MCON 2016 Highlights: Millennials and Tech

23 Jun MCON 2016 Highlights: Millennials and Tech

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the MCON 2016 conference at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. For background, MCON was started in 2011 by Achieve to bring together leaders, activists and social entrepreneurs to collaborate and find creative solutions for social issues. MCON explores the question of how organizations are taking advantage of today’s heightened interest in causes to build movements.


This year, the three-day program of speakers, events, panelists, and networking focuses on: inclusive entrepreneurship, for-profits for good, exploration, public service, tech, creativity, social justice and leadership. As a digitally obsessed millennial, I attended the sessions that were a part of the tech series, which featured:


Gina Bianchini kicked off the series and discussed the importance of identity networks and how technology can bring people together in real life. Ettore Rossetti and Jeremy Ford then engaged in a fireside chat, moderated by Charles Ellison, focused on how to use technology for good causes.


Key insights from the tech series include:

Build armies not audiences – The coined term that Gina Bianchini used throughout her presentation was “identity networks,” which is the idea of creating a network that connects people to each other around similar identities, interests or causes. It speaks to using technology to bring people together in real life and build active armies of people who are motivated in taking action, rather than just “liking” or viewing content. For identity networks, you want to think about content tailored to engagement strategies. Example might include member profile stories, questions & prompts, multiple types of polls, live chats & hangouts, and meet ups & events.

“I don’t believe that communities are built through comments, likes, and shares.” – Gina Bianchini

Use technology to drive change – During the “Tech for Good” fireside chat, Ettore Rossetti and Jeremy Ford discussed how their organizations utilize technology to shift awareness towards an issue or cause. Innovations like cloud-based software have allowed non-profits to purchase high-end technology at affordable price points. Rossetti provided an example of how he recently hosted Save the Children’s first 24-hour nonprofit livestream gaming event, the first of its kind. Livestreaming in this context clearly demonstrates how disruptive technology can be a force for good.

Be solution-oriented and data-driven – One must never neglect the power of data and analytics. Quality data allows you to evaluate your audiences and connect the interests of likeminded individuals. Additionally, good data can provide insights that will help your content better resonate with your audience and drive them to take action. It is not just about pulling the analytics on a monthly basis or throughout a campaign; it’s about finding a compelling narrative around the data and using metrics to tell a story and create a call to action.

Final thoughts…

I also had the honor of hearing from Jean Case, CEO of The Case Foundation, who is an engaged philanthropist, investor and pioneer in the world of interactive technologies. Rather than sharing a full summary of her whole speech, I will close with a few powerful quotes from Jean’s presentation:

  • “Failure is success in progress, and is a huge motivator.”
  • “Too often we do a disservice if we don’t share our failures and risks that we have been through to younger generations.”
  • “To break through and make change you need be in an uncomfortable place.”


Jennifer R. Sherman
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