The NTC in New Orleans was full of fantastic, sparkly, shiny new technology tools. And then there was our session: No winsome widgets, no witty Twittering, no Dopplr-found Doppelgangers.
And that was the point.
What makes technology tools great is not the technology. It’s the people behind them. Successful technology is about bonds, not wires. It’s human connections that matter. “Social media” is about “social” more than it’s about “media”.
If you missed our session, we summed it up in the title: "The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We’re Forgetting) about Online Outreach".
Some very human principles make or break the success of absolutely everything you do online. These are the kind of truths Buddha or Freud -- explorers of the deepest recesses of the human mind -- talked about. To achieve true marketing "enlightenment," you need to tap into fundamental human needs with your technology, rather than hoping technology can inspire alone. You may think this sounds a bit like Maslow -- and it does -- but with a twist: Maslow was uncovering human needs; we are showing how his and other deep needs can be employed to foster a more humane world.
There are at least seven of these fundamental needs, and that’s what we covered in our session. We threw out a need, and the folks in the session talked about how they’d met it through online communications. (Hat tip to Britt Bravo for capturing the examples so well in her blog.) There are other human needs -- we’d like to add simplicity and humor to the list of seven -- but this was a start.
The conversation is far from over. PLEASE: Don’t just read this article, tell us your story.
Need 1: To be SEEN and HEARD
Making someone feel seen and heard is the most powerful thing any of us can do with online communications. On the other hand, not listening is the root of most problems, personal (just ask your partner!) and professional (just ask your co-workers!).
Examples of great listening:
- Teen Health Talk engages youth to talk about health issues rather than lectures at them.
- Oxfam has used Flickr petitions successfully in several campaigns. Two of their staff members recently returned from Darfur and are putting together a video to raise awareness about it. They are collecting questions from supporters to include.
The bottom line: See to be seen, hear to be heard.
Need 2: To be CONNECTED to someone or something
People are sociable creatures, and they want to find others who share their interests. That’s what fuels Facebook or Twitter or any number of examples. In fact, once could argue that connecting people to each other is the highest and best use of technology.
Examples of great connecting:
- BeliefNet has prayer circles where people can share prayers for specific people.
- March of Dimes' Share Your Stories allows families of babies in the NICU to share stories.
The bottom line: Engage by connecting to what your audience (NOT YOU) wants to hear.
Need 3: To be part of something GREATER THAN THEMSELVES
We need to lay out the grand, inspirational vision of our cause. We should show how together we can leave the world a better place.
Examples of vision:
- 18Seconds.org shows the cumulative effect of everyone changing their light bulbs to CFLs.
- The MoveOn “endorse-a-thon” for Barack Obama is only the latest in a long line of creative, uplifting and inspiring efforts.
Need 4: To have HOPE for the future
Forget doom and gloom, finger-wagging campaigns. People hate them.
Example of gloomy messaging:
- The Ad Council's Don't Almost Give Campaign video on YouTube. One commenter wrote, "I hate these commercials."
Example of hopeful messaging:
- Earth: The Sequel has been up for 2 weeks and has received 15,000 views.
- The Yes We Can Obama video.
The bottom line: Ix-nay on the apocalypse. Persuade through inspiration
Need 5: To have the security of TRUST
People are starved for a sense of trust. That’s why we glom on to authentic messengers.
Examples of authenticity:
- 76% of givers say they are influenced by friends and family. SixDegrees allows people to create widgets that feature a photo of themselves and 250 characters of text about why they support a particular cause.
- The Packard Kid Connection site helps kids get ready to go to the hospital. It builds trust because it looks like Club Penguin. (Club Penguin is a social network for children), and it has videos of children explaining how things work at the hospital.
The bottom line: Cut the crap. Your authenticity is everything.
Need 6: To be of SERVICE
The #1 reason people stop giving to a nonprofit is that they feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. They want to help, but they also want to be of service and to have different ways of serving. That need is not being fulfilled if all they hear is the unimaginative drumbeat of dollars.
If you are reading this, you already understand – and embody – the deep need to be useful and of service.
Need 7: To want HAPPINESS for self and others
The core of Buddhism is that everyone wants happiness and to be free from suffering. The more you want happiness for others, the better it is for you, and them.
We wrapped up the session with the following happy dance. Remember, it’s about people. People who want to be happy in this world.