Spare Change

making a difference with social marketing
by Nedra Kline Weinreich

How is a lovesick penitent like a bad social marketing campaign? Let me count the ways.

Today I received the following text message on my phone:
this cant be the end. An like i said it wuz a mistake (the message) an i apoligize...dats wat i want u 2 understand...i luv u 2 much 2 do that 2 u.
Talk about a wrong number! I picture the sender heartbroken, desperately trying to win his lady back, hoping she'll change her mind, frantically texting ... and sending it to the wrong person. While being moved by the raw human drama embedded in this message, we can also callously extract some social marketing lessons (ah, is there anything in life we cannot somehow tie into this blog's content? not so far!).

Some thoughts:
  • Don't make the message all about you and what you want. Show the people you are talking to why it's in their best interest to do what you are asking them to do. (e.g., "If u give me another chance, I'll treat u like a queen.")
  • Be very careful to make sure your messages are reaching your audience. If you talk in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, do you make a sound?
  • If you send out messages that end up backfiring, you may not get another chance to make it right. (I'm intensely curious what the initial offending message was -- a message meant for someone else but sent to her? Something he didn't realize she would be so touchy about? And somehow I've decided that it must have been a man sending this, tell me if you think I'm wrong.)
  • The most important things in the world to us and our programs -- critical, life-changing issues -- may be completely irrelevant or unactionable to other people. Don't assume that what's top of your agenda means anything to anyone else.
  • Use multiple methods of reaching your audience rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. I sure hope this guy tries to reach his lady love by phone or in person too, rather than relying on this one text message to convey his request for forgiveness.
Let's hope our errant Romeo reads my blog or at least figures out some of these lessons for himself. It sounds like he's going to need to market himself quickly to his audience of one or be back out in the meet market again.

Photo Credit: Macgidtosh
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Over the past few weeks, I've been saving up resources and info to share but just haven't had a chance to compile them into a Tip Jar. In the meantime, here is a time-sensitive event sent to me by Craig Lefebvre, who says that this free event has over 150 participants registered, making it the largest gathering of social marketers outside of Clearwater Beach (the USF conference).

Conversations on Social Marketing:
A two-part forum on social marketing best practices and approaches.

Monday, November 5 & Tuesday, November 6, 2007
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Jack Morton Auditorium (directions)
805 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Foggy Bottom Metro

Offered in collaboration with Population Services International and the George Washington University School of Public, this event is free and attendance is open to anyone interested in social marketing. Each session will conclude with a discussion led by Craig Lefebvre, Chief Technical Officer, Population Services International. Light refreshments will be served.

Featured Topics and Speakers, November 5:
"Essential Components of Social Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations"
Katya Andresen, Vice President for Marketing, Network for Good and author, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes
"The Application of Brands to Public Health Behaviors"
—Dr. Doug Evans, Vice President for Public Health and Environment, RTI International

Featured Topics and Speakers, November 6:
"The Total Market Approach"
Richard Pollard, consultant and specialist in the Total Market Approach to social marketing management and creator of the "Constraints Resolution Model" for behavior change communication program
"High Frequency Stores Strategies"
—Gregory Cowal, founding member of Global Marketing Services and President, Grupo Sur Promociones

Space is limited. Please register by October 26 (I know I'm telling you past the deadline, but it's worth trying to get in!) by sending an email to and indicate your affiliation and which day(s) you are registering for.

And speaking of having conversations on social marketing, if you are a Facebook member, I have started a Facebook group called Fun, Easy and Popular Social Marketers, which is an online place for us to hang out together and schmooze about social marketing. We already have about 50 people in the group, so I hope you'll join us! (The name of the group is an ode to Bill Smith's injunction to make our social marketing products seem fun, easy and popular.)

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A new dispatch from my very own unnamed Deep Throat in DC:

On Tuesday, the Senate approved its Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008; the bill preserves funding for the CDC's Entertainment Education program (background here). This victory is due to the staunch support for the program shown by the public health community. Now, our attention turns to the House-Senate conference committee that will negotiate a final bill to send to the President. We need to urge the conference committee to remove the Ryan amendment previously approved by the House, which would eliminate funding for CDC's Entertainment Education program. We believe the conference committee will wrap up its work and send a bill to the President by November 1st.

