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Noble Arsonist


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Our 2013 e-book on movement marketing for NGOs and companies that care.

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Noble Arsonist

  1. 1. 1 stoking fires and igniting movements for NGOs (and companies that care) The Noble Arsonist Brought to you by Capulet
  2. 2. 2 Authors Darren Barefoot Julie Szabo Theodora Lamb The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  3. 3. 3The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at CONTENTS What It Is, Who It’s For and What You’ll Learn 4 Why We Know What We Know 5 Acknowledgements 6 Movement Building is the New Marketing 7 Before you Begin 11 Heartbeats and Remarkables: The Gin and Tonic of Movement Marketing Strategies 19 Doctor’s Orders for a Healthy Heartbeat 25 How to Start a Fire: A Remarkables Toolkit 36 Blending Online Activity with Offline Action 48 Are We There Yet? 53 Recommended Reading 60 About the Authors 62
  4. 4. 4 T his is a book about using the web to build remarkable online campaigns that excite supporters and grow your community. Practically speaking, that means it’s full of strategies and tactics for increasing the reach of your organization, and for shepherding your existing supporters into doing more. We’ve included a series of case studies which illustrate some of our ideas, and provide examples of organizations doing great movement marketing. This book is for people like you. Well, if you’re a professional handball player or a neurosurgeon, then you’ve probably downloaded the wrong book (The Noble Arsonist does sound like a murder mystery, doesn’t it?). However, odds are that you work in marketing or communications at a charity, non-profit or company. Maybe you’re the Director of Marketing, the Online Campaign Coordinator or the Social Media Manager at your organization. Or maybe you’ve started a new project, and you’re both Executive Director and Chief Mason Jar Shiner. Ideally, you’re somebody who can make meaningful decisions about how your organization speaks online, and can help to determine its future. After finishing this book, we hope that you’ll be inspired by the ideas, stories and advice you find within it. We hope that when you put it down (metaphorically—it’s an e-book, after all), you’ll be a little wiser, and feel ready to take more risks in your work. What It Is, Who It’s For and What You’ll Learn The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at T
  5. 5. 5 Why We Know What We Know W hy are we qualified to write this book? Well, it’s self-published, so all we actually need are a MacBook and opposable thumbs. But we really do know what we’re talking about. We’re Capulet, a web-marketing agency that promotes remarkable products, services and ideas online. We got our start in 2003 and cut our teeth working in the technology sector with software startups. That grounding in emerging technology and new media positioned us well to become experts in many aspects of the web—online public relations, social media, web strategy and so forth. Partners Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo have helped national brands, global businesses and not-for-profits develop their web marketing strategies since 2003. Along with Darren and Julie, Theodora Lamb brings expertise in social marketing and community management. We’ve helped all kinds of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations become better at using the web to reach their audiences and build movements. Some of our clients are Mountain Equipment Co-op, TckTckTck, Project Aware, Global Zero and PhoneGap. We regularly speak as experts about digital PR and social media marketing and have been featured on the CBC, BBC and in Wired, the Wall Street Journal and dozens of other publications. Julie and Darren are the authors of Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook, published by No Starch Press. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at W
  6. 6. 6 Acknowledgements We’re grateful to all of our clients and colleagues who, whether they knew it or not, contributed to this book. Without them, we’d not only be unemployed, but also clueless. We owe particular thanks to Tim Walker, Brant Cheetham and Nicholas Klassen, who had a pivotal if unexpected role in this work’s origin. We wrote this book while living abroad in the south of France for a couple of years. So, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also thank the vigneronnes and fromagères of the Languedoc. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  7. 7. 7 What is Movement Marketing? chapter 1 movement building is the new marketing “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead (apparently) I n 1989, more than two million people joined hands to form a nearly-continuous human chain across three Soviet republics, known today as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic Chain, as it came to be called, was a simple, elegant, non-violent protest—a tangible illustration of unity in the age of perestroika. Six months later, Latvia would become the first state to declare independence from the USSR. That protest was organized by individuals, all part of a movement. A movement is a passionate groundswell of support that empowers people to unite around a common love, cause or organization. While movements don’t have to have a moral compass—Dead Heads just want to have a good time—the ones we’re most interested in talking about do. Plans for the Baltic Chain passed from person- to-person across three countries, through what marketers call “word of mouth.” From Mapping the Rural Problem in the Baltic Countryside: “The creators of the Baltic Chain were local people—members of different organizations that operated at a district level.” Whether Photo credit: R. Strikauskas The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  8. 8. 8 we’re selling snow tires or stopping climate change, word of mouth is a critical aspect of communicating not only with your current tribe of supporters, but also for recruiting new members to your cause. That’s essentially what movement marketing is—engaging with and encouraging a wave of passionate support for an idea. Movements can exist whether or not there are organizations behind them. As many companies have learned, it’s really hard to kick-start a movement if there’s no appetite for one. It’s like trying to light a fire without fuel. But if there’s a spark, there are ways to stoke it. And if it spreads, you’ll find yourself at the helm of a movement. You’ll have become a Noble Arsonist. Movements in the Digital Age The web is our newest, most effective and affordable tool in the quest to reach both existing and new supporters. Embracing the web as a movement marketing platform can transform not-for-profits into sophisticated web-thinking entities. We’ve reached the end of a decade of technological investment and innovation. Now, with the rise of social media and associated user-friendly and affordable (or free) technology, we’re seeing a leveling of the online playing field. But, that doesn’t mean the Internet will be your panacea for reaching supporters and igniting a movement. For those who’ve tried, you know it’s more complex than putting up a website and Facebook page. The web’s lightening-fast evolution means web marketers need to be savvier than ever to make a real and lasting impact. For organizations to differentiate themselves and grow, they need to successfully inspire and lead open, interconnected movements and communicate with those movements effectively. Ten years ago, Darren worked in marketing at a software startup in Dublin, Ireland. The company developed technology products with obscure names like Web Services Engine and XML Parser. It was niche software for software developers, and The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  9. 9. 9 they were some of the most ardent users and shapers of the web’s emerging culture. At that start up he bought online ads at geeky sites like (remarkably, it still exists today). He built ugly animated GIFs designed to distract a reader and convince them to click through to landing pages. Those ads were really effective, because they were competing against relatively few companies. In the ensuing decade, online advertising has become an art where experts scrutinize performance and tweak content hourly. It’s now a $35 billion industry.1 Other online communication channels have similarly matured. Any digital marketer is familiar with the war against declining open and clickthrough rates in email, and the ongoing skirmishes in search engine optimization and content creation. Nearly every channel that was once a green field is now chockablock with competition. In the three months between Q1 and Q2 of 2011, the average cost-per-click for Facebook advertising increased by 22%.2 So, How Are Movement Marketers to Succeed? Successful movement building happens when old-school campaigning, online advocacy and marketing savvy work together to enable that most timeless channel—word of mouth—that conveys the passion and power of your cause. In the chapters ahead, we’ll share some of the industry’s best examples of movement marketing along with our own hard-won wisdom and methodologies for effective campaigning that excites your community and gets them talking. 1 Charlie Minato, ComScore: Here’s How Much Online Ad Spending Will Increase This Year http://www.businessin- (June 2012) 2 Darren McCarra, Facebook ad prices increase by 74% as demand soars ad-prices-increase-by-74-as-demand-soars/ (July 2011) The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  10. 10. 10 Your Role as Noble Arsonist As leaders, we can’t simply tell movements what to do. At best, we can hope to point our supporters in the right direction and encourage them to work together toward a common goal. That’s why we like the idea of the Noble Arsonist. We can work to produce ideal environments for stoking passion. We can manufacture ways to spread that enthusisam, and we can motivate others to “light up” for our cause. This is movement marketing—motivating, delighting and inspiring existing tribe members and recruiting new ones in an effort to accomplish great things. