Archive for January, 2012

Reminder: “Advocacy Rising” Discussion at SalsaLabs at 4 pm Today

Hi folks, here’s a quick reminder: RadCampaign’s Allyson Kapin, Jeanette Russell and I will be having our “Advocacy Rising” discussion today at 4 pm at SalsaLabs. Here are the details, and I hope you can make it! Note that the monthly Salsa happy hour will start right afterwards, so bring a prodigious thirst and a desire to schmooze. And, don’t miss the preview article, “Riding an Electoral Wave: How Election-Year Politics Can Promote Your Issues.” See you there!

cpd

Add comment January 19th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

SOPA Protests: In Internet-DRIVEN Activism, It’s the Customers & Users Who Matter

Wikipedia SOPA activism page

Also published on HuffingtonPost

Here’s an angle that just occurred to me about today’s widespread online protests against the “Stop Online Piracy Act”: normally we talk about digital activism being HOSTED on the internet, but this is a great example of what happens when the companies behind the internet start to DRIVE protest. And when they’re driving the protest, it’s their customers and users who matter.

One immediate consequence of so many sites shutting down: quite likely, a short, sharp spike in human productivity! With no Wikipedia to be my procrastination-buddy, how can I “spend” time “researching” the latest findings on Kuyper Belt Objects or doing vital “work” like checking out the anti-aircraft armament of modern Chinese ocean-going frigates? What, I’m supposed to do my job??? Even the LOLcats have gone on strike!

In any case, if you’re out of the loop, here’s what’s up. To protest legislation in Congress that (among other things) would make it much easier to shut down websites that host content that someone claims is pirated, sites ranging from Wikipedia to Google have painted themselves black or shut down their normal content in favor of asking readers to pressure their representatives to kill the bill. For instance, Wikipedia asks U.S. readers to enter a zip code and then contact their congressmembers, conveniently providing both the phone numbers and a link to the members’ web contact forms. No list-building here! Just pure advocacy.

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1 comment January 18th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Blackbaud Acquires Convio: Divergent Views in the Field

Wikipedia and a slew of other sites may have shut down today to protest SOPA, but that’s not the only big story in the online advocacy space this week: yesterday Blackbaud announced that the company would be buying Convio, a leading provider of email advocacy and online fundraising for nonprofits and trade associations (disclaimer: my current employer uses Convio for our email-list management). Seems like just yesterday it was Convio buying GetActive, which I was then using at my previous full-time job!

As you can imagine, this development stirred up an anthill on the listservs, with some people still unhappy with Blackbaud about how it handled its acquisition of Kintera years ago (among other things). My favorite response: on a Convio customer conference call yesterday, one online organizer apparently prefaced a question for Convio’s Gene Austin with, “As someone who just signed a contract with Convio because it WASN’T Blackbaud….” Ouch!

I’m generally in the camp that more competition in the industry is better, which is one reason I’ve been a fan of the rise of NationBuilder, but not everyone agrees. For two vastly opinions, check out Talkin’ Blackbaud Blues and Why I’m Optimistic About Blackbaud’s Acquisition of Convio. You can guess that I lean toward the former, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter: this is business, and it looks like something as close to a done deal as you’re going to get.

Update: see also Building a Community, Not an Empire, Blackbaud Buys their Rival Convio: Now What?, and What might Blackbaud do with Convio?

cpd

Add comment January 18th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Riding an Electoral Wave: How Election-Year Politics Can Promote Your Issues

As part of their Advocacy Rising program, the good folks at SalsaLabs asked me to contribute the piece below, which first appeared on Salsa Commons. One thing I left out — nonprofits have to be careful what they say in an election year if they mention candidates. The exact rules depend on your IRS nonprofit status (i.e., which flavor of nonprofit you are), so check with the lawyers early on so that you know the ground rules. While you’re waiting to hear back from them, be sure to check out our in-person discussion on Thursday.

Riding an Electoral Wave: How Election-Year Politics Can Promote Your Issues

It’s an election year! With a gridlocked Congress! Doesn’t leave much room for issue-advocacy, right? Wrong: the long months of politicking in a presidential election year can actually give advocacy organizations great opportunities to boost the prominence of their issues — BUT only if they’re ready.

The Media Dynamic

Perhaps you’ve noticed that political coverage has certain dynamic, one that might be described as lemming-like. I.e., at any given point in the campaign, political reporters tend to cluster around a relatively small number of stories that themselves constantly change. One week it’s Newt Gingrich’s jewelry purchases, another it’s Mitt Romney’s apparent joy at firing people, but don’t worry — reporters will eventually circle around to Barack Obama’s birth certificate so he won’t feel lonely. What unifies most of these stories is that they’re ephemeral: they blow up big one week (or day or hour) and are nearly forgotten the next. Though collectively they gradually come to define the candidates, few stick around long enough to matter much on their own. Another common characteristic: they’re very much in-the-moment, driven by gaffes, attacks and other immediate developments in the campaigns, and hence difficult to predict in advance.