We can mobilize one more time to make sure that the funding remains in the final bill. We've already seen that by showing our support for the effectiveness and importance of the EE approach, we were able to convince those in the Senate that this funding is not a "boondoggle." I could see that individuals from the House and Senate visited my blog to read what had been written about the amendment. Let's make sure that they continue to feel the pressure. We only need to persuade four people this time.

At this point, sending a fax will be most effective. Copy and personalize the suggested letter below, sign and date it, and send one copy to the House and one to the Senate. Here are the fax numbers and letter:
Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Specter – (202) 224-2100
Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Walsh - (202) 225-9476


Chairman Tom Harkin
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20510

Ranking Member Arlen Specter
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20510

Chairman David Obey
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20515

Ranking Member James Walsh
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

As the House and Senate conference the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008, I am writing to share my support for the CDC’s Entertainment Education Program. This is an important public health tool which utilizes the power of popular mass media to educate Americans about healthy behaviors.

During House consideration of the Labor-HHS bill, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) successfully offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the program. I urge you to remove this amendment as you develop the conference report.

The CDC’s Entertainment Education Program fosters the use of factual health information in television shows and promotes the incorporation of important and timely public health messages into television programming. Funding for this program allows the CDC to reach out to television writers with written materials and experts on a wide range of public health issues, to respond to requests from television writers, producers, and researchers, and to ultimately connect them with experts who can provide factual information.

According to the 2005 HealthStyles (Porter Novelli) study, nearly three out of 10 (28%) regular television viewers took one or more actions as a result of a television health storyline, such as telling someone about the health topic, calling a hotline or visiting a clinic. Under the guidance of the CDC’s Entertainment Education Program, more than 400 television episodes contained public health information, including more than 82 major storylines.

Please support effective approaches to improve public health – remove the Ryan amendment during conference consideration of the Labor-HHS bill. Thank you.


Please fax your letter by October 31st. I'll keep you informed of any news I learn. Thanks for your support!

Photo Credit: Daniel Berger

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The Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants is in full-swing. Come on into the tent and peep at the best posts of the week related to social marketing and nonprofits.

Craig Lefebvre of On Social Marketing and Social Change addresses the recent New York Times article ripping social marketing efforts selling bed nets for malaria control. He does a thorough job of explaining the many problems with the objections, and even follows up with a summary of the responses to the article. My favorite Senator, Tom Coburn, shows again what an advocate of public health he is with the line in the NYT article, "We knew social marketing doesn't work."

Britt Bravo of Have Fun * Do Good offers four steps to start using the social web for social change: consume, join, participate and create. She has great lists of examples and resources for each step.

Beth Kanter of Beth's Blog demonstrates yet again how effective social media can be for personal fundraising, raising $1,000 in 24 hours to send a young Cambodian woman to college and (as of this writing) at least half more of that to sponsor a young man as well. There's still time for you to donate!

Paul Jones of Cause-Related Marketing makes the interesting observation that the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness has become the equivalent of an open-source charity icon. This is a double-edged sword, as not only can breast cancer-related nonprofits use the symbol, but so can for-profit entities (who may not be as protective of its charitable meaning).

Sandy Beckwith of Build Buzz gives her take on how Ellen DeGeneres' dog adoption story should have played out differently, from a marketing point of view. (And her follow-up on what animal rescue organizations should do to take advantage of this publicity opportunity.)

Nancy Schwartz of Getting Attention makes the case for making search engine optimization part of your marketing strategy. It's really not that scary.

Katya Andresen of Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog lays out ten steps to finding and winning a corporate partner for your outreach efforts. As an added bonus, Joe Waters of Selfish Giving offers his own riffs on Katya's points.

And for the host post, I'll share the beginning of my case study about using a Facebook Group for building a grassroots advocacy campaign for suicide prevention-related legislation. We're up to 82 members, and if you're on Facebook, I hope you'll join us.

Next week the Carnival will be at Donor Power Blog. If you would like to participate, go to to submit your post using the form there or send an email to npc.carnival AT yahoo DOT com with your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage). The deadline is Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET.

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Thanks to the efforts of many people, Senator Coburn removed the provision to eliminate funding for the CDC's Entertainment Education program from his proposed amendment before it even made it to the floor for a vote (here's the background if you are just joining the story now). High fives all around!

