It’s Not Just What You Tweet, It’s What Your Followers Do With It

Posted on June 6, 2011 by 2 Comments

Sparking some friendly competition at the Sustainable Brands Conference

This week I will be heading to Monterey, CA to attend my third Sustainable Brands Conference. I really like this event and expect that it will be a nice counterpoint to the policy driven conversations I participated in at Fortune Brainstorm Green.  Over three days we will spend our time discussing how to create shared economic, environmental and social value and I predict that the term “green consumer” will be the most heavily tweeted phrase during that time.   

Every year the crowd gets bigger and ever year the quality of brands attending increases and I am sure that this won’t disappoint with over 120 incredible speakers ranging from corporate sustainability executives to famous mountaineers.   The only thing better than the diverse, passionate and inspired conversations will be the debate that ensues online.   

In anticipation of that, I thought it might be interesting to see if I can help spark some of this lively conversation with a contest.  Yes, a contest, and with a contest comes a prize so let’s get to the most important piece first, what you could win? 

Drumroll please…  You will get your very own Influencer Ranking analysis!

What the heck?

Let me explain. 

Almost everyone – company, person, organization– uses social media these days.  Why?  It can be the easiest place to get the word out and in turn, build a brand. More often than not, the thinking is that the more followers you have, the better and the more often they re-tweet you is the only thing that matters. But does it really? 

What if you just had one person re-tweet you but that person was one of the most respected people you knew and best understood the conversation you were having? Is that more important?

Is it a question of quality vs. quantity?

WE would argue that it is much more than either of these things.  It is a matter of INFLUENCE.  A consistent, sustained impact by highly influential and engaged individuals from a specific category.  In fact, we measure influence in our Influencer Ranking analysis on the basis of five key attributes:  Reach, Amplification, Engagement, Context and Audience. By running an algorithm on these measurements we get to a ranking of who – in your conversation – has the most influence and therefore, most valuable to your brand building efforts. 

So, back to how we can spark a lively debate at the Sustainable Brands Conference and you can win your very own Influencer Ranking analysis: 

Below is a list of the five most engaged tweeters speaking at the Sustainable Brands Conference (already have a high influence ranking and are some of the most active on Twitter). My challenge to you is to perfectly predict their order of influence after engagement levels change and spike during the course of the Conference.

Alison Presley (Travelocity)@travelforgood
David Schatsky ( @dschatsky
Erin Schrode (Teens Turning Green) @erinschrode
Jacqui Ottman (Ottman Consulting) @Jacquelynottman
Susan McPherson (Fenton) @susanmcp1

To play, all you have to do is tweet me @HDrage with your response using the conference and game hashtags #SB11 and #WESB in the correct order of influence with 1 as the most engaged. Near the end of the conference, my team will run an Influence Ranking on the speakers and announce the winner.  If there are multiple correct guesses, they will be pulled together and the winner will be drawn at random.

More to come from Monterey!

Oh, and because we thought it would be helpful, here is a list of all of the speakers that have Twitter handles – your Tweet Sheet!




Christine Arena



Chip Conley

Joie de Vivre


David Ian Gray

Dig360 Consulting


Jeffrey Hollender

7th Generation


Susan McPherson



Jacquelyn Ottman

Ottman Consulting


Alison Presley



David Schatsky


Erin Schrode

Teens Turning Green


Gregory Unruh

Thunderbird School of Global Management


Gabe Zichermann

Author, Game-Based Marketing


Gil Friend

Natural Logic, Inc.


Ephi Banaynal



Mitch Baranowski



Raphael Bemporad



Graceann Bennett

Ogilvy & Mather


Coleman Bigelow


Celia Canfield

Green Energy Agents


Jerri Chou

Lovely Day


Dave Cobban



Kierstin De West

Ci: Conscientious innovation


Adam Dole

Mayo Clinic


Jeffrey Fielkow



Jason Foster



Marc Gobe

Author- Emotional Branding 2.0


Ellen Goodman



Neal Gorenflo

Shareable Magazine


Peter Graf



Tim Griener

Pure Strategies


Chris Guenther



Kevin Hagen



Karen Janowski

EcoStrategy Group


Beth Jensen

Outdoor Industry Association


Jim Jubelirer

Sustainable Futures


Olivia Khalili



Chris Laszlo

Author- Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage


Mark Lee



Renee Lertzman

Portland Center for Public Humanities


Debra Lieberman

UC Santa Barbara


Erin Meezan

Interface Inc.


Michael Muyot

CRD Analytics


Bonnie Nixon

the Sustainability Consortium


Rajat Paharia



Lara Pearson

Rimon Law Group


Bruce Poon Tip

Gap Adventures


Leo Raudys

Best Buy Co., Inc.


