Ben Rigby provides a practical, one-stop guide on how organizations can leverage Web 2.0 technology to broaden its reach to their advocates in his book, “Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to using Web 2.0.” From how to properly set up a blog to mobile advocacy programs, Rigby explains in detail the steps necessary to integrate all forms of Web 2.0 technology into a campaign plan. This blogpost will walk through Rigby’s tome and pointing out the major highlights.
Rigby begins discussing how to properly use blogs for outreach, reminding his readers that, “Starting an organizational blog is one of the fastest routes for telling the story of your candidate or cause, demonstrating expertise in your field, and engaging supporters in conversation.”Blogs allow for organizations to tell the story in their own words, providing details on a particular issue and inviting participation from readers by asking them to comment and share their views. As we have continuously heard this semester that two-communication is paramount in any successful campaign, blogs provide that outlet.
It’s important to note that in order to be successful, any blogger must be authentic in what they post, otherwise it is impossible to create a completely personal connection between an organization and its publics. Not only does lack of transparency give the wrong information, readers and commenters will find the truth somewhere else, the end result cracking the credibility of the organization and hurting its overall reputation. Campaigns also must be willing to let go of the fear of losing control, allowing openness between the organization and its publics and relying on open conversation to keep the mission of the organization in tact. Finally, a blogpost doesn’t have to be perfectly written: in fact, it’s almost more beneficial to have mistakes here and there. Doing so shows honesty.
We are all familiar with social networking and social media. Terms like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and then some are now part of our daily vernacular and part of our daily online practice. But in the realm of online advocacy, Rigby states, “Hundreds of social networks exits, and within each network, people have self-organized into thousands of subgroups and cliques. Opportunities exist for recruiting new supporters, advocating for causes, and fundraising, but success requires a concerted and well-considered effort.” Put simply, you can’t just put up a Facebook page and expect people to visit on their own accord.
One of the major takeaways from this chapter beyond how to use social media properly is understanding social dynamics and discerning who the major players/influencers are within a community or cause and then designing your outreach strategy from there. Knowing whom this “inner circle” is and getting them involved will exponentially grow your community members in both numbers and respect.
Another major take away is that social media is ever-evolving. By that, I mean that the technology and platforms today may not be the hot trend down the road. While it is highly unlikely that Facebook and Twitter are dropping off the social media map anytime soon, it’s important to know the up-and-coming trends in social media and what people are using.
Video and Photo Sharing
Video and photo sharing via social media help paint the picture of what the issue is and what your advocacy group wishes to achieve. As Rigby states, “Sites like YouTube provide a low-cost and easy-to-use platform for harnessing supporters’ creative energies.” There are many ways to do this. Some ways to do this is through the use of providing video testimony, engaging supporters in conversation through sharing of pictures and video they’ve taken, and building a community of those supporting your advocacy’s mission. This form of sharing provides a pathos to your cause, not just relying on the message but engaging advocates on an emotional level that pictures and videos can only provide.