Buzz Director: the spacewalk metaphor

November 16th, 2007


Confused by the title? It’s just another metaphor I’ve started using to describe how brands should distribute more trust to their communities.

I slipped it into this interview, which Geoff Livingston has published on his influential Buzz Bin blog. It gave me another chance to flesh out my previous buzz director posts.

Geoff has kindly shipped me a copy of his new book, Now is Gone, which I began to read on my commute today. I’ll post a review here in due course, but I can tell you I like it already… especially its emphasis on community building. Thanks, Geoff!

It’s good to be back blogging… more about that later.

Technorati buzz director, net2, online communities

Another shout for a Netsquared Europe

June 15th, 2007

Amnesty’s Dan McQuillan has made a rallying call for a Netsquared this side of the pond – which could be an “incubator for web-enabled social change in the UK & Europe”.

An idea. Photo: LeopoldoDan identifies some possible goals:

  • To stimulate web-enabled social innovation
  • To create a an online-offline community for learning skills, sharing experiences and developing expertise
  • To sustain socially progressive activity through alternative business & organisational models

I like the emphasis Dan gives to “activism”, and “the organisational question” in particular…

Perhaps, like the second Netsquared conference, it could aim to incubate a new generation of web-enabled non-profits that use new forms of organising to deliver more directly on their missions.

There is a very real tension between where social media is taking us and how charities are responding (although there needn’t be). Web 2.0 requires Leadership 2.0. Surely two sides of the same coin.

All this may well dovetail with the initiative soon to be unveiled by Bertie Bosredon, the Head of New Media at Breast Cancer Care. Bertie gave me an update earlier this week.

Yesterday, I happened to get a call from Richard Saunders, who is head of website development at NCH, the children’s charity. He also hinted he would welcome a forum along these lines. And Rob Bowker at the BTCV has flagged his interest to me via this blog.

I also know from many of the conversations I had in Brussels last week that there would be an appetite for this elsewhere in Europe, too. Paolo Ferrara left a comment on my recent Buzz Director post to let me know that they are starting to unpick this concept in their own Italian context.

I hope many others will be up for it. But it won’t all be plain sailing; David Wilcox recently held up a mirror to reflect that in the UK at least, the sector has not always been good at being generous in this way.

I’m optimistic. At the start of the year, when I was considering some of the trends that might drive charities in 2007, I wrote that I was “thinking of co-organising an open-space event for those championing social media tools (and change management) within their organisations.” But Dan is right, this is much bigger than a single event.

I would only add that I’d like to see people from all ‘disciplines’ involved in this – I’ve had enough of silo-thinking .

Thank you, Dan; count me in.

Technorati innovation, net2, netsquared, nptech, nptechuk

Buzz Director: help me write a job description

June 7th, 2007

Buzz Lightyear. Photo: Thomas HawkI thought it was about time to re-visit the role of the “buzz director” – flesh out the role I first floated last October.

This is especially urgent given that much of the action is now taking place away from your own (increasingly irrelevant) website, ‘out there’, in social networks and online communities.

A good example of this is the dispersed hoohah generated by the London 2012 Olympic logo. An immediate ‘loss of control’ if ever there was one. Ben Whitnall asks whether the powers that be will be happy to engage with the debate where it is already happening (e.g the 100+ groups set up on Facebook in the last few days)… or will this be a job turned over to the suits and bean counters in the Ministry for Herding Cats?

Through this post, I’ll ping Jeremy Gould, who hints that heads of “e-communication” in government departments regularly re-assess their “roles and skillsets” now the goalposts have moved. But I reckon this awareness is unlikely to have yet ‘trickled up’ to the accountants.

Another favourite blogger of mine, Jeremiah Owyang, has also chipped in with some suggestions.

Last month I noticed that Shane Atchison included elements of the buzz director role in this post describing what a “Social Network Analyst” might do. I emailed Shane via the ClickZ website. Hope he received it.

Perhaps the “buzz director” label (which was always just a working title) sounds too marketing-centric; I don’t mean it to be; buzz directors need to be able to apply this thinking to online communities and activist networks. I’m talking ‘people’ rather than products.

