The assignment this week was to recreate a presentation for my client, Patuxent Habitat for Humanity. I chose to showcase the value of the Women Build program and to illustrate the benefits of the program for women volunteers.
There is an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. The idea behind this proverb is that child upbringing is a collaborative, communal effort. The responsibility rests not only upon the immediate family, but also upon extended family, friends, and even neighbors. This approach to child rearing emphasizes core values of family relationships, sharing, hospitality, and most importantly, concern for others.
One can draw a comparison to the messages in Michael Brito’s book Smart Business, Social Business. Brito maintains the idea that for a business to be successful in social media, the culture of the company has to be one that reflects transparency and collaboration. Long gone are the days of a company spokesperson projecting one-way messages. Brito argues that a better strategy is to involve the company as a whole, where every employee, in every department, from sales and marketing to customer service are empowered to engage on social media channels on behalf of the brand.
That’s great in theory, but how does a company change the way it does business to be transparent and collaborative? Brito suggests that this cultural shift needs to start from the top to remove traditional silos that stifle innovation, collaboration, and communication on social media platforms. Companies must also effectively communicate internally to have effective external conversations. The entire company must have a thorough understanding of the mission, goals, strategy, and tactics to communicate clearly and avoid confusion. Ultimately this will lead to a stronger company that more effectively meets the needs of the social consumer.
Furthermore, Brito asserts that humans relate to humans, as such it’s important to build personal relationships through social conversations with real employees involving two-way dialog. Edelman, a leading public relations firm, suggests that empowering employees to be ambassadors of the brand and engaging customers through social media will lead to improved credibility and trust. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global trust and credibility survey, consumers trust employees and peers more than technical experts, corporate representatives, or government officials. As a result, more trust is placed on social media channels than corporate communications, news articles, or advertisements.
Like any conversation, dialog through social media requires active listening. This is a crucial step that provides insight into what the community, advocates, influencers, consumers, and even advisories are saying. Brito outlines several social listening and social relationship management software that companies can utilize to monitor and manage conversations on blogs, forums, Twitter, and Facebook.
Examples of Listening and Relationship Management Software:
- Radian 6
- Meltwater Buzz
- Syncapse Platform
- Social Mention
- Twitter Sentiment
- Google Alerts
Conversations also require responsive, relevant dialog. The same holds true in the social media space. Companies need to follow through with a plan of action and strategy to respond, collaborate, interact, and engage to address what is learned through this listening process. Utilizing social relationship management applications, like the ones mentioned above, enables communicators to share relevant information from across the corporation. Relevant content adds value to the conversation, builds trust, and increases reach for brands. What is relevant content? It is any content that delivers valuable information, free of sales propaganda, with the end goal of being trusted and believable.
The idea of letting employees loose to engage on social media may scare many corporations. To maximize the effectiveness of social media engagement, and to protect both employees and the company from potential public embarrassment, brands must develop social media policies and guidance. This guidance shouldn’t be a scare tactic but rather a tool to communicate the business code of conduct and the rules of engagement. To gain measured success all outbound conversations must communicate the same message.
So how does a brand know if their efforts to listen, manage, and engage are working? It’s critical that they establish measurement practices that align with their business objectives. These objectives will likely fall somewhere in the purchase funnel, which includes awareness, consideration or preference, purchase, and advocacy. If the brand’s objective is to simply raise awareness, then they would measure reach. In this case, they may choose to track Facebook messages, retweets, or comments on corporate blogs. If the brand is concerned about preference, it may track engagement, such as Facebook fan growth, Twitter follower growth, or time spent on a web site. There are a variety of ways to measure the effectiveness of the social media plan, brands need to choose a strategy that makes sense for them and is maintainable.
Brito’s guidance can inform my client’s strategy to empower employees throughout the organization to advocate on behalf of the company. Like many non-profit organizations, Patuxent Habitat for Humanity is stretched thin when it comes to manpower. However, creating a collaborative environment where the entire organization all communicate relevant information on social media platforms will build credibility, improve reach, and increase organic search results.
Additionally, utilizing listening software such as Radien 6, RowFeeder, or Export.ly, my client will be able to conduct a conversation audit to better understand conversations happening around the organization, and where these conversations are taking place. Through active listening they will be able to monitor share of voice and sentiment as well as respond accordingly. This audit will also help to identify advocates who can influence their micro communities to support my client. Lastly, my client will be able to understand conversations that are happening around competitors such as Christmas in April, Good Will, and The Salvation Army.
Brito’s book does an excellent job in demonstrating the variety of tools available to conduct a social strategy. In one such example, Britto provides clear guidance and case studies for establishing training and governance models. This will inform my client’s strategy by establishing standards for employees to use while engaging on social platforms on behalf of the organization.
Image source – Edelman and Microsoft
Habitat for Humanity Partners with the Home Depot Foundation to Provide Safe Homes for Wounded Veterans
Habitat for Humanity International and the Home Depot Foundation launched Repair Corps, an initiative to renovate, repair, and rebuild the homes of wounded U.S. military veterans. In April 2011, the Home Depot Foundation pledged a $30 million initiative to address these housing needs. Habitat for Humanity affiliates around the country facilitate the home repair projects through volunteer labor and donations.
One such affiliate, the Patuxent Habitat for Humanity received a $100,000 Repair Corps grant from The Home Depot Foundation. A portion of this grant is slated to help a local marine who was injured in Afghanistan. On June 18, 2011 Lance Cpl. Celeb Getscher was walking along a tree line on patrol when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). As a result, Getsher is now a triple amputee. With the help of volunteers, the Patuxent Habitat for Humanity will remodel the Getscher’s home to include an addition with handicap accessible facilities. The organization aims to complete 10 projects to help the community’s military veterans.
More than 46,000 U.S. service members have been injured serving our country during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Often times these injuries were disabling, involving traumatic amputations, brain injuries, and other long-term health problems. As a result, these wounded veterans face a lifetime of consequences. Habitat for Humanity is committed to providing safe places for wounded veterans to return home. Through the Repair Corps project this partnership aims to repair the homes of nearly one hundred U.S. military veterans.
The Repair Corps projects involve interior and exterior renovation to alleviate critical life and safety problems, as well as building code violations. Projects vary from structural repairs to installing wheelchair ramps and remodeling homes for accessibility.
Help support Patuxent Habitat for Humanity by making a monetary donation, volunteering your time, and spreading the word about this worthy cause. Call today to see how you can make a difference in the lives of these veterans.
For more information about donating, volunteering or applying for a home, visit www.patuxenthabitat.org or call 301-863-6227 / 410-326-9050.