Online Organizing


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  • Theory of Change Organizations Campaigns If you don’t have a really good theory of change, you break the line – work hard but nothing happens. This happens all the time. Theory of change is especially important in new media. It’s important on individual pieces – if I’m writing an e-mail, how do I convince the reader that their giving money, or volunteering, or signing a petition will help achieve a larger goal? But it’s especially important with new media as a whole – how does it help us win?
  • If you don’t have a really good theory of change, you break the line – work hard but nothing happens. This happens all the time. Theory of change is especially important in new media. It’s important on individual pieces – if I’m writing an e-mail, how do I convince the reader that their giving money, or volunteering, or signing a petition will help achieve a larger goal? But it’s especially important with new media as a whole – how does it help us win?
  • Brief history of the political Internet
  • There are two main misconceptions about new media: the first is that it’s useless, and the second is that it’s the answer to all of your problems. Integration is key. You need to have a website that can accept donations. But building a fancy website that accepts donations won’t raise you much, if any, money on its own.
  • Technology not for technology’s sake…it must meet a need “ You are not Barack Obama” sounds really obvious, but I want to flesh that out just a little with two less-obvious points. 1) The Internet is really really good at letting people self-organize; at letting them talk to their friends, raise money and create a movement without your involvement. And that’s what a lot of tools – like MyBO – are designed to do. But there are a small handful of national figures who will have people self-organize for them. And they’re generally either potential presidential candidates , really strong progressives or running against someone that strong progressives really don’t like . (or conservatives). Preferably both. 2) Barack Obama had an enormous New Media staff – it numbered at more than 100, without consultants. Thirteen people were on the e-mail team. There are a million different cool things you can do with technology, and it’s easy to go overboard – spend too much time or money for what you get out of it. One good reality check when doing your planning, is to think of everything in terms of your goals – does this get me votes, volunteers or money. If it does none of those things, it may or may not be worth doing.
  • Also, volunteers and supporters will always be approaching you with cool ideas. Rather than dismiss anything out of hand, try to wrangle a commitment out of them to help execute those ideas. If they suggest setting up a blog, ask them to help create it and do regular postings. If they suggest podcasts, ask them to help produce them. If they suggest SMS messaging (text messaging) for GOTV, ask them to lead it. And so on. Tech savvy supporters: Throughout your campaigns, you will have lots of supporters approach you with ideas for what you can do with technology. iPhone apps seem to be the big buzzword this cycle – most of you will probably have someone pitch you on an iPhone app.
  • First impressions matter. If your website is difficult to navigate, looks out of date, or is uninviting, you’re turning away potential supporters as readily as if you’re campaign office was piled high with trash. Your website has to instill confidence in your campaign. Your website is cheaper than direct mail. Most organizations rely heavily on direct mail to update members and raise money to fund their initiatives. Over the last few years this medium has seen a decreasing return on investment for organizations. It has become much cheaper for organizations to communicate with members online, using websites. For a fraction of the cost of direct mail, a well updated website can keep supporters updated more regularly, increasing the likelihood that they will give to support your cause because they can see the direct impacts of requested funding.
  • Your website is the front door to your online campaign office. People will learn more about your campaign or candidate through a website (news, campaign, etc) than a visit to the physical space where your office is located
  • Your website is the front door to your online campaign office. People will learn more about your campaign or candidate through a website (news, campaign, etc) than a visit to the physical space where your office is located
  • Good: Easy to find the asks: sign-up, contribute, recently updated. Lots of content, Bonus: pretty photos. Bad: could be too many asks
  • Content is the foundation of every good website Design matters, but content matters more. No one “reads” websites any more, they SCAN it Break up your content into bite-sized bits that’s EASY TO UNDERSTAND and ABSORB Visitors to your site must also find the content compelling, especially when you’re asking them to take action Don’t make your users think too hard. Too many times, organizations fail to prioritize and make too many requests of an individual. When that happens, the user does not know what to do and then leaves the website promptly without doing anything. Just because your website can be limitless in size, does not mean that you should use all that space. Making the website feel fresh and updated is key to keeping visitors coming back for more information. Be sure to create elements of the website that are easily updated and demonstrate progress on your work.
