Archives for online organization

Effective Online Organization Tips for Conservatives

online org1Whatever your issue, campaign or quest to just speak out and make a difference, if it’s important enough for you to organize or participate “off-line”, then you need to get active “on-line” as well.

Here’s a quick review of some of the most fundamental online organization tips:

Create a “Home-Base”

Use either a complete website or a blog (such as with WordPress or Blogger), a free online group (such as Google, Yahoo or Ning) or a free online campaign, (such as Aktnow).

This gives you a central location where people can find you and that you can link back to in your offline and online activity.  It’s also important for potential supporters to have a place where they can “sign up”, whether it’s an email subscription, a petition or some other type of “join us” form.

Promote Your Content

What good is it to create content to promote your cause that nobody ever sees?  Once you’ve gone to the trouble of putting good content together, give it a chance by sharing it.

Use email and social networking to push your content to others and expand your network.  For example, you can use services such as Twitterfeed or Socialoomph to automatically push content from a blog or other website to a Twitter or Facebook account.

Leverage the Internet

Choose online activities that will compliment and enhance your offline activities.  For example, if you’re trying to identify other potential supporters, then try promoting an online petition.  Just want to communicate with supporters?  Set up an online newsletter with a service like Constant Contact or Mad Mimi, (there are lots of others available with really low rates…some even free if your list is under 2,000 contacts).

Get Social

Like it or not, social media is here to stay because that’s “where the people are” – at least in an online context.  And since politics is people, you need to be there too.

Create social network profiles, (ex. Facebook & Twitter), and link them to your home-base.  Let your supporters know you’re there.  These services expose you to individuals who most likely would never otherwise see your content.  And they can help with recruitment, as others can see your content being promoted by people they may know, (essentially giving you a referral).

Multiply Your Efforts

Don’t try to do it all yourself. Involve and coordinate with others.  Be sure to actively request that supporters forward and promote your content or links via email, Twitter and Facebook.

The more people you have contributing content and/or promoting your content, the faster you’ll grow and the better your chances to make a difference.

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You can get more online organization tips in my Grassroots 101 Training Series.  Check it out!

Six Basic Online Campaign Tools and Activities

knifeSince we’ve been discussing online activity and organization lately, I wanted to give some thoughts on some of the specific but basic things that you can do online in support of a campaign or organization, (or to augment any “offline” organization activity).

Here’s a handy list of six basic online campaign tools and activities that you should incorporate into your organizational strategy.

1) Create an online campaign:

Some services let you use their sites to host campaigns where you can set up online petitions, online faxes to members of Congress, private online groups for your supporters, etc.  These services are usually free, (or at least cheaper than creating your own website!).  (Check out AktNow as an example)

2) Online polls and surveys:

Conduct opinion polls of members or supporters.  These can also be useful when trying to identify prospective supporters, (ex. set up an online survey that asks questions that will help you identify likely prospects and capture their email addresses – then email links to the survey to your supporters, encourage email forwarding, post it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

3) Build your database:

Once you’ve got a spot online, you can have a central place where people can sign up for a newsletter so you can communicate with them on a regular basis.  (You can do it yourself with your own email programs, or online solutions such as Constant Contact, Mad Mimi or others).  Just be sure to provide a webform or clearly visible link to where they should sign up…and promote it!

4) Post Information:

Create a central place where supporters can come and get important information about your cause that they can use to help recruit others and/or communicate to elected officials in lobbying efforts, (such as talking points, flyers, voter guides, scripts for telephone calls, etc.).  You can also offer your information in a PDF format that supporters can download and print on desktop printers to distribute in “off line” environments.

5) Provide links:

Offer a list of important and useful links that supporters can use, (such as to key contact information for elected officials, local newspaper “letters-to-the-editor” information, talk-radio call-in numbers, voter registration links, etc.).  Also post links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, (if you have any).

6) Online scheduling:

You can use online calendar services to maintain a schedule of important dates, activities and events to easily update and keep people informed, (free services such as Google Calendar even allow people to sign up for email alerts from the calendar).  Make it easy for people to keep up with what’s going on and when they can get involved.

