CONNECT:

Mobilizing the Mobile Campaign Strategy; Driving Force for the Upcoming Election Year

In the MobileActive.org Strategy Guide for Using Mobile Phones in Advocacy Campaigns, we were introduced to a number of examples and a case study of countries around the world incorporating mobile phone usage to engage and gather support; allowing people to easily take action and join a cause. Through this guide, we were able to apply the tools and guidelines for using and monitoring a campaign strategy to upcoming 2012 election campaigns that will definitely be integrating mobile applications and SMS text messaging to track, reach, update and mobilize voters. In the article, Trend to Watch in 2012 – The Rise of Mobile by Katie Harbath, published on techPresident, Harbath describes why the use of mobile devices were not incorporated as heavily in past elections, because they simply rose to popularity after campaign strategies were implemented and it was much more difficult to understand, create, implement and measure a mobile campaign halfway into an election.

MobileActive.org outlined a number of helpful guidelines for creating a mobile strategy after outlining how these guidelines were used in past campaigns such as with “Oxfam UK in April 2006 who provided additional data. The organization contacted 2,000 supporters via SMS text message to recruit volunteers to help write content about local events for their website. 10% responded back, providing their email address for follow-up”. We can only expect results to be much more aggressive with campaigns in the United States for the election year. Harbath gives similar examples stating, “For us at the National Republican Senatorial Committee our first ventures into mobile were the launch of an iPhone app in May 2010, the first of any of the party committees to do so, and the building of a very simple mobile version of NRSC.org. With very little statistics out there on what the political online mobile community looks like I wanted to start gathering some data so we were making intelligent decisions on using mobile and not just flying blind. While our iPhone app didn’t get used as much for uploading and sharing user content as I hoped it would, it was accessed over 26,000 times in five months by people watching our videos or looking for information on the candidates. I think a candidate using an iPhone app would see even more use by its visitors, especially presidential candidates”. These results are not surprising.

In the guide published by MobileActive.org, some of the steps for a successful mobile advocacy campaign are:

  1. Set goals and plan your mobile advocacy campaign
  2. Identify a vendor to run the campaign
  3. Develop a marketing plan to reach your mobile constituents
  4. Craft the mechanics of your campaign and your mobile messaging steps
  5. Set up your system to get your mobile data into your in-house database
  6. Decide on your campaign closure and evaluation activites

These are all great steps to follow with any type of marketing campaign; the simply break down into set goals, identify methods of monitoring, develop marketing plan, create marketing material, methods of storing data and set the timeline/sequence of events. Determining a timeline and sequence of events for constituent outreach is definitely a great tool in allowing the implementor to determine where they are in the progression of the campaign. Both articles gave great outlines for campaign strategizing and development.

The upcoming election year will no doubt have the most engagement of any campaigns past. In the most recent presidential elections, we saw the mobilization physically of more people and the activity online, however, we had not yet adopted the mobile application use that we will definitely see next year. The engagement was there, but the ease of contact and engagement was less progressive than it will be next year. Live tweeting sessions, facebook groups/events and mobile applications will most likely lead the way for campaign strategies during election year.


Rapid Change in Online Group Dynamic (Filtering to Come)

As discussed in my previous post, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, a book by Clay Shirky, is based primarily around the internet and group dynamic within the context of organization, mobilization and cohesion within a global reach of individuals through online communities and outreach. The book opens with an example of how drastically the masses of people can come together to support a cause they feel passionately about, even if the subject has little affect on the grander picture within the lives of those participating in the debate over Ivanna’s stolen cellphone.

The book moves in to cover topics surrounding media outlets, social dilemmas, institutional challenges and the pace of user generated content. Within media outlets he states that how our media world is shaped has now shifted so that it is cluttered with the output of those qualified and unqualified informers and potential influencers. I have to agree, at some point, those that are exporting information to others and don’t have viable information can be doing harm online, but the wealth of information we now have makes it difficult for some people not to be informed.

Shirky describes the loss of social capital and how don’t necessary hold others to a certain standard within our social lives. In the mid-1900s, social structures were built on interactions and less on our online space, we built relationships based on who we had access to and made sure those were strong relationships, building circles. Now, we’re building circles online through spaces such as Google+, where they literally call them “your circles”. When we take a minute to think of this, most people have forgone joining clubs and organizations due to their satisfaction with connecting with those that they find online and supporting global causes rather than hyper-local causes.

The challenge of institutions, due to the collective actions of the masses, is the cost at which these actions are worked out, there virtually is none. People can act online, completely bypassing the institutions money making ability to coordinate actions. They then lose the control of the collective. Talent and why people contribute their time is, or the motive, is now taken out of real time and put online, which makes it much more difficult to track for institutions, they lose the ability to know why people are joining causes, if the institution is not currently online using extensive tracking methods. In our Internet Politics class, Simon Owens discussed InfoGraphics and the ability for those to be tracked by bloggers and web-producers, but on a much smaller scale, the motive of those sharing may be skeptical to larger institutions without the ability to hire PR agencies.