Anyway, I’m going to quickly throw down some further thoughts. I fear they’ll come out in no particular order, but you’re invited to help me knock this into shape by commenting below. I’ll also set up a wiki (Update: here’s the link).

Oh, by the way… when you do come to recruit for this role, consider putting the word out like this!

Job description

You will:

  • Learn how to be in more than one place at once!! i.e. not just a space ranger but a ‘ranger of spaces’.
  • Co-create targeted engagement strategies with appropriate colleagues, especially social reporters and community technology stewards (if you have them), brand ‘ambassadors’, and ’cause evangelists’.
  • Bring the senior management team with you; earn their respect and backing.
  • Photo: Steve BridgerDevelop and coach on tactics, seeding networks, ‘brand’ positioning, etc.
  • Expect the unexpected, and be resourceful in responding in the moment. Improvise.
  • Funnel organisational strategy into focused activity.
  • Be pivotal in mapping the organisational structure onto web innovation.
  • Be generous. Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant.
  • Recruit virtual volunteers and sprinkle confetti liberally, so that you yourself can leave a ‘light footprint’.

Photos: Marta Motti & Anna Pleteneva
Photos: Marta Motti and Anna Pleteneva

  • Identify and define new measures of engagement, social capital and social impact.
  • Encourage culture of collaboration and joined-up thinking and confront ‘silo’ thinking wherever you encounter it.
  • ParachutistsCall on ‘peace-keepers’ (strictly non-combatants) to follow guidelines (which you yourself have drawn up co-created with key stakeholders.
  • Pull the highlights from the ‘dashboard’ [see below...] and prepare monthly reports of activity and impact. Distribute widely within the organisation and beyond.


  • Be able to see the wood from the trees and ideally have an eye for visualising data.
  • Be the consummate diplomat and demonstrate the ability to slip into the role of chameleon or conductor when appropriate… and very very occasionally don an invisible cloak (but leave dagger behind).
  • Show good judgement.
  • Some legal nous would be desirable, as would be the ability to conduct risk assessments around ‘user-generated content’.
  • Know how to take calculated risks.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be inspired and inspire others.
  • Coach.
  • Possess a sixth sense.
  • Be as light on your feet as a prizefighter. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
  • Instinctively recognise when serendipity occurs; capture it, bottle it… and pass on the recipe.


Back in the 1980s we had the press cuttings service (as well as the telephone tree). New functions and responsibilities require new tools and devices.

Ed Mitchell, Nigel Dunn and I have been discussing the concept of a “dashboard”. Now, none of us is absolutely certain yet how or what to measure – well, not everything – although I think we’ve got a pretty good foundation.

Bear with me. I visualise this dashboard as a ‘virtual’ mixing desk… with levers and buttons, dials, green and amber lights, a few scary red ones, a built-in early warning system. Basically, this ‘thing’ would be so cool that nobody will want to be without one. Not if you’re a buzz director, anyway.

Mixing desk

The dashboard would reflect the different activities and behaviours around ‘your’ cause. It would aggregate all the conversations (see Pageflakes, Netvibes, and coComment), but be much more than that.

Check out London-based Onalytica who have updated their website. It now features live graphs offering – as they put it – “an unprecedented X-ray of the stakeholder universe”.



Right, need to set up that wiki…


Caveat: this is a work in progress.

Technorati buzz director, community dashboard, net2, nptechuk, social media measurement

Blogging the impact of giving

May 31st, 2007

Suddenly Sudan blog screenshot

Thanks to Steve Andrews of Whitewater for this post pointing to a terrific example of how Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is using blogs to put donors directly in touch with the work they’re supporting.

Canadian doctor, James Maskalyk, is working for MSF in Abyei, Sudan. He is writing a blog about his experiences. It’s truly inspirational stuff; particularly because it comes directly from him in real time, not in a sanitised quarterly charity newsletter. He shares his doubts, his fears, his hopes and his triumphs. He happens to write beautifully, but it doesn’t matter when he leaves uncorrected typos or uses poor grammar. Because it’s real.

Here’s the link to Dr. Maskalyk’s MSF blog.