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All of these online campaign tools and elements should eventually be incorporated into any online organizational strategy.  If you’re not online, or you don’t give people an opportunity to “sign up” online, then you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

A good Internet presence, (web site, blog, email and social media), better enables you to be found by potential supporters, to communicate and get them organized.

Remember, it’s not just about who YOU know, or who may stumble across your information, but it’s about your supporters – and who THEY know.

Be a resource!

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(Get more tips like these in my “Grassroots 101 Training Series“.  Check it out!)

 

Four tips for conservative online organization

online organizationWhether everyone in politics realizes it yet or not (still “not” for many people), online organization is not only here to stay, but it represents the quickest, most impactful and cost effective form of political organization.

And when it comes to organizing and campaigning on the Internet – (and before you get down in the weeds of all of the tools and things you can do online) – there are some fundamental tips you should keep in mind in order to be more successful.

Online Organization Tips:

1) Be Visible:

Voters or activist expect to be able to find you (and information about you or your cause) online.  A basic website is a minimum threshold for credibility of any serious organization.

If they can’t find you, they can’t interact with you.

Generally speaking, a website gives you an Internet headquarters, or “hub”, to operate from.  It’s a place to park critical information about your group or cause, to promote action items that your supporters can act on, and make it easy for your supporters to join your cause, reference your information and pass it on to others.

You can create a site or blog easily enough with services such as WordPress or Blogger.  Short of that, you can easily create your own online “group” (for free) with services like Ning, Google and Yahoo.  These can be public, private or moderated, however you see fit.

2) Keep it Fresh:

How often do you come across sites that look abandoned, or have out-dated information?  And how often will you go back if that’s the case?  Keep that in mind when maintaining your online presence.

Think like the type of person you want to attract.  What information are they looking for?  What are they likely to act on if you make it easy for them?  In addition to the “fixed” information you might add to a site (such as fact sheets and information about your group or issue), you can keep sites fresh by adding a blog, (even letting several supporters help keep it updated), or adding newsfeeds on related topics with RSS feeds, etc.

The better and more useful the content, the more people will visit, and the more often they’ll forward the site and/or its content on to others.  This means that the site can become an email list building machine.

3) Get Social:

If a website is your Internet “hub”, then think of social media as the spokes.  And it can take your Internet presence to a whole new level.

Given that social media is an “opt-in” type of medium and also tends to be much more personal in nature, it can give you or your cause much more credibility when people share your links and information with others.  In other words it’s like the Internet version of “word of mouth” advertising.

According to Pew Research, around 20% of all Internet users that were surveyed indicated that they either received or shared political information via a social network in the run-up to the 2008 election…and I’m sure it was higher for 2012.  These are real people that live in the “real” world where you may be looking to identify volunteers for a precinct and/or church based organization.

Social media enhances your ability to aggregate small expressions of support from a large number of people into a greater whole, (in fundraising for example) – which means that it provides leverage.

If people are a primary resource in politics, then the “other’ people that they know are potential resources as well. Social media makes it easier to leverage your chief resource.

4) Be Outgoing:

Don’t just create a web presence and wait for the world to come knocking at your door.  Do some promotion.

In the business world, you wouldn’t spend time creating a product for sale and then keep quiet about it. You would advertise.  The same principle applies here. You make use of the tools you have (and those you can get) to let people know you’re there and why they should be interested.

The Internet offers a constantly expanding menu of ways to reach out.  The most familiar is email and, given that virtually everyone who’s online has an email address, it’s the most fundamental.  The newer avenues are the social networks mentioned earlier.  Set up profiles for your site on those services and link them back to your site. Send an email to your list letting them know that you’re up on those networks, (“Hey, we’ve got a Facebook page up – click here to check it out, and then pass it on!”).

By regularly posting messages on those services with links back to pages or blog entries on your site, you “push” your content to a larger audience than would otherwise be exposed to your message.

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Can you think of any other general tips you’ve learned about successful online organization by way of experience?  Feel free to pass them along in the comments.

(Get more tips like these in my “Grassroots 101 Training Series“.  Check it out!)