“Fun & Refreshing!” A Meetup On Social Data for Creative Nonprofits

How are nonprofits going beyond social media strategies and leveraging social data and analytics as part of their cause in new and creative ways? That was the topic last week at a Meetup at Brandwatch’s office with the San Francisco Social Data and Analytics Group!

Eric Williams (@sciencethedata), Director of Data Science at Omada Health, spoke about DataKind’s use of multiple data sources to a provide tool for public health officials to access up-to-date flu pandemic information. Brett Baker (@bbaker), Head of Academic and #DataForGood at Twitter, discussed how researchers, municipalities and non-profits have used Twitter data. I spoke about the creativity that emerges when nonprofits know the metrics of success and build off their strengths.

Here we go with key points from my “data + creativity” presentation!

Let’s start on a personal level. Why does knowledge of data and metrics and working on important global causes really matter? As I shared in a recent post with personal leadership stories from me and my Fission team members, my grandma’s and her family’s courage in the Nazi period in Germany inspires me. Each of us needs to step up to bat for what we believe in.

Grandmother Maria Therese von Hammerstein (at left), 1930s in Germany on her motorcycle, with which she carried secret documents and Jewish people across borders; her father General Kurt von Hammerstein (at right) was commander in chief of the German Army from 1930 to 1934, and resigned from his post because he disagreed with Hitler’s policies.

For the social data Meetup in San Francisco, I put on my grandmother’s beautiful pearl necklace that has survived two world wars and is one of the most precious things I have.

Wearing my grandmother’s pearl necklace for the Meetup.

I’m fortunate to live in beautiful Mendocino County just north of San Francisco, and for my Valentine’s Day date, hiked up a local mountain to get perspective on the world, away from tweets and metrics and everything that feels so important until you see endless hills and the ocean, and think about the bigger picture.

The view from the top of Eagle Peak, a high rocky crag in Mendocino County.

From anywhere with a wifi connection and babysitting ;) as I like to tell friends, I get to work with the fabulous & fun Fission team to help nonprofits, foundations, and social enterprises win on the important issues of our time.

The Fission team at Serenbe in Atlanta, Georgia for our annual retreat! It’s like we’re stepping out of Skype and into real life when we see each other in person.

We are blessed to work with inspiring organizations around the world using a data-backed and research-informed approach to creativity.

A selection of Fission’s inspiring clients who help make our lives meaningful and creative.

At the heart of our philosophy, we believe that coordinated action is the result of compelling stories + information, supported communities, and empowered individuals.

It’s important to know your data and metrics well so that you have the information to support the community you’re building and empower individuals. In communities, friends trust friends and influencers they’ve grown to trust. As I noted in the presentation and someone awesomely tweeted (source: Tapinfluence & Intuitive):

It’s incredibly powerful for organizations to analyze their data and do research on whom their top influencers are, or could be. Here’s why (source: Attentive.ly influencer guide):

When organizations are learning about their demographics of support and potential communities for outreach, they should know the details that will inspire the right tactics. For example, if you’re want to reach more Latinos, you’d want to know stats such as:

  • 76% Hispanic internet users access via mobile
  • 51% of Latinos more likely to access internet via smartphones vs. 33% of whites
  • 72% of these Latinos are on social media

(Source: Pew Hispanic survey)

Mobile, anyone?

We have worked with clients such as Earthjustice, MomsRising, Sierra Club, Western Resource Advocates, and Global Teacher Prize to encourage a metrics-backed approach in strategic thinking about outreach. Once a campaign is under way, metrics tracking should become a weekly habit:

Knowledge about key dates, what tactics are effective, and what types of content work best on what outreach channel give you the 411 to create an informed editorial calendar, such as the weekly content plan below:

Then you’ll know the right moment to celebrate a leading figure in the area of work you’re in, and be able to prepare ahead, such as for this birthday email about Malala or Facebook post about Mandela:

If you’re using a good email CRM tool, you’ll be able to enjoy watching the email metrics in real time to learn what links are opened, when the most opens occur, where people are located, and more!

Huge amounts of data are now available at the tip of your fingertips. I always like using free tools like Topsy.com and Twiangulate.com for top content and influencer research, and there are now affordable tools like Attentive.ly, NUVI.com, and TweetReach.com to uncover & listen to influencers in your networks. Attentive.ly recommends listening to 3 types of influencers in particular, as presented today in a webinar with Blackbaud:

Once you’re inside Attentive.ly researching influencers, the view looks like this:

Tip: See what Attentive.ly can do for influencer listening with this new free guide: http://attentive.ly/listen

By doing the research on relationships and topic area interests, you’ll be able to create fantastic influencer lists and initiate conversations about the important work your nonprofit is doing and perhaps win gold, like this piece in TechCrunch on the education startup TeachPitch, with whom we worked:

Read the full piece on TeachPitch: http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/17/teachpitch/

Now would you like to know a little more about the behind the scenes prep for successful nonprofit campaigns? Great!

Building off research and data in a Digital Audit & Online Landscape Analysis phase, we work collaboratively with nonprofits to create a detailed & practical Online Strategy that builds supporters into leaders of movements:

After a campaign idea is built out in the online strategy, our team creates a week-by-week calendar and timeline following themes with a narrative arc that grows over the course of the campaign:

Having done the research on what content audiences have resonated with most, you’ll be ready to create some sample social content to bank up for your campaign’s launch (or get us to do all this with you!). We like the oldie but goodie guide from Upworthy on the sweet science of viral content to understand why some content takes off:

The Sweet Science of Virality by Upworthy.com: http://www.slideshare.net/Upworthy/the-sweet-science-of-virality

So … take your Swiss Army knife (your data & tactics) and unleash your creativity!

With my presentation over, I really enjoyed chatting with folks such as the good people of a new initiative called the Global Fund to End Slavery and with Jennifer of Elixir Design! So fantastic to hear that it was “fun and refreshing” to hear my thoughts on data + creativity.

Thanks to my Fission colleague Austen Levihn-Coon and Dirke Hill and Patrick Callahan of CompassRed Data Labs for the invitation to speak!