Walker Karraa

Walker KarraaDr. Walker was nominated for her work related to motherhood, mental health, post-partum depressions and for her website where she has created a community for mothers “to speak their truths in a non judgmental, supportive, creative community. We need the wisdom and support of others to unpack stigma of mental difference in motherhood.”
For more info: http://www.stigmama.com

#health #mentalhealth #families #writer

Just Do It: Transforming Stakeholders Into Brand Evangelists using Philanthropy + Social Media

Increasing Competitiveness Through Good Corporate Citizenship

Companies today are facing increased pressure to be socially responsible as well as increased competition for customers and for the best employees.
As American business and families are on tighter budgets, they are making more conscientious decisions about the purchases they make. There is a subtle shift in the value proposition, where people are choosing where to put their time, energy and money not only into products, services and jobs that satisfy their self interest – what’s in it for me—but also a larger question of what value companies are bringing: how it effects their local community, the environment, and society.

Social Responsibility as a Differentiator
There are different ways companies choose to be socially responsible, by:
* Providing products that are designed or manufactured to minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Focusing on their operations and using supply chains that minimize negative social and environmental impacts.
* Engaging with their local communities to alleviate and solve local environmental and social problems, like illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, littering, conservation, and air pollution.

Companies choosing to focus on their product development or operations often invest significant amounts of time and energy into these initiatives and face both market and operational risks. These are critical aspects of developing a sustainable economy, but they are not equally accessible to all types of businesses.

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Engage Your Community (photo by Savit Keawtavee)

Alternatively, all companies have the opportunity to engage with their local communities, and there are a wide range of ways to participate that can have long-lasting impacts.

This type of engaged social responsibility is also very visible to a company’s stakeholders. Consider the difference in opportunities to engage your key stakeholders and the different attitude and feelings you will prompt in them if your company announces a bold new recycling program (an internal effort) versus collaborating with neighbors to build a new playground that will give neighborhood kids a safe place to play (a public effort).

While both are worthy initiatives, one creates the opportunity to invite your stakeholders’ participation and is a tangible symbol in your community of your company’s impact. The other resides in corners and under desks and is hardly a rallying cry.

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com

Community Engagement: Web 2.0 and Your Stakeholders

Web 2.0: Engaging Stakeholders with Social Media

How are communicating with and engaging your stakeholders?

How are communicating with and engaging your stakeholders?

There are two critical trends that are changing the opportunity for companies to use community engagement strategically. The first is the way web 2.0 and social media has changed the ways we can communicate with our stakeholders, and in turn how easy it is for them to share information and interact with what they find interesting and engaging.

Platforms like twitter, facebook, and tumblr are changing online interactions into digital habitats for communities with shared history, interests and values.

Consider the power of the viral video: in hours millions of people can seek and give their attention to something that they were completely unaware of, and they push it out into their digital habitats.

Consider these findings, from a recent Trendwatching[i] report:

  • Product recommendations from family (63%) and friends (31%) are the most trusted. However 10% of US consumers now go online to solicit advice from their social networks. For people aged 25-34, this figure rises to 23%. (Source: Cone Inc, June 2010)
  • 90% of people trust the recommendations of their Facebook friends (Source: ExactTarget, August 2010)
  • 31% of daily Twitter users ask their followers for opinions about products and services. (Source: Edison Research & Arbitron Internet, April 2010)
  • Three quarters of Facebook users have ‘Liked’ a brand. (Source: AdAge/ Ipsos, February 2011)
  • Incipio Technologies, a gadget retailer, found that referrals from Facebook had a conversion rate double the average (Source: Business Insider, March 2011)
  • Every time a user posts on Facebook about buying a ticket from Ticketmaster, the company estimates they receive an extra USD 5.30. (Source: New York Times, April 2011)
  • Eventbrite, the event ticketing site, estimates that the value of a Facebook share is USD 2.53. (Source: Eventbrite, March 2011)

