Since Web 2.0 created an entirely new way of communicating and getting information, organizations have been scrambling to figure out how to use the new tools to build their brands and find more people online who want to join them. Some organizations have been jumping into the pool with an attitude that a quick plunge is invigorating and can be a great experience, while others, especially Jewish organizations, have stayed poolside waiting for someone to tell them the water is fine.
Now even an organization with a tired, lackluster or little known brand can take advantage of the low cost of entry to the Web 2.0 marketing world and build brand awareness if it is willing to play by Web 2.0 rules. That means giving up a little control over their “sacred” organizational identities and allowing their strongest supporters to use these organizational brands as an extension of their own personal online branding efforts. It means trying out some new approaches that may not immediately deliver big dollars but can start to build a much bigger list of friends who might give you their philanthropic support later on.
The venerable Salvation Army’s web site encourages its supporters to “own” a personalized piece of their Red Kettle brand by giving these advocates tools to create their own Red Kettle web pages and serve as volunteer SA fundraisers. Together, Salvation Army and its most dedicated supporters are stretching the value of the SA brand making it a more interactive and elastic experience and one that is creating stronger relationships between the organization and the individual.
The National Geographic Society’s web site give kids a set of online NGS branded tools to create their own customized and personal web pages. UNICEF offers supporters access to online tools that let them create customized UNICEF web sites, personalized fundraising programs, a personalized online “trick or treat” campaign kit and an emergency response team toolkit. The World Wildlife Fund has a special “social spot” on its web site that encourages supporters to co-brand with them using Face book, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn social networks. All a supporter has to do is add the WWF button to their own personal profile on any of the affiliated social network sites. These are all easy and low/no cost examples of how to extend a brand and build a new network of support.
Too many Jewish organizations are still not in the game. I searched for (but must have missed you and forgive me if you are doing great work) Jewish organizations that have created programs for individual supporters’ involvement or encouraged their web site visitors to co-brand with them on social networks and personalized web pages.
To be competitive in the Web 2.0 world, Jewish organizations need to get into the pool and learn to swim. That means offering more easy to access, fun, personal and hands-on experiences– experiences that say “We want to be part of your life as you live it,” not the inverse experiences that say “Here we are. Please give.”
Successful brands of the future will be the ones that know a little risk-taking is healthy, that a new playing field can be daunting but productive and that sharing is what your mother always taught you to do. Now get into the pool and have some fun!
about Gail: Gail Hyman started her professional career in the corporate world, where she designed communications strategies and solved marketing problems for some of the largest pharmaceutical, manufacturing, chemical, cosmetic and retail clothing companies in the world. Clients included Pfizer, Coty, Revlon, Burlington Mills, Monsanto and JC Penney.
In 1987, she left corporate work and joined UJA-Federation of New York, becoming its vice president of marketing and communications. During her 10 year tenure there, she repositioned the organization’s brand, created its first advertising campaign in decades and helped increase campaign revenues by telling powerful stories about the people helped.
In 1997, she was asked to create a marketing and communications division for the newly created United Jewish Communities-Federations of North America (UJC). During her tenure at UJC, Gail was responsible for creating the first web portal for a large non-profit system—UJC Web—which gained media coverage in The Wall Street Journal and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In 2006, Gail left UJC to open her own marketing and communications consultancy www.gailhymanconsulting.com, a practice focused on helping Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. In 2007 Gail published a monograph for the Jewish Funders Network, “Judaism 2.0: Identity, Philanthropy and the New Media” which provided an analytic snapshot of how Jewish organizations were addressing the new media challenges.