CONNECT:

Looking to Past Campaigns; Mobilizing a Generation and Organizing for America

Mobilizing Generation 2.outlines seven keys elements of the “2.0” virtually dependent reality we currently thrive in. Those elements, outline as chapters are blogging, social networking, video and photo sharing, mobile phones, wikis, maps and virtual worlds. To some, these may seem obvious as the term “web 2.0” is really up to how the user chooses to define it. This book refers to the world we now live in, the next phase of the web, being referred to as 2.0 or second edition. We are even hypothesized as to be moving quickly into web 3.0. From my experience in CCT, web 2.0 has been referred to as the ability for users to interact and share personalized data, text or graphics in real time. To some or most, their definition is a mixture of the two. In Mobilizing Generation 2.0, each element (or chapter) is broken down into a series of examples, tips and steps as to how one could use the tool to generate mobilization of youth in a digitally dependent world.

Personally, I was drawn to the mobile phone and virtual world chapters. Mobile phones will definitely be playing a central role in upcoming elections, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It’s been used in the past for petitions, event recruitment, and the timeliness of this medium is heavily discussed as in a n example of the Asthma U.K. text-alert campaign that warned asthma suffers about high pollen days, and times to avoid being outdoors to bring along some remedies. When applying information from this chapter, it is clear that (published in 2008) this book does has not yet realized the potential of smartphones. With smartphones we can connect not only through text messaging but through mobile applications, which can be used to store and collect much more information as well as connect individuals through mobile mapping and messages without tapping into text messaging.

When first investigating Mobilizing Generations 2.0, I was a bit skeptical as to how virtual worlds could be used in mobilizing a generation, as they don’t seem very mainstream or have the ability to mobilize people to vote or become active towards a cause. I then learned of examples where media coverage can be taken into the virtual world, connecting and engaging supporters is possible. Maybe not on a large scale population frame of mind, but on a global scale.Users have sold virtual items for charity, but I still don’t personally see how this can translate into a large enough impact into todays economic environment to make a difference.

A more recent piece, Year One of Organizing for America, was written post Obama Campaign and features a wealth of information about the permanent field campaign in the digital age and was written by Ari Melber. It looks at a number of arenas where digital campaigning came into play and how people were mobilized. Organizing For America (OFA), is what Obama’s campaign was referred to. The report focuses on the first year of OFA in 2009. The first area that was looked at was Community and Reform and looked at areas of politics where people could become engaged and support Obama and where they could begin to reform.”Obama’s post-election effort provided a separate, nonpolicy organizing track explicitly focused on fostering community,” as the OFA was more focused on community and indirect contact with supports. The image of engagement was there, but the actual interaction with OFA was less obvious. OFA was thought of as being a non-political, but governmental campaign to support issues directly affecting america and not the elections, although they were a secondary triumph as the majority of issues that were sided with under OFA were democratic. It effecting increased volunteerism and had a clear strategic agenda.

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The Importance of Measuring Your Media

Dr. Alan Roseblatt published two articles on FrogLoop.com in October 2010, which to this day remains relevant. In the first article, Measuring the Impact of Your Social Media Program, he discuss the critical assessment of Return on Investment, for both non-profits and advocacy campaigns. For social media campaigns/programs, the ability to measure your engagement can be crucial to the success of your campaign. It allows you to determine what works well and what can be altered. In Measuring Social Madia Reach, Rosenblatt looks at the audience size, hashtags, impressions, and an analysis of your followers/fans. He opens the article by discussing how influence is comprised of three main categories of metrics: reach, engagement and driving traffic to your website.

“Simply put, reach is about the size of your audience and how many people see your social advocacy messages. Reach features your largest success metric number—the number of people who see (potentially) your message. Since more people will see your social media posts than will click on any links within them, it is imperative that the posts contain your key message points. That way, just reading the posts will deliver value to your audience and to your programmatic goals,” opens Rosenblatt when discussing reach. This leads to his second article, Rules of Social Media Engagement, in which Rosenblatt discusses ways in which to track what’s trending through social media (ie. re-tweets and hashtags). He looks at top websites that offer link shorteners and the ability to track who clicks on and shares your link, such as bit.ly or hootsuite.com. By far, the largest takeaway from this duo of articles, is his Final Thoughts on Metrics of Success, “The metrics discussed here provide a good set of indicators to help you identify the general performance of your social media program. But in and of themselves, they leave out some important performance metrics. For example, you still want to know if you are improving your brand recognition and reputation, are you creating enduring memes and raising public awareness of your issues, and did the policy you pushed for pass or fail as you hoped it would. These remain important metrics, but inevitably are the most difficult to use. They are easy to measure, but attributing causality to your social media program will be as difficult as saying a commercial caused a person to buy a product. You can correlate them to each other, but assigning the causal relationship is tough”.

From these articles, we learn the importance of hashtags, where to find out what they mean, why they’re being used and how you can start trending. We also learn some metrics of measuring engagement and reach and how those figures can help drive traffic to your website. Finally, we’ve learned that the resulting affect of measuring social media performance is that these statistics generated can be used to influence those that allow the social media manager to continue engaging users for an advocacy group or non-profit, which in todays environment may carry the largest benefit due to the earned media, costing little to nothing for these groups that already have little funds to allocate to campaign advertising.


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.