The Tweet That Changed My Life

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Life | Posted on 15-09-2012

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September 2, 2008, 5.30pm I read a tweet that changed my life — here it is:

Beth Kanter tweeted about ‘giving up’ September birthdays for clean water. I remember clicking through to the borninseptember.org website, watching a great video, and setting up a fundraising page to help build a well for a village in Ethiopia.

To my surprise, lots of people gave! A popular new blogger by the name of Pete Cashmore started fundraising for his September 18th birthday too, and we raised enough to fund ‘the well that Twitter built‘.

charity: water became my favorite charity. Two years later I started working there. Two and a half years further on, and I’m giving up yet another September birthday for clean water — and I’d love your donation.

Social Media Measurement

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Humour, Internet | Posted on 10-09-2012

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Thank you Stephen Colbert.

AMEX bought me a steak, Visa made me walk around an airport

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 09-08-2012

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I had a striking experience this week seeing old and new marketing clash head on in a battle between two of the world’s largest companies: Visa and American Express.

Sunday

I’m at Heathrow Airport waiting for my flight back to the States after watching my mate Ben St Lawrence run for Australia in the 10,000 meters final at the Olympics. With some time to kill before my flight, I decide to buy a Tshirt from the Olympic store to mark the occasion. I line up for 15 minutes, get to the counter… and can’t pay. The Olympics only accept Visa.

I only have a few coins left in my wallet, so have to trudge around the airport, pull out 20 quid from an ATM (with a foreign penalty) and go back to the Olympic store to buy my shirt. I curse Visa under my breath the entire flight home.

Monday

Every Monday a few of my mates get together for a steak night. I check in on Foursquare, as is my habit. Immediately I’m notified that American Express has a $5 off deal in the restaurant, because I’ve signed up for Amex Sync.

I tell all my friends about the deal, they check in and get a discount too. We all pull out our American Express cards instead of cash to pay the bill. American Express save us $20, and we have a positive conversation about their brand as we walk home.

I tweet about the #steakscore, and when I wake up I see a tweet @ me from Amex:

American Express bought me a steak and made me smile. Visa made me walk around an airport and frown.

This post says it best:

If you want people to like you, give them something. If you want people to hate you, take something away from them. 

 

Video chat with Philanthropy News

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 07-08-2012

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The good folk at Philanthropy News recently grabbed me for a quick flip-cam video interview for some insight on how we approach online community and fundraising at charity: water.

Short 8 minute video here:

 

PR News Presentation on Social Media Measurement

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 25-06-2012

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I had a great time today speaking on a panel at the PR News Social Media Summit in NYC on the topic of measurement.

Here’s my presentation and a clip of me discussing it:

 

Video:

A picture tells a thousand likes

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 28-02-2012

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There’s a strong trend towards visuals on the web, led in part by the rise of the iPhone and iPad so you can enjoy high res images on the move.

We’ve taken advantage of this at charity: water by extending our ‘Photos of the Day’ (that we’ve shared on Twitter and our blog for years) into Instagram and Facebook.

Instagram is a favorite of mine, I’ve blogged about it here and elsewhere. We’ve seen a huge rise in followers there as people flock to the platform, and today this photo was our first to recieve 1000 likes.

Similarly, recent changes to the Facebook newsfeed mean that photos get more exposure and compelling images are easier to share. The same photo recieved over 300 likes on Facebook and was shared over 50 times.

Great visuals are a huge marketing asset on the social web.

5 things I’ve learned from 2 years at charity: water

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Internet, Marketing, Uncategorized | Posted on 15-02-2012

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I’m approaching my two year anniversary at charity: water. In those 2 years we’ve raised over $27 million, 100% of which has directly funded clean water projects. And we’ve raised over 75% of those funds through digital channels.

Here are my top 5 things I’ve learned from my first two years at charity: water.

You can also rewind one year to read my top 5 learnings from my first 365 days here.

  • Be Positive

Inspiration is the most important part of our digital strategy. We inspire people through stories that help them see how they can change the world.

We think about building long-term relationships with every supporter, and in order to build strong relationships we want to give them regular positive feelings by inspiring them, thanking them, educating them and recognizing them. We don’t make people feel sad or guilty.

To bring this to life I juxtaposed the ASPCA’s tear-jerking overwraught commercials, with Helen’s Story, a beautiful piece written by Becky Straw telling the story of Helen Apio in Uganda and how access to clean water, for the first time in her life, made her feel beautiful.

