Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
No doubt about it, it’s been entirely too long between posts.
Rationale: Since the last post about PIMA in mid-February, I’ve been spending literally every spare minute on #AgapeToday, a 24-Hour Social Media-based Fundraiser for Agape Home, the orphanage for children with HIV in Northern Thailand. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
Three purposes of this post:
Yes, I really want your POV. This is complicated. Different perspectives would be useful.
If you’re new to the blog, about a year ago, a successful businessman I know from church, asked me to lunch and said, “I like what you’re doing. I don’t do Social Media myself, by everything I’m reading says it’s the future. I’ve been helping an orphanage in Thailand for children with HIV for about 10 years. Could you talk to the founder? She needs help.” Within 5 minutes on Skype with Avis Rideout, I knew I would be helping her. Learn more about Avis on this video: Leave Her To Die
So I developed a game plan to leverage Social Tech and the Web for the benefit of Nikki’s Place Agape Home and my friend funded the initiative. (I’m not in a position to do pro-bono work, but it’s at a greatly reduced rate.) At that time, their Digital Properties and Digital Plumbing were insufficient for their needs and, just like the bathrooms, ceilings, and water system there, the Web properties desperately needed some attention.
Avis & Roy Rideout are simply amazing. Avis Rideout. She will probably never be recognized for the awesomeness that she is, but Avis is just IN-credible. From Newfoundland, Avis and Roy have been in Thailand 30 years, the last 20 having founded Nikki’s Place Agape Home, the last 10 at the current location, now serving 100 orphans or abandoned children, either HIV+ or at risk. The only government support they get is for the ARV drugs that keep the virus at bay. Everything else is privately funded.
Before I go much further, let me just say that if you ever find yourself at the point where you want to experience God, and you only have a week to do it, and you need a sure thing, book a trip to Agape Home. Tell them Mike Wise sent you. These children, yeah they are infected with HIV, but for the most part you’d never know it. The ARV drugs keep the virus contained. The orphan part, the abandoned part, now that’s a different story. Avis told me the story of one girl who finally smiled last month after being at Agape Home for three years. There are tons of stories like that there. One teenaged boy came out of his shell the week I was there – brilliant. I saw it with my own eyes. Here’s the before and after picture. The Spirit of God is SO strong here. God DOES care for the widows and orphans. And he uses people like you and me. “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
This process started last June with a 6 week project to upgrade their Web site from a flash site to WordPress. Thanks to Telezent for the 6-week, spot-on process on that. Once that was done, I traveled to train the staff on how to use the blog. Of course, it was all new to them, so I subsequently ended up doing most of the blogging to prime the pump. But it’s taken off now, thanks to some deeply committed volunteers. We also took the time to train on Facebook and YouTube, their primary Social outposts. So that was September ‘14.
In November, following the LONG flights across the PLANET, we tackled Digital Plumbing, in this case FastFund by Araize, a cloud-based Donor Management System, very simple and suitable for the orphanage. We also gathered more Social Media, did more Blog training, more Facebook training, and started discussing the 2015 24-Hour Fundraising event. On a personal note, this was a most difficult trip. My shrunken “pleasure spectrum” was on FULL display as I took a week of cold showers in a studio apartment near the orphanage with two gecko’s sharing the room with me. Incidentally, I later found out that all I had to do was flip a switch on the wall by the front door to get warm water in the shower. DOH!!! Oh, the irony.
Separately, I finally got used to working in bare feet in the office. It was cool to be there for the Loy Krathong Festival. People take to the evening streets and light lanterns that float up in the night, literally thousands of them, as a Buddhist expression of repentance. It’s interesting how religions around the world attempt to deal with the problem of sin.
In March, I had to make a Go-NoGo decision and decided that the conditions would always be sub-optimal, never perfect. Meanwhile, a few potential insurance consulting gigs in South Asia surfaced that might help with funds to add additional justification for the trip.
Fast forward 4 months to April and there I was again, at the same apartment near the orphanage. In the intervening 4 months, a huge amount of evening hours were spent conceiving and planning #AgapeToday.
Unfortunately, I was on my own with this. Through no fault of others, they had neither the experience nor the bandwidth to help. The good news was that the team at the orphanage was generally responsive and executed everything I asked for, albeit sometimes a bit later than desired, although there was a certain ‘mystery’ about it. But things got done and awareness started to build.
So I arrived in Bangkok 8 days before the event. Unfortunately, the insurance gigs had postponed at the last minute. So clearly the focus was to be #AgapeToday, both in the week leading up to the event, and the week after the event. My desk had been cleared, so to speak.
An un-scrubbed email list of all current and previous donors and sponsors became available two days before the event. I actually stumbled upon it quite serendipitously via the new donor management system while working on another issue that came up.
Fortunately, a former USA volunteer who had stayed connected via Facebook volunteered via Facebook message to help with Social Media. She also had experience with ConstantContact, so that helped a great deal. We also had a couple other former volunteers help with video’s. But in the end, I had to subcontract with a couple professionals for two of the key video’s. To their credit, they gave us a really good deal on the opening and closing videos.