So, as it stands now, the Senate version of the HHS appropriations bill leaves the funding intact, while the House version has it eliminated. From my limited policy knowledge, I believe the next step will be for the House and Senate to reconcile the two versions of the bill in conference. I will let you know when and how we can try to influence that process when the time comes.

We made a difference! (And, no, I don't receive any funding myself from this program. It's the principle of the thing.)

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On Monday, I will be hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, a traveling compilation of the best blog posts of the week. This week the Carnival will focus on social marketing for nonprofits. You can either write something specifically for the Carnival or send in your favorite post that fits the theme.

If you would like to submit a post for consideration, send it to npc.carnival AT yahoo DOT com with your name, your blog’s name and the URL of the post (not your blog homepage). The deadline this week is Sunday, 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

Watch for the big top going up on Monday!
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Thanks to my well-placed source on the ground in Washington, here is a brief update on the status of the entertainment education funding:
The Senate began consideration of the Labor-HHS bill yesterday and continues today (and possibly tomorrow). Sen. Coburn filed his amendment to eliminate funding for the Entertainment Education program, signaling his intention to offer it at some point during debate on the bill. We do not have a time frame for when Coburn will formally offer the amendment and when the Senate will debate it.
In his column today praising Senator Coburn's efforts to eliminate pork from the budget (a worthy goal, but misguided in this case), Bob Novak of the Washington Post mentions the "$1.7 million added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget to fund a Hollywood liaison to advise doctor dramas." This vastly oversimplifies the purpose of the program, and ignores the public health impact that results from collaborating with the entertainment industry to achieve the CDC's health behavior change goals. If anything, it's the anti-pork (literally and figuratively).

I just called both my Senators to urge them to oppose Senator Coburn's pending amendment. If you feel as strongly about defending the value of the entertainment education approach as I do, I hope you will call or email your Senators today as well. I think we especially need people from outside of California to contact your Senators, because most of the efforts so far have been centered in L.A.

To make it even easier for you, here are a couple of sentences you can use as-is or adapt for when you call:
Hi, I'm calling to urge Senator ____ to oppose Senator Coburn's amendment to the Labor/HHS appropriations bill that would eliminate funding for the CDC's entertainment education program. This is an effective and cost-efficient public health tool that has been proven to increase health knowledge and healthy behaviors among television viewers. Thank you.
Two minutes per phone call, and we can make this happen. We've got the power.

Photo Credit: sazztastical
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I have been intending to write about this for some time, and with the US Senate about to open up debate on the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services this week, the time must be now.

Back in July, when the House of Representatives was voting on the HHS Appropriations bill, Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin successfully passed an amendment on a voice vote that took out the line item for the CDC's entertainment education project (currently housed at USC as Hollywood, Health and Society). This is a well-known, successful program that works with television writers and other entertainment industry professionals to ensure that health issues are depicted accurately and to work towards inclusion of health content into shows to promote healthy behaviors on the part of the audience. I have written about the effectiveness of the entertainment education approach many times before.

Congressman Ryan lumped this program in with other instances of what he considers wasteful spending by the CDC and tarred it with a very broad brush. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of his remarks:
Mr. Chairman, there is a recent troubling report entitled "CDC Off Center,'' which was produced under the direction of Senator Coburn with a report in the Senate Government Affairs Committee. Instead of using its resources to fight life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer, the CDC has instead spent money on needless luxury items and nongovernment functions.

For example, the CDC's Office of Health and Safety recently provided its employees with a new, extravagant fitness center that includes such items as rotating pastel "mood'' lights, zero-gravity chairs, and $30,000 dry-heat saunas. The CDC has also spent over $1.7 million on a "Hollywood liaison'' to advise TV shows like "E.R.'' and "House'' on medical information included in their programming, clearly an expense that should have been covered by the successful for-profit television shows, not by our hard-earned tax dollars. They also further squandered taxpayer dollars in an office intended to help improve employee morale...

In a time when we are facing increasing risk of bioterrorism and disease, these are hardly the best use of taxpayer dollars. My amendment simply would ensure that the CDC would not be able to spend any more Federal funding on these three boondoggles described above. And it is my hope that we can get the CDC focused on doing its job, which is very important and they do a good job on that, and not on these kinds of boondoggles.
With that one sentence about the “Hollywood liaison,” boom, out went that program. I'm not going to comment on the rest of the CDC "boondoggles" because I don't know enough about them. I do know that entertainment education is not a boondoggle, but a very effective public health activity.

