Archive for January, 2012

A Curiously Unsocial Social Media Experience: Live-Tweeting the #SOTU

Here’s a message I sent out toward the end of last week’s State Of The Union live-tweeting extravaganza:

A live-tweeting session is a curiously unsocial social media experience – 150 people in a room, w only the speech & the sound o typing #sotu

It was an odd moment — my NWLC colleague Danielle Jackson and I had chatted with a few folks while we were waiting in line to get into the White House complex, but once we all settled in and the speech started, conversation essentially ceased. Listening to a speech takes attention, as does note-taking, and the process of trying to turn those notes into coherent Tweets becomes all-consuming really fast. Hence the silence — everyone was too busy trying to catch ideas on the wing to talk with the person sitting next to them.


Add comment January 31st, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Obama Campaign Goes Big on Mobile Fundraising

Politico had a short piece yesterday (via PoliticalWire) about Obama 2012′s new foray into mobile fundraising:

The Obama reelection campaign is providing headquarters staff, field organizers and volunteers the ability to take campaign donations with their mobile phones.

Campaign personnel are being issued Square mobile credit card readers, allowing them to process donations with their iPhone or Android phones, a campaign official tells POLITICO. The rollout will happen nationwide, and involve staff at all levels.

The technology is a boon for canvassers and other field staff — potentially saving the campaign hundreds of hours of time processing donations, and giving field staff enormous flexibility. Moreover, it’s another good example of the power of mobile technology to streamline and automate otherwise mundane — but nevertheless important — campaign tasks.

Square has been used by a handful of local political campaigns, but the Obama campaign’s adoption is the first national political adoption of the technology.

A few points: first, congrats to Square! Talk about a bigtime endorsement…. Next, the fact that mobile fundraising will be available through volunteers is a big deal — with tens/hundreds of thousands of people canvassing their neighborhoods for the campaign in the upcoming year, the ability to take donations on the spot should expand the universe of donors significantly. Big reason: mobile donations let you catch someone at the moment they want to give, with no chance for them to put it off or forget about it altogether.

And, adding those new donors to the list is probably more important than the actual money they give in the moment, since once they’re on the list, they’re subject to all the inducements to give again that a modern campaign can offer. Plus of course, once they’ve donated, they’re invested — and they’re more likely to volunteer or otherwise work for the campaign to protect that investment. Expect to see this feature widely used at campaign rallies and other public events as well.

BTW, the Square technology looks interesting. I’ve never played with it, but judging from the photos, the actual cardreader plugs into a phone or tablet’s headphone jack! Way to take advantage of one of the few features that’s standard across essentially all portable devices.


3 comments January 31st, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

What Really Works for End-Of-Year Fundraising?

Guest article! See below for the latest from our friends at PowerThru Consulting, and note that this article originally appeared on the PowerThru blog.

What Really Works for End-Of-Year Fundraising?

By Jon Wheeler, PowerThru Consulting

Hard, cold cash

Ah, December. In addition to all of the usual stress the average person faces — wondering how to avoid putting on those extra holiday pounds, and get just the right holiday gifts without going into a “Santa Claus is Coming to Town is making me hate Bruce Springsteen right now” rage at the mall — the online organizer has another stress to deal with. How do you put together just the right series of end-of-year fundraising emails, to raise a significant chunk of money from your supporters who are hopefully in a giving spirit – or can be enticed, worn down or guilted into being so?

There’s a ton of strategies to accomplish that. But savvy online organizers know that the only truly good strategy is one that’s been tested to prove that it works better than other strategies with your particular list of supporters. Doing something like subject line testing to see whether one subject line or another gets more people to open your emails is pretty easy, and commonly used by groups with even small lists. Unfortunately, organizations often lack a large enough list size of former donors to perform statistically-significant tests to see what will make your former donors give more or less. (According to M & R Strategies 2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, the average donation rate on an email is .08%, meaning you have to email to tens of thousands of people just to get tens of donations — which is what you’ll need to see an significant difference from one approach to another).