One commenter / donor wrote:

I have been a monthly donor to MSF for some time. On Tuesday, I will ramp up by contribution, because I have a house, a job, a healthy beautiful sometimes-maddening daughter, a garden, rain, food – and hope. I wish I could give those things to the mother whose baby you tried to save. I cannot, so I will do what I can.

Steve titles his post “Real Close”, which I think is right on the money.

Technorati blogging, msf, net2, social impact, sudan

Priming the widget response network for action

May 30th, 2007

Blending the use of social tools around the current focus and concerns of your work colleagues’ and activists is a must. So I think Nigel Dunn is onto something with his concept for a widget response network.

Nigel blogged after listening to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Darfur and Chad Appeal over the weekend.

While the UK-based DEC does have a Rapid Response Network for Big Media, he believes (and I agree) that they could benefit enormously from providing a badge/widget that is available all the time.

If there’s an appeal happening then content connected with that is delivered, otherwise it’s empty. This would allow the ongoing development of a network that could be brought into play (more or less) instantly that a new appeal is launched.

He even anticipates widget strategy meetings…

Inevitably new technologies and ideas will spring up over time, which means that you will have different versions [of the badge/widget] operating at the same time. So a few years down the road you will have meetings to decide what content/functionality to deliver to everyone left on version 1 compared to the whizzy new version 2, etc.

These widgets could have a “donate” button embedded in them, but it’s the network effect of thousands of ‘smart’ widgets of the sort I wrote about in March (see widgets of the world unite) that is really exciting. Lots of potential for demonstrating real social impact.

A widget response network in the way Nigel describes would also be a powerful tool for groups like the The Genocide Intervention Network, and Amnesty’s crisis response network.

Families arrive at Otash Camp. They have fled from fighting in south Darfur seeking shelter, food and protection. With permission - World Vision

Incidently, the Appeal for Darfur and Chad has raised around £3m since its launch last Thursday, and for the first time ever in a DEC appeal, more has been raised online than by phone, according to this article in Professional Fundraising.

Twitter for urgent actions

It seems relevant to link the ‘widget response network’ concept to my first thoughts on Twitter.

Photo: LeopoldoIt was Andy Carvin who recently asked “might text messaging… serve any purpose in times of public emergencies?”. He explored the humanitarian relief potential of Twitter in his post Can Twitter Save Lives?

For another take, check out Twitter for human rights, from the always brilliant Dan MacQuillan.

Something else to go on the radar of your buzz director. (What, you still don’t have one?)

Technorati darfur, dec, emergency appeal, net2, nptechuk, rapid response network, twitter, widgets

We are all photographers now

April 12th, 2007

First post in a while for a number of reasons. Anyway, this stroked my ego.

The three images I uploaded to the “All photographers now” exhibit were showcased in the Musée de l’Elysée galleries in Lausanne, Switzerland recently.

How do I know (given that I’m in the UK)? Well, I received an email informing me that my images were exhibited. But that’s just the half of it: attached to the email were some installation views of my images in situ, showing them projected on the gallery wall – like the one pictured (and here’s the original photo on Flickr).

My photo in the “We are all photographers now!” exhibitionI wasn’t 100 percent sure what might have happened to my images once I’d uploaded them via this form.

My mate Nigel (who knows about these things), reckons the photos would go into a database that gallery downloads, gets stuck into some sort of slideshow and then just projected, as you would a presentation.

What made this different to, say, the Flickr Peep Show in Amsterdam a couple of years ago was that they have linked it all together – by taking a photo of my photo being shown… and email that back to me – although probably not that sophisticated, really. Maybe a webcam capture linked with my name and email address.

For a not-for-profit, maybe this is something a commercial partner might want to sponsor for a few grand (my emails from the Musée de l’Elysée suggested they had done a partnership with Hewlett-Packard).

My Flickr buddy Ed Fladung recently suggested that Yahoo! develop a micro-payment system for Flickrites who wish to sell their photos. Even better, a way of funnelling the payments to their favourite cause – although you (the not-for-profit) may want to vet the photos ‘donated’ in your name. Anyway, you get the picture!

