Reporting from the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit: Three Steps to Digital Success – Message, Education, Integration
Headed into yesterday’s Media & Technology strategy session at theNAACP Leadership 500 Summit, the central question was raised: how do we both as individuals and collectively use digital media to spread a message, build community, and enact change?
The goal of the strategy session was to determine three to five strategic points regarding the use of media and communications that the NAACP could adopt as part of its overall advocacy plan.
Three primary recommendations arose and, while they are fundamental in nature, they stand as important reminders of how people from all backgrounds can affect change using media:
1. Understand exactly what message you want to communicate: Seems simple, right? But you’d be surprised how many companies and individuals do not understand what or how to communicate messages to impact their brand, or even —at a community level—get more voters to turn out at the polls. In the case of the NAACP, that message can be bi-directional, being disseminated from a national office or swelling up from a local affiliate.
For African-Americans, as leaders in digital, we need to know what we want to say and whether it will resonate with who we’re targeting.
2. Grassroots mobilizing using digital begins with education and awareness of the tools: Whether you’re messaging to a community about a social activism initiative or running a multi-channel national branding campaign, the extent to which you can build a community of followers then get them engaged through digital media will determine whether you succeed or fail. What does this mean?
Digital media presents a host of tools to get followers engaged, things such as Facebook, Twitter, mobile apps, mobile barcodes, mobile web pages, and the list goes on. Like any craft, you need to know to use these tools. For example, do you have an "@" messaging strategy that will proliferate into first-, second-, and third-order networks? Do you have a hashtag strategy? If you don’t know what a hashtag is, you need to learn.
For the NAACP, this engagement will be driven by the creation of best practices, digital toolkits, and online web repositories of re-usable digital assets for the organization’s local affiliates to perform grassroots community-building via digital, social, and mobile.
Quick litmus test for you: do you know what it means to pin your favorite photo?
3. Strengthen outreach and impact through integrated digital media: The individual digital media tools do not act in a vacuum; they are all inter-related. As an example in cross-linking different digital media tools, you can include a bit.ly link in a Twitter post that opens a mobile web page that is tied into a backend SMS platform to capture people’s phone numbers so they can opt-in to receive important, timely messages from you via text messaging.
This is a simple mobile process that can be applied for a virtually limitless number of applications (e.g., product promotions, voter registration, text-to-give philanthropy, etc.). The ultimate point is that you now have a mechanism for communicating directly with your followers on one of their most intimate personal possessions: their mobile phone.
Ultimately, you need to integrate the various digital media tools to effectively communicate your message and “move the dial” for your brand or organization.
In the NAACP’s case, the recommendation will be made to integrate digital, social, and mobile media initiatives at both a national and local level, and ensure they are seamlessly integrated.
These are just three ideas that may change the face of the NAACP and how it communicates with its various constituents, including some of you.
As you ponder the vast possibilities of digital media, I ask you: how are you going to leverage your personal social capital to change the world?
A. Troy Brown is the chief architect and president of one50one. With more than two decades of executive experience in digital platforms and product delivery, Brown has fostered digital and mobile content and marketing deals with Sony Pictures, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Starbucks Entertainment and the first ever mobile branded content deal with Lucas Films. He also has secured direct international content deals with Tier 1 mobile carriers worldwide and premium online storefronts including Heineken, Amazon, Ford, iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, Apple, Best Buy, Belvedere, Hennessy and Magic Johnson Enterprises and Walmart.com, among others. Brown sits on the board of several technology companies, including Express Mobile and IFK.