Creativity is always an issue when you’re trying to capture media and make shareable video’s all at once, with a hard deadline in a few days. Like anything else, we also had some governance rules to follow, like not associating images and clips with names of children. And so we didn’t end up with anything super creative. Of course a viral video would have been a game-changer. This video was the most viewed, besides the opening and closing videos. Good to know for next year.
Of course budgets are always tight. So we didn’t have GoPro’s. We didn’t have high-end video equipment. We just had myself with the basics. We DID have a steady-cam, which I used for the closing video. I did contract with a couple remote video professionals as well as a few volunteers in the crowd of sponsors and donors.
Probably the biggest barrier, Thailand is a country with bandwidth issues. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the nicest hotel in Bangkok or in an apartment building for volunteers at an orphanage, bandwidth will always be an issue. So uploading video assets to Google Drive for video editing took forever. Uploading finished video’s for promoting via YouTube and Facebook was like the old dial-up. In fact, in the middle of the event, a massive thunderstorm hit with intermittent blackouts, obviously effecting uploads in progress. Instagram video’s were a total No-Go. I never did figure if it was a Samsung issue with my phone or Wi-Fi. That was SO frustrating. I had worked hard on that piece.
To Facebook’s credit, the savior in terms of overcoming bandwidth issues was Facebook’s Scheduled Post feature. In the week leading up to the event, I was able to upload about 10 “filler” video’s. During the event, I was also able to upload real-time video clips for release a few hours later. We even had some of the helpers upload video’s via the USA. Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. I’ll never forget watching the upload status bar move oh-so-slowly.
Here are 5 take-aways for next time, if there is a next time:
What suggestions do YOU have? Yes, I definitely want to know. Others probably do as well.
On the way home, I stopped in Phnom Penh to see my daughter. Riding on the back of my daughter’s moto through the streets of Phnom Penh at night – Remarkable.
One more thing: Stretching my legs in the back of the plane from Qatar to Philly was a 60 year old obvious American with a T-Shirt that said Everest Base Camp. Wait. What? “Excuse me, but I see Everest Base Camp on your shirt. Were you there during the earthquake?” “Yep.” This is the guy - a doctor from Indy. He said his group was one day from Basecamp hiking the trail at 16,600” when they couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. As soon as they realized the ground was shaking, they heard and saw a massive earth avalanche near them. He said the worst part was the constant after-shocks in the five days is took to get out. He finished by saying that the disaster would be devastating financially because it happened during a time when they make most of their money. The whole climbing season has been cancelled. Now all will be lost for this year. He said the Juniper Fund as a legit channel to give to Sherpa’s and their families, many of whom will have to rebuild their homes with only minor aid from the [hopelessly corrupt] government.
What do you think of all this? I’m certainly not doing this to make money. In fact, it’s costing me dearly and is exhausting. We ended up raising about $17,000, “Reached” 40,000 on Facebook, and acquired about 100 new Likes – all organic.
Thanks so much,
The Storify – some of the Social Media live from the meeting
The Tweetbinder – Social sharing stats, with only 10% of attendees sharing, still impressive
My first PIMA experience was the summer of 2005 at the Broadmoor, 10 years ago. In promoting the brand new Blog, many inquired with a questioning look, “What’s a Blog?”. ☺ [See the original post here. Unfortunately the podcast doesn’t work. Rats!] Read the rest of this entry »
Joanna, so glad I saw your post. Very timely.
Just yesterday I had two separate, unrelated conversations with FinServ friends in CLE, one a rising star Millennial with a top-tier bank, and the other, a Web-savvy Boomer with a top-tier regional brokerage, both frustrated with their organization’s policy prohibiting the use of Social Media. The Millennial isn’t sure that his company, as much as he likes it, is the right place for him longer term. His concern is around his own professional growth in the context of a company whose actions, in spite of corporate words, clearly indicate that it doesn’t value staying current with technology and the culture it serves. The boomer spoke about the recent surge in turnover at the firm, good people in the middle of the org chart that are leaving because of inflexible policies around working from home and other cultural issues that cause them to not only see, but jump at other opportunities, and thus forcing the boomer to have to go to clients and introduce yet another client relationship manager, etc., etc., etc.
Your spot-on writing, and thanks for sharing, raises the issues. I’m going to write a bunch of stuff and then share this post with a bunch of people. I hope others do as well. It’s an urgent discussion. Read the rest of this entry »
Twelve months in the making, the new Professional Insurance Marketers Association Affinity 2020 Report came out last week.
Hope to do a video on it shortly. Pretty compelling data around the urgency of transitioning to digital. Read the rest of this entry »
Back before the Internet, when you had a new personal or professional need, something out of the ordinary, did you stop and think, “Yikes, I don’t know who to call on this. Geez, who do I know that might know a trusted contractor? I know! I’ll call Joe. Joe knows EVERYone.” And if you reached Joe and he gave you a couple names, did you call those companies or those people based on Joe’s Word of Mouth referral BEFORE you pulled out the 5-pound phone book? Or did you go find the Yellow Pages® and say, “Hmmm, I wonder what category that kind of service would be listed under? Let’s see… ‘Cracks in the cement floor’…CR… No. Ah, here it is… ‘Cement Floors’ … I’m sure these guys fix cracks. Of course there might be a few butt cracks in view, but I’ll take the kids to McDonalds. Now, which one should I call? I like this logo…” Read the rest of this entry »