson who knows the messaging up, down and backwards and can handle tough questions when needed; and when launching a campaign or making an announcement, doing so through the medium in which the audience is already engaged.
I was also inspired by a presentation from personal branding expert, Hajj Flemings, whose main message was to consider how you will “disrupt yourself” to re-wire yourself for the imminent change of the future. Hajj introduced the idea of mental, digital and geographic real estate when thinking about how to evolve yourself into a thought leader:
- Mental real estate: How will you own a mindshare of your end customer? Maybe it’s a recruiter, a boss, or a new business prospect – think about what you can do to be top of mind for this person and position yourself so you are the solution to a problem or need.
- Digital real estate: The size of your thought leadership footprint is in direct correlation with the time and investment you make in your online presence. It’s YOUR job to tell your story – what’s the best way to showcase it digitally?
- Geographic real estate: How can you become the go-to resource in your geographic area on a specific topic?
To me, these tips were a great way of summing up the purpose of a thought leadership initiative for any brand. Want to help your client become the top-of-mind brand in their industry? Identify how to occupy the real estate on a mental, digital and geographic level.
On a larger, world-altering level, we heard from Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, Hipmunk and Breadpig and change-maker extraordinaire (and soon-to-be author!). Alexis shared the story of how his team at Reddit worked with non-profit organization Fight for the Future to stand up against the SOPA legislation. It was through this work that Wikipedia and other major websites took notice, thus starting the movement to have the Internet “go dark” in protest on January 18th.
The SOPA protest was perhaps one of the best examples of the power that exists in the real-time web – and the Internet in general. By turning the idea in to a story and making it relatable to people, the organizations involved in the protest made it something people wanted to – and had no choice but to – talk about.
An interesting bit that stuck out to me during Alexis’ presentation was his mention that Reddit, to date, has only spent $500 on advertising. This is a true testament to the power that exists in building a strong, tight-knit, far-reaching community. Especially in this age of the social customer, successful brands will be the ones that are authentic and honest and treat their customers well.
The #140cuse conference was a great experience and one I hope to participate in again in the future. For more takeaways from the event, check out this post from my colleague Bethany Latta, and stay tuned for more from Sara LaFauci.
If you’ve attended a #140conf before – or you attended #140cuse as well – I’d love to hear from you! Please share your stories and takeaways in the comments.