It’s vital to establish and coordinate a team of people who are responsible for communications with potential “influencers” and “ambassadors”. These will be the lifeblood of your campaign - forming both the innovator and early adopter groups as well as being the “social proof backbone” of your campaign (see below). Often your ambassadors are not the campaign team itself, but high profile members or supporters of your cause - such as your board or trustees - or even their friends and families.
This section covers the basics of creating the engagement plan, getting your internal stakeholders on board, and coordinating them to deliver what is required.
We suggest identifying the key members of the team who are most likely to interface with potential influencers across different categories e.g. press, celebrities, community groups, etc. Get these staff into a meeting room, and run through with them each potential target identified in the network mapping exercise, with a view to answering the key questions in the goal (who, how, what, etc). We suggest you invite any external consultancy into this meeting, as it can help with facilitation.
For each potential influencer, you should be able to identify a next action and assign this to a person, along with a date for this to be done by. The campaign manager is responsible for collating the outcomes of these engagement, and defining next actions after the initial interaction. If a clear next action cannot be identified, the potential influencer should be removed from the list, as it is unlikely that any useful progress can be made with them.
It is possible to break the meeting down into different meetings if, for example, the key people interfacing with media do not overlap with those interfacing with celebrities.
Taking advantage of social media
Below is the well-known engagement cycle, which will be familiar to most business graduates:
The premise is that people fall into loose categories:
In his seminal book “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products”, Geoffrey Moore observed that there can be great difficulty in crossing the gap between Early Adopters and Early Majority. There are vastly different motivations between the groups, and it can be very difficult for those in the Early Majority to adequately assess whether anyone else is using a particular solution or engaging with a particular campaign. What is happening in the Early and Late Majority segments is that ever-increasing “social proof” is required to get people to engage. This can only be delivered by showing people in those groups that others like them are playing ball.
With direct marketing-based solutions, this same problem exists in fundraising and engagement. The vast majority of our audiences will only engage if they see others also doing so. If you imagine a telephone or direct mail campaign where 90%+ of the respondents will only participate if they can see that one of their friends has already participated, you can see that we run head first into a brick wall.
At its core, digital – largely due to the use and rapid growth of social media – is fundamentally different, because communication is networked. Whilst there are institutional pages and accounts, the vast majority of communication is peer-to-peer. In this way, social media provides us with the tools to encourage those who have engaged to demonstrate and publicize their participation. This increases the visibility of the “early adopters” and provides the social proof needed to crack the majority.