The ASPCA ads have reportedly raised over $30 million. I wouldn’t take $30 million this year if I had to make all of America feel terrible in order to get there.

  • Don’t ask for money

This learning could also be phrased as ‘tell stories’. In my two years at charity: water we’ve never asked for money on Facebook or Twitter, nor in our email marketing.

People know we’re a charity. They know the biggest assistance they can give is financial support. We don’t need to ask them for money every time we connect with them, because we’re focused on relationships with people, not their wallets.

Our year end email (when every American non-profit makes a very direct fundraising appeal) simply shared an upbeat two minute video.

  • Do It Wrong Quickly

This is a catchphrase I’ve adopted from my friend and mentor Mike Moran. Do it wrong quickly doesn’t mean go out there and break everything. It means experiment, measure deeply, trial real use cases as quickly as you can and do more of what works.

Don’t come up with a beautiful strategy in 400 Powerpoint slides and roll it out a year later after dozens of meetings, presentations and approvals. Find the smallest test case you can use, ship it, measure it, and if it works in the market expand it.

We’re taking this approach with the new product WaterForward. An experiment in giving, we’re trying a lot of things to see if we can make WaterForward explode virally, but even if it doesn’t the experience from trying will boost us.

  • Be personal

Seth Godin said it well: familiarity (like using my first name in a mass email) isn’t personal – personal is one-to-one and MUST be authentic.

Authentic personal interaction always takes time. The payoff though, can be huge.

Think about the last brand that really took the time to personally interact with you. I’m willing to bet you have a very positive memory.

An example of how we do this is the 250 thank you videos we prepared and sent to individual donors on our 5th birthday in September last year. This took weeks of effort, time from all our staff and even more from a small army of vounteers. The goal was to make 250 people feel special — in the end we look at these videos as one of our biggest successes of 2011.

  • Help them see their impact

Informed by Simon Sinek’s ‘golden circle’ we’ve realized that the most important thing we can do at charity: water is bring people closer to the impact they can make by supporting us.

People are essentially good, and if they see how they can make a change in the world, they’ll do amazing things. We are focusing a great deal of time, energy and effort on helping this happen for all our supporters, the key example being the most exciting project we’ve launched, Dollars to Projects.

If you’d like to hear me chat about this stuff, here is a recording of a webinar I did recently with Artez Online touching on general charity: water info and the five learnings.

How charity: water raises millions through digital channels from artezmedia on Vimeo.

(Note: My slides didn’t convert to Powerpoint properly so sorry for some in the video being ugly! The better slides are embedded as Slideshare above).

Australian populism vs American populism

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Current Affairs, Humour, Internet | Posted on 20-01-2012

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This month I’ve seen two videos of political leaders go viral in my Facebook newsfeed. One from Australia, and one from the USA.

The content of each gives you a feel of the split between the cultures:

Barry Obama (POTUS 2008 – ) sings in Harlem:


Bob Hawke (Prime Minister of Australia 1983-1991) skulls a beer at the cricket:

Smart CMO Virtual Forum

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, charity: water, Events, Internet, Marketing | Posted on 17-01-2012

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Last year I was honored to be invited to record a session for the Smart CMO Virtual Forum, an innovative online event providing top-notch content to a remote audience.

The Smart CMO team just shared a video of my session to share with all of you, check it out to hear about all the work we’re doing in marketing at charity: water:

The next Smart CMO virtual forum is scheduled for March 1 2012 – sign up to see more content like the above, from even better speakers than yours truly, such as the CMOs for both the NFL and SAP.

Where does my iPhone come from?

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Internet, Life | Posted on 09-01-2012

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This morning just before I headed to work this tweet from Clay Shirky pointed me to an incredibly interesting podcast from This American Life:

Like many of us, I spend most of my waking hours touching an Apple product. First thing in the morning I fire up my iPhone to check overnight notifactions. For my full workday I bang on my MacBook Pro. When I get home I’m liable to unwind with some Fifa 12 on my iPad. Apple products and electronics surround my life, but I rarely stop to think about where they come from.

After listening to this podcast, no longer.

Like Mr Daisey the narrator, I always assumed a high tech factory used robots to construct my products with some human oversight. I didn’t think about an army of workers assembling my products painstakingly by hand while they barely made a living.

Thought provoking. Especially the analysis afterwards – are sweatshops like this a fact of life in developing countries that lead to growth despite our western sensibilities? Or do we as consumers, and more importantly Apple, Dell and their ilk who make massive profits from the labor, have a responsibility here?

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