In a crowded advocacy market, groups often invest in new outreach tools to break through the noise. When these innovations are successful, they can spark a trend. That presents other groups in the space with a challenge: Ride that trend, or stick with tried and true methods?
Getting the most from each new technique is all about timing. Jump on too soon and not enough of your target audience will be accustomed to the outreach; too late and you’ll be drowned out by everyone else.
Now, groups need to understand at what point each trend has reached on the wave. Here are some of the latest trends in advocacy, and where they are in the wave of adoption.
If your communication strategy is 90 percent email, you need to rethink what you’re doing. While emails continue to deliver the most impact in the digital space, we are living in a multi-channel world.
As a result, channel diversification in advocacy has become the norm. Any multidimensional campaign worth its time and effort must connect with its audience through an array of online and offline communications vehicles.
An integral part of the advocacy process is identifying people willing to take action and often that type of action isn’t eternally defined. For instance, if an influencer on your issue retweets a message, target them for a secondary ask that may require them to send a message to an elected official.
Or offer them more involved ways to make an impact: make a phone call, visit an office, or donate time and money. You now have a campaign primed to make an impression across multiple channels.
With the everyday factory worker replacing executives as the most respected and trusted part of the organization, campaigns are looking for new ways to utilize the voice and influence of their leaders.
It’s valuable to showcase their human side on social media. According to a recent Brandfog CEO study, 82 percent of respondents agreed that CEO engagement on social media “helps to communicate company values and shapes a company’s brand reputation.”
Just look at the aftermath of Charlottesville: executives acted as the personal voices of their companies.
Leaders have a unique opportunity to connect their organizations to the social and issue climate of the day. This has yet to become the norm, so now is an excellent time for your leadership to quickly establish themselves as a relevant voice in within an industry and community.
In today’s environment, one tweet can set off an industry-wide reaction. Having a framework in place to address these contingencies can mean the difference between a reputation ending news cycle, and a chance to show that there’s nothing you can’t handle.
If you have the budget, large firms can make sure you’re prepared for anything. If you don’t, spend the time to think through how you can handle a myriad of issues.
Run simulations to prepare your team, and make sure to have a hierarchy of decision making already in place. Sometimes going dark is the perfect strategy during a situation, while other times a message needs to be sent immediately. It’s your job to know the best move, and you don’t want the crisis to be the first time you think about something and are forced to react without proper preparation.
Advocacy tech startups
With trends coming and going so frequently, a large space has opened for advocacy start ups to populate an area once dominated by only a few firms. This has done two things. First, it’s created an arms race of advocacy spending in certain issue areas. Second, it’s allowed for new technology to drive down the cost of previously expensive tools.
Now is the time to start looking for new assets and reassessing longstanding contracts. Chances are, things have changed since the last time you looked for new services. Taking that cold call from a vendor or grabbing a coffee is a good idea given the new technology out there — especially in the social and analytics spheres.
Email filters, key words, and social media algorithms complicate messaging
Now that email and social media trends have reached a higher point of saturation, audiences and platforms have begun the process of finding ways to suppress manufactured messages. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have recently taken large steps in their algorithms to inhibit false articles, and bolster true posts.
You may know that including pictures, gifs, videos, and links (in that order) will boost your organic reach. But platform algorithms are now taking a closer look at what those attachments contain. For instance, if you post a picture with a video play-button centered in the screen to drive clicks to your website, Facebook will inhibit your reach and will discontinue any paid support.
Email list serves will also send your message strait to the spam folder and also if you use the word “free” too many times. The best way to rise above these limits is to be genuine. Spend the time to make your campaign the real deal from the start, and your audience will take it from there. These filters will only become more and more sophisticated.
Joshua Habursky is the Director of Advocacy at the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Chairman of the Grassroots Professional Network.
Eric Storey is a Senior Account Supervisor at Edelman and the Executive Director of the Grassroots Professional Network.