Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thanks and Flower

My good buddy Yariv Dror is putting together a project called Thanks and Flowers, where the central idea is that parents will all give a flower to their teacher on June 20th, creating a positive atmosphere in our schools. Funnily enough, Yariv's daughter is too young for school. Almost as funnily, as much as we parents gripe about our kids' teachers, my kids think this is a great idea.

Yariv has combined social media, including online petitions and Facebook events, as well as personal meetings, phone calls and e-mails, so I asked him what works and what doesn't in organizing a national movement. (Wow, that sounds grandiose! A national movement.) By the way, the timeframe for this national movement is less than 3 months start-to-finish, and it is definitely happening. He has support of two national parents' organizations, the mayors of two cities (so far), the national students' organization, and my daughter.

Yariv's tips on various kinds of media:

  • Social media has its place, but the most support comes from direct contact with people.
  • The best contacts were referred by someone. It didn't have to be someone he knew personally, but personal referrals worked well. This could be because people referred him to the right person, or because when he said "so-and-so referred me" it worked better.
  • E-mail was good for initial contact, but calls to action and details had to be worked out by phone.
  • Publications in on-line media made him feel great, but didn't give a noticeable increase in the hits on his home page.
  • The Facebook event setup was good way to spread the word, but most people ignored or declined the invitations to join. Some people who were invited that way also sent e-mails to various mailing lists in the country.
  • Social media is so prevalent it's hard to categorize it. For example, he spoke directly to the education coordinator in his city, who said she wanted to post the information on the national on-line forum for education coordinators.

For me, the bottom line is that there is no such thing as social media anymore. Everyone uses certain forms of communication on a regular basis, and those forms flow into one another. Personal contact still rules, but getting to people is easier.

Yariv used to be the kind of guy who didn't answer phone calls from unidentified numbers. Now he answers them all the time. He can't track exactly how people heard about his campaign, but he's convinced that each of the methodologies has enabled him to broaden his coverage.

What are you waiting for? Sign the petition and spread the word!

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