his is the first in a series of blog posts around the topic of “Advocacy and Associations” that XYZ University will publish during the month of November.
Election day. It’s a big day. Did you vote?
No matter your political party views, election time always brings about a fascinating array of political ads, supporters, phone callers, door knockers and general engagement from those who may seem otherwise quiet during a “normal” year. Passion, or advocacy, for a particular cause, topic or political agenda is something that can rally people together in ways that may have seemed impossible years earlier–especially if the correct communication tools and support are there.
This month, XYZ University is diving deeper into the state of advocacy in associations, specifically, and how it plays a role in future generations–future leaders. We’ll ask questions around advocacy and if it’s a driving force (or detriment) to associations’ success.
Today, even though it may be the last day (for awhile) of all the political ads and friends “taking sides” on various social media platforms, there is a lot to be learned. Today, while you pay attention to what the outcomes are for our country in terms of the political landscape, take note of how you can achieve this much engagement from your association’s members when it comes to your own advocacy efforts.
Whether your concern is how to engage a younger population of members in your association’s advocacy efforts or how to portray issues in a fresh, new light, use today’s election excitement to learn. Watch, listen and take notes of things that you can do on a smaller scale to make an impact on your own association’s advocacy efforts.
Take a look at some of the fun examples I came across today just by being a part of various groups and channels online during election season. Advocacy takes all types and all forms of communication. Baby Boomers and Millennials alike use the Internet, which can be a phenomenal tool for rallying members around your association’s cause. Check out the following three tools. I’m betting you can find a way to implement similar elements into your next campaign:
This isn’t a post about getting your association on board with social media (but if you’re not engaging already, it’s high time you start). However, this election has seen a lot of play on social media. In fact, USA Today has its own Twitter Election Meter. One way to create excitement around your association’s efforts is to create social media pieces around the issues. Use hashtags like the one on the left to encourage members and the community to follow the conversation around your issue on Twitter. HootSuite even put together a fun Command Center for Election 2012 where engagement levels, mentions and other Twitter stats are being tracked live for each candidate.
We are a real-time society and we want information now. Instead of seeing this trait as a detriment to your cause, use it to your advantage and create tools that support this need.
In order to rally your members around advocacy, you must have the right information in place. Your members must also be educated on where to go, what to do and how to do it. Create information dashboards and landing pages that give searchable information to your members. This election, Google put together a great voter information page where citizens can look up polling locations and other information voters might need. Splash your association’s information across multiple channels; make it easy for members and the community at large to find you and learn about the issues.
Pew Research Center put out a Political Party Quiz whereby citizens could go through a series of 12 questions in order to get a better sense of where they fit on the political party spectrum. The quiz was based on a national survey that Pew Research Center conducted. This is another great example of how to create engaging pieces of information for your members and future association advocates. Simple polls or quizzes can be fun and educational for members. Think about frequent questions you’re asked or important policies you advocate for and develop a real-time poll around the issues.
There’s an app for nearly everything–ever think about creating one for your association? The New York Times created Election 2012 App which gives subscribers access to news, opinions and general election information such as updated poll numbers and results. With 91% of the U.S. population near their smartphone at any given moment of the day, this seems like a pretty useful idea.
Think about how to reach your audience on their mobile devices as well–whether it’s a responsive website or landing page design, a texting campaign or app–your association can benefit greatly from an app.
So before you do a celebratory dance (because, let’s face it, we’re all at least a little tired of the political ads these days) take a moment to watch and learn from your surroundings. Take a look at the communication strategies and techniques that have been used during this Election 2012. Think about your audience, your needs and the way we communicate. How will you learn from this year’s election? What tools have you found helpful or profound that you can modify in terms of your association’s advocacy efforts? We’d love to hear your comments below!
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