Late last week, I got an email from BCIT about a new site that they launched: WhatWouldYouChange.ca. From their About page:
Change starts with one person, one idea. Change happens when one person acts on their idea helping it take root and grow into something greater. What is your idea for change?
That’s what this site is all about.
It’s a place to share your thoughts on what you’d like to change about pretty much anything, and have some fun along the way. Maybe you’d like to change something about the world or perhaps it’s personal change you’re after. Whatever, we’d like to hear about it!
As far as I can figure, it’s kind of a soft-sell recruiting effort, that combines various roll-your-own social media angles on a Drupal platform. You can talk about what you’d change on video, make a kind of photo collage about it or devise short, Tweet-esque messages of change.
I traded emails with Janeen Alliston, one of the project managers on the project. I asked her why they opted for these three particular flavours of social media. Here’s her reply:
The three pronged approach was the result of a user experience document created to guide the project. We thought about what would initially engage our target demo (16-25 years olds) and what would open the door to deeper engagement with other site members as well as BCIT faculty, students and alumni. Our goal was to provide opportunities for people to interact with the site in ways that are comfortable for them. Some are happy to view videos and perhaps share them online, others may be visually inclined but not good with the written word or vice versa.
With a little help on the Drupal and Flash fronts, they conceived, designed and built the whole thing in-house–quite an achievement. I think it’s got a pretty fun aesthetic, and I think I recognize that coffee stain in the upper right-hand corner from a familiar Photoshop brush.
What Would You Change? Everything
Locals may recognize a striking similarity between the concept of WhatWouldYouChange.ca and VanCity’s ChangeEverything.ca (here’s what I wrote about that project back in 2006). I asked Janeen about this:
We became aware of ChangeEverything.ca well into the development of whatwouldyouchange. We are targeting a much younger demographic with a more whimsical take on the notion of change.
I’m not sure what to say about that. I believe that they weren’t aware of ChangeEverything.ca at the outset of the project. But I would have been given serious pause whenever I learned about ChangeEverything.ca, and might have changed the new site’s focus (or at least its brand). The lesson, I guess, is to ask around when you kick off a project like this, and really do a thorough survey to understand what else, in terms of “competition”, is out there.
With my marketer’s hat on, I’m always a bit skeptical when organizations build their own social network. This isn’t quite that, but there are already existing places–YouTube, Facebook, Twitter–where this behaviour is taking place. In our experience, it’s really difficult to drag users out of those spaces and onto your own nascent site. You’re often better off working with your customers where they are, instead of where you want them to be.
But, then, I’m very frequently wrong. And this might be precisely the kind of site that’s attractive to young British Columbians (besides, you know, the fact that they’re asexually reproducing on Facebook). Best of luck to BCIT and the project team.