MCON12 Live Blog: From "Friending" to Action

Submitted by Sarah on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 9:46am

Throughout the day, I'll be live blogging sessions from MCON12, A virtual conference to help leaders engage the Millennial generation. For my next session, I'm covering the Luncheon Keynote "From 'Friending' to Action" with Brian Elliot of Friendfactor.

Brian Elliot started Friendfactor specifically to target Millennial engagement. He's found that when friends ask other friends to engage, we see more interest and more involvement than ever before.

He addressed how to move from clicking "here" to taking action, regardless of what the action is. The answer is: there is no answer. The best thing we can do is develop a process that allows us to experiment, to try different responses, evaluate those responses, and respond in real time as the expectations of your community change.

Elliot sees three common traps that organizations and start ups (both for- and nonprofit) fall into which prevent us from adapting to and engaging Millennials:

  1. We were already wrong as soon as we started – a result of the false consensus bias, and the fact that people are trying to be nice to us when we share our ideas. We can spend a lot of time and money developing a campaign, share the idea with our friends or colleagues, and they are too kind to give their real opinion, or are coming into the idea with the same set of assumptions we already have. We can combat this by understanding that the underlying interest for your cause is there within Millennials, but you can't make them want the change you want when you want it. The best thing we can do, is be ready for the campaign and listen to our communities to see when the best time to act is and capitalize on that moment.
  2. We're taking too long to build the first version of our campaign or program. If we don't know something is going to work, how do we quickly and cheaply test our assumptions? It's not just about saving time and money, but also about saving face. Identify the minimum viable idea, then test that idea. Overall metrics on a campaign like how many people used the campaign are not useful at this phase. Don't be afraid to split your testing to narrow down your data, and not just in email. Create different Facebook ads to see what your audience is clicking on. If you're trying to get Millennails to show up, build a smaller version first, measure the time between your tests. If you can reduce the time between your tests, you're more likely to create something successful more quickly.
  3. We're addicted to being successful. You have to have a resilient organization to keep jumping back up. You can create this by focusing on a fail forward culture, asking how we can get more information earlier. Don't just make mistakes, make smart mistakes: set goals, measure, and learn from your failure. Do your best to orient your stakeholders and funders about the real work at hand, not just the end result but what you need to do to get to the end result. Recognize that you can't control whether or not your pilots will work; just try your best and learn from your mistakes.

Engaging Millennials is hard. It's going to take many tries. Build an organization that will get smarter as you experiment with campaigns and programs that will drive action. Create your culture to adapt.

Have you run into these traps in your organization? What do you do, or have you done in the past, to avoid these common problems? Share your lessons in the comments below.