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Category: Interactive Agencies

Sarah Prevette on Bringing Social Media Marketing to Non-Profits – 5 Question Interview

Net Change took place in Toronto last week and was billed as “Canada’s first week-long, city-wide event designed to dissolve the divide between digital professionals and social change-makers.”

Along with several consultants representing public relations, digital marketing and social media, I was invited to participate in “Social Mastermind // Social Media for Social Change” – a day-long event. The day was an opportunity for charities focusing on social change to work directly with an eclectic mix of consultants who provided advice, tactical support and strategic planning on a pro bono basis.

Charities represented varied interests and a cross-section of the population: Athletes For Africa, Raising The Roof, Theatre Ontario, Meal Exchange, Ontario Black History Society, Pencils For Kids, CYBF, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Toronto Art Council, OCRI, Literacy For Leadership, Hospice Toronto, SKETCH, Toronto Public Library Foundation and McLaughlin Rotman Centre For Global Health.

Sarah Prevette of RedWire Nation I recently interviewed Sarah Prevette of RedWire Nation, the Social Mastermind behind the event itself.

ES: How did you get involved in NetChange and specifically Social Masterminds?

SP: I was invited to MaRS a few weeks ago to brainstorm ideas for how NetChange Week could grow beyond the traditional conference format. Myself and several others from the Toronto community were encouraged to discuss challenges facing not-for-profits and think about how we, with our various communities, might be able to support them.

A major challenge ubiquitous to most charities is raising awareness about their particular issue. With limited resources and budgets, marketing can be a real struggle. With the rise of social media and the unprecedented ability to connect with those who share a passion for the cause, an understanding on how to leverage these *free* tools is paramount.  Recognizing the immense wealth of talent residing in the web community and the continued outpouring of support for social causes, it seemed a natural fit in bringing together the two groups to knowledge share.

ES: What was your inspiration?

SP: While in England several weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Anna Maybank, the social innovator behind Social Innovation Camp. Anna and her team bring together software developers those representing social challenges to build more effective software for fringe groups not currently being serviced by popular platforms.

Anna's idea of crowd-sourcing for social innovation inspired me to think we could do something similar here in Canada. While we weren't designing new software, we could apply similar principles and bring together those with knowledge of social media to work with not-for-profits in creating their own online strategies.

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From the Ground Up – Recognizing and Retaining Creative Talent

Graffiti artists
It is a busy time in the online space – competition for top talent has never been as fierce as it is now, with many studios vying for the best and most creative minds.

This is not surprising, as there is a great deal of revenue at stake. More and more it is becoming recognized that creativity is a chief contributing factor in the success (or lack thereof) of not just studios, but entire metro economies. (For an interesting discussion of the economic impact of fostering creativity, see Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.)

Here in Toronto, the results of an extensive investigation into fostering creativity have been released ( and support the notion that cities, and by extension companies, can live or die on their ability to seek out, and retain, top creative talent. So how is it done?

1. Grow your own.
A company that does not have a viable continued learning program will die. Unfortunately, too many companies see this as a problem they must throw money at to solve. It is, rather, an opportunity that often requires a small amount of time investment over money. Smart companies recognize mentors in their midst, and use their own people’s natural talent for teaching to great effect.

Learning programs should be extended to anyone in the company, including contractors. Contractors represent the most viable source of talent for companies in either a growth period or when trimming – why not develop continued good relationships with them?

Continued learning is often an all-or-nothing proposition because it thrives on group spirit. It is hard to have half of a company involved in continued learning.

2. Recognize the leaders in the local community.
There are always those who take an active role in organizing user-groups, discussion forums, student-programs and such. These are the influencers of the creative body, and the most sought after network resources for creatives. Word-of-mouth association far outweighs all other means of getting to top creative talent. It is lightening-fast compared to other means.

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What Do You Wish Your Agency Could Do?

Magicwandcropped Earlier this month, Sapient conducted a survey of 200 CMOs and senior marketing professionals trying to gain insight into what they wanted from their agencies.  Based on the results, Sapient Interactive put together a Top 10 Wish List for Agencies of the Future.

1. Greater knowledge of the digital space. With more than a third of marketers surveyed revealing that they are not confident that their current agency is well-positioned to take their brand through the uncharted waters of online digital marketing and interactive advertising, it’s clear that agencies need to have a greater knowledge of the digital space in order to thrive. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents have switched agencies (or plan to switch in the next 12 months) for one with greater digital knowledge or have hired an additional digital specialist to handle their interactive campaigns. Further, when it comes to an agency’s area of expertise, 79% of respondents rated “interactive/digital” functions as ‘important/very important.’

2. More use of “pull interactions.” When trying to engage consumers with their brand, 90 percent of respondents agree that it is becoming increasingly important that their agency uses ‘pull interactions’ such as social media and online communities rather than traditional ‘push’ campaigns.

3. Leverage virtual communities. An overwhelming 94 percent of respondents expressed interest in leveraging virtual communities (public and private) to understand more about their target audience.

4. Agency executives using the technology they are recommending. Ninety-two percent of respondents said it was ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ important that agency employees use the technologies that they are recommending. For example, it is important that agency executives regularly use Facebook, Flickr, wikis, blogs, etc. in their personal social media mix.

5. Chief Digital Officers make agencies more appealing. Forty-three percent of marketers surveyed said that agencies with chief digital officers are more appealing than those without.