Build On What We Know

I came across an interesting study on the “Diffusion dynamics of games on online social networks.”

(No, this isn’t another treatise on the ubiquity of FarmVille.)

I’m not an online games person. But I am interested in how word spreads via social media and in metrics on social networking behavior.

What I found really fascinating was how much the researchers findings correlated with other, “more traditional” direct marketing and fundraising trends.

For example, in the study:
• 10% of users account for 50% of successful invitations.
• players who enter through social invitation are more likely to remain engaged.
• players who are more engaged are more likely to succeed in inviting others.

In our approach to donor development, we call those more engaged constituents “advocates.” Our research shows they’re more likely to give more and more likely to renew their support.

Another similarity. In social network gaming:
• sending more invitations can lower your success rate
• spacing invitations out is more effective than rapidly repeating the request

Target your message. Plan multiple asks. Respect your recipient. Sound familiar?

I think it’s exciting to consider the number of new ways social networking tools can help us connect and communicate with key constituencies.

And while these new tools require new approaches, I also think it’s encouraging to find that some of the best practices of our professions – communications, marketing, fundraising – will continue to be the foundations of success in these new media.