  • The most important part of your e-mail is the subject line. It has a huge impact on whether people even open and read your e-mail. Urgency. But don’t cry wolf Keep most important information in the first two paragraphs Get the message out. People read e-mails and websites very differently than traditional communications – they just scan the content. With this in mind, be sure to write short sentences within short paragraphs. The less dense the communication feels to the reader, the more likely they are to read it. Also, think of ways to pull out key points by bold and italics language. Images can be especially helpful when trying to direct people to take action. Focused message and request You don’t have their attention forever • Despite the best targeting, different emails activated different people at different times. No one message has to connect with every supporter or every voter — if you miss ‘em this week, you might get ‘em next week.
  • When the first e-mail goes out to supporters, make sure that the e-mail comes from someone in your organization; avoid simply using the organization’s name. Placing a name in the “from” line gives the e-mail a more personal feel rather that just having the message come from the organization. Once the first e-mail goes out, be sure to communicate with supporters on a
  • To begin building your list membership you need to identify ways to cultivate and engage constituents and supporters online. Some of those strategies include: Always include a ‘forward to a friend’ component [3]Every e-mail that goes out should have a message at the bottom that asks people to forward the message onto friends and family. That makes it very easy for the individual to spread the content of that message if they find the content compelling. Look also at ways to include tell-a-friend components into event sign-ups, advocacy actions, and donations. You won’t get a huge number of people to forward it on unless you have a really compelling campaign, but it is a low cost way to begin to slowly build the list. Stay in Touch! [1]Regular communication provides more opportunities for individuals to take action and share messages with others that they know. Integrating traditional grassroots tactics like tabling, canvassing or events into your e-communication plan can help grow your list. These events provide a way for your organization to reach out to new supporters, instead of waiting for supporters to come to you. Use a variety of vehicles to push out your messages Using social networks, Twitter, and blogs to push out your messages can help drive people to your website and encourage more people to sign-up for your e-communication lists. Be sure to integrate some sort of advocacy component into this push. Individuals are more likely to sign-up if there is a compelling advocacy request as opposed to a generic sign-up request.
  • The internet has changed the way political fundraising works. Details: If you ask for donations, set a deadline, set a goal (baseball bats are motivators), and explain what the money is for and why. Like the fundraising in Florida for ACT: “Sponsor a van” was a big success.
  • for instance soliciting different amounts based on a person’s donation history — a $10 donor might be asked to donate $20 the next time around, but someone who’d donated $150 might be safe to hit up for $200
  • Hundreds of millions of people are connecting with each other online communities focused around their personal lives, professional lives, and special interests.What does this mean for you and your nonprofit? Well, odds are your members or supporters are already members of at least one social networking site . By participating on social networking sites, you are able to reinforce and build your network of members and supporters by communicating with them and their network of friends, keeping them updated about upcoming events and activities, and sharing relevant and interesting content with them.Whether your using Twitter or Facebook, connecting with current students or alumni, your focus will begin to shift away from simply providing information and towards fostering conversations.
  • Blogging helped the Obama campaign makes its message seem personal to its audience in a very meaningful way. That’s because blogs encourage CONVERSATION, add CONTEXT, and COLOR to data – anything from a stale press release to a list of precincts you’re walking Blogs can help establish your campaign as TRANSPARENT, RELEVANT, and ACTIVE. Probably more important than putting content out there, is LISTENING to the conversation that’s happening and JOINing in. Google juice . Having content out there that you control ain’t so bad.
  • Technology is how we connect with citizens. Voters. Supporters. Opponents. The more aggressively the page is promoted, the more potent it can be -- without cost to any other facet of the organization. High traffic will result in higher volunteer yields, more powerful messaging and information distribution, and a stronger sense of community and inclusion among our supporters.   The page should be the permanent home of information like office locations and voter registration rules, and of signup forms and other online organizing tools as reflects the needs of the campaign.
  • Online Organizing

    1. 1. Online Organizing 101 New Media Online Communications Technology
    2. 2. Is online organizing useful? Very! “ Gavin Newsom has 1 million Twitter followers! He’s unstoppable!” “ New media? Don’t you mean ‘News media?’” Not at all! Yes, but… Online organizing provides you with a powerful set of tools for traditional organizing. New media will never supplant the rest of the campaign.
    3. 3. Theory of Change: Traditional The Campaign Victory
    4. 4. Theory of Change: New Media The Campaign Victory
    5. 5. 1990s: Not much 2010? 2004: People-Powered Howard 2006: Macaca 2008: $550+ million
    6. 6. <ul><li>New media plays a supporting role to the major parts of a campaign: Communications, Field and Finance. </li></ul>The Role of New Media Integration is the key.
