Online Engagement Strategies for Candidates, Electeds & Activists


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Online engagement strategies for activists, candidates and elected officials - presented to Emerge America network via webinar on June 27, 2012.

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  • The assumption we made is that all participants in this webinar are political leaders (mostly women) who want to build an online presence, whether as online organizers, activists, candidates, staffers or elected officials – and most likely moving between roles.
  • recommended for easy website/blog creation.It’s OK to start with a spreadsheet for contact information; the important thing is to have the information accessible.
  • This applies to all leaders – not just candidates!
  • Recommended mail systems: Constant Contact, MyEmma, Mail Chimp.
  • I like to put this up front so people can understand that it’s not expensive to build an online presence.
  • Note: Be careful of using friends of friends or people with only corporate website and design expertise – it’s different than political background and can cause problems.
  • Wordpress has its own stats as will most paid or packaged software; also can use SiteMeter and/or Google Analytics
  • Salsa Libre – free version supposedly coming out this summer.
  • Study what other campaigns are doing. Not just your competitors. Look to similar races. See how they use e-mail.Make sure to spell-check, grammar check and test your e-mail sends!
  • You can do this even if you’re not a candidate – I know a lot of local political organizers who send out e-mail newsletters. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people and stay involved.
  • Reply with care!
  • I would not have gotten the opportunities I’ve had to meet with Senators and senior WH staff, to go to the White House or DNCC without blogging.
  • As a candidate or public official, you don’t need to be a great blogger – you just need to be a good blogger.SorayaChemaly is relatively new on the feminist blogging scene but she succeeds because she’s highly skilled and willing to be more edgy than most candidates. Each blogger must determine a style that works for her, especially if there are long term aspirations to serve in public office.And don’t discount the person next to you. Ezra Klein was a scrappy college student just getting started blogging when I met him. Now he writes for the Washington Post.
  • Here are ways to pay to get yourself out there further online – essentially buying viewers.
  • Online Engagement Strategies for Candidates, Electeds & Activists