Congressman Ryan's chief objection seems to be that those rich Hollywood types should pay for their own darn consultants if they want to be medically accurate. The fact is, TV writers and producers are in the business of telling stories and entertaining people. There aren't many producers out there like Neal Baer who put a premium on incorporating health education while telling a good story. Many need to be convinced, and then handed the information on a silver platter. If programs like Hollywood Health and Society (HHS) and others like it weren't doing constant outreach to the entertainment industry, much more inaccurate information would be getting out to the public, which might then be erroneously acted upon.

And that doesn't take into account that this type of outreach is much more cost-effective than producing television ads and purchasing time to run them. Some examples of the cost savings can be found by looking at the shows HHS has consulted on (thank you to my anonymous well-placed contacts who provided me with this information):
  • Show: ER
    Topic: adolescent obesity and related topics
    Length: approx. 7 minutes
    Audience: 24.8 million
    If purchased time using ad rate: $4,818,324
    Evaluation results:
    • Viewers reported more healthy behaviors after seeing the storyline, i.e. exercising and eating healthy (AOR 1.65, p<.01).
    • Viewers had more knowledge of 5 A Day compared with non-viewers (AOR 1.05, p<.05).
    • Men had the greatest and most significant gains in knowledge (AOR 1.25, p<.01).
  • Show: 24
    Topic: Bioterrorism/major disease outbreak
    Length: approx. 20 minutes
    Audience: 11.4 million
    Cost if purchased time using ad rate: $12,360,000
    Evaluation results:
    • Viewers who saw one or more of the 5 storyline episodes had increased knowledge about susceptibility to a bioterrorism attack, how infection spreads, public health response, and steps to take in a bioterrorism emergency.
    • Viewers were also significantly influenced in their intention to follow directions from authorities.
Over the past five years, the total time that television shows aired public health information concerning CDC topics was approximately 545 min., reaching 586 million viewers. The total cost if they had purchased ad time on those shows would have been $72,442,644. For the number of people they reached, and the effectiveness of the content, I'd say the program was a bargain at $1.7 million.

If you agree that the CDC should continue to promote public health through the very effective entertainment education approach, please contact your Senators to express your support for retaining this funding. You can find your Senators' email and fax numbers here. You can adapt this sample letter:


Senator _______
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator _______:

I am writing to share my support for the CDC’s Entertainment Education Program, an important public health tool which utilizes the power of popular mass media to educate Americans about healthy behaviors. I urge you to oppose any attempts to eliminate funding for the program when the Senate considers the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008.

The CDC’s Entertainment Education Program fosters the use of factual health information in television shows and promotes the incorporation of important and timely public health messages into television programming. Funding for this program allows the CDC to reach out to television writers with written materials and experts on a wide range of public health issues, to respond to requests from television writers, producers, and researchers, and to ultimately connect them with experts who can provide factual information. Rather than serving in lieu of paid consultants to the shows, the program ensures accurate depictions of health issues even when no such effort would have been made otherwise on the part of the entertainment professionals.

During House consideration of the Labor-HHS bill, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) successfully offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the program. I urge you to oppose any similar effort in the Senate.

According to the 2005 HealthStyles (Porter Novelli) study, nearly six out of 10 (58%) regular television viewers report learning something about a disease or how to prevent it from a daytime or primetime drama. More importantly, nearly three out of 10 (28%) regular viewers took one or more actions as a result of a television health storyline, such as telling someone about the health topic, calling a hotline or visiting a clinic.

Under the guidance of the CDC’s Entertainment Education Program:
• More than 400 television episodes contained public health information, including more than 82 major storylines
• 11 shows ran some combination of informational PSAs, info spots, and toll free numbers
• 28 storylines were evaluated for effect on viewing audiences
• More than 200 links to public health information were provided to show websites for their viewers

The entertainment education approach works. Up to 20 million viewers may watch a single T.V. show, and they act on the health information they receive. It would be a public health tragedy for this highly successful program to lose its funding.