At PowerThru though, we do have clients with large enough list sizes for us to do significantly significant tests. They were game for having us try to maximize their fundraising revenue, by testing our assumptions during the initial stage so we could use the approaches that proved to work the best for the remainder of the campaign.


1 comment January 30th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Is This Daily Kos Fundraising Email Kosher?

Check out the fundraising email below, which rolled in via the Daily Kos list on Friday. Other than standard template elements, its sole content consisted of:

Subject: Mazel tov!


Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a Democrat and one of the greatest champions of LGBT rights in Congress, has announced his plans to marry his longtime partner, Jim Ready.

Please, sign our card sending congratulations to the happy couple!

Thanks for all you do,
Chris Bowers, Daily Kos

P.S. Please chip in $5 to help support Daily Kos.

This strikes me as either, 1) a total piece of crap, or 2) really bad use of a standardized P.S. line.


1 comment January 29th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Hard Times for Facebook Page Owners?

Remember all that money your organization, campaign or company spent on Facebook Ads designed to build a following for your Facebook Page? Well, that real estate is steadily losing its value:

With the introduction of the “subscribe” feature, Facebook’s news feed has begun favoring posts and activity from subscriptions over posts from fan pages. This means it has become even more difficult to get content from your fan page seen in your followers’ news feeds. So what now?

M&R’s Amy Peyro has some specific suggestions in her article for boosting the performance of your Facebook posts, but really, this entire situation is pretty damn frustrating for online communicators. Facebook is happy to take our money, but after cashing the checks they’re equally happy to change the rules to significantly cut the value of that investment: if the fans we paid to reach don’t see our content as often, each click on an ad is functionally worth less.

Yet another illustration of the danger of relying on a third-party platform for advocacy! If you don’t own the list, you don’t own the list — and the company that DOES own it can do what it wants with something you spent time and.or money building. Zuckerberg wants vendor-neutral channels like email to fade away in favor of means of communication he owns? Hey buddy, I know what’s in it for YOU, but why should WE go along?


3 comments January 25th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Live-Tweeting from the White House, and Other #SOTU Social Media Hijinks

Update: The good folks at PopVox will be tweeting out links to any legislation mentioned in the SOTU and the Republican response at @PopVox. Handy!

Big news today — my NWLC colleague Danielle Jackson and I are invited to the White House (along with digital communications folks from other advocacy organizations) to live-tweet the State of the Union. Exciting stuff! We’ve armed ourselves with a big spreadsheet of pre-prepared tweets, based on topics that could come up and including links to NWLC resources and other background materials. Should be an exciting night, and besides the @NWLC tweets I’ll also be covering the live-tweeting event itself on @epolitics. Follow it here — I’ve embedded the @epolitics Twitter feed below.

This White House invitation (sent through their Office of Public Engagement) is a classic example of blogger/online activist relations — they can’t exactly give us exclusive information or the other usual goodies we online communicators use to entice online opinion leaders, but they CAN give us a seat in a meeting room in the White House complex, which is pretty damn cool all around. Plus, we’ll have a chance to schmooze with White House digital outreach folks, which provides another benefit. Excellent work all around, and the kind of event that political campaigns can learn from.

Plus, you can get involved: after the speech, Obama’s comms folks will be taking questions online.

10:00 pm EST: Immediately following the speech, pose your questions to a live panel. Administration Officials will answer your questions about the President’s address. In addition to taking your questions, the panelists will take questions submitted via Twitter (using hashtags #WHChat & #SOTU), Google+ and Facebook. Feel free to call on your followers to add their voice to the discussion and share their questions.

Another interesting #SOTU social media angles: Yahoo wants your 140-character analysis of the speech (via Elana Levin), which sounds like political commentary as haiku! Next, Quora will be taking questions that administration officials will answer over the following few days (via A Loyal Reader — thanks, Dad!), and the President will be answering questions directly on January 30th in a Google+ “hangout” (via Lisa Byrne). Quite the social media push from the White House these days…purely a coincidence that we’re in an election year, right?

@epolitics Twitter feed below, after the break. Live coverage should being sometime after 8 pm Eastern…don’t miss it.