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  11. 11. 11 chapter 2 before you begin Before you get serious about becoming a noble arsonist, there are some boxes to check. These are typical areas of discussion for us when we work with a new organization. Understanding Your Audience W hether or not you’ve already got a constituency of supporters, it’s worth spending some time on audience analysis. That is, with whom are you trying to engage? For some organizations, this may be extremely obvious. We recently talked to an NGO that does atrocity prevention work, and their audience is small—a handful of top-level activists and senior government officials. However, most organizations, especially those interested in movement building, have broader audiences in mind. And yet, these same organizations fail to narrow down their target audience. There’s an inclination to be enthusiastically broad about this question. We think, “everybody will obviously be interested in our cause!” In reality, the more you refine who you want to talk to, the easier it is to reach them. Consider these two sample audiences: 1. Canadian women, or 2. 18 to 30-year-old women in BC or Alberta who live in cities with more than 100,000 people These audiences are, of course, defined by their demographic characteristics—gender, age, location and so forth. Be sure to marry these with psychographic characteristics. Psychographics refer to your audience’s personalities, values, interests and lifestyles. Of course, most NGOs can’t afford to hire the kind of market researchers you’d need to produce a sophisticated work-up of who your core audience is. You can, however, engage in some poor man’s demographic and psychographic research. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  12. 12. 12 User Stories In developing communications strategies around movement building, it’s useful to picture individuals whom you’re hoping to reach. Write a short profile of a few of your target audience members. Give them a name, find a photo of them on a stock photography site and flesh out their biographical details. How old are they? Where do they work? How do they spend their spare time? What websites and blogs do they read? What other organizations do they support? Then add information related to your organization: what are their values as it relates to your cause? How did they discover your organization? Have they taken action on your issue in the past? By identifying and describing these fictional members and potential supporters, you can achieve more clarity around your communications activities. You can also build a consensus among your colleagues about who exactly your target audience is. They may have very different ideas on this topic. Facebook Advertising It may seem odd to bring up online ads before you’ve analyzed your audience, but we’ve found that running experimental Facebook ads can teach us a lot about who we’re trying to reach. Facebook enables you to run hyper-targeted ads, slicing and dicing your audience in all sorts of interesting ways. Just distill the message you want to test down to a Facebook ad, and then run that ad against various groups—married women over 40, students living in Washington and Oregon, Canadian surfers and so forth. You’ll also want to set up landing pages that reflect this message and offer a kind of simple test of visitors’ support for your cause—a petition, pledge, or something similar. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  13. 13. 13 You can then track which of these groups clicks on your ad most often, and of those clickers, who passes the test or converts most often. You’ll quickly learn which groups your message resonates with, and which it doesn’t. You may have discovered that this is an excellent way to test possible messaging around a campaign as well. Naturally, this tactic only works if your audience is on Facebook. You can’t use this tactic in China, for example, where Facebook (and Twitter, among other social media channels) is blocked. This approach is an example of a conviction that effective web communicators hold dear: test your instincts and trust the numbers. Whether you have two or 25 years of experience in your organization, the only way to truly know how best to communicate and who to communicate with is by testing all of your assumptions. Happily, the web enables you to do this cheaply and effectively, and you don’t have to buy any donuts for focus group members. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  14. 14. 14 Survey Your tribe You don’t need a team of crack market researchers to question your supporters about who they are and what they value. You can use a simple online survey tool like Google Drive or SurveyMonkey to collect information about your audience. You could simply ask one question each month in a poll widget in your monthly email newsletter. At the end of the year, you’ll have twelve new data points about your audience. What’s Your Engagement Tetrahedron? Now that you’ve analyzed your audience, it’s time to organize them into your engagement tetrahedron. Okay, we’re kidding about that. It’s just that this concept takes on a lot of different shapes—it’s a ladder, a pyramid, a spiral, a vortex and so forth. The engagement ladder is a concept you’re likely familiar with. It’s been bandied about NGO circles for the past few years. But it’s popular for a good reason. It’s an excellent way of looking at your audiences. We first learned about the engagement ladder from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission. That’s a book we highly recommend for its movement-building wisdom. If you’ve never been to church, you may struggle with its religiosity a little—its target audience is church leaders—but stick with it. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at An example of a map that illustrates where your supporters live. You can even use this data to create illustrative content for internal stakeholders or to talk to your supporters about themselves. Create a heatmap to show them where they live, or a series of charts to breakdown their values. After all, people love to learn more about themselves.
  15. 15. 15 Flock Seekers Believers Champions We got a little creative with the names for each level. Our default ladder has five levels, and the names go crowd, community, congregation, committed and core. But, feel free to be inventive with the names and number of levels. Having worked out your levels of engagement, then you should identify the actions or hooks that move a member of your community from one level to the next. For example, maybe a supporter moves from flock to seeker by signing a petition on your site, or sharing a piece of your content on a social media channel. Sophisticated organizations associate these levels with each member in their database, and use automated hooks to promote their members from one level to another. These are just the essential concepts behind the engagement ladder. We invite you to check out some of the recommended readings at the end of this book to explore the engagement ladder further. Engagement ladder theory is based on the concept that all organizations have audiences connected to them with different levels of awareness, passion and commitment. This seems like common sense, but we often forget, or ignore, that our audience is not one big mass of people. We also often overlook that audiences at different levels of engagement need customized interactions and communications. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at Here’s an example of an engagement pyramid we created for a client.
  16. 16. 16 If we had a nickel for every time we asked a new client this question and they answered “nobody,” we’d have... well, a couple of bucks. Seriously, it happens often. Nobody likes to think they’re competing with other organizations, but they are. Happily, NGOs also frequently partner with their competition to form broad coalitions around an issue. This is obviously an essential strategy, so we’re not here to tell you to be a cold-blooded cut throat. That said, you definitely want a complete and current view of the competitive landscape. We know, in one sense, that as Coke competes with every other beverage maker, you could, in theory, label every other organization a competitor. But let’s narrow things down to organizations working on the same or similar issues as you. You know what’s a great source of campaign ideas and tactics? Organizations working in other parts of the world. Assuming you’re not a big international NGO yourself, you can “borrow” ideas from the other side of the globe and adapt them for your local audience. Osocio is a blog to keep an eye on for campaign trends around the globe. Who is Your Competition? Online Dials “Every prudent man acts out of knowledge.” Proverbs 13:16 We have a saying around the Capulet bat cave (it’s neither a cave nor does it house flying rats, but use your imagination): “If it doesn’t have a dial, it doesn’t count.” We mean that if an online movement building activity can’t be measured, then we shouldn’t do it. This is our way of being hyper-clinical when it comes to online communications activities. There are exceptions to this rule, but when assessing a campaign or marketing idea, one of the first questions we ask is, “how will we measure the outcome of this work?” The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  17. 17. 