    7. 7. Scope: How much tech do you need? <ul><li>How big is the race? How big is the audience? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You are not Barack Obama </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does the tool help achieve our win number? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The best check: votes, volunteers, or money? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Balance your desire to “wow” with your needs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Online organizing is usually not persuasion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>How much time and money will this take? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There will always be someone, somewhere, trying to sell you something really cool. </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Scope: How much tech do you need? <ul><ul><li>Complex systems require complex care </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is especially true with free tools </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Remember: Obama had 13 people working on e-mail alone. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tech-savvy supporters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In politics, everyone is always trying to tell you how to do your job. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is doubly true online. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Call their bluff! </li></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Online basics: Audiences <ul><li>Your opponent’s campaign staff </li></ul><ul><li>The media (old school and new) </li></ul><ul><li>Existing supporters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What demographics? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Base voters </li></ul><ul><li>Very few undecided voters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They’re undecided because they don’t care enough to pay attention, much less visit your site. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Online basics : Communicating online <ul><li>Know the medium . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crisp, compelling, and updated content is most important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep it short; “not paying for the paper” is the wrong idea </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Everything is a first impression. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Website, e-mail and social networking are many people’s first impression of the campaign. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online/offline core messages and goals are the same. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The 3 Ms of political email are messaging, mobilization and money. </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Best practices: Websites <ul><li>Presentable design </li></ul><ul><li>Asks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Email sign-up (on every page, above the fold) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donate button (easy to find) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer sign-up </li></ul></ul><ul><li>News/updates/signs of life </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If it’s not easy to update, you’re doomed before you start. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Who are you? (Biography) </li></ul><ul><li>What do you stand for? (Issues) </li></ul>Flickr: oskay
    12. 12. Best practices: Websites <ul><li>6) Press information </li></ul><ul><li>(headshot, bio, contact) </li></ul><ul><li>7) Contact information </li></ul><ul><li>8) Events, past and present </li></ul><ul><li>(only if you update regularly) </li></ul><ul><li>9) Social networking </li></ul><ul><li>(if applicable) </li></ul><ul><li>10) Share tools </li></ul>Flickr: oskay
    13. 13. Large races: Bells and whistles
    14. 14. Large races: Bells and whistles
    15. 15. … and it doesn’t have to look like this. Smaller races still need a presence…
    16. 16. … or this.
    17. 17. This is great…
    18. 18. … but this works, too.
    19. 19. <ul><li>Clear calls to action </li></ul><ul><li>Ways to connect on social media sites </li></ul><ul><li>Easy sign-up/donate </li></ul><ul><li>Clear navigation </li></ul>Again, know your audience: sometimes, you’ll need more.
    20. 20. Best practices: On websites, content is king <ul><li>CONTENT </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it timely – compelling – passionate – short </li></ul><ul><li>Break up content into bite-size bits </li></ul><ul><li>VISUALS </li></ul><ul><li>Energy and personality project campaign image and message </li></ul><ul><li>TONE </li></ul><ul><li>Write like you are writing to a friend – conversational ! </li></ul>Flickr: evaekeblad
    21. 21. Best practices: E-mail <ul><li>Short and to the point </li></ul><ul><li>Subject lines are the most important part </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the most important information in the first 2 paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>Action paragraphs early and often – 2 way </li></ul><ul><li>Images can help drive actions </li></ul><ul><li>Make it scannable </li></ul><ul><li>Conversational tone </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your message and request front and center </li></ul><ul><li>Content integration is paramount </li></ul>Flickr: Steffe
    22. 22. E-mail: Online actions <ul><li>The test: Do they fit into your broader campaign? </li></ul><ul><li>Use to support offline goals, earned media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage supporters in key neighborhoods to write letters to the editor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it easy for a supporter to invite friends to a house party, share your campaign video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundraising/friendraising campaigns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Timely issue campaigns </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Residents call on Joe Republican to agree to public debates” via an online petition </li></ul></ul>Flickr: sidehike
    23. 23. <ul><li>Send out reminders! (People don’t always read the first e-mail.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration deadlines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t always ask for money, but always make it an option </li></ul><ul><li>Optimize your landing page, when possible </li></ul><ul><li>Provide sharing opportunities, when possible </li></ul>Flickr: sidehike E-mail: Online actions
    24. 24. E-mail: Don’t do this…
    25. 25. “ Dictionaries for Tea Partiers”
