Sometimes the simplest of solutions is the best one: If you’re looking for an answer, just ask. That’s a strategy that nonprofit Every Monday Matters utilizes day in and day out, according to founder and CEO Matt Emerzian, who chatted with Industry Weapon.
He discussed how his team generates fresh, relevant ideas just by making conversation everyone they encounter during their daily lives: Friends, family, strangers, cashiers, bank tellers, the woman next in line at the pharmacy.
The responses range from silly to enlightening, and they’ve helped EMM expand and better over time. Much of the EMM brand is built upon a calendar of monthly themes and weekly focuses.
Each month is defined by a different overarching concept, and each week within the month provides insights and goals to improve personal well-being and the surrounding world. Choosing those monthly themes is a very consequential task: You only get twelve spots, so you better make them count.
“We ask people all year long -- anyone we come in contact with: ‘If there’s one word we need more of in our lives today or in the world today, what would that word be?’” Matt said.
“All year we collect those words, we end up with thousands. We enter them into a word cloud and we see what words show up the most. From that list we pick twelve words, and those become the themes for the upcoming year.”
Over time, the team found that year after year, those most popular words did not necessarily repeat themselves. Society changes. Culture changes. We change.
And each year, the new collection of words reflects what progress we’ve made, or what steps we’ve taken backwards. In turn, Every Monday Matters is able to keep its finger on the pulse, never feeling dated, even though the core concept remains the same.
It’s a lesson that’s deceptively uncomplicated. Because while asking a quick question is not a difficult task, the process of crowdsourcing content ideas requires a lot of serious thought, strategy, trust-building.
As your company works toward perfecting its corporate communications, it’s tempting to just blindly ask employees: “Well, what do you want to see?” You’ll get a wide swath of answers, some more reasonable than others, but most pretty useless.
It’s much different to ask people a general, conceptual question that requires a one-word answer than it is to challenge them to present an entire content solution out of thin air.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t invite employee feedback. You should! But that input should be based on something concrete. There’s very little reason to request commentary before you’ve deployed digital signage.
Although people encounter digital screens every day, all of those displays serve unique functions, and none are specifically delivering the messages you want to send.
Once you do roll out your innovative new corporate comms strategy, test the waters. It does take time before messages really resonate, so these trial runs may take a few weeks. Then it’s time to gather some thoughts!
Ask in person, on Slack or via email -- whatever makes sense for your company -- what people noticed. What caught their attention? What felt like a positive enhancement, and what felt like a negative distraction?
Crowdsourcing content ideas isn’t about putting people on the spot and expecting them to tell you exactly what you’re looking for. Over at Every Monday Matters, it takes months upon months of sifting through conversations in order to figure out what really clicks.
But once you get the balance right, the impact is incredible. As Matt put it, “That’s how we move people along this experience and journey of why they matter to themselves, to others and to the larger world.”