17 When we talk about measurement, we’re generally referring to quantifying our activity in at least two different ways. First, we want to get as granular as possible when measuring our communications activities. Here are some examples: When we publish a photo to our Facebook page, we can ask:• How much engagement—views, likes, shares, comments—did it receive? How did it perform compared to other photos we’ve published, all other content we’ve published and industry standards for NGOs posting photos on Facebook? When we send an email newsletter:• Did we A/B test the subject line or the organization of the content? How did the key metrics—open rate and clickthrough rate—compare with other newsletters we’ve published and industry standards for similar organizations? When you run Google AdWords ads to promote a campaign:• For which keywords were searchers likeliest to see our ads and click through? Which ad copy had the best click through rate, and why? What demographic information can we collect about people who clicked our ads? You may be saying to yourself, “I didn’t get into communications to do math.” That’s certainly true for us—none of us took a single math course at university. However, metrics are the way you transform marketing and communications from an act of faith into an act of reason. Your goal should be to use these granular results to eliminate as much guesswork and instinct as possible from your work. “On the web, there are countless marketers just standing around waiting for someone to hand them the magic beans. And that’s the problem. Marketing online takes too much measurement, patience, creativity, technical knowledge, flexibility, speed and authenticity. It requires too much thinking and not enough going out for dinner with clients.” — Seth Godin The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  18. 18. 18 Instead, develop a hypothesis and test it. For example, you might theorize that your supporters will respond to gentle messages of hope more than to threatening messages that inspire uncertainty and doubt. Simply craft some online assets— social media posts, email newsletters, landing pages and so forth—that reflect this dichotomy, and see which messages perform best. You no longer have to trust entrenched wisdom, or your boss’s gut or what the pretentious experts at the marketing agency tell you. You can just prove what works, and what doesn’t. The second way to quantify your marketing activities is by figuring out how they fit into the big picture. What are your organization’s big, audacious goals? Even for NGOs, we refer to big picture objectives as your organization’s business goals. Hopefully you know what these are—slow climate change, reduce homelessness, legalize gay marriage and so forth. You need to identify practical, realistic granular measurements that are indicators of success for your business goals. Are more Facebook fans on your organization’s page a meaningful indicator of success? Maybe, but you’ll need to demonstrate that an increase of fans results in movement toward a business goal (or toward a smaller goal, like signing petitions or volunteering at events, which is in itself a sign of progress toward big picture success). In short, measure everything you can. If you can’t measure something, seriously question whether you should continue investing time, effort and money in it. Categorize your individual activities under your big picture objectives. Are you undertaking a measurable activity that doesn’t fit into one of these business goals? How come? We’ll talk more about measurement in chapter six, but setting goals and determining how you’ll measure movement building success should be worked out well ahead of any activity launch. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  19. 19. 19 I f you’re counting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to grow your movement, you’re not alone. A Google search for “social media + not for profit” brings up dozens of case studies that position social media as the cure-all for successful community engagement and movement building. The TckTckTck anti- climate change campaign gathered more than 10 million petition signatures in just five months leading up to the Copenhagen talks thanks, in part, to social media activity. In a 2011 survey of top 200 charities, as identified by Forbes, 97% report having a Facebook presence, 96% a Twitter account and 92% are using YouTube. But are Facebook and Twitter the answer for growing your cause? We don’t think so. Here’s the problem. Today, there’s just too much noise on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Yes, there are 800 million active users on Facebook, but there are also thousands of big brands and not-for- profits competing for attention in that channel. And hundreds more are coming online every day. So, making a big splash simply by updating your Facebook page or tweeting daily is no longer a sound strategy. This problem applies not just to social media, but to all of your run-of-the-mill online communications channels and tactics: email marketing, online advertising, search engine optimization and so forth. Even if you’re killing it in these channels, you’re only ever going to beat your competition by a little bit. chapter 3 heartbeats and remarkables: the gin and tonic of movement marketing strategies The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at Even if you’re killing it in these channels, you’re only ever going to beat your competition by a little bit.
  20. 20. 20 So, how can you use these tools effectively in today’s noisy online space? When we build an online strategy, we put activities into two buckets: heartbeat activities and remarkables. Both categories are critical, but have different objectives. Heartbeat activities are used as a way to deepen relationships with friends, fans and supporters while remarkable activities have a goal of growing your fan base. Here’s how they work together for a thriving, growing movement. We call them the “gin and tonic” of marketing activities because they work better together. And, you know, they’re tasty. The Beat Goes On Your blog and other social media channels are ideal for connecting with fans—those who already know you and like you. A steady flow of updates, campaign success stories and calls to action delivered via these channels keeps your community close and your not-for-profit front of mind. Social media architecture—comment threads, likes and retweets—makes conversations easy and natural. There are, of course, many heartbeat activities outside of social media. Email newsletters fall into this bucket, as do donor relations, news releases and monthly meetups. Connecting regularly with your tribe is the healthy heartbeat that feeds an engaged, active and in-step community. When you deliver thoughtful, compelling content for your supporters via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on your blog, you’re striving to deepen ties, not fish for new fans. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  21. 21. 21 You’re Remarkable (and Purple)! Caring for your community is essential, but so is growing it if you’re going to drive change. So, if Facebook and blog updates aren’t going to do it, what will? Remarkables are campaigns that make a big splash. We’re fans of marketing guru, Seth Godin. We’re piggybacking on his “purple cow” theory here when we talk about remarkables. In his must-read marketing bible, The Purple Cow, Seth tells the story of taking his family to France. At first, his kids were enchanted by cows grazing in the picturesque countryside—that is until they passed field after field of cows. Then cows were boring. “A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting!” The metaphor here is to make your organization, or a campaign, a purple cow so that you’ll stand out in a field of boring brown cows. What does a remarkable campaign look like? In early 2011, Greenpeace UK launched The Dark Side, a global Star Wars parody campaign designed to put pressure on Volkswagen to stop lobbying against laws that would cut CO2 emissions in Europe. European car manufacturers had been in discussions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, but Volkswagen was fighting these cuts. Photo via (cc) Flickr user Mouldfish The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  22. 22. 22 Greenpeace UK campaign director, James Sadri, and his team set out to create a campaign that would mobilize consumers to apply pressure on Volkswagen to comply with CO2 reductions. Greenpeace wanted the company to feel the heat from consumers. Greenpeace’s campaign idea was inspired by a Volkswagen television ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. In the commercial, a child dressed as Darth Vader believes he’s successfully started the family car using “the force.” Of course, his father is standing at the window, using the remote control fob to start the ignition. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  23. 23. 23 James and his team spoofed the ad by creating their own video where a legion of grade-schoolers dressed as Star Wars characters go up against the pint-sized Vader. “Using humour was seen as the vector in which we could take a hard line against quite a loved brand,” said Sadri in an email conversation. “We needed to find a way to deliver a strong message in a softer way. That’s why we chose humour.” Greenpeace UK went a step further and built an entire campaign around the Star Wars concept—supporters joined Team Jedi to sign petitions, email Volkswagen, and promote the campaign to friends. The Dark Side was more than a petition site; it was a game. In exchange for promoting the campaign to friends, supporters could acquire enough points to win a limited edition Dark Side t-shirt. Ultimately, friends promoting the campaign to their friends was what made it successful: it was off the charts for word-of- mouth marketing. Pushing the Campaign Comfort Zone When James Sadri first approached colleagues about the Greenpeace Dark Side campaign idea, they were skeptical. “We went to a lot of different agencies... design agencies, ad agencies and friends of friends to get their ideas about running this campaign. None of them really wanted us to do anything in response to the Volkswagen ad. And none of them wanted anything to do with Star Wars,” he said. As an organization, Greenpeace doesn’t shy away from risk. But, according to James, The Dark Side campaign even pushed the boundaries of this progressive organization known for bold real- world activity: “People like doing things that they know will work, like dropping banners off buildings. If you take them out of their comfort zone, organizationally, you often get a bit of pushback,” said Sadri. