Almost everything these days is online. I do a LOT of shopping online. I file my taxes online. Keeping in touch with friends and family is less and less about writing an email and more and more about commenting on Facebook or sending a text message. Handwritten letters? Fuggedaboutit. And last but not least, this year I'm planning my vegetable garden pretty much via Pinterest, after weeks and weeks of scoffing about it. To boot, election season has been in gear for a while now, meaning that the news (and my Facebook News Feed) are filled up with articles and people's commentary on the candidates and the issues.
But the one thing that's still in person is voting, especially in the primary elections where the political parties choose a candidate. Today, March 6, 2012 is Super Tuesday - a day when the greatest number of states hold their primary elections or caucuses. All states offer the option to vote via absentee ballot, and Oregon and Washington are both pretty much entirely vote-by-mail. But by and large, voting is still an in-person event.
Super Tuesday in 2012 ain't what it used to be for this presidential primary. In 2008, 24 states held their contests, in 2012 it will be just 10 states. Many states have moved up their primaries to be earlier in the year so they can presumably have an earlier say in choosing the nominee. And while the Republican field of candidates has narrowed over the last several months, the nomination is not necessarily a lock for any one candidate. The results of Super Tuesday this year could determine the Republican nominee - or maybe not!
Voting is personal. While you could vote using a touchscreen machine or a paper ballot, if you vote at your polling place, then you're actually driving or walking there. You might see your friends and neighbors. You might see people who you don't know yet, but who you recognize. You will almost certainly see volunteers outside the polling place who feel passionately about the candidates and the issues. Chances are that you might have decided already, but not necessarily.
Caucuses are even more personal - you go to your caucus site, talk to your neighbors, hash it out, and make up your mind.
In my world these days, I spend a lot of time behind a computer at work. My phone is never far away from my hand, unless one of my 2-year-olds has absconded with it to try to get it to play an Elmo video. Social media takes up a lot of headspace, to the point that I've consciously decided to eliminate some of it because there's just too much to keep up with. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH!
But when I walk into a voting booth, all of that fades away for a moment. I remember how people have fought and died to get the right to vote, and how many people in the world today still don't have that right. Heck, the number of years that women in the U.S. have been allowed to vote isn't yet into the triple digits (1920 was when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified). That's why I make sure that I always vote, even when it's a non-contested municipal primary election with only one candidate on the ballot (this has happened).
So I hope today that you'll take a moment to reflect on voting and what it means to you. Whether this primary is the one you'll vote in or not, I hope you participate in our representative democracy every chance you get.
It’s always fun to recap the year with great client success stories. We had a lot this year and I wanted to highlight a few throughout 2011 that really stood out ranging from advocacy, social media gone viral, housefile growth to epic multi-channel strategies. Check out the following top 5 client success stories of 2011:
The following post is by Andrew Magnuson. Andrew is a Senior Consultant on the Convio Strategy Team, who has been working to help make Convio clients successful for the past seven years.
I wanted to take a moment to recognize one of the recent winners of Convio’s Innovator Awards – the National Partnership for Women and Families. Not only are they a great organization with a great campaign success story under their belt, but they are a perfect example of what integrated marketing looks like when done right.
“Integrated marketing” is an ill-defined term that often has many interpretations. It’s a bit like world peace, in that everyone agrees it’s a good thing, but nobody really knows what it looks like. Although any organization might have several different interpretations of what this can be (and indeed there is no single methodology for success), I wanted to point out the specific, replicable things that make this campaign great and that any organization can use despite staff size, budget, or sophistication.
First, a bit of background on the campaign. Betty Dukes was a Wal-Mart employee who in 2000 filed the largest class-action civil rights lawsuit in U.S. history, charging Wal-Mart with discriminating against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By last summer the case was in the Supreme Court.