This isn’t altogether new. I know of the Big White Box, which was set up by Brunel University student, David Bailey (must be another one), as part of his research into “how the collaborative power of the internet can be used to raise money for charity”. Profits are donated to a handful of UK charities, although I couldn’t get word from David on how much, etc.

And let’s not forget the brilliant I interviewed Tim Malbon about how the Dogs Trust will benefit from selling the rights to the cream of the crop posted there. As an aside, I actually met Tim for the first time at the Goodness 2.0 event the other evening (see Ian Delaney’s write up on the NMK site).

Greenpeace are at the top of the innovation tree with some pretty awesome participative campaigning. Take the GreenMyApple and Defending our Oceans campaigns, which give people a voice and a platform.

A Reflection of Hope - photo by Lisa - published with permissionI followed the Greenpeace ship “Esperanza” as she voyaged the Southern Seas, via this stunning photostream on Flickr.

The whole DIY phenomenon has certainly been spurred on by Flickr, other photo-sharing communities, and the explosion of Creative Commons.

If you’re not doing this already, ask your supporters (and their networks) to submit some photos for the front cover of your annual report. You can even draw upon the freedom of the commons, and invite photo remixes.

Have you seen the ‘naked’ covers to some Penguin Classics in the bookstores? The publisher invited readers . There’s an online gallery, and some of the best ones can be viewed on Flickr, too. Great innovation.

There are so many other examples. For example, my mate Ed Mitchell will have one of his Vietnam photos on the next WWF calendar. One of my own photos of corn drying out on the roof of a church in rural Mexico (rather mundane you might think) recently accompanied a news article on citizen journalism website, NowPublic. And I could talk all day about the impact of the After Wilma group on Flickr.

The remarkable and omnipresent Beth Kanter has pulled together Ten Cool Examples of Nonprofits Using Flickr. These include a few of my own favourites and is a must-read.

I particularly like how the ONE Campaign explains to those without a Flickr account just what they need to do to add their face to the Faces of ONE Group.

In February, Flickr released a bundle of improvements for Group administrators, including the very cool ‘Invite a Photo’ feature:

You’re surfing through the Flickrverse and you find a photo that would be perfect for your group. This new feature will allow an administrator to invite that particular photo to their group without membership requirement. You’ll see a new link under the comment box that says ‘Invite this photo to…’

Invite a Photo

I hadn’t spotted this until this week.

Amazing to think that just two or three years ago, sourcing photos for a website was a real headache.

Technorati flickr, micropayments, musee de lelysee, net2, nptech, one campaign, photography

Leveraging social networking to influence change

March 20th, 2007

PR Blogger Stephen Davies thinks we’ll start to see a fragmentation of social networks. As people begin to tire with the vast, general nature of MySpace et al, they may migrate to niche social networks that are more relevant to them, their passions and their lives.

He asks:

So what does it mean for brands? Niche social networks can be tapped into for more relevancy in online engagement. For example, which platform makes the most sense for a brand like Pedigree? Bebo or DoggySnaps?

Stephen continues…

But identifying the right platform is just the minor part. It’s how you engage with the users in a creative, respectful and non-intrusive manner which will be the key to a successful online PR campaign…

Spot on, Stephen. I’ll come back to that.

Interestingly, there is already some activity in the ‘social networks for change’ space. launched last month, and will be “a space where you can promote your passion, rally for a cause, and raise money for charities in a variety of different ways.”

change-cauzoo.jpgAnd then there’s Carebadges… who do it with widgets.

It’s early days, but I’m not totally convinced that these social networks are themselves authentic enough: they seem a little forced… activism for activism’s sake (not that there’s anything wrong with that particularly). I’m not sure about the lack of focus though – well, unless you’re an activist first, and something else second.

You need to get close to where your supporters are (and their distributed network)… which is why DoggySnaps is so good.

Moving on… I’ve harped on before about how I registered the domain and how I hoped one of the players in the social networking space would create a “My Causes” tab in their members’ profile pages.

LinkedIn for Good

Well, I’m pleased to see that LinkedIn has moved a step in this direction, and should be applauded – thanks to Kerri Karvetski for the tip-off.

LinkedIn for Good

The first not-for-profit to benefit from a presence on LinkedIn is Médecins Sans Frontières.