Please pass this information along to other entertainment education professionals and social marketers you know so that the entire field is not dismissed offhandedly as a "boondoggle." The House wasn't paying attention. Let's make sure that the Senate is.

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I read a story in the paper this morning that gave me a giggle and made me wonder if someone was pulling the reporter's leg. ICANN, the official internet naming agency, is starting to test using domain names written in languages composed of non-Roman letters. The 11 languages they are testing are Arabic, Persian, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil. Yes, that does say Yiddish. Not Hebrew, the language of scores of the highest of the high-tech internet entrepreneurs, but Yiddish. These languages were chosen "based on the online communities that have expressed the most interest in and need for non-English domains."

Are there really octogenarians and Chasids clamoring for the ability to surf the web in Yiddish? Are the Judenrein communities of Eastern Europe attempting to preserve the vestiges of Yiddish culture online? Or is it a way to avoid dredging up politicized battles by testing the Hebrew characters in which the language is written while calling it by a more nonthreatening name?

I'm going to go reserve my social-marketing.oy domain name now.

UPDATE (10/15/07): Kieren McCarthy at the ICANN blog responded to my question about why Yiddish was selected. She forwarded what Tina Dam, the manager of that project, told her:
“It was not a case of Yiddish rather than Hebrew. These are two different languages that both utilize the Hebrew script. When we were looking at which language to chose to translate the word test for, and hence develop the IDN TLD, we picked the ones where clear need had been expressed.

“However, the list of the eleven was up for comments and review and we had expected it to be expanded with a few additional languages that communities around the world would like to add. We did not get any such requests and so went ahead with the 11 we have today.

“However, please keep in mind that it is not about testing languages – it is about testing a technology. We do need to test the technology on both right-to-left languages and left-to-right languages – Yiddish, Arabic, Persian being the three of the former...

It still amazes me that there are tech-savvy Yiddish-speaking activists out there demanding equal language access.
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I've been spending more time on Facebook lately, getting to know how it works so I can use it when I have an appropriate project. The opportunity just presented itself in the form of an advocacy campaign headed up by my blog friend Jeff Harrell. A couple of years ago, Jeff wrote a moving article about a young woman named Suzanne Gonzales.

Suzy was a bright, bubbly young lady with a quirky sense of humor from a small town in California. After she went off to college, she became depressed and turned to the Internet for support in January 2003. Unfortunately, rather than finding people who wanted to help her recover and live a long, healthy life, Suzy posted a note about her suicidal feelings to the Usenet group She was met with relentless discouragement against getting help, and over the following months was encouraged by members of the group to go ahead and commit suicide. This included providing specific details on the best method of killing herself and helping her come up with a plan to carry it out. On March 23, 2003, Suzy took her own life, alone in a Florida hotel room. She was one of many such "successes" to come out of that online group.

Yesterday, Jeff announced on his blog that he would be spearheading an advocacy campaign to help pass the bill currently before the House that was inspired by Suzy's story. H.R. 940, the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act of 2007 (Suzy's Law), would make it a crime to use the Internet to promote or encourage suicide.

It's a very narrow and specific law, designed not to abridge freedom of speech or trample on state-specific laws related to suicide. Telling someone how to commit suicide is already against the law in all 50 states, but there is a need for a federal law to take into account the interstate nature of the Internet. A person can only be convicted under this law if they provided information on how to commit suicide to a particular person whom they knew to be contemplating suicide, and when that information was not generally known. The bill is currently in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and requires approximately 50 Congressional co-sponsors to make it to the next step in the process (it currently has 3 co-sponsors).

Jeff has created a striking website to serve as a home base for this advocacy effort (all work on this campaign by Jeff and others is on a volunteer basis). He has made it very easy for people to learn more about the issue, the legislation, and how to help. The main push right now is for people to call to urge their Representative to sign on to H.R. 940 as a co-sponsor of the bill. He provides a zip code look-up to find your Rep's phone number, along with a two-sentence script that you can use if you're not sure what to say.

