There is no doubt that the growing presence of social media in our lives has changed the way we communicate and share information.
Our communication with policymakers is also evolving. A quick visit to your state or U.S. representative’s website will reveal links to social media channels, streams of their recent posts, YouTube videos of broadcast interviews, and contact email forms. Research shows that more than half of lawmakers are now getting involved with social media and use it as a way to discuss issues with their constituents. An increasing number of lawmakers are investing in full-time New Media staffers who are responsible for not only managing what messages are sent out on social media from the lawmaker’s office, but also tracking and reporting what messages are coming in via these channels from constituents.
It makes sense, then, that social media is increasingly included in grassroots advocacy communication plans. As you start to plan your advocacy campaigns for 2014, consider these tips for optimizing your digital reach and success:
1) Make it easy. If you want to ask your advocates and supporters to contact their lawmakers, you need to give them an easy way to do it! Vendors like VoterVoice and CapWiz offer easy-to-use online advocacy platforms for your campaign. These services allow you to send regular updates and calls to action to your advocates, develop email templates for communication with lawmakers (which each sender can customize to tell his or her story), provide your advocates with sample social media posts for sending their lawmakers, and gather analytics on your advocacy base and the number of calls and emails sent.
2) Be strategic. Each social media platform is like a community with its own language, and your advocates may not be members of all communities nor fluent in each network’s language. Target your outreach to the audiences who use each network most frequently. For example, if you know many of your Twitter followers are lawmakers and most of your Facebook fans are advocates, you can tailor the messages on these networks to best suit those audiences.
3) Think outside the box. With many organizations establishing online advocacy campaigns, creative ideas will help your cause stand out above the rest! Working primarily with healthcare clients, we have found that patient voices can be the most impactful of all. Video and photo campaigns can be an interesting way to show lawmakers why your issues are so important.
Planning ahead and knowing your audience is key when using social media for advocacy. Before you get started, ask yourself: how can we best utilize social media to further our cause?