Archive for the ‘Andy Smith’ Category

Four Steps to Inspire Infectious Action

By Andy Smith, Co-Author of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change

When you grab people’s attention, they sit up and listen. When you engage your audience, you connect with them and inspire them. However, too many efforts stop there, leaving people with good intentions that may never be acted on. Taking action requires individuals to exert themselves and to make the transition beyond being interested by what you have to say to actually doing something about it. When organizations combine the power of the call to action with innovative social media tools, they can achieve extraordinary results.

Consider these four design principles when you want to empower others to take action:

1. Make it easy. By demonstrating you value your audience’s time and by making use of their contributions, you simultaneously boost their effectiveness while giving them a greater sense of accomplishment. This increases the likelihood they will continue to participate. Helping people achieve small goals leads them naturally to adopt more ambitious behaviors, often without a bigger intervention. For example, if the big goal is to convince people to be more environmentally friendly, ask them to change a single light bulb in their homes. Let them breathe, basking in their success, and then intervene again, expanding the effort by making the target behavior something larger. Perhaps you might suggest they replace all the inefficient bulbs in their homes.

2. Make it fun. The fueling effect of fun is an important and often overlooked element of social movements. It will also make your endeavor more enjoyable for you and a whole lot stickier for your audience. Many charities organize runs, walks, or bike races to encourage people to donate time and money. Another way to harness fun is game play; it taps into our innate competitiveness and desire for recognition. Groupon infuses fun in every one of its communications—the company hired Chicago-area comedians as its copywriters.

3. Tailor the experience. To motivate people to act on behalf of your cause, you need to match their skills, talents, or interests with your needs. Whether being creative, as with Gap’s “Born to Fit” initiative (where customers can design new outfits), providing an endorsement or reference, or making a physical donation (such as when people with a needed blood type make a donation), the more that people feel they have uniquely contributed, the happier and more satisfied they will be—and the more likely they are to spread the word or return to contribute.

4. Be open. A critical step to creating a culture of sharing is to design with the principle of sustained transparency. Most companies believe they are far more transparent than consumers think they are. A second step is to ideate, prototype, and test frequently. By doing this, you will—by definition—be designing for feedback. Showing people they are actually making a difference is arguably the most critical aspect of encouraging action. A good example is, a non-profit that allows people to help fulfill public classroom “wish lists.” Donors can watch incremental donations to their causes grow in real time. When each project is fully funded, all donors are e-mailed photos, a thank you letter from the teacher, and a cost report.