Monday, February 23, 2009

Mozilla: The power of invitation and the power of thank you for participating

We started off today’s class discussing our sentiments about Friday’s class where we had guests from, google, and facebook.

Many students felt confused and uninspired by the’s promotional video. Jennifer noted two things about communication:
· Less is more (2 things max)
· Audience focus (how representative is a company’s presentation style representative of its own culture vs. targeted towards the particular audience?)

A lively discussion ensued about the effect of social technology on the way people are discussing issues as well as some speculation about the future of these technologies and how we will interact with social media down the line.

Jennifer then introduced our guests for today, including Asa Dotzler from Mozilla.

There are three principle causes that Mozilla publicly and passionately supports: Open Standards, Open Web, and Open Source. Asa spoke about joining the Mozilla team early on and how they went about establishing a set of rules and principles without stifling growth as they added programs to Mozilla.

They used a grassroots campaign with the goal of purely getting people to talk about Mozilla – Mozilla now has a community of 150,000 people who are participating every day to get news about Mozilla out there. Asa and the rest of the team initiated this grassroots effort by merely emailing friends, and the growth they saw from this was incredible. The team took out ad in NY Times shaped like the Mozilla logo containing the names of everyone who had contributed to campaign. The tagline they used was along the lines of: “Get your name in the NY Times and help our campaign” – As and team had to shut down the site in 10 days because raised $200,000 (as compared to an anticipated $150,000 over a month!). The NY Times ad generated more coverage from bloggers, articles, etc online than there were actual viewers of the ad in the Times.

Asa also spoke about a group of Oregon students that created a giant crop circle in the shape of the logo and, again, emphasized how Mozilla really strives to empower groups of people to participate in the way they want to participate by providing new opportunities for people to get involved and bring their expertise to the table. Asa said they try to portray the message that, “If you want to do something for us, go out and do it.” This reminded me very much of the Vinay and Sameer campaign where individuals were empowered to run with the cause in the way they see fit, organizing their own blood drives, etc.

Asa then introduced Seth who is in charge of the global localization program at Mozilla to translate the browser into as many languages as possible. Seth emphasized the importance of empowerment of individuals and leverage – everything they do is volunteer driven. They have over 200 million users worldwide with 20% market share yet have a budget that is only a miniscule fraction of that of other browsers. Mozilla currently exists in 64 languages and 85% of current users hear about Mozilla through word of mouth. This is an amazing statistic given they have essentially no marketing budget and is a true testament to the power of using social technology. Seth attributed part of their success with this type of marketing strategy to having a specific call to action that encourages people to get involved (and makes it simple for them to do so). Seth said his goal is to localize new elements of the product so people accessing the internet for the first time can have a more familiar experience. Seth then introduced Sunil, who works at Mozilla Labs group which also strives to decrease barriers for people to participate in product development. Sunil spoke about ways to involve people with less technical skillsets (artistic, marketing, etc) by developing new products outside of just browser (cloud computing, etc). Sunil noted that, at Mozilla, people take ownership of the message they produce, since it is their own spin on the message even if they weren’t involved in the early days.

We concluded class by discussing the power of an invitation and the power of thanking people for participating. How do you empower people to help? Mozilla’s participants are their customers. Motivation for people is that they want to be a part of this and they know they are a part of it when their voice is heard.

We spent the last 15 minutes of class with our groups discussing our projects while Asa, Seth, and Sunil informally spoke with some of the groups.

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