The National Partnership for Women and Families saw a great opportunity to not only show public support for Betty, but to use this high-profile case to promote awareness and support for the Paycheck Fairness Act. To this end, NPWF kicked off a four-month campaign to do just that.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In addition to sending out advocacy emails, they also used advanced segmentation to identify individuals on their housefile who would be their most likely supporters. On top of this, they applied passive interest tagging on their donation forms, action alerts, and surveys to “listen” for the folks who were motivated by this issue, then provided those individuals with further, deeper actions they could take.
Next, they offered supporters to submit a personal message of support to Betty, which they promised would be printed, bound, and delivered in person. This provided supporters with an easy, tangible means of making an impact, which further strengthens their relationship with the organization and providing an even deeper connection with this issue.
In addition to rallies held at the capital, they provided other ways for Non-D.C. residents to participate. They created a Facebook fan page and solicited rally banner slogans. They offered pins with the “Right Over Might” slogan for people to purchase and wear.
Finally, they taped the emotional delivery of the book of messages of support, and turned it into a YouTube video that was sent to supporters so that they could see the direct impact of their contribution (in a terrifically savvy maneuver, the video was posted above a donation form before being distributed to supporters). All of this was done within a context of heavy social media use, which helped to keep supporters up to date and “in the fight” for the duration of the campaign.
Pretty nice, right? Now for the takeways – here are the things we learned about what we can all do to make our campaigns more effective:
Overall, this was a deftly managed campaign, and well worthy of Best Online Campaign Innovator Award. And lucky for us, it also demonstrates tactics we can all use and learn from, even if the way they are used will certainly differ between our varying organizations and causes.
Earlier this summer, I attended the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) annual gala lunch. The organization was celebrating its 40 year anniversary and several very fabulous accomplishments, too. The RSVP list was HUGE (I’ve never seen Washington, DC’s Hilton as crowded as it was that day), the menu was set (grilled chicken salad served on a bed of micro greens), and the speakers were confirmed (including First Lady Michelle Obama)! There was just one problem:
The First Lady’s presence required all guests to be screened through a metal detector which meant long lines of event goers waiting around with nothing to do.
Have no fear! In the weeks leading up to the event, the smart minds of the NPWF staff were hard at work with a plan to not only entertain guests while in line, BUT add value to their luncheon experience with the use of a little technology.
Here’s how it went down:
When I arrived at the event, I was presented with a ticket with my table number on it. There was a QR code printed on the ticket which, when scanned by my QR code reader on my smartphone, took me to a fabulous little site which included the seating plan for luncheon, the luncheon program, the video that was shown at the beginning of the lunch, and links to the NPWF twitter feed and Facebook profile.
I know what you’re thinking: I have no idea what a QR code is and that link to the Wikipedia article isn’t going to cut it. So, allow me to take a moment to explain what I’m talking about.
QR codes, short for “Quick Response” codes, are similar to barcodes, but with more web savvy pizzazz. When scanned using an app for your smartphone, they automatically take you to a website, image hosted on the web, calendar invite, series of text, or other types of content. They make copying and pasting URLs unnecessary and the Convio team is all about ‘em! In fact, my colleague Jonathan just posted something yesterday on this here blog about this fancy pants topic. Check it! I told you, we’re ALL about ‘em. And QR codes can be created really easily (and free of cost). There are a bunch of websites and mobile apps that’ll whip one up for you in seconds (check out this list for a few of the best).
So, back to my lunch date with the First Lady. The fun times I had on the NPWF mobile site kept me entertained while in line and enhanced my experience at the luncheon itself. I knew exactly how to find my table in the sea of the ballroom, previewed the video so I could turn my attention to live tweeting when it was shown to the whole luncheon crowd, and connected me with two great social media outlets so I could share the experience with my 2,500 Facebook friends (yes, that’s right, I love Facebook).
In addition to the QR code and mobile site, NPWF also had tons and tons of helpful and friendly volunteers greeting folks in line, answering questions, and keeping things moving while we waited. This was another very smart tactic since it added a little human connection and positive energy to a situation that would otherwise feature masses of cranky, hungry event participants.
