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Our Blog for Tips, Tricks, and News: Politics + Technology

USA Today: Wikipedia needs new leadership: Column

Let me tell you about Wikipedians, who write and improve Wikipedia articles. Wikipedians take this role – self-appointed, uncompensated, largely unrecognized – more seriously than you probably take your full-time job. When your Congressman's staffer tried to whitewash a Wikipedia entry ahead of the election, erasing well-cited coverage of an illegal campaign contribution, Wikipedians noticed, undid the change, and shooed him away. That probably all happened while you were watching a 30 Rock rerun. And when your daughter clicked Google's first link about the Pythagorean Theorem, arrived at Wikipedia, and finally really "got" how it worked – a Wikipedian wrote that article. The article was a collaboration, some Wikipedians knew the math, others knew how to communicate it and others just fixed typos.

The Guardian: Twitter and the transformation of democracy

The news that Twitter has taken the first steps towards a stock market flotation has triggered a predictable storm of speculation about the valuation of the company. How much is a corporation with 200 million monthly users actually worth? How does it compare with Facebook, with its billion users? The answer is: nobody knows. But that doesn't matter because it's not the important question. Although Twitter and Facebook are categorised as social networking services, in fact they are as different as chalk and cheese. And, of the two, Twitter is more important in one respect: its impact on the arena in which societies discuss their political issues.

Forbes: Does Digital Media Advance the Political Process?

Between the massive shifts occurring today among marketers in the use of digital versus “traditional” media (i.e., television, radio, print) – and the associated questions of the relative effectiveness of each – one can’t help but wonder if the use of digital media in politics is actually advancing the political process. It is certainly undeniable that digital media played a pivotal role in securing both the 2008 and 2012 elections for President Obama. The Obama campaign’s “Digital First” strategy, architected by David Plouffe, pioneered new ways of reaching and mobilizing voters based on a differentiated strategy. This approach contrasted with a Republican campaign built largely around reaching voters through traditional media.

Our growing team

Big news!

Greg Buss has joined our team in our Portland office. Greg joins Mandate Media following a decade-long stint in Los Angeles where he served as Congressman Xavier Becerra's communications deputy, and most recently worked as business development supervisor at a leading global law firm. Early in his career, Greg helped Rep. Becerra lead the way as one of the first members of Congress to integrate social media into his communications strategy.

A native of Portland, Greg joins our team as a campaigns and advocacy strategist -- designing list-building strategies, writing emails that engage our clients' supporters and raise money, and more. He's also fluent in Spanish, and will be leading the way with our clients that need a bilingual component to their digital program.

We are excited to have him on board!


Time: Project Ivy: Democrats Taking Obama Technology Down Ballot

Fifteen months after the 2012 presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee announced a new effort Monday to make the advanced data tools used by the Obama campaign available to Democratic candidates across the country. The initiative, nicknamed Project Ivy, will take many of the sophisticated data, analytics, and communications tools used by the Obama campaign out of storage, allowing them to be used by Democratic candidates from school board to Senate, party officials told reporters Monday afternoon, as Democrats look to maintain their technological advantage over better-funded Republicans.

Are campaigns and nonprofits facing a Facebook apocalypse?

Is Facebook audience reach cratering? Well, there sure does seem to be a lot of apocalyptic talk going on.

Mandate Media's president, Kari Chisholm, weighs in on the controversy that's got digital marketers and online campaigners up in arms.


Simon Tam: Using Social Media to Deliver Strategic Communications

It’s common to hear phrases like “think strategically,” “strategic communications,” or “marketing strategy.” Yet, for all of our education and focus on using strategy to deliver key initiatives, one thing is often overlooked: delivery of that information. This seems to be especially the case with social media and how many organizations approach it. In my experience, this problem is accentuated in the world of higher education. In colleges and universities, there is often a disconnect on how to deliver critical education. Public Affairs, communications, and marketing departments have their priority messages, announcements, and news to deliver but it’s often in a way that isn’t conducive to the medium. After researching the social and digital communications efforts of nearly 300 institutions, I’ve found that most treat social media like any other channel: something to deliver information to the masses in a one-to-many fashion. However, this isn’t exclusive to the world of education: I’ve found it to be the case with corporations, non-profit organizations, artists, and small businesses as well.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Most Charities Fail at Online Fundraising Basics, Says Study

Eighty-four percent of nonprofits, including many of the nation’s largest charities, haven’t made their donation websites easy to read on mobile devices, one of several flaws that can cost them significant contributions, according to experts who studied 150 charities and other organizations. Included in the group of 151 organizations surveyed were 100 charities big enough to appear on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 400, the annual list of groups that raise the most from private sources. The study, conducted by the consulting group Dunham and Company and the fundraising think tank Next After, says charities aren’t doing enough to persuade supporters to sign up for their emails, and the emails don’t give enough direction: They don’t suggest what action the recipients should take, such as donating or signing a petition.