It looks pretty good… up to a point! I feel it’s only a start though, as this still has the feel of what you might call a “networked giving” and nothing more – in other words, too much focus on fundraising.

The implementation on a member’s profile page (see below) could be improved. I’m not sure that “Member” is entirely accurate in this context either.

linkedin-group.pngWhat if I want a different kind of relationship with a not-for-profit… or with a cause with which I identify for some reason?

LinkedIn members are – on the whole – accustomed to having more of a voice. In fact, I believe that LinkedIn will discover that members will desire a 360 degree relationship with not-for-profits.

LinkedIn feels entrepreneurial. There’s real potential here I think for the not-for-profits to engage members of the LinkedIn network in a relationship that goes beyond giving. Think of members of LinkedIn as potential ambassadors for your cause.

I might be able to indicate in my profile that a preference for becoming a virtual volunteer and trustee.

As Jeff Brooks writes, donors can also give:

  • Information: ranging from market insight to specialized professional knowledge.
  • Voice: the ability to speak for you in many ways.
  • Influence: the ability to help things go your way.

And of course, donations will surely follow.

The 9m+ members of LinkedIn must carry a fair bit of clout between them. You’d think it would be pretty unstoppable if this collective intelligence – already into thinking about network-building and showing leadership in a networked world – could be harnessed to support individual actions through the social network, even to find solutions to problems.

I can actually foresee new agile social enterprises springing up from a network like LinkedIn… united by their ability to connect to others with shared passions, complementary skills, and a vision to change things. And I’m sure there’s a link here with the creation of like the Omidyar Network and Kiva.

The Simplicity of Social Networks by Dan Cooney - published with permissionThere, I’ve just this minute received an email from LinkedIn’s Dave Sanford (thanks for getting back to me, Dave), so this post should serve as a good discussion opener!

Returning to the DoggySnaps example… what started as a photo-sharing community has the potential to evolve into a dynamic social network.

Niche, yes… but it can extend the reach of the Dogs Trust, the not-for-profit behind it.

(Related post: my DoggySnaps interview).

Update: See Dave Sanford’s response, below…

Technorati doggysnaps, linkedin, mycauses, net2, niche social networks, nptechuk

My Social Network, circa 1987

March 15th, 2007

I was recently drawn to this interesting graphic posted to Flickr by NMK’s Ian Delaney. It illustrates the fragmentation of people’s media consumption over recent decades. So what should I find when rummaging about in the garage earlier this week, but this rather dog-eared yellow card, 148mm x 210mm. Old media indeed.

Ah, but it’s so much more than that.

Now my years at university grimly coincided with Margaret Thatcher’s third term as prime minister, when the streets were often filled with the sound of protest: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! Out! Out! Out!”…

Among other things, Thatcher made savage cuts to higher education funding and exactly twenty years ago, our department was threatened with closure.

We, students and faculty, fought back. We organised ourselves. As the winter break approached, we vowed not to lose touch, despite physically dispersing around the globe. What tools were available to us back then, twenty years ago? The Telephone. Simple as that. So the “Save DEV” telephone tree was born. It was this that I stumbled upon in the garage on Monday.

Save DEV campaign

View a larger version of the telephone tree.

But I mention this, not for old times’ sake, but because I recall what it was like to run a campaign (as I subsequently did for Oxfam) without the tools that are now available to us – to blog, to tag, to video, and so on. Part of my motivation for starting this blog was this memory (“if only we’d had these tools back then…”).

But we still networked. Quite effectively, actually (we saved our department).

TIME magazine, Jan 3, 1983It’s just easier now to make connections, and join existing ‘conversations’ we would never have known about before.

Thinking about it, I guess the computer revolution really coincided with the Thatcher regime (I still like to call it that). In 1982, TIME magazine selected ‘The Computer’ as its “Man of the Year”. In 2006, it picked “You”. The Machine is now Us.

I guess that symbolises just how far we’ve come.

Or have we? I notice that one of my lecturer’s, John Cameron, is still there. Must get in touch. And with all the others. By email. Where are they now, I wonder? Can we reconnect the network… via the internet… which is, after all, the same old network of people.

