Do you ever feel like you are flailing when it comes to your social media strategy? Or that you do not have any coordination at all? Look at the dragonfly. In order for it to accelerate rapidly and change directions immediately, all four wings must move in congruence.
As Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith in their book The Dragonfly Effect explain four metaphorical “wings” – focus, grab attention, engage, take action – must work together to ensure social media success. Utilizing these wings can provide Jewish institutions a foundation for not just maintaining an online presence, but truly galvanizing a constituency to actively engage in Judaism and the community.
1. Focus – prior to entering the social media arena, zero in on simple and realistic goals. As opposed to top down planning, it is vital to build personal relationships, be authentic and listen intently to the communal needs. At Temple Israel in Memphis, we organized heterogeneous focus groups to hear individual thoughts concerning the temple. Based on their insights, a vision was constructed by lay leaders, stating our congregation’s role to connect Jews more deeply to Torah, spiritual fulfillment, community, and tikkun olam. Using this as the foundation, our temple’s Facebook page, alongside my Rabbi Adam Facebook and Twitter accounts, ultimately connect to our community more deeply and, subsequently, help to drive our attendance, donations, long-term membership, and new member opportunities. While some might disregard this planning stage, successful social media approaches realize the importance of slowing down before speeding up.
2. Grab Attention – getting noticed by our audience is vital to social media success. In an online world dominated with choices, we need to move away from the predictability. Too many organizations explain events or communicate information in the exact same way as was done fifty years before – title the event, share the details, expect a crowd. In the online world, this is not acceptable. Sparking the curiosity of our constituents must be done through innovative and audience centered videos and pictures that personally connect with and elicit an emotional response from our constituency. Think of the Maccabeats, Yeshiva University’s all-male a cappella group, whose fun, entertaining and unexpected song “Candlelight” became an instant Youtube sensation and now has almost 6 million views. While by no means the same number of hits, this video from Temple Israel exceeded expectations, generated excitement, and started many conversations about the event.
3. Engage – emotionally invest the community in the organization. One of the best lines of the book is that “to engage, it’s necessary to view yourself (and your effort) as a brand.” In order to do this, we need to tell our stories, which help to define and to build our constituency’s collective memories thus connecting them more deeply to the mission of and take action for the institution. Answering questions such as what inspires the community, what makes an institutional experience meaningful, and why Jews would want to connect with us gears the online conversation to the community and makes it personal. In promoting Temple Israel’s Sukkot and Simchat Torah experiences, we redefined them for the community where music became the center. We ran a fun promotional spot and an online giveaway for autographed CD’s of the artists via Facebook and Twitter. By rethinking the marketing, we have helped our community become more engaged and excited about the experience and the artists.
4. Take action – get the community to act upon your cause by giving their time, money or both. The most important take away here is to ask for time before money. Too many Jewish institutions consistently ask for money via membership, programs, events, dinners, etc. and never truly get people vested in the experience. In order to reverse this trend, it is imperative to actively seek and encourage volunteer participation. Even though individuals are involved with so many activities, we have to rethink how we invite people to volunteer. Instead of asking them to join time intensive committees, encourage them to work on smaller and tangible projects that value their individual talents, skills and interests. When a group then becomes invested in the organization, social media then becomes a tool for reaching a greater audience and receiving much needed feedback. As one experiments with social media to motivate the community, make it fun and, as our communications director, Isti Bardos, always states, make sure to respond to every message or post for that personal touch helps the audience feel they are actually having a dialogue rather than a monologue. The Dragonfly Effect provides the tools to captivate an online audience, and then inspire them to actively participate in social change. The examples and illustrations can help Jewish institutions more fully realize the potential of social media. By experimenting, having fun and continuing to evaluate results, these four wings can provide Jewish institutions a way to further engage Jews as our world proceeds to advance technologically. How are you addressing these four wings, and more importantly, how are you getting them to work in congruence with one another?
Rabbi Adam Grossman is the Associated Rabbi of Temple Israel of Memphis. Rabbi Grossman earned his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from The Ohio State University and a Master of Education Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education from Xavier University. He is an active user of social media, and contributes to Temple Israel’s effective use of online social tools for engagement and building community.