Seven Lessons from Successful e-Advocacy Campaigns

We talked to digital media strategist Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Digital about social media tools for social advocacy.

We know that the 2012 elections were considered the most “social” in history, for the unique ways political candidates used social media tools.  So, what can organizations learn from the lessons of 2012 when launching their own issues and communications campaigns?

We talked to digital media strategist Nick Westergaard of Brand Driven Digital about social media tools for social advocacy.

With 97 percent of nonprofits using social media, and with limited budgets, Nick says the nonprofit world is well suited to this digital revolution, and we should expect to see this market continue to use social media tools in creative and effective ways to raise money, awareness or drive action.

“In a lot of ways, the social media marketing revolution favors non-profits and smaller organizations.  The lower cost also makes it an effective strategy for raising awareness and building grassroots support…It’s critical that non-profit brands don’t overlook their own website, which still serves as the digital hub for all content marketing and social media tactics.”

Here are Nick’s seven tips for social media advocacy:

1. Message Matters
Nick makes the point, through advertising guru Lee Clow, that in today’s social media world, if a brand doesn’t have a core belief that is communicates in different ways to different consumers, then it can not only become irrelevant, it can even generate scorn.

2. Community Organizing
Unlike President Obama’s community organizing days, when volunteers often pounded the pavement, An organization’s web site and blog, plus social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, all combine to form an organization’s social “map.”

Nick says groups should use these tools to build the brand and get the online community engaged, by sharing links to relevant news stories, invite your community to events, link to video coverage of events and interface with news media.

3. Online + Offline
A movement can’t happen solely online.  Other factors, such as earned media and events have to play a role to keep people motivated and take action.  Use Facebook or web sites to remind supporters to write letters to the editor to their local newspaper.  Or, have your organization head craft an op-ed for the local editorial page (or for a blog such as the Huffington Post.)

4. Play to Strengths
Use social tools to amplify personal connections.  Use platforms that fit with your organization’s spokesperson.

5. Social as Spin
Curate positive tweets or Facebook statements to amplify positive coverage.  As we’ve heard before, don’t broadcast through social media, but use channels to build context around an announcement or event.

6. Donations
Nick says that organizations using online tools raise six times as much money, according to a Social Media Today study.  Good content posted across social media can drive action.

7. Secret Weapon
As any nonprofit or campaign knows, a good email database of supporters can be a gold mine (just ask the Obama 2012 campaign, which is still in negotiations over how to share information with the Democratic National Committee following his reelection bid.)

As for what’s next, Nick tells us that nonprofits need to track the new and emerging networks for how they can fit into their social map. “In recent years new networks like Instagram and Spotify have snuck their way onto checklists for nonprofits. Last fall, UNICEF utilized Pinterest in a campaign to show what children in third world countries need.”

He adds that, “nonprofits, like their for-profit counterparts, shouldn’t ignore email marketing and list building efforts.”

Would you add any lessons or tips to this list?