John Marshall Roberts

Author, A Persuasion Manual for Visionaries


Leonard Robinson

Green Radio Personality


Stuart Rudick

Mindful Investors


Peter Salmon

Fische Consulting


Carol Sanford

The Responsible Business


Judah Schiller

Saatchi & Saatchi S


Jessica Scorpio



Suzanne Shelton

Shelton Group


Joe Sibilia



Sandy Skees

Communications 4 Good


Gale Tedhams

Owens Corning


Sally Uren

Forum for the Future


Ed Viesturs

Mountaineer, Source 44


Pamela Wellner



Freya Williams



Jonathan Yohannan

Cone Inc.


Ian Yolles



Nadya Zhexembayeva

Author, Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage


The Junior Davos Event

Posted on April 6, 2011 by Comments Off

In Washington, DC, particularly in the Social Innovation space, we hear about all kinds of great programs and organizations that are going to change the world. So much so, it can be hard to be impressed. This week, however, I was introduced to an organization that truly caught my attention.

I originally heard about One Young World from the WE-SA office – their first stand-alone Social Innovation engagement. A global forum for young leaders, CNN summed it up best when it called One Young World a “junior Davos” event.

So when I heard that one of the founders, Kate Robertson, would be in town to talk about One Young World, I jumped at the chance to learn more. As Kate explained during the luncheon I attended, One Young World is a forum that gathers young leaders together from all corners of the globe in a space where they can share and debate their ideas in a way they never could otherwise. In her view, youth have a better perspective on the problems of the world and potential solutions, so we must give them these kinds of opportunities to be heard.

With the encouragement of counselors like Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Mohammad Yunus and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, participants in the inaugural summit last year in London, England, went back to their home countries and, taking their mandate to heart, put their words into action.

One of the most notable outcomes of the summit was The Missing Millennium Development Goal project. One Young World participants realized that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is hindered by conflict, often religious-based. Building on a resolution drafted at the One Young World Summit, these inspiring young people presented The Missing Millennium Development Goal – Ensure Interfaith Collaboration for Peace – at the UN Alliance of Civilizations forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May 2010, where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited them personally to present to the UN General Assembly.

We were lucky enough to have in our midst Taryn Bird, from the US Chamber of Commerce, who attended the inaugural summit. Hearing her personal experience really drove home the importance of this event and the value that it had to her. She even pointed out concrete examples where the experience and her connections made through One Young World have helped her in her job, such as when she was planning a Chamber-sponsored trip to Haiti last year.

So how is WE involved? In 2010, WE-SA was asked to provide communications support for Kate during a trip to her home country of South Africa, arranging a press tour for her with top business and consumer media that raised awareness of the organization among local young leaders and solicited corporate support.

Inspired by One Young World’s commitments, WE Citizenship and WE-SA decided to support the organization further. This fall, WE is sponsoring a local student from our academic partner, University of Johannesburg Communications Department, to attend the Second Annual One World Summit in Zurich, Switzerland.

I’m really proud that WE is supporting One Young World during this crucial start-up stage. While they had 823 young leaders from 112 countries in attendance at the 2010 forum, One Young World is aiming for 1600 participants representing every country this year and that is going to take a lot of effort.

If you or someone you know is interested in making an impact, having a chance to interact with like-minded peers from around the world and have the chance to truly influence world leaders, I encourage you to learn more about One Young World and the Second Annual Summit.

Everyone is invited to the party

Posted on September 17, 2010 by Comments Off

This summer we had a summer intern, Kathleen Sullivan, working with us in our Social Innovation Practice. As part of her wrap-up assignment, I asked Kathleen to reflect on what she learned about Social Innovation. Here is what she had to say:

“I recently had a discussion with my mother about the mentality that wealthy families such as the Medicis held towards selecting beneficiaries, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Brunelleschi, etc.

At the time, “patronage” was not primarily the notion of “giving back”, “taking responsibility”, or even to “doing something that benefited society” in the form of frescos, domes, or sculptures.

At its heart, patronage was viewed as a virtue, similar to other virtues leaders aspired to possess, such as morality, ethics, loyalty, honor, etc. Each leader knew that his kingdom, realm, and district would be judged by the art and public good produced—or lack thereof—during his reign.

As I conclude my summer internship with the Social Innovation team here at Waggener Edstrom, I find myself comparing the old definition of patronage with the contemporary view of social innovation. Social innovation, according to a recent Economist article, is meant to “transform the way public services are provided, by tapping the ingenuity of people in the private sector, especially social entrepreneurs”.

Today, most leaders aren’t concerned with improving the architecture of Florence – leaders are challenged by the fact that over 2 billion people live on less than $2 per day. Today, it is not solely wealthy families who are thinking about sponsoring individuals – it is people from all walks of life – Facebook users, employees, teachers, non-profits, governments, and businesses. Thanks to,, Jolkona, Text4Haiti, SeeYourImpact, One Lap Top Per Child, and a million other innovations, almost everyone in the developed world can be an empowered leader, an agent of change, a sponsor of someone’s life, a cause, or a movement. Which most people would agree, is pretty incredible.

