Posts Tagged ‘Online Marketing’

Some Thoughts on Trust, Microfinance and Online Marketing

In light of the current discussions about a possible bubble in microfinance and my recent acceptance to be a Kiva Fellow, working with Asociacion Arariwa in Peru, I started thinking more about trust and personal connections.

  • One example is a recent WSJ journal article about women in Ramnagar, an Indian city using microfinance loans for consumption instead of a business, after lying on their loan applications.
  • In contrast, I remember listening to a story on NPR about a lender to an Amish community who has never seen a default. He knows and visits all of his customers in person.

The credit crisis occurred in part because people misstated (or didn’t state) their ability to pay back and mortgage brokers were incentivized to hide this info.  But a big problem was that lenders didn’t know their customers.  Loans were anonymized and packaged with other loans through intermediaries to become even more anonymous (if that’s even possible).

These examples illustrate the value of trust and knowing your connections.  Specifically for me, they illustrate the value of Kiva Fellows and Microfinance Loan Officers, who are on the ground interviewing entrepreneurs, checking loans and ensuring that people are using the loan for what they said in their application.  But more broadly, these stories show the importance of knowing your connections – online and offline.

Maruja Lazo Pacco, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa

Maruja Lazo Pacco, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa

In my Kiva Fellows interview, I learned that Kiva Fellows have uncovered instances of fraud, inflated loan amounts and organizations using some part of the loans for operational expenses instead of loaning the money directly to an entrepreneur as they are supposed to do.  Kiva Fellows are Kiva’s eyes and ears and hands on the ground.  They foster Kiva’s commitment to transparency.  Here is one unfortunate example from the Kiva website – MIFEX Ecuador.  The only connection between the lender and borrower is through profiles and journal updates.  Through this writing, Kiva Fellows play a critical role in connecting people in a personal way.

Saturnina Davila Solorio, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa

Saturnina Davila Solorio, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa

I asked Zack Turner, the Kiva Fellows program coordinator (also a Kiva Fellow in Kenya) about quantifying the value of the Kiva Fellows program.  He mentioned

“… the stat that we do know is that for each time a Kiva lender receives a journal update written by a Kiva Fellow they on average turn around and invest another $50 into Kiva. So you could estimate the number of journals and the impact that you received. During my fellowship I added up the number of lenders that received a journal from my work and the total number of dollars in loans that represented.

Also, we have a deliverable called “Cost of Kiva” in which a fellow analyzes the MFI’s operational cost for working with Kiva. We believe that part of the Kiva Fellows ROI is when the “Cost of Kiva” is reduced.”

So far, there are have more than 43,000 journal updates on the Kiva website.  Multiplied by $50, that is $2,150,000.   I am not yet in a position to dig into these numbers and calculate my own Kiva Fellows ROI, but when I am, I fully intend to explore this further.

Andrea Huaman Lucana, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa in Peru

Andrea Huaman Lucana, entrepreneur from Asociacion Arariwa in Peru

Of course, there are other factors involved in Kiva’s growth.  However, I believe the value of the Kiva Fellows program is even higher and much of it is probably not contained in tangible ROI in terms of loans or donations given.  The personal connection has an intangible value that adds to Kiva’s brand.

As an online marketing professional, I am fully convinced by the value of the internet to spread, connect, and educate. But even I (a gadget and google fanatic) know that trust mainly comes from personal connections and experiences offline.

So I am looking forward to trading in my wifi for one-to-one interviews with entrepreneurs (like the lender to the Amish) to help build trust for Kiva.

Please join me for a Going Away / Kiva Support BBQ on Saturday September 12th at my place in Fort Greene or support my Kiva Fellowship.

San Juan De Quihuares Group, entrepreneurs from Asociacion Arariwa

San Juan De Quihuares Group, entrepreneurs from Asociacion Arariwa

All photos courtesy of Kiva.

Slacktivism – is it bad?

Thinking more about about slacktivism for a moment – Are all “easy” methods to engage considered slacktivism?  Are some of them not bad (or actually good?)  This topic has been floating around for a long time,  but today I was inspired by Beth Kanter’s blog post on Facebook Pages (with a great list of Facebook Page creation resources)  Joining a Facebook group is considered slacktivism, according to Wikipedia)

If slacktivism like joining a Facebook group or “becoming a fan of an organization” is bad, why do organizations spend time creating Facebook Pages at all?  Or why do they spend time on Twitter broadcasting their message for people to retweet?  Would Retweeting be considered slacktivism?  Isn’t communicating with and expanding your audience (considering how fragmented the media world is today) the point of all of these short conversations?

Some other “easy” (or call it slacktivism) examples:

  1. Everywun – Sponsor-supported games, tasks, etc
  2. Free Rice – Sponsor-supported words games to donate rice to the United Nations World Food Program
  3. igive – Online retail search engines that donate of percentage of sales to Non-Profits of your choice
  4. The Extraordinaries – micro-volunteering opportunities on mobile phones.  More to come on this
  5. Facebook Page – becoming a fan of a NonProfit
  6. Publisher donation of online media space – Having worked in the interactive media agency world, I’ve seen publishers donating ad space to NP’s through the PSAs shown in my clients’ campaign effectiveness studies (Dynamic Logic, Insights Express). Viewers are placed in either a control or exposed group. The control is shown a PSA instead of the client’s ad. This is an “easy” way publishers to donate space and possibly write off the value while giving NPs a way to reach consumers on the publisher’s site
  7. This list is small and incomplete.  Are there others you can think of?  Please feel free to suggest more!

Obama and Rapleaf – Join the Data Team

Rapleaf helps you better understanding your customers to provide a richer experience for those  interact with you.  Rapleaf’s Marketing Services provide the tools you need to deliver the experience your customers expect through the following (from the Rapleap website) –

  • Online Media Report – Gain understanding of your customers’ social web usage
  • Data Append – Enhance your customer email database
  • Lead Scoring API – Capture real-time insight and information about web leads
  • Salesforce Integration – Learn more about Contacts and Leads you interact with

Here’s a great example from the Obama campaign.  I received the below email asking me to join the Obama Data Team.   It is extremely targeted to those like me who have Data-related skills and interests.  How did they do this? I believe they used Rapleap to look through their email database and find people on social networks who have an interest in Data and Analytics, like me.

Targeted Email from Obama Campaign
Targeted Email from Obama Campaign

This is pretty sophisticated, but there are much simpler ways to target your organization’s emails. For example, target existing past donors, new donors, sustaining donors, those who like Brooklyn, organic farming or whatever your mission calls for, with specific, tailored messaging instead of “email blasting” everyone you know.