1 comment January 24th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

Talking SOPA, Political Power in a Digital World & More with NationBuilder’s Adriel Hampton

Howdy folks, on Saturday I sat down with NationBuilder’s Chief Organizer Adriel Hampton (via Skype) to talk about, well, a lot! We started with a focus on the SOPA protests and Chris Dodd’s new education on the power of internet politics, but we went much farther afield, including ruminations on the nature of a post-manufacturing America…yep, we did some good, old-fashioned nerding out (in which the eternal subject of a genocidal war of robots vs. humans did of course come up). As Adriel wrote:

On this episode of NationBuilder’s Leaders and Creators, I talk with Colin Delany…about the historical online action, former Sen. Chris Dodd’s old-school lobbying efforts to push the SOPA/PIPA bills on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America, and what this battle between traditional entertainment industry interests and the web means for the future of tech industry lobbying in DC.

Colin and I also discuss the philosophies in Jaron Lanier’s “You Are Not a Gadget” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano,” and how organizations, from advocacy non-profits to citizens groups like the Tea Party, turn their online networks into offline political influence.

Listen below:

Good times all around, and keep an eye out for future installments of NationBuilder’s “Leaders and Creators Podcast” series.


Add comment January 23rd, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

After South Carolina, Gingrich Launches a “Knockout” Money Bomb

Gingrich knockout money bomb

Capitalizing on yesterday’s South Carolina primary win, Newt Gingrich sent out an email last night lighting the fuse on a million-dollar “money bomb” (a concentrated online fundraising effort) to “knock out” those who stand between him and the presidency. Though the original email suggested that Romney and Republican elites were the target (it included lines like “we need a bold Reagan conservative to debate Obama” and “this campaign is going to continue to rely on millions of patriots from across the country rather than just a handful of wealthy donors and bundlers”), a subsequent message focused on the incumbent:

“I was asked at a town hall in South Carolina how I plan to “bloody Obama’s nose” and point out to the American public his many failures. My response was simple: I don’t want to bloody Barack Obama’s nose, I want to knock him out! And after last night’s resounding victory, we’re in a position to do just that.”

One million dollars? That’ll pay off his $800,000 website for sure, with a little something left over for Tiffany’s! (Sorry, couldn’t resist). Money bombs are a great way for a campaign to turn a burst of momentum and attention into the potential for further victories, though in this case even $1,000,000 is likely to be pocket change compared with what the Establishment will spend to try to stop Gingrich via SuperPACS and other channels in the next few weeks. But as with Elizabeth Warren’s recent success with the tactic, a lucrative money bomb also demonstrates grassroots support, something Gingrich will need, since he lacks a strong local organization in Florida and the Super Tuesday States.

BTW, Rick Santorum also tried to launch a money bomb recently, but he did so using a name (“Conservatives United Moneybomb”) that lends itself to an unfortunate acronym and headlines like this one. Dude, get a clue.


2 comments January 22nd, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

A Political Campaign’s First Two Hires: A New Media Director and a Fundraiser

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign scored a coup the other day: they hired Lauren Miller to run their new media shop. Lauren’s a friend, but more than that she’s one of the best email people in the business, and someone who actually knows what the hell she’s talking about. Warren could not have made a better choice.

A conversation at Lauren’s going-away party the other night sparked a connection — a few weeks ago Jason Rosenbaum over at the PCCC mentioned to me that he thought that a campaign’s first hire should should be a digital communications director, in part because nowadays they’re involved in EVERYTHING a campaign does. From fundraising to grassroots organizing, communications to strategy, what they build and the relationships they supervise are now fundamental, and someone who knows what they’re doing in that area should come on board as early as possible.

I mentioned that idea to Lauren, and she amended it to add a dedicated fundraiser to the first round of hires. After all, the digital director needs to be paid! And of course to buy technology and talent as needed. An excellent point, and the motion is accepted: a campaign’s first two hires should be a digital media director and a fundraising guru to shake enough money out of the trees to pay for his or her work. Okay, fine, hire an overall campaign manager before them if you have to, but you get the idea.


2 comments January 20th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on

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