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  24. 24. 24 The remarkable paid off. According to James, the average Greenpeace campaign in the UK can mobilize between 5000 and 10,000 actions over a few days. As of December 2012, The Dark Side has engaged more than 520,000 supporters. The Dark Side launched in over a dozen countries during the first half of 2011 and continues to garner support from around the world. When we talked to James earlier this year, China’s website was ramping up and the Turkish site had just gone live. “It’s bigger than any of us ever expected,” he said. The Dark Side movement continues to evolve as ongoing conversations between Greenpeace and Volkswagen take place. Sadri says, “dialogue [with all the automotive companies involved] continues, which is really positive.” We hope this Greenpeace remarkable gets you thinking about creative online campaigns your organization can launch to activate supporters and attract others to your cause. We’ll share the tactics we use for creating remarkables in Chapter 5. We believe the two- pronged heartbeats and remarkables approach is a solid strategy for using social media more effectively. While heartbeat activities can go a long way to deepen ties within your tribe, flexing your creative muscle with remarkable campaigns can help you get noticed in an increasingly noisy online world. Together, these activities can help to both grow and feed your movement. Heartbeats and remarkables are key pillars of our movement marketing strategies, so we’ll explore specific tactics for effectively employing them in the next two chapters. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  25. 25. 25 chapter 4 doctor’s orders for a healthy heartbeat H eartbeats are, of course, the communications activities we do daily, or at least on a regular basis. They include things like Facebook, Twitter, updating your website and monthly newsletters. They can also be in-person events where members and supporters meet face-to-face. Heartbeats are the steady rhythm of outreach that keeps marketing programs alive and your constituents engaged. With the introduction of social media, we’ve seen growing interest in the idea of “engagement.” Not only do not-for-profits and charities want supporters to volunteer and donate, we want them to be more engaged in the work we do and with the causes we believe in, in the hope that increased engagement will lead to behaviour change. In broad terms, we think of heartbeats as activities that move supporters up the engagement ladder, while remarkables feed the sales funnel with new members. Facebook, Twitter and blogs make it easier for fans and followers to participate in your organization by commenting on, liking and sharing content. These online channels make low- level engagement possible, and measurable. Granular open and clickthrough statistics on monthly communications demonstrate levels of engagement within your tribe. This kind of online social media interaction is just the beginning and represents a basic level of engagement, but it’s a starting place at the bottom of any engagement ladder. By working to deepen engagement, we’re building relationships and increasing the likelihood that supporters will take action when we ask them to. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  26. 26. 26 A Daily Dose of Social Media There are lots of ways to keep a heartbeats program healthy and to deepen audience engagement and relationship building. As you get to know your own online audiences better you’ll find ways that work for you. These are best practices we put in place to get programs off to a smooth start. Make a Plan Strategic editorial calendar planning is a critical ingredient for successfully delivering meaningful messages that engage audiences, encourage action and complement offline programs. Too often, status updates and shared links are randomly posted simply to feed insatiable social media channels. A strategic editorial calendar ensures that you have: Agreed upon messages well ahead of your publishing date, rather than on• an ad hoc basis. Considered your organization’s big-picture fundraising and campaigning• schedule and how social media and online activities can amplify that work. Identified who will write and/or design upcoming content within your• organization. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  27. 27. 27 When we work with organizations to develop editorial calendars, we encourage quarterly content scheduling. This long term view results in a strategic, meaningful approach to communications and takes the stress off social media managers to produce engaging content on the fly, every day, without strategic guidance and support. Of course, you can generate spontaneous posts that respond to breaking news or a partner’s campaign, but a carefully thought out editorial calendar provides a topical and structural framework. Here’s an example of a shared social media editorial calendar easily created in Google Drive. It identifies blog post topics and publishing dates, newsletter distribution dates and weekly Facebook and Twitter themes that support an organization’s current activities. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  28. 28. 28 More and more organizations are sharing online outreach activities amongst staff members. While this approach lightens the load for each staffer, knowing who is responsible for what and when can become confusing. We recommend creating a workflow that clearly identifies activities and authors. Workflows should also outline expectations for heartbeat activities, such as how many Facebook updates or tweets to produce each day. This sample workflow identifies strategic editorial planning, as well as daily, weekly and monthly heartbeat activities. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  29. 29. 29 Curate Brilliantly Generating quality content is critical, but curating brilliantly is every bit as important. That’s because no one person knows everything! The collective intelligence that exists on the web is beyond what all your organization’s experts and staff could ever produce. So, share it. When a like-minded organization produces a relevant report, link to it and retweet it. When an expert publishes a book on a topic of interest, recommend it to your Facebook fans. When a community member posts a thought- provoking comment, like it. The web is—of course—a web, and you’re just a small part of the network. Take advantage of all those other nodes of information to educate, entertain and encourage your audience. Quality and Consistency Count Your job is to inform your constituency about your cause, why it’s important and what they need to know—and do—to make a difference in the world. Of course, posting a beautiful photograph or sharing an entertaining post is entirely acceptable, and encouraged. But, solid, quality information should be the backbone of online communications. Don’t Drop Email for Shiny Pennies Email is dying. However, it’s dying very slowly. We may look back and laugh at email in 20 years the way we look back at fax machines today. Despite what your social media marketing consultant may say, email isn’t dead. It can still be a very effective and productive communications channel for your organization. Don’t forget that Groupon and dozens of imitators have risen to fame in the last couple of years on the backs of little more than email messages and coupons. So, don’t forsake your email campaigns just because you’ve become fond of Pinterest. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  30. 30. 30 Value Authenticity Relationships are built on trust and online relationships are no different. Truth- telling and straight talk has got to be at the heart of online communications if your community is to thrive. Here’s one easy way to practice transparency and authenticity. If you make a mistake, don’t simply edit your content once it has been published. Make your corrections public. This can be done by striking out errors and adding the correct information. Readers are tolerant and most errors are quickly forgiven. This demonstrates transparency and is a standard way corrections are made on blogs and in social media channels. Keep Marketing Messages to a Minimum Seems like a no-brainer, but overloading your communications channels with marketing messages is a major turn off. In a recent study we completed of NGO success on Facebook, we discovered that more than any other action, NGOs link from Facebook back to their own websites. In fact, of the thousand Facebook posts we reviewed, 37% of all posts were links back to organizations’ own websites. Interestingly, the top performing organizations in our study habitually linked to other sites—mostly mainstream news articles about their causes—as often as they linked to their own. We’ll share more data from this Facebook research project in the upcoming section, “Facebook Fieldwork.” Respect Copyright If you reference content from other blogs or offline publications, respect copyright. Credit sources by linking to original content or by citing the source in your text. It works the same way for images and video. Want to learn more about copyright and the web? Check out this blog post, and spend some time at http://www. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  31. 31. 