1 min Read
July 29, 2013

What’s the next big thing?

Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, apps, viral memes, tear-jerking videos… Seems like these days, there’s always something new to watch, read, or test out. Our clients often ask us what’s hot and what they should be experimenting with.

If communications resources like staff time and budget weren’t rarer than a sighting of the Loch Ness monster, our answer might be to try a lot of things, experimenting and testing as you go.

But in truth, no nonprofit can afford to do that. Instead, new tools and techniques have to be integrated carefully, because they inevitably take an investment of time and effort. On the flip side, unstructured experiments can provide fertile fields for growth and exploration. So what’s an au courant communications director to do?

Here’s some of what we suggest.

First, keep an eye on your landscape. I call this taking the ‘long view’- and it means you should remember to monitor the bigger universe you operate in. Read industry blogs, watch TED talks, check out peer organizations’ websites and social media. By understanding where you fit in, you’ll have a much better sense of what you can afford to ignore—or should embrace.

Before you dive in, consider the audience you want to reach and how likely they are to connect in this media. Is there a community of your peeps there already? Get the latest statistics from Pew or informally focus group/survey to check your gut that the people you want to reach are there.

Get real about how much time you can afford to invest. Staff time is arguably your most precious resource. How much of it do you want to spend? A day? A week? Beyond setting up the new tool, do you have the people power to support it on an ongoing basis?

If you’re still ready to dive in, consider testing out something disruptive around an event or initiative that’s finite. Having a deadline creates urgency for you and your audiences that can often lead to better results. It also gives you an ‘out’ if you decide it’s not worth continuing your experiment.

How do you manage the next big thing at your organization?