Technorati media fragmentation, net2, networks, nptechuk, university of east anglia

Widgets of the world unite…

March 6th, 2007

I’ve been having a lot of widgety thoughts recently, so I thought I’d bundle up a few loose ends in the one (long) post.

First though, if you’re playing catch-up a bit, Heidi Cohen has written a good widgets primer on ClickZ. badgeNow… I happened to replace half a dozen conventional light bulbs at home on Sunday with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Over in the US, Yahoo! has launched a campaign in collaboration with Inconvenient Truth producer Lawrence Bender, Wal-Mart, and others, to raise awareness among Americans about the energy and environmental savings afforded by CFLs.

When you purchase a CFL bulb anywhere in the US it will be added to! And, you guessed it… you can easily and quickly configure your own widget (or ‘badge’ in Yahoo-speak) and install it on your website, blog and / or social network page with a simple cut and paste. Brilliant!

If you’re interested in reading more about the campaign, Lawrence Bender has written a guest post on Yahoo’s Yodel Anecdotal blog.

Demonstrating impact

The first book I ever read on campaigning was Des Wilson’s A to Z of Public Advocacy, first published in 1984. I can’t lay my hands on my copy (in the garage?) but if I recall correctly, one of Des’s golden rules was encourage you to campaign for something, rather than against something, and the 18seconds widget does a great job of visualising – in raw numbers anyway – the accumulated impact of hundreds of thousands of small actions by distributed individuals to effect positive change.

I emphasise “positive” change, as leveraging Web 2.0 communication tools for good was something that was discussed in a lively ‘conversation’ hosted by Amnesty’s Dan McQuillan during the Uploading Innovation ‘unconference’ last week.

If you hadn’t guessed already… for me, widgets are one of the most exciting ingredients in the emerging Web 2.0 toolbox.

Wear your cause on your blog

Another new kid on the widget block is Carebadges, who aspire to be the yellow bracelet campaign of the web, and while I think the implementation can be improved a lot, I agree with co-founder Saar Gur who told me:

Uploaded by Zanoobi on 26 May '05We think that as people express their identities on the web, there is a big gap where social causes ought to be. We want people to express the things that they care about beyond cultural items (music, movies, etc.).

Last year I actually registered the domain name – – and wrote on this blog that I would willingly give it up to any organisation which promised to use it wisely (or hand it over to MySpace if they agreed to establish a “My Causes” tab on their social networking site!)

Anyway, I interrupted Saar…

We want to give people ‘badges’ to help them identify with a cause and have a positive social influence amongst their peers. We use our “impact meter” of impressions/awareness, donations/support to help recognise folks that use their popularity for good. The money [donations] will come later if we can give tools to those who want to create cool badges, email signatures, etc., and we focus on the social impact that each user has in recruiting new members…

I’m not totally convinced in this peer group tactic, in much the same way as I’m not sure how much saying “I’m In” means you’re really anything other than a number. You’re agreeing that Oxfam’s mission is a noble thing.

Widgets have the potential to show you how by taking this or that action, you are making a difference.

Communicating success

This could be the Holy Grail for widgets.

18seconds does this in a visually compelling way… it joins the dots… and it makes it look simple.

But wait a minute. ChipIn’s Carnet Williams says something very interesting in this interview with Britt Bravo (which to Britt’s great credit rather trumps my own interview with Carnet last month).

Carnet says…

What I think 2007 really should be part of is the evolution of the widget into a smart widget. We are going to see widgets that are going to be focused around transactions, such as a ChipIn widget around donations, focused around intelligent content, meaning that widgets will soon be able to identify the users, and where they’re located, so that they can serve our conditional and intelligent content.

I really think that widgets are going to evolve and you’re going to start seeing a whole new breed of widgets that are more intelligent, that are richer in the data, and that have a much more grounded rationale so they’ll move from becoming decorations to part of a business process for companies and individuals online.

Now the slightest hint of ‘smart’ widgets is enough for me: if I could only get information I care about – e.g. what difference a project I supported is actually having, or the accumulated effect of campaigning actions, etc. via a widget… now, that would surely become a key driver of my future support for that cause.