Finally, I’ll discuss what Shirky refers to in one of his earlier chapters as “Publish, Then Filter”. Shirky is describing the action of amateurs online to publish irrelevant information with editing or filtering what they are stating, they are simply putting it out there for all to see. This is an interesting concept, because most people (myself included at times), don’t think about who might attain what we are putting online and what some of the consequences of publishing this data can be.

Overall, Shirky’s book was relatable and defined some interesting concepts that can be easily understood by non-techies. The social behavior of organizing large groups without the interference of grand organizations is rapidly changing. The way we come together, connect and motivate others has taken on much different roles than past years due to the rapid alteration in our abilities to use the internet.  In the future, we may see that their will be communities online that attempt to build offline relationships in a more successful manner.


Here Comes Everybody, With New Online Tools For Activists

Mashable.com has become my primary source for developments in social media, emerging technology and even pop culture. Not a surprise as the site is so customizable. Today, I stumbled upon an article titled, 5 Online Tools For Activists, by Activists, by Susannah Vila. As introduced in the article, Vila “directs content and outreach at Movements.org, an organization dedicated to identifying, connecting and supporting activists using technology to organize for social change”.

In her article, she identifies five online tools: 1) CrowdVoice 2) Sukey 3) Off-the-Record Messaging 4) Crabgrass and 5) Piddler. These tools emerge as niche-oriented platforms for activists. Vila theorizes that through a need for socialization, which directly correlates with the same statement by Clay Shirky in his book; Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, users will congregrate online to support like causes. Shirky was led by the same conclusion that the majority of people who participate online in support of a cause are initially pulled in by watching their peers become active within a similar activism and from there they share and inform others. Vila and Shirky share this common outlook, Shirky outlined examples of when activism catches on within a circle of influence and becomes a online phenomen which potentially occurs at certain points when a social network is popular at a given time and not crowded by other sites. This may be at points when there are not prominently emerging sites, like Google+’s unveiling. Will we see large scale following of causes in the near future, once the shock of this new social media tool takes on relative use? Shifts for movements due to shifts in or primary, popular networks.

Vila lists five online tools that are newly emerging that could potentially sway a large crowd if they become popular enough globally, to effectively advocate a cause. CrowdVoice is open to all users to share content to support causes and share information related to their concern. Among the current topics are LGBTQ Rights in the USA, Protests in Iran, Demands for Reform in Jordan, the topics are varying and may be too broad for users to find a cause to become passionate about if it becomes to difficult to discover peers. Aesthetically, the site appears to be cluttered with information.

“Sukey is our name for a set of applications designed to keep you protected and informed during protests. When you see something interesting, you tell us. When we’re confident that something has actually happened, we tell you,” states the website of Sukey.org. Accompanied by a mobile application, this site appears to take action itself, mobilizing others to follow suite. They claim to “keep demonstrators safe, mobile and informed”. Based in London, Sukey encourages users to use twitter as a form of notification, brought together through hashtags. Off-the-Record Messaging appears to be the more dangerous of the suggestions, it encrypts your messages so that they cannot be read by those intercepting the message. This may imply to some people that users have something to hide, which can be both good and bad.

Crabgrass is a software that is more directed for the organization that would utilize its services rather than the overall audience that would be supporting an organization. It was setup by Riseup. Vila points out that the United Nations Development Programme and Camp for Climate Action are both users of Crabgrass, which definitely adds credibility to the service.

Finally, Vila suggest Piddler as an online tool for activists. Piddler is a social network allowing users to be completely anonymous beyond information they provide. It is secure and may provide the opportunity for activists to organize and mobilize their efforts for activism without being traced and followed by advertisements or opposing organizations. The site claims to be “clever, secure and quick,” which are definitely terms that one would be looking for in a social network.

The five tools outlined by Vila are great resources for those looking to become active; they provide very different benefits of safety, privacy, secure communication, mobilizing and connection. Here Comes Everybody can be embodied by many networks that Shirky could not have even been aware of when writing his book, but the evolution of activism and the ability of those to come together online continues to develop.


Nanotargeting in Online Advertising and Political Campaigns

In 2009, Josh Kotler realized the power of the internet and online advertising for political campaigns when most others were still skeptical. He points out that it did indeed work for big name candidates like President Barack Obama and Howard Dean, but for lesser names like senate campaigns, it may be less powerful in the eyes of the less “online media educated”. In his series of articles on nanotargeting, Kotler dives into online marketing/advertising by identifying specific niche demographics by interest and virtual location. In his first article Long-Tail Nanotargeting, he states, “So, instead of identifying the most universally persuasive messages and broadcasting them to a wide audience, in the long-tail model you take the most persuasive messages and nanotarget each one to the right niche”. By identifying enouch niches and altering the message to tailor it specifically to that group, you have a much more responsive campaign, with lower costs due to the lack of wasted impressions, he discovers.

In his second article Nanotargeted Pressure, written exactly one year later, Kotler discusses how nanotargeting can be used to pressure news groups to act a certain way, he uses online advertising to direct messages at individuals by utilizing information they have made available through social networks, their place of employment. He shows how effective the power of nanotargeting is with his example involving CNN and Lou Dobbs with his position on immigration, which spurred this movement. Inexpensively and in an extremely effective manner, he targeted advertisments to CNN employees to deliver messages to Lou Dobbs through his colleagues. This was a genius plan and he shows how he came to this conclusion and the positive end result.

