Tag Archive | "social"

Debatewise – Encouraging the Debate

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Debatewise – Encouraging the Debate


Spreading the message online with sponsored debates on Debatewise.com

Charities and NGO’s are becoming increasingly aware of the value of spreading their message online, yet their efforts are often limited to a campaign website, costly banner ads and a Facebook page. The web 2.0 phenomenon allows much greater engagement than these traditional methods provide, yet this opportunity is not always being harnessed.

To convert people to supporters it’s often necessary to dispel concerns and misconceptions and this is only achievable by directly engaging with these preconceived ideas and the people that hold them. This means leaving the security of the charity website and establishing an active presence on other sites where opposing views are expressed, in order to spread the message.

This might be achieved by visiting blogs and forums and leaving (polite, helpful) comments and engaging in online debate with those who may oppose your message. When undecided visitors view these comments they gain an insight into both sides of the argument, which may persuade them of the value of your cause.

Alternatively, Debatewise.com has enabled campaign organisations to do this through in a more open environment. Debatewise.com is a non-profit educational website whose aim is to become the Wikipedia for debate. It is a platform for both sides of any argument and thus an ideal medium for campaign organisations and charities to voice their views.

Last year Debatewise contacted campaign organisations offering ‘sponsored debates’ on a new page on their site. The sponsorship is figurative (no money is involved at all!) and is a way for organisations and charities to have their name associated with a particular debate, alongside a brief bio, logo, and link to their website.

Greenpeace, CND and the Electoral Reform Society have all sponsored debates. They suggested the title of the debate and wrote one side of the argument. The section has proved very popular, but, most interestingly, the average time spent by visitors on the sponsored debate pages has been unusually high. The Electoral Reform Society debate (“The voting age should be lowered to 16″) has an average viewing time of 4:02 minutes (double the average time for other parts of the site),  meaning people are reading and taking in the whole debate, and really engaging with the issue. This kind of interaction is crucial for converting supporters and, as the debate is ongoing, there is the opportunity to respond to people’s concerns about issues as they arise.

This is just one of the ways campaign organisations and charities can use the internet to interact with the public about their cause. Through no cost and minimal effort Greenpeace, CND and the Electoral Reform Society have all contributed their expert views on issues that concern them, informing, educating and importantly, converting visitors to supporters.

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Prince Charles on MySpace?

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Prince Charles on MySpace?

Following the launch of the Prince’s Rainforest Project  with the help of a YouTube video last week, he has this week broadcast an extended version aimed specifically at the Myspace audience.

He says: “One of the internet’s strengths is that it can enable diverse communities to come together to ensure that everybody’s views and actions can really be made to count. It provides the potential to create global determination for change on a vitally important issue.”

But whilst the video which appears on the Rainforest SOS site kicks off with big name stars like Daniel Craig, Robin Williams, Harrison Ford and Kermit the Frog – immediately grabbing viewers attention, communicating a message in a simple and direct way – this video (above) has a staggering 4 minute preamble by the Prince sitting, and explaining what the campaign is about and various facts about “tree absorbtion rates”, and why there is a rainforest frog in the video that we are about to watch…

Yes we get the Prince and frog joke, but this is MySpace, the 10 second attention-span crowd, or as some of the newspapers describe them, “large numbers of predominatly young people (who) exchange gossip, pictures and listen to music”.

This is actually a great opportunity to grab the attention of this audience with something incredibly important, but will they really sit and listen to the lecture first?

Lure the audience in with the celebs, then get them to sign up or act. If they want to find out more, or watch more footage of the future king in his study, then I’m pretty sure they will find a way.

The “premiere” which was this week at the National Geographic Store on London’s Regent Street, also features the Dalai Lama, Pele, Prince Harry and William, and err, Joss Stone.

Criticism aside, this is of course a great campaign for developing possible financial solutions to deforestation and building a political consensus for action, and at least he’s embracing a digital approach, but this blogger thinks they should think about their audience more.

Talk so that customers will listen and listen so that customers will talk.

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