The Network Effect

For a great insight into the power of the widget widget web, check out Dion Hinchcliffe’s excellent article, Tracking the DIY phenomenon Part 1: Widgets, badges, and gadgets.

Dion identifies the YouTube ‘badge’ (we’re still talking widgets) as demonstrating the value of ‘chunking’ up content and services into bite-sized reusable pieces.

Particularly because it has so many viral distribution pieces built into it, the YouTube badge is the canonical example of the power of opening up and letting the entire web distribute your content for you.

Not content just to ask you if you’d like to share a video with friends via e-mail (resulting in friends forwarding to friends, and to their friends and so on) but YouTube makes the code snippet for embedding it right on your own site or blog readily visible and available to the right of each video.

Not content just to have their content just on a single site, YouTube realized that it was by mobilizing millions of users to extend the YouTube platform to their own sites that they could achieve lasting and durable network effects. E-mail propagation is powerful but it’s almost certainly no match for having millions of persistent, discoverable YouTube badge installations all over the web.

Dion kindly gave me permission to reproduce the following graphic (originally published here) which illustrates the full potential of the network for extending the reach of your widget / message.

Widget Network Effect: Dion Hinchcliffe - graphic reproduced with permission

Here in the UK, Justgiving has added badges (these are just badges) to the toolset available to fundraisers (is it just me who thinks all widgets, gadgets, etc… look better with rounded corners?).

Justgiving badge

Their widgets have been doing pretty well, too. Since their release at the end of December, over 8,000 individual Justgiving widgets have been posted on the web and the highest performing widgets have registered over 500,000 page impressions.

Right now, there are 1,479 “active” Justgiving widgets, all doing their stuff, and this figure is expected to rise pretty steeply as we get nearer to the London Marathon.

Justgiving’s Simon Doggett told me that a Flash version of their widget is in testing, and should be released later this month (fundraisers have been asking for a widget that is optimised for those websites that currently block iframes, e.g. MySpace).

Well, that turned into rather a long post, so I had better think of a way to summarise how I believe widgets can prove a winner for not-for-profits:

  • You move beyond the single website model and turn the entire web into a distribution system for your content / stories (Dion Hinchcliffe)
  • Smart widgets will (hopefully soon) allow you to report back on how you are making a difference

Technorati 18seconds, chipin, justgiving, nestauploading, net2, nptechuk, saar gur, widgets

Children’s charity checks into virtual hotel

March 3rd, 2007

I’ve written previously about how the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has embraced innovation to raise awareness of its cause.

Now Childline, which merged with the NSPCC last year, has created the Childline Zen Garden room in Habbo Hotel – a virtual community for teenagers. The child protection charity hopes that its three-month stay in Habbo (until May) will allow it to reach out to the young audience in their natural browsing environment.

The room was unoccupied when this screengrab was taken as all ‘Habbos’ (the user-created avatars) were in school at the time.

Childline Zen Garden in Habbo Hotel

The charity will host events and activities on Habbo aimed at getting young people involved in its anti-bullying campaign, Don’t Hide It.

Rebecca Newton, Safety & Moderation Manager for Habbo’s creators, Sulake Corporation, told me that there’s a promo on the Habbo UK website about the Zen Garden room. This is the primary way of pushing traffic to partnered areas – along with word-of-mouth.

Habbo UK now attracts 750,000 players aged 11-18 each month, according to this BBC article.

Habbo Hotel UKEmily Knee, NSPCC’s digital project manager is quoted as saying…

It is imperative that we talk to teenagers in their own environment, much of which is online

She hopes the partnership with Habbo will drive traffic to the NSPCC website, as well as encouraging members of the community to take part in polls and design an anti-bullying themed room.

The NSPCC previously ran some interactive ads on Habbo (as well as Mykindaplace and Bebo).

Habbo started in Finland in 2000, so pre-dates Second Life by three years or so. It’s probably the first successful virtual world this side of the pond.

I like the look of the two-dimensional Habbo. It’s more colourful than Second Life’s 3D environment – and hence, more appealing to teens.

As Rebecca put it:

There’s no peer pressure to look “older” or “cool” since we’re all 2-inch pixelated characters.

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