Here’s an inspiring social media story for you:
For her birthday, my S.O. Adrienne Wallace decided to raise money for Kids Food Basket (a fantastic charity here in Grand Rapids). She happened on the fundraising platform “Causes” that offers a robust set of features that plug directly into social networking tools like Facebook and set a modest goal of $500 in contributions in lieu of gifts for herself.
Causes accepts a variety of social media-friendly donation methods, offers fun and valuable analytics to engage one’s audience (tracking who was first to give, who gave most recently, who gave the most, and offers a chance for people to become “Sidekicks” by spreading the message beyond Facebook by emailing five other friends). It also offers anonymity if donors desire that, and it allows the organizer to personally thank each donor.
Not only that, but it extends charitable actions beyond a single event by creating a profile page and using social gaming to link you to your Facebook friends and compare your various charitable actions (in a competition to be the most generous).
- Adrienne raised $1,110 for her charity.
- A total of 45 donors contributed.
- Many of the people who donated were recent/new acquaintances (not the close friends/family that one would assume would be the only people who would contribute).
- The message of Kids Food Basket was spread to hundreds of people (possibly thousands) beyond the donors to their social networks.
- Thanks to Adrienne’s ability to network IRL, the amount will be doubled by a generous donor who is also a regular volunteer at KFB.
I believe someone like Adrienne is considerably more valuable to an organization than someone like me; she’s generally far more social and has a much larger and more connected social network than I do. That bears out in her higher Klout score, her larger Facebook friends network, etc. ( although my blog does get more readers ;-] ).
The standardized measures we use to gauge the value of students and employees have always been sheisty; IQ is a worse predictor of workplace success than EQ, and standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are being de-emphasized in college admissions because they’re not good predictors of whether or not a student will be successful.
In this new social age we live in, one of the most important variables we all should be paying more attention to is the social network an employer or student brings with them. Increasingly, the ability to wield those networks is how things are getting done moreso than brute intellectual force.
Examples of the power of networks is all around us:
- Mary Bale, the British woman who dumped a cat into a trash bin and was identified after security camera footage of her act of animal cruelty was posted online and the circle of social networks broadened until they reached eyeballs that recognized her as the perpetrator.
- Joshua Kaufman who used the software “Hidden” to track the thief who stole his Macbook and crowdsourced the identification of the suspect.
- The Redditor who used his network to save his wedding after the venue owner bailed three weeks before his nuptials.
Higher education and employers would do well to measure applicants’ networks just as they measure the individual.
I propose that they give out homework assignments. For example, come up with a variety of tasks that require accessing and using one’s network of friends and associates to accomplish (that is, after all, what a reference list is – a measure of your network but a very poor one). Why not get some benefit for an organization out of the applicant search process?
- See how many friends they can sign up for the organization’s email list.
- See how many friends they can get to “like” the organization’s Facebook page.
- See how big a “celebrity” (local or national) they can get to retweet a message for them on behalf of the organization.
- See how many friends they can drive to “follow” the organization on Twitter (and measure the reach via Klout).
- See how many friends they can get to fill out a feedback survey for the organization.