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

Washington Post: In politics, a great e-mail list still trumps a buzzy social media account. And it’s not close.

What a political campaign would do, if it could, is send someone to your house to sit down with you and talk to you for an hour, get to know you, meet your kids, and convince you to go out and vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the appropriate November. Barring that, it loves at least knowing where you live, because from there it can figure out how often you vote and who you live with and, after cross-referencing with some databases neatly compiled by massive consumer research organizations, knows what you buy and how you think. (Within a certain, probably-smaller-than-you-think margin of error.)

Connectivity: Why Social Media Habits Matter

Most associations and advocacy groups have questions about their social media program. Where do we put our time, energy and money? Do we need to be active on multiple platforms? What are the people we need to reach using? The answers will hinge on many factors, but there is some data that can help. The Pew Research Center released a pair of studies, one on internet usage and one on media habits, that have some strong indicators. And the answers might surprise you.

Social Media Today: 3 Foundational Steps to Successful Content Marketing

Creating great content takes time, resources, and creativity. Before investing in creating a piece of content, take a step back and determine what will make your content successful. Marketers are increasingly asked to demonstrate ROI and prove their value to the organization – what better way to do that than with remarkable content that generates real results? Ask yourself these three questions before embarking on your content journey. You’ll establish a strong foundation for your piece and ensure it meets your goals!

Share Progress: Test This, Not That!

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight (or even if you’ve ever opened up a glossy magazine) you’ve probably seen it: a photo of a tiny pile of almonds next to a massive burger, with a headline admonishing you to “Eat This, Not That!”. So with that in mind, we’re bringing you Test This, Not That. Better A/B testing was your New Year’s resolution, right?

epolitics: Facebook Pro Tip: Try Posting in the Evening

Here’s a tip from Facebook’s Crystal Patterson, delivered in a Rootscamp session in December: try posting some of your Facebook content in the evening, when many Americans now watch TV with second (or third) screens close at hand. According to Patterson, Facebook typically sees a bump in traffic in the evenings, since many of now cheat on our televisions by paying attention to a laptop, tablet or phone at the same time. So, Page owners should schedule some content to go online during prime hours for simultaneous viewing and Facebooking, when they might also reach a different segment of their audience than they would during the work day.

Social Times: Social Seniors 5x More Likely to use #Facebook than #Twitter

More than half of online adults in the U.S. aged 65 or over are now using Facebook, reveals a new study. This compares to just 10 percent of seniors who are using Twitter. Additionally, 63 percent of U.S. online adults aged 50-64 are also active on Facebook – more than five times that of Twitter (12 percent). Twitter’s strongest demographic is the 18-29 age group, but it’s still dwarfed by Facebook and also Instagram in this vertical.

New Organizing Institute: Better emails with limited resources

Sometimes you just don’t have the time or resources to meticulously test your blast emails, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maximize your results with proven tactics. Here are some simple tips that I think smaller, and medium sized campaigns and organizations can put in place, right now, to improve their blast emails. 1. You have to make it matter. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is not relating the importance of what they are asking supporters to do.

The New York Times: Facebook Says Experiments Prove Ads on Its Site Can Spur Donations

Facebook conducted two experiments with Democratic Senate campaigns this year to see if advertisements on its site encouraged people to make political contributions. The company says the results show it did. But because some of the processes the company used are opaque and because online fund-raising can be influenced by offline factors, a number of questions remain unanswered.

ActBlue: Spotlight on refcodes

For all those refcode-happy committees, this feature’s for you! Now you search for a specific refcode on the Contribution Form statistics page. There are two ways to get to that page (and both require you to be logged in): if you’re already on your Contribution Form, go to the Contributors tab, and click on “View Form Statistics” or just insert your Contribution Form name into the url below: secure.actblue.com/pages/CONTRIBUTION_FORM_NAME/statistics To try out the new feature, just type in all or part of the refcode you want to see, and you’ll find only those refcodes that match your search.

epolitics: Tweeting in English and Spanish: Do’s and Don’ts

Tweeting in English and Spanish? Here are some quick tips to help you avoid all-too-common pitfalls: DO know your audience. The best way to know your audience is to be part of their community. And when that happens, Twitter is an excellent platform to engage with people and organizations in the language that works best for them. Remember: just because someone’s background includes a Spanish-speaking country or they speak Spanish, it doesn’t mean Spanish is their preferred language for Twitter or news content. For instance, if you assume that you must tweet in Spanish if you want to reach Latinos, you may not get you the results you are looking for.

Echo & Co.: 5 Digital Priorities for Your Organization in 2015

It may not be Dick Clark official, but it’s true nonetheless: 2015 is upon us. With it comes new budget cycles, fundraising goals, and election countdowns. As you look to what your organization should be doing online in 2015, consider these five crucial arenas where you can immediately make an impact: 1. Responsive design is now a requirement. In 2014 mobile internet usage exceeded desktop for the first time. Around 17% of donations on Giving Tuesday came from mobile devices.