TechPresident: Ready to Launch, A New Platform to Ask Elected Officials Anything

Last week, the White House made something of a splash with its Big Block of Cheese Day, encouraging internet users to ask members of the Obama administration and the White House staff questions on social media. A new platform officially launching Monday hopes to provide voters with the opportunity to pose questions to elected officials and other prominent figures every day of the year, in some ways echoing an ongoing Ask Me Anything concept. AskThem is a new non-profit, open-source project from the Participatory Politics Foundation, the same group behind OpenCongress, which tracked congressional legislation and campaign contribution records. Through AskThem, users can pose questions to elected officials who have signed up and to any verified Twitter user. Once the question reaches a certain signature threshold, AskThem will submit the question via e-mail to officials who have signed up and via social media.

NPEngage: 9 Underutilized Emails that Improve Donor Retention

The 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report was released last week and one of the more interesting findings was that donor retention remainsa lower priority. As my colleague Frank Barry mentioned, most nonprofits stink at donor retention. Nearly 3 out of 4 new donors never make a second gift. Over the past 10 years, donor retention has fallen from 33% to 27%. But…donor retention isn’t one of the top three communications goals for 2014, according to the report. Acquiring new donors, engaging our community and general brand awareness all rank ahead of retention. And while only 34% of executive directors picked donor retention as a top 2014 goal, just 16% of nonprofit communications directors said the same. Donor retention is often overlooked and, because of this, nonprofits aren’t using email as a key retention tool. That likely means more email “asks” this year (donations, event registrants, advocacy actions) and fewer retention emails, like reporting back to donors and building relationships.

e.politics: Simple Search Engine Optimization Techniques for Non-Profits and Political Campaigns

Say you’re launching a new political campaign or organization. What’s the first way people will try to find you? They’ll go to their trusty search engine and type in your name. It’s critical that your official website shows up in the first page of results, in the top few choices above the fold if possible. How do you make that magic happen? Here are some search engine optimization tips that will help you land at the top of the heap.

The Washington Post: Don’t be surprised if your TV soon seems to know everything about your politics

By now, you're probably aware that much of your online behavior is tracked, logged and probably sold to third parties so that marketers can better target you with ads. Targeted advertising has become a fixture of the Web, in part because Internet browsing generates a wealth of useful data that's easily studied. Television is a bit of a different story. Take traditional, over-the-air broadcast. For advertisers, it's the media equivalent of a sawed-off shotgun: not terribly accurate, but extremely effective when it does find the mark. Now, however, targeted advertising on television has taken a big leap forward. And it could represent the next evolution in data-empowered politics.

The Campaign Workshop: Campaign Planning: Are You Ready to Run?

Some people think they are born to run for office, just hand them a campaign plan and microphone and they are ready to go. But the truth is, it takes a lot of hard work to get to the point where you can get elected. Some of the best candidates I have worked with are the ones who come to politics as their 2nd or 3rd career. That is because politics is about relationships, and the better and deeper your relationships are in your community the easier fundraising and volunteer recruitment will be. Campaign planning and some key self-assessment questions are crucial if you think you want to run for office. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you run:

e.politics: So You’re Running for Office. How Do You Launch Your Political Campaign Online?

How do you get started when you’re running for office? Here’s our list to help guide candidates and would-be candidates during the crucial phase between “thinking about running” and launching. What you do now can give you the boost you need for a successful launch, and get you on track to win. If you’re thinking about running, please read this carefully. And if you know somebody who’s running, please pass this along! 1. Your list is the heart muscle of your campaign. So strengthen and build it as much as you can before you launch. I’m talking about your list of donors, prospects, volunteers and supporters.

Social Media Today: 5 Unique Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

So you’ve set up a new company or are looking to recreate your brand image? The current competitive business environment is likely to make this task extremely difficult for you. Though there are various opportunities to get connected with your prospects and consumers, you just have to find the right platform and techniques to get your message out there. Build on an effective and easy email marketing campaign to turn your business operations, products, services, and offerings into gripping content that your prospects can’t simply avoid noticing. Wish to improve email marketing campaign and give it an innovative touch?