31 Make Friends, Supporters Are People Too Heartbeats are all about increasing audience engagement. And so, when your audience responds to a call to action in your newsletter, comments on your Facebook page, sends you a direct message in Twitter or leaves a comment on your blog post, it’s critical that you respond. That’s precisely how you build relationships and a community that cares about your cause. Not sure how to respond? This next section on being a great Community Manager provides some insight. Want to know what it looks like when a great heartbeats program comes together? PhoneGap is an open source software project that offers a simpler way for software developers to build mobile apps for any smartphone. Open source is not-for-profit, that is, the software is freely available for anyone to use and—if they’re so inclined— improve upon. The community of developers using PhoneGap software is active, engaged and about 400,000 strong. PhoneGap expertly covers all the heartbeats. A monthly newsletter showcases great apps built by developers in the community; an active blog is updated with hard- hitting tips; a Twitter account gives kudos to other cool projects; presentations, tutorials and upcoming events are posted to the Facebook page; developer questions are promptly answered in a Google Group; and face-to-face meetups are organized by and for developers all over the world. Why bother with all of it? This ever-growing community of PhoneGap developers is more than the sum of its parts. You see, when more developers use PhoneGap, more improvements are made to the code, and more add-ons and apps are produced. As a result, PhoneGap’s popularity and effectiveness grows. So, nurturing the community is key. “Being active on various digital channels is really important to maintaining relationships with PhoneGap developers. If they want to use Facebook to connect with us and each other they can, but lots of developers will be more comfortable in Google Groups. The more diverse your audience, the more strategic you need to be about reaching them where they’re at. We go to the effort because we want our community The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  32. 32. 32 to feel as though they’re part of something special, which they are,” said Colene Chow, Product Marketing Manager for PhoneGap. Today, thousands of apps built using PhoneGap are available. In fact, if you’ve got a smartphone we’ll bet you’ve already got a PhoneGap-built app installed. Be assured, there are many, many more to come. Facebook Fieldwork: How NGOs Win on the World’s Biggest Social Network Facebook is an important heartbeat activity for lots of NGOs. Because we help not-for-profits improve their heartbeats and better engage online audiences with meaningful content, we spend a lot of time thinking about why some organizations get more likes, comments and shares on Facebook than others. So, we decided to put our experience and long-held assumptions to the test and back them up with some real data. Early this year, we embarked on a research project to answer this question: What types of content gets liked, commented upon and shared on NGO Facebook pages? First, we identified 20 Facebook pages run by large and well-known environmental not-for-profit organizations across North America. On average, each organization had approximately 160,000 fans. While we only researched environmental NGOs, we’re confident our results apply to any charity or not-for-profit organization. For-profit companies will be interested in the results, too. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  33. 33. 33 We evaluated the 50 most recent Facebook posts by each organization, which gave us 1,000 posts to work with. After doing a deep data dive, we compiled the results into five lessons on how NGOs can better succeed on Facebook. 1. Link Generously. Organizations that apply an open, networked approach to social media channels will engage their audience more successfully than those that only talk about themselves. In our study, the NGOs that performed poorly published lots of links to their own sites, and few to anybody else’s. 37% of all posts we looked at linked back to home pages and website pages while the top performing organizations regularly linked to other sites—mostly mainstream news articles about their causes—as often as they linked to their own websites. 2. Don’t Overwhelm Your Audience. You may think you post the perfect content for your online community but if you post too often, you risk alienating your supporters. Something that surprised us in our research was how little the top tier organizations posted to Facebook. They only needed to post once a day (including weekends). We also noticed that Thursdays had the highest average engagement, followed by Saturday and Sunday. So, if you haven’t been thinking about posting content on the weekend, that’s a tactic worth considering. 3. You’re Probably Not Sharing Enough Photos and Videos. Of all the types of content we looked at—photos, videos, photo galleries, status updates and links—fans were likeliest to like, share or comment on a photo. Based on all we know about Facebook and Edgerank (Facebook’s algorithm that determines what content makes it into your newsfeed), this outcome did not surprise us. We were interested, however, to discover 18 of the top 20 most engaging Facebook posts were photos. In particular, our study showed climate change campaigners performed well, sharing professionally produced and thoughtful photos, infographics and videos. Videos also performed well but still only accounted for 11% of all the posts we looked at while photos accounted for 26%. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  34. 34. 34 4. Emulate the Superstars. Two organizations that stood out for producing engaging content were Earthjustice and the Surfrider Foundation. We highly recommend taking a look at these two organizations and paying close attention to their Facebook posts and social media channels as models to emulate. These two organizations do excellent work offline. It’s great to see that their real-world success extends to their digital channels, too. 5. Overlay Powerful Text on Evocative Photos. Of the one thousand posts we looked at, the top 10 were all photos with some characteristics in common: All of the photos featured emotional or provocative subject matter.• Most included a simple, powerful message in overlying text.• Most seemed to be taken, or touched up, by professionals.• Only one of the photos’ captions included an “ask” that users like or share the• photo. There was one infographic among these popular images, and it was very simple.• Surfrider excels on Facebook engagement with provocative images. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at tells a compelling story using just a few facts and numbers in this graphic they shared on Facebook.
  35. 35. 35 Using the web to extend the ways in which you communicate with your constituency and call them to action sounds like a great idea. It can be! But, only if you put a strategic framework and best practices in place that will support what may be a time consuming—though rewarding—heartbeats program. Jodi Stark, Healthy Oceans campaigner for the David Suzuki Foundation, took our research to heart and produced an image of oily seawater, and overlaid it with a powerful message about oil spills. Jodi writes: “We posted this on Saturday [David Suzuki’s page had roughly 200,000 likes at the time] and in short order, we got 1,000 shares, 180 comments and 342 likes. The page was also liked by 1,000 more people this weekend. We can’t attribute this to the image, but we do know that with 1,000 shares, we got huge exposure to lots of new Facebook friends. We also got 3050 visits to the blog from Facebook (out of 4500 total visits) and 560 people who followed up and signed our action. In Facebook Insights, the post is currently second (out of 158) post for ‘engaged users’ and ‘most talked about’ for 2012.” The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  36. 36. 36 chapter 5 how to start a fire: a remarkables toolkit I f we’ve succeeded in convincing you that remarkables can be effective for fueling a movement, initiating word-of-mouth and energizing an organization’s membership, then you’re ready to start making your own remarkables. Unfortunately, there are few hard and fast rules for creating remarkables—there’s no formula that guarantees success. However, there are guidelines and best practices we rely on when designing remarkable campaign ideas. Change the Medium of the Message If you think you get a lot of email (and we’re sure you do!), then consider how many email pitches flood into journalists and influencers’ inboxes every day. A reporter at Vancouver BC’s daily newspaper says she gets about 150 emails a day, most of them from marketers asking her to write about their products, services or campaigns. That’s a lot of email, which translates into a lot of competition. Even a clever email or great campaign premise is in danger of being skimmed or skipped. That’s why we increasingly look for new ways to deliver campaign messages. Sometimes a “new” way to send your message is actually an old way. We occasionally use snail mail to get our stories into the hands of influencers. That’s because receiving a letter in the post has become unusual, even charming. Plus, the signal-to-noise ratio is much better. So few of us are sending mail that the US Postal Service is in serious danger of going out of business. The snail mail approach can help you cut through today’s digital noise. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  37. 37. 37 A number of years ago we ran a launch campaign for DreamBank, a socially- conscious online gift registry where members posted requests for meaningful gifts, like a portion of college tuition or a flight home to see family over Christmas. The website’s philosophy is that contributing to a meaningful gift is better than giving Christmas sweaters and other unwanted “stuff” that no one uses or wants. Inspired by the company name, we built a campaign on the concept of “fairytale.” With this in mind we sent influential bloggers packages in the post complete with a letter granting each of them fairy godmother status; a tiara; a wand and a $20 voucher to be used to “top up” any active account on the DreamBank site. Our fairy godmother kits got noticed. Importantly, they prompted the bloggers to poke around the site and find a dream gift to contribute their $20 toward. A fun and light-hearted pitch like this one requires compromise. The approach meant we couldn’t cover all the angles in one shot. We didn’t lead with stats about the negative impact manufacturing waste, packaging, transporting and the eventual disposal of unwanted gifts has on the planet. Nor did we hang our pitch on rethinking consumerism. We included background materials that Blogger Kate Trgovac photographs her fairy kit and blogs about it on her popular blog, My Name is Kate. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  38. 38. 38 covered these issues, but the campaign objective was to get bloggers’ attention. We made contact with many of our A-list online influencers and convinced them to check out, which fits the mandate for a successful remarkable. With that successful introduction under our belt, building deeper, more meaningful relationships and introducing hard-hitting issues is the next step. Say it Visually When it comes to a campaign pitch, a picture can certainly be worth a thousand words. This is the story of an image pitch we created while doing some outreach many years back for Brother Printers. Our objective was to get product reviews from influential bloggers in Western Canada. We identified bloggers with healthy readerships. We also found popular bloggers who worked for small businesses or were entrepreneurs themselves, and so would have some interest in checking out a color laser printer. Then we started writing the pitch. No matter how we put the words together the printer pitch wouldn’t sing. Frustrated, we began to brainstorm ways of making the pitch remarkable and came up with this simple idea. We would send bloggers something they might like to print. Something that would look really good if it were printed out on Brother’s new color laser printer. We created 20 customized comic book style pitches for our top-tier bloggers. We used the free comic builder software that came with Apple computers at the time and pulled Creative Commons photos of the bloggers from Flickr so that we could make them the stars of their own comic strip. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  39. 39. 39 It took about an hour to create each comic, and the bloggers were delighted with them. It’s worth noting here that we knew a number of these bloggers from past outreach activities and so took the risk of pulling their personal photos into these comics. If we’d never contacted these bloggers before there might be something a bit creepy about doing that. The result was excellent. Of our hit list of 20 bloggers, 17 of them reviewed the printer. Plus, they liked the pitch so much, many of them blogged about their comic even before posting their review, giving us two posts for the price of one. The results were proof that the time we took to craft each personalized image was worth the effort. The comic pitch was a fun approach to saying it visually, but there’s an entire school of journalism devoted to telling complex, often serious stories with just one graphic. It’s called data journalism and the images produced are called infographics. The data journalism trend is in full swing and is popular both in print and on the web. In fact, we see examples of data journalism in almost every newspaper these days. Vancouver’s most popular blogger,, creates her own comic of the Brother Printer unboxing and posts it on her blog and Flickr. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  40. 40. 40 That’s good news for not-for-profits that deal with large amounts of scientific data and want to engage the press with their research findings. If you can tell your story in one, informative image you may have an easier time getting through to influencers. Four years ago, web-savvy not-for-profit Charity Water started asking friends and supporters to give up their birthdays and ask for donations instead of gifts. Here’s the infographic they created to explain the major impact that small, selfless act would have on people in need: Since launching the birthday campaign, 20,000 people have given up their birthdays for Charity Water. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  41. 41. 41 Riff on What the Web Loves If the Internet is crazy about something—say, lipdubs of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”—then consider piggybacking on that meme while it’s still running hot. A meme is an element of culture (an idea, a video, a phrase, an image, an ad) that gets passed from one individual to another. You’ll recognize this as word of mouth. Riding a meme’s momentum is a classic Internet move. We’ve observed that borrowing and remixing something the web already loves is often an effective strategy for grabbing attention. Additionally, the original meme acts as a kind of social proof for your campaign. If it was popular once, then your variation on the idea can be popular, too. One of our favorite spin-offs is the New Spice: Study like a scholar, scholar video ad created for the campus library by the students at Brigham Young University. It’s a charming, picture-perfect replica of the wildly popular Old Spice YouTube ads and has collected more than three million views. That’s a remarkable result for a promotion for a campus library. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  42. 42. 42 Make it Interactive Before we recommend launching a campaign that calls for user-generated content or on-site interactions, we’ll warn you that these campaigns can have a price of admission. That means they’ve got to be exceptionally cool and the user experience must be flawless for it to work well. You may have already had the disheartening experience of building an online community, tool or contest that sits as empty as Coney Island in November. However, when they’re done well, interactive campaigns can get your organization a lot of attention and inspire your existing community. Early in 2012, Canadian outdoor clothing and gear retailer, Mountain Equipment Co- op, partnered with Canadian singer-songwriter, Sarah Harmer, to launch a digital campaign called Drawn to the Wild. Canadians were invited to participate in the campaign by making artistic contributions to Sarah’s “I’m a Mountain” video. In short, the campaign crowdsourced a re-imagined music video. Crowdsourcing calls on people who are otherwise not connected to contribute in a small way toward a common goal. We see this on the web all the time... think Kickstarter and popular t-shirt manufacturer, Threadless. For Drawn to the Wild, site visitors were asked to use web-based drawing tools to trace or enhance one of the 1200 frames that made up the original music video. This campaign was designed to raise awareness for threatened Canadian landscapes. For every re-envisioned frame submitted on the website, Mountain Equipment Co-op donated funds for protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), Sarah’s environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario. Full disclosure here: Capulet works closely with MEC, leading and managing its conservation project, With Drawn to the Wild we created something fresh and fun for the MEC and Big Wild audiences, who are regularly contacted via newsletters and social media about environmental campaigns. This was a new way for them to participate. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  43. 43. 43 “The Niagara Escarpment’s survival as a unique natural environment is seriously threatened. Drawn to the Wild is one way Canadians can both support its protection and collaborate with me and each other in a fun and creative way.” — Sarah Harmer So how did it all come together? We selected Sarah’s tour documentary, “Escarpment Blues” as the featured music video on the microsite, Website visitors were asked to draw on, fill in or highlight a film frame using a simple web-based drawing tool before submitting their work. This was a high-friction ask with lots of moving parts, so we created a YouTube how-to video to walk users through the process. Developers and designers at Vancouver digital agency, Agentic, built a custom interface that was both straightforward to use and enabled us to vet and organize submissions on the website back end. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  44. 44. 44 Frames were added to the video on the fly so that participants could click “play” to watch the music video take shape right before their eyes. Now, let’s crunch the numbers. We shared the project via various online channels, including the and Mountain Equipment Co-op newsletters. Interestingly, Facebook advertising delivered the highest conversion rate of any source that sent significant traffic to the campaign. Twitter also performed surprisingly well. We put that down to the fun and unexpected nature of the project, which in many ways parallels the serendipity of Twitter. To complete the video, we needed a minimum of 1200 frames. In total, 1822 frames were drawn and submitted, which was above our expectations. We kept 1477 of the frames submitted and rejected 345. It’s the Internet after all, so it’s no surprise that some rude drawings appeared in the mix, which is why each frame needed to be vetted before being added to the video. The average visitor submitted two frames and some keeners drew several each. Two enthusiastic contributors drew 56 and 54 frames, respectively. It took the average visitor about six minutes to add their frame. Years ago while working as a technical writer, Darren’s boss encouraged him to “disteal.” That is, to be inspired by the very best ideas from colleagues and thought leaders and to emulate those ideas. In this case, Drawn to the Wild was heavily inspired by the crowdsourced Johnny Cash Project. On the website and in our communications material, we repeatedly acknowledged that project as an antecedent to this one. We see ad agencies stealing ideas all the time without doing this, and it’s not cool (Darren feels particularly strongly about this). The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at Be inspired by the very best ideas from colleagues and thought leaders, and emulate those ideas.