The State of Social Media Marketing

Social advertising is one of the biggest emerging areas in marketing and many companies are struggling to find the most effective ways to use it. In a recent survey of 230 brand managers, executives and marketing professionals, the Pivot Conference[ii] found wide-spread interest and adoption of social media across industries. The average marketing budget for companies from this particular study was $16.8M, though three quarters of them had $5M or less. On average companies were spending 24% of their marketing budget on social media.ii

They also found that responsibility for social marketing crosses many different departments, a reflection of the ways companies are using web 2.0 technologies to communicate with stakeholders:

  • Marketing 90%
  • Public Relations 64%
  • Sales 46%
  • Customer Service 39%
  • Investor Relations 8%

From their report: “Over half (52%) of brands report that they’re running social media marketing in house. 19% are feeding this function to full service ad agencies and another 15% rely on specialized agencies to lead their social marketing programs…. In 2011, marketers plan to increase usage of social media by 75%. 19% will remain at current levels and only one percent of respondents actually plan on decreasing usage.” ii

The survey also found that 57% believe that social media is still in the early stages of capitalizing on the advertising and marketing potential. Only 16% believe their current social media programs are very successful whereas 57% think their initiatives have been somewhat successful. Surprisingly, 23% can’t tell, which indicates an opportunity for services that can help companies implement and track their results and social media ROI.

Generation G(enerosity)

Increasingly consumers around the world are putting more pressure on companies to not just provide good services and products, but to also be good corporate citizens: [iv]

  • 86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests.
  • 62% of global consumers prefer brands that support good causes.

On the flip side, consumers are not necessarily buying green products or green claims: iv

  • While 40% of consumers say they are willing to purchase green products, only 4% of consumers actually do when given the choice. (Source: Journal of Marketing, September 2010)
  • 58% of global consumers think that environmentally friendly products are too expensive, while 33% of global consumers think that environmentally friendly products don’t work as well. (Source: GfK Roper, September 2010)
  • While the volume of green products available to US consumers increased by 73% between 2009 and 2010, only 5% of products were not found to include some ‘greenwashing’ claims. (Source: Terrachoice, October 2010)

One of the best opportunities out there for companies interested in building brand equity and loyalty through being socially responsible is to take opportunities to do public projects and engage stakeholders more deeply. Social media and philanthropy, when combined, can provide companies an authentic way to show stakeholders that they are good corporate citizens and community members.


[i] “The F-Factor” from trendwatching.com, May 2011

[ii] “Report: Brands Pursue the Social Consumer” from BrianSolis.com, a reprint of the Pivot Conference Survey results. Available online at: http://www.briansolis.com/2011/02/report-in-2011-brands-make-the-pivot-to-pursue-the-social-consumer/

[iii] “The Top 10 Marketing Sites for Social Media Marketing Trends” from Fast Company, reprinted from BrianSolis.com. Available online at: http://www.briansolis.com/2011/07/the-top-marketing-sites-for-social-media-marketing-trends/

[iv] “11 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2011” from trendwatching.com, January 2011

(Photo courtesy of Photostock)

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social Entrepreneurship is both a philosophy and a practice. Philosophically it takes a cue from Jean Baptiste Say, one of the intellectual godfathers of entrepreneurship:

Social Entrepreneurship “is a way of moving resources from low yield activities to high yield activities”, with the specific goal of addressing social and environmental problems and challenges we face today.

As an practice we see it across the global, in the non-governmental, non-profit, for-profit, and government sectors. It varies in scope from world-changing to neighborhood changing.

Social Entrepreneurship is about innovation and creating value.

Social Entrepreneurship is about innovation and creating value.

The beauty of it is that regardless of one’s immediate resources, it is accessible. It is a worldview and a type of leadership that mines the natural capital and resources that are available in communities and finds ways to unleash them. It understands that power comes in many forms, not just economic or political power, but also intellectual capital, the passion and engagement of individuals, and social capital. It works whether one is trying to promote positive change from the top down, the bottom up, the “grass tops” work of community leaders, or through coalitions.