I applaud the NPWF for their very savvy use of a QR code and a mobile site!
So now that you have a good feel for how much I enjoyed the NPWF luncheon QR code, I thought it would be useful to discuss a few other tips to make use of these funky black and white squares.
Direct Mail: Consider putting a QR code on a direct mail piece! USPS will even give you a 3% discount if you do so before August 31.
Membership Cards: Another great idea for QR codes is what Convio client WQED is doing -- they've put a QR code on their membership card so members can scan the code and go directly to a smartphone enabled site that has a listing of all the member benefits. So when folks are out and about, they can quickly and easily access that information.
Mix It Up: Get creative with where you put QR codes! Here is an extensive list that was featured on the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog earlier this year.
Beware: Before you plaster your office with QR codes directing folks to a mobile optimized donation form, check out this helpful article on QR codes gone bad. HINT: remember to test the code and link to sites that look good on smartphones.
To the Beltway, and Beyond: Advocacy friends, don’t think QR codes are just about the dollars. Epolitics has a whiole bunch of exciting ideas about ways you can incorporate QR code fun into political campaigns.
Form AND Function: Remember that QR codes can be stylish too! Here are 15 examples of well accessorized QRs.
And in the category of the most juicy Connection Café cliffhanger ever, consider this: we’ll be doing some very fancy things with QR codes at the Convio Summit in October. Join us there and experience the QR fun for yourself!
PS—One thing that is really important with QR codes is to make sure the place you’re sending people that use them is going to look good on a mobile device. If you’re using Convio CMS, don’t forget to check out the Summer 2011 release goodness all about mobile detection and sites that play well with smartphones. Just saying…
It’s been a rough couple of weeks with the debt ceiling negotiations dominating the media and negative public sentiment at an all time high. So, I want to call attention to a little gem of a report that was released this week which may lift your spirits.
In their #SocialCongress report, the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) shared some really great research about how quickly our elected officials have adopted Social Media as a channel for communicating with and listening to their constituents. Considering that the word “luddite” could accurately be used to describe Congress’s pace in adopting technologies like websites and email communication, this is remarkable news.
A lot of the report’s findings are not terribly surprising, such as the fact that younger staffers and early adopters are much more likely to see value from social network communications. But, since Convio sponsored the report, I had a chance to participate in a Q&A session with CMF and there are several great takeaways from this report that grassroots advocacy organizations can put to good use as they start (or expand) the way that they engage with elected officials via social networks.
On the other hand, Twitter’s retweet functionality better supports this kind of campaign, so I’d argue that it’s not a terrible idea to pursue that approach there. Families USA’s recent campaign is a great example of how an org might go about doing that.
I’d be remiss in my duties as an advocacy product manager if I didn’t point out that Convio Advocacy has recently added new tools to help you run grassroots campaigns on social networks. Our Representative Lookup tool includes links to officials’ pages on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And, in the release coming out in August, you’ll also be able to personalize emails and webpages with this content. To get the most out of your next action alert, you might consider personalizing the thank you page with links to where the activist can go to “amplify” their message on their Rep’s Facebook wall.
At the end of the day, all this new technology is bringing greater opportunity to grassroots organizations who are ready to think outside the box about how they conduct campaigns. For those of you who are still having trouble convincing luddite organizational leaders to invest resources in social networks, I’ll arm you with one final piece of information. A report released recently by the Pew Internet and American Life Project tells us that Facebook users are more politically engaged than the average American. In particular, compared with other internet users a Facebook user who visits the site multiple times per day is two and a half times more likely to have attended a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to have tried to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate, and 43% more likely to have said they voted or intended to vote (compared with non-internet users: 5.89 times more likely to have attended a meeting, 2.79 times more likely to talk to someone about their vote, and 2.19 times more likely to report voting). So, get out there and fish where the fish are!
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