Cover Story: New Media … Same Strategy
“We watched with fascination as the Obama campaign just did such a fantastic job using social networks and capturing the movement that social networks bring. We watched that through his entire campaign and realized there was a lot of similarity between what he was doing and what the American Cancer Society has always done in terms of capturing a community, communicating with them, giving them important messages, and then allowing them to make decisions to pass that message on or support the American Cancer Society,” Music says. “So we watched him, and we read everything we could find about what he had done and said, ‘Hey, it’s time for us to be in this game as well.’”
Reading about Obama’s successes online taught ACS the need to get in the game early; not to expect perfection the first time out (but to be iterative and improve as you go along); and to put information out there that is easy to understand, easy to find and forwardable.
Music puts extra emphasis on the last item: “The important thing here in this phenomenon is to make sure that people can forward whatever you send to them on to their networks and engage people in that broader band of supporters and information seekers.”
At the time of this writing, ACS had a following of more than 8,300 on Twitter; a fan base of 162,627 on its primary Facebook page; a fan base of 19,440 on its Relay For Life Facebook page; 206,831 members on its Fight Cancer: Support the American Cancer Society Facebook Causes page; 3,300 members in three LinkedIn groups; and 125 teams (up from 80 in 2008) for this year’s virtual Relay For Life in Second Life.
Twitter is the organization’s newest social-networking frontier, where it shares small pieces of communication with constituents to connect them with ACS and reach out to individuals searching Twitter for cancer information. David Neff, director of Web, film and interactive strategies for ACS’ High Plains Division in Texas, searches Twitter to find people who might be asking questions about cancer and helps them find the information they need. Music adds that the Twitter presence also offers the organization the opportunity to answer questions and dispel misinformation, noting that when the swine flu scare emerged a few months ago, some members of the Twitter group posted questions about whether or not there would be cancellations to Relay For Life events.