Social entrepreneurship isn’t always about creating new organizations; it includes a range of entrepreneurially-minded activities that include innovation, invention, adoption, and adaptation. It might be in the form of:

  • Developing new/better goods or services, like solar powered light-bulbs for consumers in the developing world
  • New methods of production, like developing a way of creating durable family housing solutions for $300 or less
  • Adopting existing solutions to underserved markets, like microfinance
  • Creating new forms of supply, like organic farmers partnering with urban businesses to divert waste from the trash to composters, or
  • New forms of organization, including new strategic partnerships or alliances, like Denver’s Road Home, a national model for how to bring for-profit, non-profit, and government organizations together to address homelessness.

Social entrepreneurship, in it’s highest and best form, is about developing solutions that are practical, scalable, cost-effective, politically rooted, and sustainable that will make better use of the resources available and gain the necessary support to make some headway addressing our pressing social and environmental problems.

This post was originally published on FutureSpark at spark4impact.com

National Parks, A Uniquely American Innovation

National Parks are a uniquely American concept. Sparked during the American civil war, the idea has often been in tension with that other American ideal, free markets and private ownership. Nonetheless, we did have the vision and insight that our great American landscapes are a treasure and should be protected by the people for the people. National parks are where democracy meets nature, an area that is protected from the Tragedy of the Commons.

One of the interesting questions is how do the Parks play in the imagination and hearts of Americans today, and how did it get to be this way? In our workaholic, always on, techno-gizmo world, what is our relationship to nature? What can it be? Are we alienated from nature, or just redefining our relationship to it and its place in our lives?

Moreover, how can this amazing and awesome resource be reincorporated with our modern lives and priorities to provide us with ongoing protection, rejuvenation, connection and inspiration? Not something we go to occasionally, but something incorporated into our lives. For many nature already holds a special, spiritual place in their hearts, but this is only one level at which our relationship to place can effect our lives. It can also effect our emotional, intellectual and social lives. For example, green spaces in urban centers become not just a refuge from concrete, but public spaces where ideas are exchanged. In the tranquilly and beauty of a greenspace, engineers contemplate the design of nature and how it can be adopted through biomimicry to create better products.

Many National Parks are “away” from our everyday experience. Where and how do we bridge the gap so, like anything we hold dear, being away is not alienation? Psychological and emotional distance does not follow the same rules as physical distance. Places we left long ago in childhood can be more immediate to our sense of self and daily life than the spaces we inhabit. Is there a place in our hearts, minds and lives for these crown jewels of America, the spaces that represent our national heritage, beauty, and ideals of democracy?

National Parks

So one of the pieces I am working on right now is some writing and research related to what people think and do in national parks.

We are quite blessed in the US to have an organiation (the National Park Service) that identifies great places for us to learn and play. While most of us probably think of the more nature-related parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite, there are also a lot of places that reflect our culture and history. Some examples of these include:

  • The Andersonville National Historic Site – is a civil war prison site commemorating American POWs
  • Fort Smith – a center of frontier law and order in Arkansas
  • Pecos National Historic Park – a triple site that includes an ancient pueblo community site, a civil war place where the Union forces were able to stop the Confederate march west, and a classic turn of the century cowboy Ranch.
  • So what is at the top of my mind is a) what Park Managers and personnel are concerned about that I might shed light on in my research, and b) what the public thinks about National Parks, and why people either visit or choose not to visit.

    My areas of research expertise includes developing models of complex behaviors (like altruism), analyzing trends over time and space, and doing deep in-depth case studies and ethnography interviews to shed light on how people perceive and make sense of the world. Any ideas about things that I might be able to investigate that you would be interested in?

    Hello world

    I’ve been thinking lately that I would like to share my thoughts so that I might tap into the the wisdom of the crowd for gaining more perspective and understanding how what I think about all the time might dovetail with what you are thinking about or talking about.
    Feel free to lurk, but consider joining me in the conversation and adding your 2 cents in.
    Thanks for making the journey with me, whether it’s a quick stop-off or an extended walkabout.