I suggested to Jeff that he use Facebook to get the word out about this campaign quickly and efficiently. It seems like the kind of issue that Internet-savvy, particularly college-age, Facebook users would be interested in supporting and sharing with their friends. When I found out that Jeff was not on Facebook, I decided that this would be a good opportunity for me to set up a Facebook group and learn more about promoting a campaign via a social networking site. The page went live this morning, and includes:
  • an introduction to Suzy's Law
  • campaign contact information
  • an action request to call Congress
  • a pointer to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for people who might find the page because they or someone they know is suicidal
  • additional resources about suicide prevention
  • photos of Suzy
  • links to the story Jeff wrote about Suzy and to the website her family created in her memory
  • a discussion board with the starter topic of "Have you ever had a friend who was suicidal? What did you do?"
  • and a post on the Wall about National Depression Screening Day, which is tomorrow, Thursday October 11.
I invited my Facebook friends (almost 50 people) to join, and Jeff posted a link to the group on the campaign blog. I left messages on about 8 or 9 other Facebook groups related to suicide prevention, depression and mental health inviting their members to join our group. By the end of the day, we had 17 members in the group -- the majority of whom were not from my own network. It's not a huge number, admittedly, but I will be watching with interest to see how quickly it increases. I've had my jealous eye on the "Support the Monks' Protest in Burma" group, which currently has a whopping 397,000 members and increases by about 17,000 a day (if that's how often the "new members" feature is updated). I'm looking to that as an example of how to get a group to spread.

If you are on Facebook, please join our "Support Suzy's Law for Suicide Prevention" group and invite your own friends to join as well. If you're not on Facebook, it's free, quick and easy to become a member, and then you can join the group. You can also add me as a friend (here's my profile - viewable once you have a Facebook account).

Let's make sure that other young people like Suzy are not persuaded by sick strangers that suicide is the best answer, and then coached on how to take their own lives. If you live in the U.S., I hope you'll get involved by making that quick and easy phone call to your Representative. And if you live outside the U.S., you can help us by spreading the word to your American friends. Thanks!
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Consummate bookworm CK has announced the next round of the Marketing Profs Book Club, and the featured book is one of my favorites for nonprofits who want to do social marketing -- Robin Hood Marketing by Katya Andresen.

You might remember that I did a review of the book last year and thought it was a great guide to developing a marketing mindset in your nonprofit communications. For more on the book, read CK's interview with Katya. I'm looking forward to many stimulating online discussions at the Book Club, which will start November 13. Sign up by October 12 to be part of the Book Club, and you will be entered to win one of 50 free copies of Robin Hood Marketing!

I was honored to be asked by CK to put together a short introduction to social marketing as a bonus to be offered to all Book Club participants. This free eBook, Social Marketing at Your Fingertips: A Quick Guide to Changing the World, is now available for download. It briefly explains what social marketing is and isn't, outlines the social marketing mix, offers an abridged review of Robin Hood Marketing, and provides a list of resources for more information. I hope you find it helpful!

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I'm excited about the 3rd Social Marketing University training that I'll be leading next week (October 15-17) here in Los Angeles.

I have a few excellent guest speakers, who I think will add a lot to the program. Dr. Deborah Glik, the director of UCLA's Health and Media Research Group, will be sharing a case study of a social marketing program she developed. Hendre Coetzee, the CEO of MobileCause, will give an insider's view on how to use mobile marketing to bring about behavior change. And at the Next Generation Social Marketing seminar, Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department (who I wrote about here) will be sharing how he has used social media to extend the reach of his messages and engage the community in his department's mission.

We still have some spaces available, so if you would like to join us, please register as soon as possible!
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After being out of town, out for various Jewish holidays and trying vainly to catch up with work, here is the next edition of the Tip Jar...
  • My daughter, who's in first grade, still makes friends by asking other girls, "Do you want to be my friend?" As we grow older, friendship becomes more of a social process that evolves organically and less of an up-front question. That's changed with social networking sites where we have to expose ourselves to flat-out rejection all over again to build our friend lists. I'm still trying to decide whether Facebook offers enough value to me to keep up with it on a regular basis. I'm finding that the more people I add as friends, the more useful it is, though I have a strange mix of friends, colleagues and family. If you're on Facebook, do you want to be my friend? Here's my profile (only accessible once you complete the free registration) [update: link fixed!]. I wish I could take the Facebook class offered at Stanford by BJ Fogg of the Persuasive Technology Lab. They will be exploring how motivation and influence operate on Facebook. There's still so much to learn.
  • Speaking of social networking, should we be surprised at yet another such site popping up around the issue of social change? The Changents site centers around change agents and those who want to support their efforts.
  • And if you are feeling overloaded by all the social networking sites you are part of, the NOSO Project may be just what you need. According to the website:
    NOSO is a real-world platform for temporary disengagement from social networking environments. The NOSO experience offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.