  45. 45. 45 If you’re considering trying an interactive campaign that relies on visitors’ participation to succeed, make sure you’ve got these things covered: You already have a sizable, engaged audience. If you start with a very small• audience, it’s much harder to build momentum for your remarkable. The more people in your community that will spread and share the campaign, the better the chance of reaching an audience that will add content to or interact with your remarkable. You’ve got a kick-ass idea. No one wants to spend precious time generating• content for something that’s not cool or fun. Make your campaign irresistible and your audience will want to be a part of it. You’ve got the technical skills to pull it off. Without in-house technical• expertise or a reliable development partner, the user experience can fail. In most cases you’ve only got one shot with a visitor; make it count by ensuring all the technical glitches are ironed out before launch. You’ve got a clear objective in mind. Make the call to action clear and directed.• Want people to donate? Ask them. Want them to contribute a personal story? Make it easy for them to submit it. You’ve got the staff resources to manage interactions. If you ask people to• interact with you, you must be there to respond. That may mean putting a staffer on full-time community management duty while you run an interactive remarkable. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  46. 46. 46 More Ways to Stand Out There are dozens of ways to build a remarkable campaign. We’ll end this section with a few more clever approaches to get the creative juices flowing: Change the Scope: The University of Kentucky put giant Facebook Places markers around campus to remind prospective students to check in and spread the University of Kentucky brand to their friends. Find the Funny: Regardless of your cause, there’s probably a way to occasionally treat it with a lighter touch. That’s the approach F*** Cancer sometimes uses to engage young people on the subject of early detection of the disease. Exploit the First Mover Advantage: Every time a new technology starts to gain momentum, there’s an opportunity to get in early and use it to successfully tell your story. American Apparel probably didn’t make much money from selling virtual t-shirts in Second Life, but they enjoyed extensive media coverage as one of the first big corporations to sell in the virtual world. Likewise, these QR code poster campaign for The Big Wild enjoyed plenty of press as the first Canadian environmental non-profit to employ the technology. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  47. 47. 47 When you’re the first to adopt a new platform or technology, you can build significant credibility by teaching your community about it. Back when it still mattered, if you taught somebody about RSS, then yours was the first blog they subscribed to. As you can see from the examples above, remarkables can take many different shapes and forms. They can be cheap and cheerful or blinged out. Whatever yours looks like, remember that the objective should be to increase attention so that you can recruit new members, inspire actions within your existing community and connect with influencers. When all these things happen in tandem, you’ve got word-of-mouth working for you! The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  48. 48. 48 chapter 6 blending online activity with offline action L et’s talk about turning digital heartbeats and remarkables into effective change in the real world. After all, online activities must make a positive impact on your organization’s work. Marrying online and offline is one of the most difficult aspects of web campaigning, but when it’s done well, it can be powerful. So, what’s the secret to blending online and offline effectively? In this chapter we’ll look at organizations that integrate the two kinds of campaigning successfully. Raising the Rainbow Warrior Offline advocacy is at the heart of most movements and we can learn a lot from historical offline wins and losses. When it comes to environmental advocacy, Greenpeace has a rich tradition of real-world campaigning, but also does an exceptional job of integrating traditional work with digital thinking. This online campaign to raise funds for a capital campaign shows just how productively online and offline can work together. “Just as campaigners need to understand how new digital tools and strategies work (like social media) to be effective in designing campaign strategy, digital campaigners need to appreciate the nuances between these types of actions to make valuable contributions to campaign planning.” — Michael Silberman, Global Director of Greenpeace Mobilization Lab Real-world action has always been a priority for Greenpeace—from unfurling banners on major landmarks to blocking whaling ships and protesting nuclear tests on the open oceans. The Rainbow Warrior ship is a long-standing symbol of Greenpeace and has The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  49. 49. 49 played a major role in real-world protests. After years of use, a new Rainbow Warrior was needed and Greenpeace launched an online fundraising campaign to raise money to build a new vessel. With help from ad agency DDB, Greenpeace built a sophisticated fundraising microsite. But this was no run-of-the-mill online donation form. From gripping video footage that recounts the Rainbow Warrior’s battles to sophisticated blueprints of the new vessel—viewable from every position and angle—the highly-interactive website was remarkable. The best part? Donors bought parts of the new ship. From windows and GPS devices to smoke detectors and boilers, visitors browsed these items on the site and purchased them to outfit the new ship. Donors even got a certificate of ownership for their contributions. This approach riffs on the growing online shopping trend and gives donors a real sense of ownership of the new Rainbow Warrior. The result? Greenpeace raised enough money from 100,000 donors to commission a new Rainbow Warrior and donors who contributed to the project had their name added to a plaque on the ship. The new Rainbow Warrior is now in action and carries the names of all of those who helped build it. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  50. 50. 50 Web to World, Eh! In 2011, three weeks before a Canadian federal election, 80 groups of young Canadians met face-to-face to talk about their leaders. It was a campaign led by Leadnow, a political advocacy organization in the business of building dialogue and, ultimately, movements that inform the democratic process in Canada. The purpose of these face-to-face conversations was to capture and collect different opinions about Canada’s political leaders before the federal election. To facilitate the real-world meetups, Leadnow used the web as its primary organization tool, including sites like Meetup. From these 80 real- world conversations emerged several themes that Leadnow organizers used to draft a declaration to Canada’s political leaders. In another campaign, LeadNow rallied their web-savvy supporters to take online action at the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. Brookfield Asset Management is the Canadian company that owns Zuccoti Park. You’ll remember that Zuccoti Park was the location of Occupy Wall Street protests in the fall of 2011. Leadnow called on Canadians to ask Brookfield executives to refrain from immediately closing the park. More than 12,000 Leadnow supporters sent messages to Brookfield and to New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg through the Leadnow platform. Combined with other global actions, Leadnow’s online work helped to delay the eviction. Though Leadnow was born online, its influence has been felt in the real world. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  51. 51. 51 Many Hands Make Light Work Open data predates social media. The open data movement believes that specific data sets should be made publicly available and used by anyone and everyone to help solve civic, national and international problems. Open data supports crowdsourced problem solving. In other words, many hands make light work. Once momentum for an open data project gets rolling, topic enthusiasts work together to create something extraordinary and meaningful. With the help of open data, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed this interactive map that visualized spill response during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The map known as the ERMA Gulf Response (Environmental Response Management Application) pulled in freely-available data, from tides and currents to water samples and wildlife research, and is still open to the public. It was designed to facilitate communication and coordination among a variety of users—from federal, state, and local responders to local community leaders and the public. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  52. 52. 52, a website launched in 2009 in the United States, supports increased public access to sets of data that can be developed and built into applications with real-world impact. By opening up this data and encouraging citizens to engage and interact with it, communities can come together to find real solutions that governments haven’t had the time, resources or political will to solve. So, how do you measure online to offline success? Start by asking yourself what winning looks like. Is success simply a click through? Does it mobilize people to meet face-to-face? Is it drawing attention to specific national issues, or changing policy? Set your goals with specific outcomes in mind. Blend well, be rigorous with your measurement and make the online count on terra firma. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  53. 53. 53 chapter 7 are we there yet? W hen we encourage not-for-profits to undertake an online approach, a first question is almost always, “How do you measure online success?” That’s a great question. After all, it takes time and resources to run online movement marketing campaigns and you want to be sure you’re moving in the right direction. In chapter 2 we covered creating big, audacious goals for your movement. When it comes to measuring success, these goals are critical. They’re your roadmap for marketing activities and will determine metrics for your programs. If you don’t know what goals you’re trying to achieve, it’s very difficult to measure impact and success. So, if you haven’t defined goals for your organization yet, we recommend you do that deed. Once your goals are clearly defined, you’ll be able to build a more effective dashboard for measuring success. What’s a Marketing Dashboard? The concept of a marketing dashboard is not likely new to you, but it’s not always adopted in not-for-profits. Increasingly, process and analytics are being applied to marketers in both the enterprise and not-for-profits, which is why a dashboard can be so helpful. To act thoughtfully and responsibly you’ll need an accurate snapshot of the health of your online communities and you must know which marketing activities have been successful (or not successful) in growing your movement. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  54. 54. 54 Let’s discuss four steps for putting an effective measurement process in place. Step 1: Match Big, Audacious Goals with Measurable Online Actions With goals clearly defined and front of mind, determine which online actions will bring you closer to achieving big, audacious goals. Here’s an example. Let’s imagine that you’re an environmental organization with a goal to protect wild spaces as parkland. Convincing governments to conserve wild spaces is a big, audacious goal. So, what are some online actions that will get you closer to achieving that goal? How about these? Petition signatures.• If collecting signatures is a way your organization can put pressure on governments to make change, then the more signatures you collect the more pressure you can apply. So, the number of petition signatures you collect online moves the needle on your ultimate goal. Events.• Perhaps rallies and protests play a role in how you can influence The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at This public-facing dashboard from the Indianapolis Museum of Art displays key performance indicator results so that internal staff and the public can determine the organization’s success.