    1. Strategies for OnlinePresented by Sarah Granger Engagement: AEmerge CA ‘05 Alumna Primer forFounder, PublicEdge Candidates,Partner, Women’s Campaign Activists &Consortium Electeds
    2. What you’ll learn How to build your online presence Online engagement strategies including blogging for impact & building a powerful social media network Tools & tips for campaigning online
    3. What you need as a leaderonline Bare minimum: website and/or blog, e-mail list, Facebook page Online persona & history – will be researched Willingness to engage online One social media savvy friend or volunteer
    4. Who are You?
    5. First steps toward creatingyour online identity & voice Reserve names: domain, Twitter, Facebook Setup simple website and/or blog Setup Facebook page Aggregate initial contact data in one place (where is your primary list?) Create new e-mail account if campaigning
    6. Show who you are online Do a detailed search on your name – what do you see? Be clear & concise, tell your story Create a unique image that stands out Your website and social sites must provide the most accurate picture Personalize - updates, friendly “curated version of yourself”
    7. Building initial networks Build initial e-mail list from contact lists & social networks (FB, LinkedIn, Plaxo) Make sure existing social media accounts are in order Invite inner circle onto social networks Start following local political organizations & media on Twitter, Facebook
    8. Costs/budgeting Basic website and/or blog – FREE Strategy consultants, web developers & designers – hourly or by project Social media accounts - FREE Content, e-mail & data entry – do yourself, get volunteers or hire hourly temp workers Database &/or fundraising back-end – set-up fee plus monthly rate based on # of records ISP – monthly charge usually based on traffic
    9. Tips for tight budgets Don’t get fancy with the website (pre- packaged is OK, like Wordpress) Use the same designer for website as logo Excel is fine for a local race database Repurpose, reuse, reinvent copy Focus on e-mail, pushing content out Maximize social media use
    10. Website construction Design consistent with overall themes Simple, easy to find information Basic site is better than no site at all Take advantage of color Utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Find ways to stand out from the opposition Add social media link buttons to site
    11. Color, Images, Layout,Content, Design
    12. Essential site features Background information, biography Photo Contribution Mechanism Endorsements Issue Statements Events/Calendar Contact Info
    13. Additional site features Campaign News / Blog Voter registration information Press page: articles, additional photos Volunteer supplies & tools (sign-up sheets, talking points, widgets, buttons) Campaign Store (via Café Press)
    14. Keys to good online content Segment & mix it up for speedy dissemination Make it “Sticky” - keep people on site Posts (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) must be personalized, well written, casual Videos (YouTube, Qik, etc.) – you in action Images (Flickr, Picasa, site photos) – your story through images
    15. Add-on tools for sites Wordpress for blogs, plug-ins ActBlue – easy Dem donation engine NationBuilder – online organizing tools Salsa –free tool for local races coming out this summer called “Salsa Libre” – buttons and widgets – DNC reg. tool
    16. Search Engine Optimization Insertkey words into text, images & site code & blog posts Make sure page titles smartly named, including proper headers Name, city, county, state, neighborhoods, etc. Issues, actions in the area, proper nouns of key locations, topics
    17. Site metrics & tracking Overall Traffic Referring pages Location of visitors/users Time on site Pages most visited Trends & analysis
    18. Database – for contacts,supporters, network Basic: spreadsheets like Excel, databases like Highrise Sophisticated online back-end services like NationBuilder, NGP, Convio, Salsa Import existing voter lists, data from social networks, mobile phone, Skype, etc. Data types - visitors, supporters/users, donors, volunteers, data managers Safety & security
    19. E-mail outreach Stillthe best communication vehicle Use viral themes Engage with urgency & action Utilize endorsers, big name supporters Work off of major events, news & reporting deadlines Think outside the box – too much campaign e-mail looks canned
    20. E-mail message content Stick to one focus (or ask) per message Don’t ask for money every time Use short sentences, repeat key points Tell stories, incite action Be authentic Thank people often!
    21. E-mail response Create standard collection of replies for common requests, questions Friends – reply personally Donors – thank & engage Volunteers – give tangible tasks Undecided – provide detailed answers (pre-packaged is OK) Negative – be kind, thank for contacting Defamatory – ignore (don’t feed trolls!)
    22. Remember the audience
    23. Building your voice online Regular e-mail outreach Blogging on your website or keeping one primary blog Guest blogging & op-eds on other sites Commenting on other blogs Engaging through social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
    24. Blogging – what is it really? Self-publishing of articles on easy platform Closer to op-ed than traditional journalism Generally not edited by pro editors Personal viewpoints on issues, events, topics – more raw, casual Authentic – keeping it real & useful
    25. Do you really need a blog? No, but you need a voice online & blogging’s the easiest way: giant megaphone Makes you a better writer for op-eds & more Gives you subject matter credibility Allows you to experiment with your voice Connects you with people you would not otherwise meet Takes time, but you get out 3x what you put in
    26. How blogger influence works High quality content spread across networks Well written post gets shared, highlighted Reputation develops over time Can be subtle – traffic ≠ influence Even small blogs can get national attention if topic is important enough
    27. What makes a great blogger? Unique voice & passion for issues Experience writing & editing Available time to write and learn the back end of blogging Comfort with online publishing systems Plays well with others Appropriate timing in political cycle Willingness to stir up controversy
    28. Getting started blogging Block off time in your schedule List top blogs in your local area & tune in Get to know bloggers & regular commenters List topics you may want to write about Try out your own blog – can set private at first Try writing longer posts on Facebook Offer to guest blog for org. or group blog
    29. Blog lingo Post – article Page – static content (bio, contact info) Comment – reader remarks, dialogue Category – topic or general area Tag or Keyword – keywords for search Blogroll – related blogs in sidebar Troll – rude or defamatory commenters
    30. Posting process Research Write Edit Link Publish Promote Repeat
    31. Blog content News (esp. if a candidate) Ideas, thoughts on issues Highlights from events you participate in – speaking engagements, publications Links to resources or articles of interest Personal stories, anecdotes
    32. Building a community withother bloggers Find blogs – local news, events, other blogs Setup RSS reader to organize & follow blogs Ask bloggers to exchange links List blog, on FB Networked Blogs, BlogHer Join blogger e-mail lists Follow bloggers on Twitter, Facebook Attend blogger events, conferences Engage: comment, retweet, respond!
    33. Using Facebook Curate posts similarly to blogging, just shorter Keep it short & sweet, casual Take advantage of photos, video, links Share important news Ask questions of your community Keep it clean – don’t post anything you wouldn’t want in The New York Times
    34. LinkedIn value Online resume – extra way to highlight skills, experience in a neutral way Reaches professional political network Also aggregates some contact information Easy to find other people in your network Can take advantage of groups
    35. Twitter as a tool Bestway to find media, bloggers, advocacy groups, online influencers Quick & easy for sharing news, articles Engage with the community via @replies Learn about issues using common hashtags (#p2, #fem2) & terms Retweet (re-post) what is relevant to the community and voters
    36. On the move – onlineengagement while mobile Posting photos to Facebook from live events Live tweeting events, news Qik for posting live video Publishing quick blog posts when major news comes in
    37. Back Channel = secret sauce Use your networks – esp. trusted friends Send individual e-mail to influencers Post to blogger or activist e-mail lists Mention via Facebook e-mail Suggest mentions via Twitter direct message Exchange online favors with others
    38. Integrated social mediastrategy Build social media into overall campaign or professional-political persona Put your Facebook & Twitter IDs on cards & fliers along with website URL Auto-post: blog to Facebook & Twitter “Drip irrigation” - Sally Lieber Remember to keep it personal, social, authentic
    39. Don’t let this happen to you –reputation management
    40. Reputation control tips Promote a positive image early & often – ensure YOU control your image online Curate content always keeping image, reputation & message in mind Buy domains relating back to your name Regular “vanity” searches Get endorsers, supporters to link to official website (so people know which is yours)
    41. Transitioning roles online Activist -> Candidate -> Elected Each role is public & political Each role requires issue expertise & engagement Activists can be most free online Candidates need to be more careful Electeds must be most cautious Authentic voice must hold throughout
    42. Other online organizing tools E-mail groups & document sharing – Google Groups & Docs, Dropbox Events – Facebook Events, Evite, Eventbrite, Plancast, Foursquare Conference calls – Large or bulk file transfers – Video chat – Skype, Google+ Hangouts Polling – SurveyMonkey on web, Polleverywhere for mobile devices
    43. If you have the money Google web ads Facebook ads High end web designers Personalized videos Mobile & SMS outreach
    44. Remember to SHARE! Social – networked, engaged Highlighting – short & sweet, positive Authentic – true to your voice Repetitive – consistent, continuous Educational – informative, valuable ! – enthusiastic, passionate
    45. Questions?Contact Sarah Granger –E-mail: sarah@sarahgranger.comTwitter:@sarahgranger &