    These “NO” events, called NOSOs, take place in designated cafes, parks, libraries, bookstores, and other public spaces. Participants -- whose identities remain unknown to one another -- agree to arrive at an assigned time and remain alone, quiet and un-connected, while at the same time knowing that another “Friend” is present in the space.

    NOSOs are scheduled by users through the NOSO website. They last for a duration of 1 - 30 minutes, after which participants disperse and return to their regular activities.

    Or, you could just grab a cup of coffee by yourself and disengage from the grid for a while. Nah, not ironic enough.
  • Hip-hop music is being used to bring about social change in a region in Kenya, spurred by a musician named Geoffrey Arthur Ogalo (better known to his fans as Tera Mos). He is leading a group of hip-hop artists in Kisumu, who are shying away from using vulgar language, and sings about problems that youth encounter in their daily lives, how to protect the environment, and other issues like poverty and HIV/AIDS. The phrase "Tera Mos" - also the name of his best-known song - means "don't hurry me up because I need to be sure before I leap" in the Dholuo language.
  • For those who watch the Superbowl just for the commercials, a new website called Firebrand is about to launch. Its "commercials as content" programming includes commercial jockeys (CJs) -- along the lines of the VJs back when MTV actually showed music videos -- to contextualize the commercials and guide viewers through the spots, contests and promotions. It will be viewable via TV, web and mobile devices. Users will be able to create their own playlists and share their favorite spots. Hopefully they will also include social marketing spots in their content, and this should certainly be added to your TV ad/PSA distribution strategy.
  • A couple of excellent reports have come out on the use of blogs by government agencies. The first is called The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0, and is downloadable from the IBM Center for the Business of Government (thanks to Mike Kujawski for the tip). The second is an article by Maurice Muise of Environment Canada, called "Government Blogs: What They are and Why You Need One (or Two or Three...)," which includes some great examples. This document came via the Social Marketing Listserv, and as far as I could find is not online, so if you'd like to take a look, send me an email and I'll forward it to you.
  • If you want to reach Generation Y with your story, Sam Davidson at Cool People Care has some tips for how to best get your message out in a way they will listen. He says: get digital, get relevant, get simple, get practical, and get original. Get over to the full post to find out how. And here's an example of how voter mobilization campaigns are reaching this demographic through text messaging reminders to vote.
  • I've written about this before, but here is more confirmation that depictions of healthy behaviors on television influence health behaviors among viewers. According to researchers at USC, those who watched episodes of the show ER that addressed the topics of teen obesity, hypertension and healthy eating were more likely to report a positive change in their related behaviors and increased knowledge about nutrition. Similarly, even in Saudi Arabia, the most popular comedy series Tash Ma Tash, watched by nearly the whole country each night during Ramadan, is working toward social change by addressing topics like women's rights, corruption and other social problems.
  • Social media has been playing a role in the reporting and response to the gripping protests by the monks in Burma. With over 263,000 members of the Facebook group supporting the monks' protest, blogs, YouTube videos, cellphone photojournalism, Flickr, Second Life and other tactics, detailed so well by Angelo Fernando and Beth Kanter, the dynamics of real-time protest and reportage have completely changed. Similarly, those supporting the Jena 6 are also using social media to create a student movement around this issue.
  • England's health secretary, Alan Johnson, is hoping to change the MRSA superbug infection rate in the nation's hospitals through a simple behavioral and cultural change. NHS doctors will no longer be allowed to wear the long-sleeved white coats that have come over generations to represent authority and tradition, and they must remain bare below the elbow whenever they are in contact with patients. The MRSA superbug may have been spreading from one patient to another on the cuffs of the doctors' coats, and eliminating the coat will make it easier to wash hands and wrists correctly. Watches, jewelry and ties will also be verboten. It's a simple change, easily enforced, but could make a big difference in patient survival.
Time is running out to register for Social Marketing University, which will be happening October 15-17 in Los Angeles! There are still spaces left, so come join us for a fun and informative training.

Photo Credit: justbadpot
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