The most popular kid isn’t always the winner

Some folks will tell you that a presence on the Internet is all about getting everyone to click your stuff — to be amazingly popular. Seth Godin begs to differ, at The thing that makes it popular…

There are a hundred ways you and your organization can become more popular, earn more clicks, generate more comments… but is popular what you’re after?

It shouldn’t be.

If you’re a serious nonprofit engaged in actually changing the world, popular is beside the point. You don’t need four billion people to think you’re cool. You need just a million people to walk with you and provide financial support. (In most cases, far fewer than a million will get the job done.)

Here’s an attempt by a nonprofit to be popular at the expense of actually making connections: Amnesty International Hungary has a series of videos like this one, with titles like Secret scenes of the E.T. who was found in Budapest. But check out the video:

(Or see it here on YouTube.)

This is one of a large series of videos with names like Amazing! Dog speaks to his owner, Magician makes a trick and takes off cute girl’s clothes, and Unbelievable goalkeeper mistake! The kind of stuff that gets forwards galore.

In case you don’t have the time to figure out the joke, the entire video just looks like a YouTube video trying to load. A little way in, there’s a message comparing your short wait for a video to load with the much longer wait for justice and other things that many around the world face.

Using a tactic common among producers of Stupid Nonprofit Ads: Don’t say what you want to say, symbolize it.

So here’s what presumably happens: Someone sees the title, thinks, Cool! and clicks. But within seconds, they see they’ve been tricked. The story probably ends right there for most. A few viewers make stick around long enough to see the message; how many bother to puzzle out the lesson? How many more are just annoyed at having been tricked?

There’s no point in getting “everyone” to click something you created. Especially if you use trickery to get them to do it. You’re better off being real and straightforward and deep and compelling with the smaller group of people who are going to care about your cause enough to actually take action.

Don’t seek indiscriminate popularity. That gets you nowhere. Find your real audience, then seek depth and passion with them.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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