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.
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.
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.
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 politicsBy 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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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 NowIs 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."
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.
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.
The nonprofit world was buzzing today over the announcement of Facebook rolling out Donate buttons to nonprofit organizations on pages and posts. This will be similar to the Facebook Gifts button that they have been testing with about a dozen nonprofit partners for the past year. The big question on every nonprofit organizations' mind is, will this Donate button help their charity raise a decent amount of money? From all the donor data I have seen on Facebook, the answer is NO! I predict that the majority of nonprofit organizations won’t raise very much money on Facebook unless your organization’s mission is to protect cute wildlife and animals, or works on disaster relief during a disaster. Here’s why: People use Facebook to share stories, photos, and videos with friends. They comment on posts and like status updates. It’s a social space to be, you guessed it - social. Giving money is not a very social activity on Facebook. And when it comes to nonprofits, your supporters want to be engaged and feel like they are helping you to achieve your mission.
Since President Obama’s digitally driven victory in the 2008 presidential election, politicians nationwide have been signing on to social media accounts in order to increase their following. They have integrated Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus into their campaign strategies and have continued to connect with their constituents on social media well after winning — or losing — elections. But with a new year comes new technology, new applications, and new social media trends. Below are 5 predictions about how politicians will use social media to better reach out to, connect with, and win over potential voters in 2014.
If 2013 was a harbinger of anything when it comes to political advertising, it's the year that data infiltrated TV ads on both sides of the aisle. The data-centric approach used in targeting for digital ads is starting to take effect in TV buying, where the majority of political-campaign-ad budgets go. Rentrak, a firm that provides local and national TV data on 12 million households from its partners in cable, satellite and telecom, is a case in point. Last year, the firm worked with the Obama for America campaign, feeding information on TV audiences that were matched against voter-file data to develop ways to reach key voter targets through TV. This year the company did even more political business, despite just a handful of gubernatorial, mayoral and down-ballot races in play, according to David Algranati, Rentrak's senior VP-TV product innovation. He said revenue from political clients has grown two to three times since last year, and considering that 2012 marked a nationwide effort for Obama's presidential run, the increase is significant.
At some point, every political consultant gets asked the question by friends and loved ones: “what the heck do you do all day, anyhow?”
For us, we spent our days (and more than a few late nights) in 2013 helping clients expand their reach online.
Our world has changed – no longer are digital consultants just build-a-website guys. Now, we work every day to help our clients grow their email lists and social media fan bases, figuring out how to engage those audiences in effective action, and raising money. Big piles of money.
As the Obama camp celebrated its victory over Mitt Romney, the campaign's digital side received an outsized share of praise. To some, the 2012 election was the birth of a new form of campaigning, where precise digital targeting and data reliant outreach prove itself over big budget media buys spread across the country's swing states.
Facebook’s news feed algorithm will soon put a damper on external links to memes and instead suggest related articles and resurface updates or high-quality content with new comments. All of these changes are intended to drive more traffic to Facebook, highlight relevant content to the users, and deepen engagement on high-performing posts. Let’s go over each one of these changes, and then talk about what it means to you. Links to memes like grumpy cat, philosoraptor or overly attached girlfriend will soon take a back seat to high-quality content. The reason for this tweak is that Facebook found that “people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team, or shared interests, to the latest meme.” This means that high quality articles will be slightly more prominent news feeds, and meme photos will be less prominent.
A recent article from e.politics asked the question, "Should campaigns use digital staff or digital consultants?"
As a digital consulting shop are answer is, both. Both, but with the right mix. For tasks that are one-time projects, outsource. For tasks that require substantial expertise, built on experience from dozens of campaigns, outsource. For tasks that require substantial embedded blow-by-blow daily knowledge, keep it in-house.
The best campaigns that we work with break that down like this:
The "controversial" one above is probably email writing. My take is that it used to make sense that it should live inside the campaign. Back when it was mostly "art", i.e. staying on-message in a compelling way, that was fine. But these days, the email stuff is much more "science", i.e. subscriber bucketing, A/B testing, multi-layer and multi-touch campaigns. And that means it should be done largely by folks with way more experience.
Of course, it all depends on what scale of a campaign we're talking about. A presidential campaign can afford to bring in consultant-level folks on staff. A Senate race will almost always have a digital communications person (who, in my book, should also do a lot of candidate staffing/driving) to go along with a press/communication person. These days, most Congressional races don't even have communication directors (choosing instead managers with communication skills), which means that those races tend to rely more heavily on digital consultants.
Even the very best staffer only sees one campaign at a time, albeit in a much more intensive way. A digital consultant can see dozens of campaigns each cycle, and bring lessons learned to the campaign much more quickly.
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