Social Media Today: Social Advocacy and Politics: The Year in Hashtags 2014

In an attempt at levity, FOX & Friends launched a campaign to ring out the old year using the hashtag #Overit2014. And while many of us in the social media world already know to be wary of backfiring hashtags if you are a controversial organization, the wiz-kids at FOX & Friends apparently do not. In response to their hashtag, Twitter erupted with tweets that blasted FOX News and the conservative movement it champions (and a week later, the eruption continues, still). This prompted me to take a deeper look at the political and advocacy hashtags of 2014 to see what they reveal about the year that was.

Social Media Today: 5 Digital Marketing Metrics That Aren't Very Important

Much like a vanity license plate, vanity metrics are abbreviated statements with no backstory—they tend to be “wow”-inducing without adding real substance. While usually brandished to show improvement via time-lapse graphs that incline steeply, they are seldom entirely accurate or informative.

Campaigns & Elections: What really worked in 2014?

If the 2008 election represented the birth of broad digital organizing, it looked like digital might grow up in 2014, but what we actually saw was an awkward teenager reaching some new heights while clumsily knocking things over. Here’s what worked in digital in 2014—and what didn’t.

Emma: 12 secrets of the human brain to use in your marketing

Understanding what makes people tick is key to any marketing strategy. Our latest illustrated guide reveals how to tap into emotions and build trust with your audience — just by choosing the right colors, words and images for your online communications.

Yahoo News: Facebook shutting down a key path Obama used to reach voters

Barack Obama’s reelection campaign pioneered a pathway for political campaigns to reach voters through Facebook when it released an app that helped supporters target their friends with Obama-related material. But as the 2016 presidential campaign approaches, Facebook is rolling out a change that will prevent future campaigns from doing this, closing the door on one of the most sophisticated social targeting efforts ever undertaken. “It’s a fairly significant shift,” said Teddy Goff, who was Obama’s digital director in 2012, and oversaw the effort that helped the Obama campaign gain a Facebook following of 45 million users that year. Goff’s team used Facebook and other tools to register more than a million voters online and to raise $690 million online in 2011 and 2012.

BuzzFeed: The Facebook Election

At some point in the next two years, the pollsters and ad makers who steer American presidential campaigns will be stumped: The nightly tracking polls are showing a dramatic swing in the opinions of the electorate, but neither of two typical factors — huge news or a major advertising buy — can explain it. They will, eventually, realize that the viral, mass conversation about politics on Facebook and other platforms has finally emerged as a third force in the core business of politics, mass persuasion. Facebook is on the cusp — and I suspect 2016 will be the year this becomes clear — of replacing television advertising as the place where American elections are fought and won. The vast new network of some 185 million Americans opens the possibility, for instance, of a congressional candidate gaining traction without the expense of television, and of an inexpensive new viral populism. The way people share will shape the outcome of the presidential election. Even during the 2014 midterms, which most Americans ignored, Facebook says it saw 43 million unique individuals engage in the political conversation.

The Hill: Democratic political brands fall into a common business trap

Spending on TV ads in this election is predicted to top $1 billion for the first time in a mid-term, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. Apple, the world's biggest brand, spent about $350 million advertising phones last year. So why does everyone love their iPhone but hate their member of Congress? Do you think Apple would put up with a 14 percent positive rating like Congress has? To put it bluntly, there's too much money in campaigns now not to take rigorous advantage of the best thinking in commercial branding. Unfortunately, many of the Democratic campaigns that raised so much small-dollar money online this cycle could use more branding expertise.

ActBlue: 2014 Cycle: Breaking records, taking names

As we analyze this election and start to hone in on the things that went really well, one of the brightest spots is the continued rise of the small-dollar donor. We didn’t just have a big cycle here at ActBlue we had a HUGE one. I’m talking nearly double 2012. The increase in donations (98.3% growth compared to the 2012 cycle!!) is way higher than the growth in the number of number of campaigns and organizations using ActBlue (11.8% increase). Everyone’s raising a lot more grassroots money than ever before. It’s awesome. Keep in mind, the overall amount of money spent on Congressional elections is actually fairly stable compared to 2012. That means the overall share of money coming from grassroots donors on the left is increasing.

The Campaign Workshop: Political Ads: The Best and Worst of 2014

Here is our list of the worst and best political ads of the year. You can also see my comments on the best and worst political ads of 2014 on C-Span’s Washington Journal. I can’t say this is a non-partisan list, after all we are a Democratic political consulting firm. That said, we were not thrilled with all of the Democratic political ads we saw this year either. Good creative matters more in political ads than it ever has before. This holds true regardless of political party affiliation. With all of the noise that is associated with political campaigns, there are very few good ideas, let alone good political ads, that actually stand out. Whether you are producing digital, mail, radio or television political ads — whether you are a Democrat or Republican — I think we can all agree that we need to strive for better and clearer messaging.

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