Paul Lee of Google.org was the second plenary speaker at the Nonprofit Roundtable's 10th Anniversary celebration, addressing the changing face of the internet, and how nonprofits can use those changes to create social justice and change. One of the first things he used as a demonstration were the changes that have occurred in internet accessibility in a very short time, powered by the shifts in technology and speed. Data discovery can now happen in 250ms, and bandwidth speeds have increased over 40,000x on average since 25 years ago. There now exist ever more interpersonal connections like facebook, twitter, and even technologies like data storage through cloud based services that allow our lives to be more interwoven than ever before. In a world where nonprofit organizations formerly served as a connection between their beneficiaries and donors, the challenge now is connecting those groups on a more interpersonal way in order to facilitate better service, and a heightened sense of engagement for donors and volunteers.
One thing that Paul Lee brought to our attention through some very hard hitting statistics was that more and more, people are viewing the internet through the lens of social media, and this is espeicaly true in the younger generation. In the heavily sought after "tween" demographic (12-19 year olds) it is clearly evident the power of social media software, as 95% of them are on the internet, and 80% of those on the internet are on social media sites according to a Pew Internet and American Life study. As a case study in the power of this demographic, Mr. Lee used the Kony 2012 video, a project put together by invisiblechildren.com that swept the internet like wildfire in March of 2012. To give some background on the video, it was developed as part of a campaign to highlight the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony, a Ugandan cult and militia leader in order to facilitate his arrest and trial by the International Criminal Court. While he certainly is one of many brutal warlords to have their crimes highlighted on the internet, the Kony 2012 campaign actively took steps to target this "tween" demographic to increase awareness about their video, and it worked.
Kony 2012 was a Youtube sensation, a 30 minute movie that spurred some of the most popular usage days in Youtube's history, driven by young people in the United States, beginning with a blast of twitter activity from groups of teenage girls in Birmingham, AL and Pittsburgh, PA as well as other American cities. This resulted in a video that was the fastest to 100,000,000 views, reaching that milestone almost 10 times as fast as current internet sensation Gangnam Style. The strategy of microengagement that led to this kind of virality for the videos was targeted at this "tween" demographic, with the realization that capturing the attention of those internet users would bring the issue to the attention of pop stars like P. Diddy, Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, and Kim Kardashian amongst others. This change in model from the grantseeking "hunter-gatherer" model of fundraising to using a"farmer" model that raised funds through microengagement on social media and microdonation from these "tweens" and their followers, knowing that the most effecive microengagement can lead to the macrodonations from people like Oprah, Will Smith, Ryan Seacrest, as well as myriad other people around the world.
This change from what Paul Lee called the "hunter-gatherer" model that seeks to grab a piece of the $1.2 billion dollar grant pie to a model that seeks to "farm", finding many small donors who can act as both a fundraising platform and marketing volunteers through social media. Doing this well can be a win on all sides for nonprofits that strategize their content well for social media. This is the change that he called web 3.0.1, moving from the personalized concept of web 3.0 to the "embedded" internet that we access through our mobile devices and social media. Youtube statistics made his point truly evident, with over 800 million unique views each day and over 4 Billion Hours of video watched each month. Paul Lee cited that fact that this translates to 500 years of video watched on Youtube via Facebook alone each day, and that 700 Youtube videos are shared over Twitter every twenty four hours. For this reason he said that organizations should focus on using their website as a tool to develop good, social media friendly content. This is done by making sure that you have a presence on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, and ensuring that the content on your site is well organized and tagged in a way that presents well via social media. Meeting your audience where they are online is a key for developing crucial relationships with donors, volunteers, staff, and beneficiaries, and by developing a strong and efficient web presence your organization can take hold of this conversation and better communicate with your stakeholders.