Understanding Social Networks

18 10 2010

This chapter of the Networked Nonprofit introduces what social networks are and how they can be utilized to illicit social change.  This chapter explains that social networks have two main components: people or organizations called nodes and the connections between them called ties.  This chapter explains that effective networks are made up of strong and weak ties.  Strong ties are relationships that you have with close personal friends or relatives.  Loose ties are connections that are made with acquaintances.  These ties are much looser.  These should be utilized and maintained to engage social networks and unite people behind a cause.

For example, for our class project we are attempting to win a Pepsi Refresh Grant for our client, Safe Harbor.  In order to do this we are utilizing our personal social networks along with Safe Harbor’s social networks.  To win the grant we must utilize effectively our loose and strong ties.  We are planning to reach out to everyone, not just people that we know.  We are hoping that by us asking on behalf of Safe Harbor for people to vote will encourage more people to unite behind this cause.  This is an excellent example of how social networks and their ties can be used to illicit social change for a cause or issue.

Creating Movements for Social Change

8 09 2010

I recently posted a blurb about Brains On Fire and the PR campaign movement they created called Rage Against the Haze.

A recent blog post by Brains on Fire, Movements Move People to Believe, further discusses the notion of movements and what makes a movement so special.  A movement must be generated by the organization or group of people who support it.  They must believe in the organization and believe in themselves.  This post had me think of our class project involving Safe Harbor, a shelter for abused women and children.  Safe Harbor and domestic violence as a whole needs a movement, not just a marketing campaign.  In order to initiate lasting social change:

  1. People need to receive clear and consistent messages from domestic violence shelters like Safe Harbor
  2. People need to be educated about domestic violence and be shown that there is a better way to live
  3. Safe Harbor needs to encourage people to share their healthy lifestyles or healing stories with others so that they too can believe that they can get help and make a change

The post states that: “any brand can ignite a movement with its customers, so long as the brand can move people to believe in the company, to believe in a better way, and to believe in themselves.”  I think that this advice would be very beneficial to any nonprofit organization who is hoping not only to initiate a PR/marketing campaign, but wants to create SOCIAL CHANGE…A movement.

PR for Social Change – “Rage Against the Haze”

30 08 2010

Rage Against the Haze is a movement initiated by Brains on Fire, an identity company out of Greenville, SC.  Brains on Fire helps organizations build movements.  They use a fusion of word of mouth marketing and identity development to initiate marketing efforts that take on a life of their own.

Rage Against the Haze is one example that has seen great success in the South Carolina.  This is not only a PR effort, but has become a movement for social change in SC.

Brains on Fire wanted to create something powerful that would survive for many years after the money was gone, decrease teen smoking by 5% and create awareness about the dangers of using tobacco.

This effort blossomed into a youth-led movement, where 92 local teens were given the responsibility of continuing this PR/Marketing effort.  They helped to plan and sustain the effort.  Youtube videos, swag, an interactive website and retreats were used to help train the students and spread the word.

The Youtube video above is one example of how the teens worked with Brains on Fire to create communication that would initiate social change in SC and help to decrease teen smoking.

As a result of this anti-tobbacco movement, youth tobacco use rates dropped 16.9% and the movement has grown to include 6,000 active teens who are “raging against the haze.”

This movement shows what communication and public relations can do for society.