    26. 26. E-mail: Timing is everything <ul><li>Generally , Tuesday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. </li></ul><ul><li>Frequency : 1,2, or 3 times a week; depends on phase of campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions : Breaking news, rapid response, GOTV </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strike while the iron is hot. The best e-mails have a sense of urgency: don’t email a week after the story’s been in the news. </li></ul></ul>Flickr: rejik
    27. 27. E-mail: Listbuilding <ul><li>List building is primarily about cultivating and engaging constituents and supporters (organic) </li></ul><ul><li>Collect email addresses at house parties, rallies, fundraisers, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Regular communication provides opportunities for your list to share with others (forward-to-a-friend is your best friend) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t always ask for money! </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t buy email addresses without first making sure it’s useful/profitable </li></ul><ul><li>Petitions/online actions (advocacy requests > generic requests) </li></ul><ul><li>Use social networks(Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to drive people to your website where they can sign up </li></ul><ul><li>Work with previous candidates and organizations that have endorsed you </li></ul>Flickr: bonguri
    28. 28. E-mail: Online fundraising <ul><li>Supporters consider online donating a form of activism – make it easy! </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage your end date </li></ul><ul><li>Messaging Keys </li></ul><ul><li>Ask from a position of strength </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ we’ve got them on the run” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>explain the urgency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You can capitalize on time-sensitive events </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex. Sarah Palin, You Lie!, etc </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. <ul><li>Every interaction matters </li></ul><ul><li>You’re managing a “virtual” relationship with many people at once </li></ul><ul><li>Scale your ask over time </li></ul><ul><li>Tailor your ask over time, too </li></ul><ul><li>Value proposition fundraising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Donations don’t provide abstract support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make it clear where the money is going </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be specific as possible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set a deadline – Set a goal </li></ul>E-mail: Online fundraising
    30. 30. Best practices: social networks <ul><li>The buzzword(s) of the 2010 cycle. </li></ul><ul><li>Pros: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Connects with voters where they already are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lets you talk to and engage with supporters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives people something to interact with </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides another first impression </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Takes time, effort to maintain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of opportunity for embarrassment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to build a following </li></ul></ul>Flickr: 10ch
    31. 31. <ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The most popular social network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Still growing dramatically; particularly among middle-aged demographics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Probably worth it for your campaign; just be realistic. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Smaller, “insider” audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great for the press, less good for everyone else </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Only pursue if Twitter fits your style </li></ul></ul>Best practices: social networks
    32. 33. <ul><li>Remember: </li></ul><ul><li>Tweets don’t vote. </li></ul>Best practices: social networks
    33. 34. Blogs <ul><li>Three types of political “blogs:” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>News </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent / “Netroots” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ask, “Who reads blogs?” and act accordingly. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The base, the media and the people in this building. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be lucid about what you want from blogs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Persuasion? Definitely not (in a general). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Money? Probably not (in a down-ballot race). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteers? Maybe. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Press? Probably. </li></ul></ul>Flickr: minifig
    34. 35. Blogs <ul><li>Know which blogs are important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For your race, the media, and supporters – then treat them accordingly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Find your major state-based blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search on MyDD or LeftyBlogs for help – ask political reporters what they read </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Listening in on the other side </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs can break stories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These can feed into traditional press </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not everything on blogs is true! </li></ul>
    35. 36. <ul><li>Types of online ads: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Text (Search, Contextual) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphical/Flash </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online ads are cheap, highly targetable, promising – and unproven. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2010 is the year of studies and PR efforts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State legislative races will probably be affected last </li></ul></ul>Ads Ads
    36. 37. Take-away <ul><li>Don’t underestimate the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>But don’t overestimate it, either </li></ul><ul><li>It’s no longer a question of whether you should have an online presence </li></ul><ul><li>But what should that presence look like? </li></ul><ul><li>Doing it right takes money, time, effort </li></ul><ul><li>Always ask: how will this help us reach our win number? </li></ul>Flickr: BEAT_NIK
    37. 38. <ul><li>Special thanks to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Or Skolnik </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Xavier Lopez-Ayala </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The New Organizing Institute (NOI) </li></ul></ul>