The Washington Post: How Facebook has changed the way we govern

Facebook is celebrating its 10th anniversary Tuesday, marking a decade of status updates, wall posts and avoiding talking about your relationships by just letting everyone know “it’s complicated.” Since 2004, the site has seen over 200 billion friend connections, been home to more than 400 billion shared photos and now averages more than 6 billion likes per day. There’s no doubt Facebook has changed the way we communicate with each other. What can often be lost, however, is that it’s also changed how we communicate with institutions, brands and, perhaps most importantly here in Washington, with our elected officials. Got a question for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)? Ask her on Facebook, where she writes her own updates. Curious how Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) voted today? Go to Facebook. Want to offer your ideas for your country’s new constitution? If you’re Icelandic, you could have gone to Facebook.

e.politics: How Political Campaigns and Advocates Can Use Social Media Data

Another area in which metrics are both available and useful: social media. At a basic level, campaigns should note how many people are following their Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, but these two numbers won’t tell you much in isolation (in fact, they’re frequently referred-to as “vanity metrics,” because people try to drive them higher ’cause it looks good). Here are a few analytics that DO matter on social media, which are fortunately usually relatively easy to track: * Who’s following you? (Follow up questions: Do you recognize them? Are they in your district? Are they “influencers” you’re trying to reach?) * Is your following increasing, decreasing, or holding steady? What’s the trend over time? * Are people interacting with your content? On Facebook, are they Liking/Commenting/Sharing? On Twitter, are they retweeting your info or replying to it? * Which of your posts are generating activity on Facebook or Twitter? Certain issues? Particular kinds of content, for instance photos/images vs. links to articles?

Huffington Post: If Hillary Clinton Is Running for President, Here's the One Thing She Should Be Doing Right Now

Is Hillary Clinton running for President? I don't know -- but if she is, I know what she should be doing right now. From an online organizer's point of view, the answer is simple: The essential first task for every political campaign is to build an email list. Why? A supporter list is a grassroots campaign's most important single resource, a source of money and on-the-ground activity from the first days of the race through the final Get Out The Vote push. And when I spoke with experienced digital campaign staff about early preparation for 2014 races for an article last summer, this was the kind of advice I heard in again and again, and always in the context of email: >The money you invest now in list-building, identifying supporters and donors "will pay off in spades when it comes to election time," said DSPolitical's Chris Massicotte. "They'll be your precinct captains, your organizers and your last-minute donors."

Campaigns & Elections: Technology Bytes: A Facebook Force Multiplier

With 2014 already looming, let’s focus on some practical ways to put digital tools to work—for and against campaigns next cycle. As anyone who’s actually run a political Facebook Page knows, even a big following doesn’t easily translate into action. Aaron Windeknecht talked extensively in the last issue of C&E about using good visual content to mobilize a Facebook following, and his advice is well worth your time. But most efforts to engage people on Facebook involve giving them something to do within the site itself, usually to share (or “Like”) an image, video or link so that it shows up in front of more Facebook users. For the time and effort it takes to build a Facebook following, wouldn’t it be better to get something back in the real world? Traditionally, Page administrators might try to get followers to donate, join a volunteer team or sign up to phone bank by posting a link to an action page. Their hope? That enough people will 1) see the link on Facebook, 2) click it and leave Facebook, and 3) take the actual action they land on.

e.politics: A Good Reason for Campaigns to Build a Facebook Following Early

We’ve been a little hard on Facebook lately, what with the pay-to-play future and today’s obsession with Engagement. So let’s switch tack and look at a reason that political and advocacy campaigns benefit from building a Facebook following early rather than later. As Bully Pulpit staff Danielle Butterfield, Madeline Twomey and Lauren Miller discussed in a RootsCamp 2013 presentation on Democratic data and advertising in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign spent time and money to build his Facebook following as early as possible. Why? to have “social validation” for late-cycle persuasion and GOTV ads. As shown in the screenshot to the right, Facebook supports ads on its site with socially validating information (“X likes this”, or “Y people like this”) to get more of us to click. While advertisers of all kinds have long known the power of “everybody’s doing it,” perhaps it works particularly well on Facebook, since the company has so much information about our social connections and knows how to use it. One particular constraint for political campaigns, though: they usually have very little time to build a following large enough for social reinforcement to matter.

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