ROI, I Love You, But…

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

Case Study: ROI Global Brainstorm

One example of an idea that had enormous potential but that was not executed to its fullest was the ROI Global Brainstorm.

One day in advance, all ROI alumni received an e-mail saying that the next day, users should click on the link provided at an appointed time and enter a certain designated ROI forum. It was an interesting, exciting idea with significant build up, but then what?

Well, we know it happened, but there was no follow-up. Not even an e-mail saying, “It was great, stay tuned.” In fact, nothing was posted about it anywhere but for a few enthusiastic tweets and video sneak peek (3:07- 4:18).

These were the only two tweets of significance:

  • @roicommunity: “Don’t worry, we’ll reveal all soon. Well, not ‘all,’ but at least ‘some.’ :)”
  • @jchicksrock: “Results of @roicommunity global brainstorm. 325 challenges posted.127 solutions. 42 action posters created. let’s get it on #ROICOM”

I e-mailed ROI and nudged them on Twitter asking for an update but heard nothing. I say you give one day’s notice, you return the result in the same one day period.

Why It Matters

Am I being too harsh about this great effort that involves hundreds of people in Israel, the US, and around the world?

Maybe, but that’s the thing about the ROI Summit and ROI as an organization. It has big picture vision– huge, you could say– but at this stage it doesn’t know how to deliver fully on its initiatives.

Don’t bring us to the edge of the cliff and then leave us suspended. It feels unfair, but never mind that, we want to jump off with you. We want to participate, to be part of this amazing movement that you’ve engaged us in and enabled us to be part of. Yes, you have the buy-in, but what are you going to do with it? The investment needs to be made throughout, not just in staccatoed stages.

In its 5th year when the tag lines and t-shirts read “Renew Our Investment” (off the original “Return On Investment”), ROI is no longer a start-up. It should be ready to fly and I believe it is almost there.

The Solution

1. Official Social Media Mouthpiece at the Summit- including promotion in the month before and direct, high intensity follow-up in the weeks after* (The section could alternately be titled, “I’m a Blogger, Feed Me”)

(*EstherK, you know I love you, but you’re too busy with the organizing to fulfill this role)

What it Entails– Have at least one person who is responsible for social media pick-up at the ROI Summit and beyond whose entire job is to report to the rest of the ROI community (and the Summit participants themselves), as well as the Jewish community at large as to what it is that you are doing and how the rest of us can learn from it; be part of the big picture process; and replicate this model of action in our own communities.

You are creating a best practice model for the present and  future Jewish world. What does it look like and what will you do with it? The potential is staggering, but it must be acted on.

2. Invest in Follow-Through

For me the next big thing in the Jewish community– and I’ll be writing about this a lot more– is creating virtual community spaces where people can connect online.

Sure, Facebook and Twitter are a start as they establish an association, but they don’t go far enough. Use your website and your blog throughout the year to highlight the 400+ projects that ROI alumni are working on.

People care. Your blog post announcing this year’s Summit participants has 5,000+ hits, but the rest of your posts only have about 100 each. Every serious blogger knows that these are not the numbers you work so hard for.

Although I’m an outsider to the organization as a whole, I feel confident that significant work is going on throughout the year, so please share it with your international Jewish community.

Your potential as a change agent in the Jewish community is powerful. Take the organization to the next level.

Use that social media person that you hired as your Summit mouthpiece and empower her with creating an active ROI network. Every ROI alumna and alumnus I know is actively working on Jewish innovation. I want to say that again because it’s incredible…

Every ROI alumna or alumnus I know is actively working on Jewish innovation.

So where do we go from here? Well, that’s up to you. I’m at your disposal,  sending you love.

Recommended Reading

If you liked this post, check out some others about the ROI Summit:

Image Credit

Aside from the ROI logo, all images sourced from Flickr using the Creative Commons License, with thanks.

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4 Responses to ROI, I Love You, But…

  1. Maya Norton says:

    Here’s the permanent shortcut for sharing: http://tinyurl.com/loveubut

    Shabbat Shalom,

    ~ Maya

  2. Justin says:

    Maya,
    Thank you for the constructive criticism, and for sharing it with us here on your website. The community brainstorm program that we designed and experimented with at the summit was meant to be just that – an experiment. We learned a lot of great lessons from it, and we hope to rise to your challenge in the coming days and weeks by sharing more about what happened, and engaging the wider ROI community in the possible next steps. In general, I think you are absolutely right about the many ways that we can improve our social media strategy – beginning with our website. And I appreciate the call to mature beyond start-up stage, and your confidence that we are almost ready to fly. There’s a lot of work to do and I think that most of us, staff and participants alike, left Kfar Maccabiah yesterday feeling very charged to take it all on. Again, I thank you, we know that the ball is in our court, and we’re grateful to have people like you that care enough to show us a little “tough love.” I join you in wishing all your readers a Shabbat Shalom, but I want to give special shout-out to the 2010 ROI Summit Staff – wishing you all a most restful Shabbat – you did incredible work this week – for the individuals, for the community, and for the world. 😉

  3. Thanks for the solid work and good luck with the site, I look forward to future updates.

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