What is more debatable is role that corporations, and the private sector as a whole, “should” play in the shaping of social good. Should they stay out, focusing on their efforts on their core competencies and their shareholders, a la Milton Friedman? Or should they “give back” and focus on additional stakeholders?

I doubt that Renaissance patrons spent so much time debating whether they should be the ones doling out money to sponsor artists, and quite frankly I’m surprised corporations spend so much time asking themselves this question. Businesses that pose the question in the first place are likely in a place to effect change, for better or for worse, whether they like it or not. No amount of “shoulding” will change that. “Shoulds” aside, corporations at the very least can commit to becoming aware of their impact, regardless of how they choose to respond.

As a Masters of International Business student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, I came to this internship believing strongly in the power of business to change the world. I leave believing strongly in the power of cross-sector partnership, and I think social innovation’s true potential is in its ability to convene leaders committed to developing awareness about the impact of their organization.

I now see social innovation as a convening of great minds from incredibly diverse perspectives. I see it as a large dinner party (perhaps in a Renaissance hall) where a leader has invited his or her most interesting and educated friends to dinner to brainstorm solutions to a problem. Hopefully, no one would reject such an invitation, thinking they weren’t the correct person to brainstorm or “shouldn’t” be at that dialogue in the first place.”

Is your social innovation innovative enough to reach students?

Posted on April 21, 2010 by Comments Off

I just returned from the Third Annual Clinton Global Initiative University held last weekend in Miami, where I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from students from around the globe – from Billings, Montana to Hue, Vietnam. The conference drew a crowd of 1300 students that represented 18 nations and all 50 states. In addition, 70 youth organizations and 50 university presidents were actively participating in the event.

Not only was I inspired by the creativity and innovation in the crowd; I was also intrigued to learn firsthand what they think corporations need to do better. The three topics that continued coming up are not new, they are the same subjects you can find in most any article talking about social innovation: be transparent, approachable, and engaging. However, it became apparent that this cannot be seen as an itemized menu. Many corporations will prioritize only one or two of these items and then find that their social innovation efforts are not resonating with today’s students.

To be honest, corporate America, in a crowd of 1300 students only two students could name a company that they thought was is doing a great job in supporting social, economic and/or environmental issues –and of those two neither could name what cause or issue that company’s program supported.

This goes straight to the point that Marianne made in yesterday’s post; to truly be successful in communicating social innovation, businesses need to be developing a resilient change narrative that showcases their company is moving forward, experimenting, learning, and making course corrections along the way.

Open your kimono
This came up in almost every conversation, students repeatedly said that companies that are not transparent about both the good and bad they do are greenwashing. For the most part they feel this approach is “lying by omission.” It goes back to the idea that social innovation needs to be part and parcel of today’s overarching business strategies.

The students understand there is a need to make a profit and that it will take time to make the necessary adjustments, but as one student put it “a company paying for an advertisement during the Olympics or the Super Bowl talking about giving back is not fooling anyone.” Today’s students are hopeful that companies are catching on to this need for transparency, and expressed that the more transparent a company is the more they trust that brand and are willing to engage.

Keep your office door open
A number of students feel that they are often intimidated and/or ignored by large multinational corporations and NGOs. Attendees expressed a strong desire to be able to share ideas and learn from what current companies and NGOs are doing, adding value in the process. Who to connect with remains a big hurdle.

Overall, there is optimism that companies will do more – ideas stemmed from creating resource sites, sharing best practices, or helping connect students to trusted organizations that are on the ground in other countries.

Monologue vs. Dialogue
Students are definitely unimpressed and uninspired with the current corporate communications taking place around social innovation. For the most part, students couldn’t understand why companies want to talk to them, especially when they aren’t willing to engage in an open dialogue. Corporations need to understand that in order to reach today’s youth you must be willing to give them a voice. It becomes a competitive advantage when organizations provide platforms to interact with their audiences and stakeholders, taking the dialogue seriously.

I was inspired to be surrounded by students who are working to solve such huge problems in places most people will never visit. The excitement and ingenuity the students bring to their commitments is something we can all learn from. Just a very small sampling of the projects I learned about include:
• Helping deploy a clean water system for the West Bank
• Developing a program to “deworm” children in Nigeria and promote nutritional education
• Creating a bike sharing program for campuses across the US
• Developing a sustainable farming system in Haiti
• Creating an education program for young men in Chicago
• Building education and awareness sites and communications for environmental justice
• Creating a Farmer’s Market Café in Harlem, NY
• Creating a competition to spur the actual creation of a commuter vehicle that gets 200 mpg
• Working in Mumbai, India to help create new waste management programs
• Creating a micro-lending site for the West Bank with a goal of helping create economic stability for Palestine and help build peace

What can organizations learn from this? I think they need to understand that today’s youth are willing to learn and listen, but organizations must be willing to do the same.

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