Networking for social change

The session on harnessing networking tools for social change started with Marty‘s standard explanation of the growing power of autonomous social networks. Good stuff.

Now Andrew is talking about how this can be of value to nonprofits.
– loyalty & retention
– rapid growth through viralness
– better personalization & connections
– distributed work

Andrew: “To grow a network, a campaign must be viral.”
– intrinsic belief:
people acting on inherent beliefs
– empowerment:
a sense of making a difference
– social norm:
don’t miss the bandwagon

He showed a sort of venn diagram of the overlapping nature of group memberships. Care2‘s demographics: not just geeks, and not just men, average 35 years old, animal lovers, liberal. 4.6 million members. Now: care 2 connect. Andy’s personal network is over 36,000 that he can write to. Also Friendster.com, tribe.net, etc. Care2 has weighted tagging for personal interests. I think this works much better than how friendster just lets you search for keywords. They also have rewards called “kudos”: green stars, butterflies, and testimonials. This is another examples of members building the community.

Andrew: “As members become more active in the [virtual, in this case] community, they will become more active for your organization.” When the sources of messages are more diverse, members don’t opt out since it’s not coming from one place.

Andrew’s next steps:
– How to find and connect to community leaders?
– What kind of work can you distribute?
– What type of tools can help you do this?

Adam from MoveOn says they do distributed work in a lot of ways in addition to activism.
– message
– tasks
“What tasks can be done by someone other than myself?”

They have had volunteers coordinate congressional constituent meetings before the Iraq War. Distributed canvassing with a web-based database. Then set-up a volunteer tech support hotline to relieve staff from doing the support. Asking a short essay question for applicants was important to picking workers. Online tutorial to train them, open chat room to ask questions if they’re stumped. The volunteers were very engaged and energized.

Bush in 30 Seconds, of course. Coming soon: Bush in 30 Years (on social security). Fox Watch, monitoring and taking action on media malpractice, led to the film OutFoxed, which led to house parties. MoveOn wanted to know members better, had members interview each other. They use the ActionForum to get ideas and feedback from members.

I asked about trolls and antis. Adam says they have people monitoring the Action Forum and removing bad stuff. The essay question almost always filters out the malicious people trying to volunteer.

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