  55. 55. 55 political leaders. If getting supporters out to real-world events attracts greater attention and PR for your cause, then using online tools to help get your community out to events will impact your success. Donations.• Maybe your strategy is to raise enough money to purchase tracts of wilderness to ensure their protection. If so, the more funds you can raise through online donations the more land you can protect. These are some online performance indicators that relate directly to a big goal. Now that you’ve aligned your goals with measurable online actions you’re ready to build a dashboard. Step 2: Build Your Dashboard When it comes to constructing a dashboard, less is more. Try to keep your dashboard to a few key metrics that will indicate whether or not you’re on the road to achieving your goals. The tendency is to add as many metrics as possible. But to be effective, a dashboard need only answer these three questions: Are key performance indicators (KPIs) represented on the dashboard related to• online activities that directly affect your ultimate goal? Based on results and analytics, can you tell whether or not online marketing• activities are “moving the needle” for your cause? Can you draw actionable conclusions from the data?• Key performance indicators should unveil specific conclusions. In other words, do the metrics reported on your marketing dashboard bring issues to the surface that may impact strategy and future activities? They should. While using Google Analytics and a spreadsheet is a perfectly effective way to create a dashboard, there are also online tools that make the process easier and display results a little more clearly. You might want to check out Klipfolio or simplekpi. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  56. 56. 56 Step 3: Check Your Dials You wouldn’t set off on the freeway with the fuel gauge hovering on empty. It doesn’t make sense to blindly sink budget and resources into online activities that aren’t getting you anywhere. Your dashboard shows performance and will help you decide if the time and money you’re putting into online campaigns are worth the effort. Each month we gauge online movement health by checking the dials and either staying the course or tweaking activities or methods accordingly. Here’s what we mean. We’ve run a number of online petitions at The Big Wild. The petition pictured below is for the Yukon’s Peel River Watershed campaign. We asked the Big Wild community to sign this petition as a way to add voices to a public consultation for the region’s environmental action plan. When we started running petition campaigns, landing pages looked quite different than this one. You may have noticed that this campaign page is very stripped down— no top or side navigation, a simple photo and only one thing for visitors to do: sign the petition. We were prompted to tweak these landing pages because we weren’t reaching our petition signature goals. We knew these pages could perform better. So, we streamlined the page, removed secondary calls to action and other distractions that we suspected were tempting visitors before they completed the call to action. And, we were right. This bare bones landing page elicited 45% more petition signatures than the original petition page. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  57. 57. 57 We hope you’ll revisit your KPI dashboard on a regular basis to make sure the metrics you are tracking are helping you ask the right questions and facilitate both small campaign tweaks and strategic decisions. Step 4: Changing Course The wonderful (and terrifying) thing about measurement is that it empowers you to act. Data gives you confidence to change course when what you’re doing isn’t working. You simply need the courage to do so. That can be especially difficult in an organization that typically runs on raw, emotional impulse. When an Executive Director is married to a recurring campaign or a board member is convinced their annual event is the bee’s knees, you may find yourself being the bearer of bad news. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  58. 58. 58 Here’s a tip. To get a true picture of marketing health, you’ll need to find ways to measure offline activities too. How are you measuring print advertising, radio spots and TV ads? Measurement becomes much harder in the “real” world. But, if you don’t try to determine offline activity value, you won’t be able to compare offline and online impact. When you can evaluate the effectiveness of all marketing activities you’ll be much closer to running a lean, mean movement marketing machine. Measurement is a key part of any movement marketing program and stems from those big, audacious goals. If you’re ready to get serious about measurement, we recommend you consider implementing a dashboard. Thankfully, there are a variety of inexpensive, Excel-based dashboard templates available on the web. An expert can help you tune it up for your journey. While we typically think of Google Analytics as an online measurement tool, it can straddle online and offline. For instance, if you’re launching a series of print, radio and television ads, create a unique URL for each category of add. Track those URLs with Google Analytics and you’ll be able to better determine interest generated by those ads. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  59. 59. 59 Now, Start That Fire We’ve covered a lot of ground in this short e-book. We’ve discussed getting to know your audience and understanding what they need from you to get excited about your cause. We’ve talked about goal setting and measurement for the great work you do, and why that’s an important part of the process. We’ve recommended tactics for healthy heartbeats, and—fingers crossed—got you thinking about wild and wonderful campaign ideas with examples of inspirational remarkables from your peers. If there’s a single idea we want you to take away from our musings, it’s to embrace your role in all of this. You can execute a series of middling heartbeats, or you can work creatively to fan the flames of your organization’s burgeoning movement. You can advocate for your community and design inspired ways for them to work together toward a common and meaningful goal. Create the ideal environment for stoking passion, devise ways to spread enthusiasm, and motivate others to “light up” for your cause. Become a Noble Arsonist. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  60. 60. 60 Recommended Reading Getting excited about this movement building stuff? We’ve put together a short list of titles and resources to inspire your digital movement building work. These are our favourites. Enjoy! The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries You don’t have to be in the startup business to appreciate Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup. It’s a rundown of best practices organizations employ to work better and win more often. The Lean Startup has gone on to inspire a series of conferences under the same name. Winning the Story Wars, by Jonah Sachs Jonah Sachs, armed with inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, has taken his collective experience in marketing to bring us a book on how to build remarkable brands through epic storytelling. Jonah is known for his video work including “The Meatrix” and “The Story of Stuff”, both examples of video storytelling gone viral. The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin We often quote marketer and writer Seth Godin and refer to his marketing bible, The Purple Cow. Our own campaign development process on remarkables and heartbeats was originally inspired by this book. For your daily dose of smart marketing advice, you can also visit Seth’s Blog. Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine Beth Kanter is a household name in the non-profit world. Her blog remains a go- to site on our reading list when it comes to testing new tools and best practices in social media. Her latest book, The Networked Nonprofit is loaded with practical advice on how to best measure your digital impact. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  61. 61. 61 Stumbling on Happiness, by Dan Gilbert We couldn’t resist adding a pop psychology read to this list. Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness discusses how we often face too much choice in our lives. Gilbert’s research into what makes people happy offers a surprising look at human nature. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission, by Rick Warren This book, at first glance, may appear out of place on our list. But, time and time again we find ourselves recommending it based on the best practices it recommends for movement building. The author, Rick Warren, is a pastor and The Purpose Driven Church was written with an audience of church leaders in mind. The content speaks to the core philosophy of building momentum among a community in support of a common cause. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing with Organizations, by Clay Shirky In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky argues that restrictions like time and money are no longer barriers for organizations with so many digital tools and alternatives at their fingertips. Social media has given way to simple solutions and better organizing. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath Switch addresses the ongoing battle between the rational and emotional mind as it plays out in each of us. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath have done their homework in this book about transformative change. They examine how we can better impact outcomes and understand our own behaviour patterns. On Writing Well, by William Zinsser There are plenty of books on writing that are worthy of recommendation. On Writing Well by William Zinsser has been around for 30 years and remains a favourite. Zinsser’s clear and warm approach to good writing makes it easy to read and its contents are applicable to both seasoned and new writers. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at
  62. 62. 62 Darren Barefoot (@dbarefoot) is a writer, technologist and marketer. He’s co-founder of Capulet Communications where he heads a unique movement-marketing program designed for cause- based organizations and leaders ready to engage online movements. He speaks regularly as a digital strategy expert and has been featured on the CBC, BBC and in Wired, the Wall Street Journal and dozens of other publications. He’s also the co-author of Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook. Darren’s tastes run to the absurd. In 2011, he only consumed products and services made in Canada. In 2013, he lives in France amidst acres of vineyards…but doesn’t drink wine or eat cheese. Julie Szabo (@julieszabo) has worked as a writer and marketer for all kinds of companies—from international not-for-profits to bootstrapped tech start-ups. Aside from writing, Julie’s great passions are travel and living abroad. In the last five years, she has lived and worked on three continents. Her previous book, Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook, was written in six countries. Julie is co-founder of Capulet Communications, a digital marketing agency concerned with how the web and social media changes the way we communicate with friends, peers, and customers. The Noble Arsonist is a culmination of lessons learned from the social media marketing trenches. Theodora Lamb (@theolamb) is an online community manager who works with non-profits and businesses to help strengthen their online communities. She’s worked with several organizations including the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation as a digital producer and online community manager as well as Mountain Equipment Co-op’s on wilderness protection across Canada. Theodora currently works with Darren and Julie at Capulet helping to develop creative content, digital marketing strategy and web marketing campaigns. Her background in radio and television allow her to bridge her passion for storytelling, media, and the web. The Noble Arsonist - Learn more at ABOUT THE AuTHORS