Peter Greenfield, wrote an article titled, The Digital Playbook: Can online ads move poll numbers?, discussing the powerful use of targeted online advertising, which is exactly what Kotler has described fourteen months prior to Greenfield’s article. The Digital Playbook shows how effective nanotargeted advertising can be through popular media outlets to reach out to families with infertility obstacles through “A recent study conducted by Russell Research on behalf of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, measured the effectiveness of an online campaign in the Washington, D.C. area to raise awareness of an important issue for them. RESOLVE is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the millions of Americans suffering from infertility find solutions to starting a family, and they focused their campaign on embryo donation. A baseline poll was taken before the digital campaign began and a follow up survey was conducted upon its conclusion. No traditional media was used – the only messaging was delivered via online advertising.” The end result was astonishing in its support of both Greenfield and Kotler’s predictions of targeting online advertising. Stastically, people are becoming more responsive to online advertising than tradition televised statements where single messages are picked out from a 60 second commercial.

Both authors are clearly on the same page with online advertising, this seems to be a trend now, more so than it was one and two years ago, in 2009 and 2010. As we approach a new election and the year 2012, nanotargeting seems to be much more of a normative action within online advertising with Facebook and Google. With Google+, we might almost expect an even greater targeted advertisement initiative.


“Campaign Dimensions” Applied to Humorous Online Politics Guide

In a series of articles published by PoliticsMagazine.com and written by Professor Alan Rosenblatt Ph.D., the main focus is on The Dimensions of a Digitally Networked Campaign, followed by three supporting articles in which one dimensional, two dimensional and three dimensional digital networks can be utilized within a campaign and must be integrate together for that campaign to potentially be successful. The ability of individuals receiving and collecting messages from the campaign and how they internalize those messages is related to how they are broadcasted, transacted and discussed (or networked). Within the first dimension there is a focus on information and a campaign disseminating relevant facts and statements in a one-way communication. For campaigns, this would be the obvious first step, telling people what you’re all about or what you stand for without expecting a verbal response. In a two dimensional strategy the individual, or “voter”, as Rosenblatt references them, is given the opportunity to transact or engage in an action that would preferably benefit the campaign or cause. Finally, in the three dimensional strategy, the voters are able to discuss the cause or issue without interference or interaction of the campaign. they are interacting “off the grid”, in these cases you would hope that your initial message you disseminated in one-way communication would have a root meaning, allowing voters to spread the “gist” of your argument.

Rosenblatt’s Campaign Dimensions article series provides a framework by which a political campaign can be designed within. A campaign would realistically start with communication, rallying people to join you for a cause you can effectively articulate. In Online Politics 101, by Colin Delaney, we are introduced to a comprehensive online guide to social media and social networking, web design/layout, strategy, influence, optimization and rules for online politics. This guide is humorous and witty, allowing the reader the opportunity to image how they might utilize these suggestions without overshadowing jargon. Delaney shows how through social media tools, or online political tools, you can effectively communicate one dimensionally through your website or “hub”. In a transactional sense, he provides insight on what and what not to do in an email marketing campaign and how to manage your email list, as well as pointing out some issues to look out for or what to expect. The community aspect of Rosenblatt’s articles can be demonstrated in Online Politics 101 from a bloggers point of view or through social networking. The culmination of a informative, transactional and community oriented dimensions and spread throughout your overall strategy, which Delaney broke down for each element, within the online campaign.

In conclusion, Rosenblatt’s series on campaign dimensions set a framework for how to gain useful tactics from Online Politics 101. Looking at the tools in Delaney’s text from a dimensional angle, you see a clear path of how to logically construct a political or advocacy campaign.


The Alliance “Raise Your Voice” Campaign for International Exchange

Through the course “Internet Politics” led by Professor Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D., I will be following the organization Alliance Exchange on all social media and networking levels. There is a current “Raise Your Voice” campaign being implemented that will be the focus of my studies throughout the course. Their website states, “Through our Raise Your Voice for International Exchange campaign, the Alliance is striving to increase the profile of international exchange programs—and their very tangible value in communities across the United States. At a time when pressure is mounting for reductions in federal spending, Members of Congress need to hear directly from their constituents about the local impact of exchanges in their home states and districts. They need to be aware that exchange programs benefit local communities, colleges and universities, high schools, businesses, and individual citizens.” The end result of these studies will be an evaluation of the current campaign and a redesigned campaign to spread awareness for federal support of international exchange.

The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange is an association of nongovernmental organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States. The Alliance serves as the only collective public policy voice of the exchange community and works to promote international exchange programs: sending Americans abroad, and bringing foreign participants to the U.S., for educational, professional, or cultural purposes.

The mission of Alliance Exchange is “to formulate and promote public policies that support the growth and well being of international exchange links between the people of the United States and other nations. We work to accomplish this missions through direct advocacy with the U.S. Congress, Department of State, and other agencies within the Executive Branch.”