Following is a list of questions that I pulled out of a marketing book that I read some years ago. The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen looks at how information spreads best and quickest. Here are a few thoughts to work through before reading the questions.
Identifying Network Hubs
"Whether you spread an idea, a product, or a service, you always have a choice. You can broadcast or you can connect. Broadcasting involves massive mailings or buying media time and packaging your message so that it can be transmitted simultaneously to all nodes in the network. Connecting involves starting a dialogue with certain individuals in the network that you are trying to influence." -Emanuel Rosen
How do we identify these certain people?
1. Let network hubs identify themselves. These are people who come to us for something they want more then anything else: information. Network hubs feed on information.
2. Identify Categories of Network Hubs. The way to look for a category is to look for people who, by virtue of their position, have a higher then average number of ties with people in the networks you are trying to reach.
3. Spotting Network Hubs in the Field. It's easy to find these hubs when you are apart of a community. In fact, when you are apart of a community don’t really have to search.
Successful seeding is an active process. It goes beyond the Field of Dreams cliché "If you build it, they will come." Rather than waiting passively for people to come to you, you go out and plant seeds all around the forest.
1. Look Beyond the Usual Suspects. Think broadly. Who are the people outside of our normal networks that could be 'seeded' with new ideas about young adults?
2. Put Information/Product In Their Hands. What piece of young adult product can we put in people's hand that will 'germinate itself' into other people's hands?
3. Listen For Silence. Successful seeding requires that we pay attention to dead networks and go further in order to reach them.
4. What seeding efforts are we doing right now? What should we be doing in the near future?
Questions to Ask Your Teams
1. From who do our newcomers typically learn about youth/young adults?
2. What do people say when they recommend youth/young adults?
3. How fast does information about youth/young adults spread compared with other churches/young adults groups/organizations?
4. Who are our network hubs? Are there any mega-hubs? Which are social hubs and which are expert hubs? Are there any categories of people who might become network hubs for youth/young adults?
5. Where does information about young adults hit a roadblock? Do our hub people know what the heck is happening?
6. Which are the most important sources of information that our youth/young adults rely on to know who we are/what we are about?
7. What other kinds of information spread through the same networks?
8. Who are our inactive markets that our youth/young adults are not reaching? Are we listening for silence where we are not known?
9. Do we offer a quality event, program, and community?
10. Do we underpromise and overdeliver?
11. Does youth/young adults enhance the lives of the people come?
12. Contagious products and ideas draw attention to themselves; how well does youth/young adults draw attention to itself?
13. Do we offer anything new? Buzz reflects excitement and excitement does not build around old ideas and predictable approaches.
14. Are we operating in a spirit of truth, honesty, and directness?
15. What are we willing to do to accelerate the contagiousness and word-of-mouth spread about youth/young adults?
16. What do students/young adults tell their friends about us? About other churches/youth groups/young adults?
17. What is the general church culture saying about young adult and youth ministry right now?
18. How receptive and responsive are we to our student and young adult concerns, comments, suggestions? How easy is it for people to talk to us?
19. Can we limit access to youth/young adults to create buzz? Scarcity build interest.
20. What sneak previews do we want to give to grade 12's for young adults and grade 8's to youth?
21. What can we do that will surprise people?
22. How outrageous can we be?
23. Who and how can we take people 'behind the scenes'?
24. What is the story and drama that we need to keep telling about our communities?
25. What events can we stage to get people talking about youth/young adults?
26. What kind of "pass it on" promotional material and mechanisms do we have?
27. How visible is youth/young adults to youth and young adults?
28. Are our youth talking to each other? The more that they interact, the more involved they will become with youth/young adults and the more likely they will tell other people. Can we find ways to help them talk to each other, socialize, and exchange comments?
29. Is there anything that we can do that makes youth/young adults more useful as more people use it? Example: email is more useful when more people use it; myspace is more useful when more people use myspace. People will spread the word more readily if they perceive some sort of personal benefit.
30. Is there anyway that we can offer any type of 'referrals reward program'?
31. Can our ads be clever enough to create buzz on their own?
32. How well can our youth/young adults articulate who we are and what we are about?
33. Are we supplying our networks with a constant flow of innovations that people can actually talk about?
34. Are we keeping people involved? If people join us but never think about it again, we can't expect them to talk about it too much. However, if we involve them, engage them, make it interesting for them, they will talk. Involvement translates to action, which in turn translates to buzz.