As the semester progresses I am feeling more comfortable in some areas of digital campaigns and still on shakey-ground with others. This week I found Mobilizing Generation 2.0 a simple, but still useful text. Because mobile campaigns, particularly text programs, are still one of most unfamiliar areas for me I paid close attention to the fourth chapter dedicated to Mobile Phones.
I found the section on recruitment most applicable for causes that well-known or are associated with celebrities, as was the case with Bono. This outside recognition further encourages people to participate in the opt-in texts. I discovered the best ways to request community joining is at events on large displays, like concerts, rallies or political events, where the message can be viewed by many at one time. It was said that live events have a 50% response rate — I think this is because people are in the moment and “taken” with the cause. Therefore, they are more likely to proactively become involved. Campaigners should capitalize on this and make sure to present the text recruitment as being part of the community and benefiting the organization/party/cause at large. Aside from verbalizing the request at events and in the media, the text recruitment campaign should also be transferred into print ads, fliers and websites to maximize exposure.
I learned in the petition section that pairing a compelling call to action, like the seal ad depicted, can prompt a reader/viewer to sign up to stop/encourage/bring attention to your topic. Paring these visuals with keyword based texts, like SAVESEALS for example, further connects the text action and the offline cause being supported.
Time Sensitive/Personal Messages
Texts are a personal form of communication so it makes perfect sense to use messages of a personal nature through this medium. Examples in the book include asthma or STDS. In the case of asthma people would not necessarily feel the need to publicly rally around asthma, but if a person was a sufferer then they would be personally invested. Text message tips and resources for allergy season could be of great use to them. For STDs the nature of the message is very private so people would almost certainly not feel comfortable announcing their participation. But if they engage in risky behavior a text with nearby testing facilities could be life saving.
Since this approach is personal and not based in a public service message you need to be sure to advertise specifically and in target areas. For example, asthma ads about allergies would be best advertised outside, as it said in the book. For STDs the best settings could be college campuses, where young people may be engaging in risky behavior.
Although I agree that offering something in exchange for signing up for an email list is a good practice, I think ringtones are outdated (I do acknowledge that this book is a few years old). A song download is probably more popular right now.
After reading about the how-tos it was a change to read about the how-it-was-done. “Year One of Organizing for America: The Permanent Field Campaign in a Digital Age” was definitely an insightful look at a full year of Organizing for America’s work. Tying in with this week’s online to offline theme, this certainly demonstrated tangible results. The report noted that OFA, “volunteers made over a million calls to Congress; over 230,000 people submitted health care stories; 250,000 letters to the editor were sent; 65,000 people attended Congressional lobbying events; and 37,000 local events were executed around the country. In all, OFA estimated that members spent a cumulative 200,000 hours volunteering in 2009.” These impressive results are obviously thanks to a well-known, wide-spread cause. However the strategy of multi-layered initiatives and constant outreach can certainly be whittled down to apply to lesser-established advocacy topics .