Ironically, the speed with which these stories brew up can actually work to advocacy organizations’ advantage. Reporters and bloggers won’t be experts in most of the issues involved, so they’ll be scrambling to get information to fill out their stories. And if you’re ready when one of your issues pops, YOU can be the beneficiary of their ignorance/hunger for content. Here’s what you’ll need to take advantage of the election-year media dynamic to promote your issues and connect with new supporters.

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2 comments January 15th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Speaking Gigs Galore: SalsaLabs on Thursday, PA Prog Summit in February, and SXSW

Hey kids! Sorry for the recent publishing hiatus — no doubt I was waiting for the New Hampshire primary results with such anticipation that it induced long-term paralysis. Or mind-erasing boredom, whichever.

But never fear, you can get a much-needed dose of e.politics soon, and in person even! (Ladies, please — no fainting.) Next Thursday I’ll join RadCampaign’s Allyson Kapin and Jeanette Russell of SalsaLabs at Salsa’s DC lair for a post-webinar, pre-happy hour discussion about how nonprofits and advocacy organizations can leverage the election-year media frenzy to promote their issues and themselves. It’s part of Salsa’s “Advocacy Rising” series, and note that Salsa’s offices feature free beer of the cold and yummy variety.

Next up, Lizandra Vidal and I are working on the details of a panel she got accepted for the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in February. We’ll focus on a perennial favorite topic — integrating online and offline campaigning — with help from some local Pennsylvania groups who’ve been doing just that. DC types, it’ll be worth the trip to Philly.

Finally, and this is the big news, I’m speaking at South by Southwest in March! A friend from Austin was putting together a late-submitted, Occupy-themed panel and tapped me to moderate, which was pretty damn cool of him all around. More details soon, but we’ve been accepted and obviously I’m psyched as hell.

Other site news: a couple of articles are sitting in the hopper, waiting for finishing touches, as is a loooong list of Quick Hits (they do stack up). And the rewrite of “Winning in 2010″ for 2012 is under way! Keep an ear open for the announcement and be ready to spread the word. Thank you, and that is all — for now.

cpd

Add comment January 15th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

How Twitter DIDN’T Predict the Iowa Caucus Outcome

Oh man, do I love some skepticism, and Trilogy Interactive’s Will Bunnett and Steve Olson have a healthy dose of it for us today. Remember those stories about social media “predicting” the outcome of this year’s Iowa Caucus? Apparently, they very much needed some cold water poured on ‘em (and you wonder why I added so many caveats to the numbers we published here). Take it away:

Click here to enlarge infographic

Larger version of this infographic.

(Mis)reading the Twitter and Facebook Tea Leaves

By Will Bunnett and Steve Olson
Infographic by Maureen Noone
Originally published on TrilogyInteractive.com

With all the excitement around the Iowa caucuses in New Media Land, you could be forgiven for thinking the biggest contest of the night was seeing who could most convincingly predict the results on Twitter and Facebook. As Mashable asked, “Did Twitter Predict the Iowa Caucus Better Than Pundits?”

After looking at several models, the answer is, unfortunately, no.

Several groups got in on the fun of trying, though:

  • Social media monitoring agency Ensomo looked at social media mentions, likes, and retweets of the GOP candidates, from December 23-30 (published on Epolitics.com).
  • SocialBakers looked at Facebook’s “people talking about” metric in the week leading up to January 2, and the total number of Facebook fans.
  • Sociagility used its proprietary PRINT score from mid-December.
  • Globalpoint looked at the total number of Twitter mentions about each candidate in the final week of December.

None of these metrics came even close to a significant correlation to the final caucus results, with one exception: Globalpoint, with a suspiciously strong correlation of 0.99 — almost perfect, and well ahead of the traditional gold standard, the Des Moines Register’s poll, which came in at a 0.86 correlation with the final results.

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1 comment January 5th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Spring-Cleaning Your Email List for Deliverability

Guest article! Experienced digital organizer Laura Packard (of PowerThru Consulting) has some excellent advice for email list managers who want to maximize their list performance. She uses techniques in Salsa as examples, but the lessons should apply to most CRM/mass email systems. This article originally appeared on PowerThru Consulting’s site, and also check out Laura’s earlier article on building your list through social media.

Spring-Cleaning Your Email List for Deliverability

By Laura Packard

The weather outside may be frightful, but I’ve got spring cleaning on my mind, and here’s why: we’re in the middle of a big email list cleaning project for a client and have learned some interesting stuff along the way.

Any list that’s been around for a while has accumulated ghost email addresses. People change jobs, change ISPs, change names… and even the ISPs merge or go under or just rebrand. So email addresses that once were good, often decay. Then there are the email addresses that were never good — typo’d on entry. Also, roving spambots are filling in online forms left and right with garbage. Plus there are the garden-variety duplicate records created by people clicking forms too many times etc.

Ghost addresses mess your stats up. You may think you have a list of 100,000 people, and your email program reports show sends are going out to 100,000 people. But if 10,000 of them are ghosts, your open and click rate is so much better than you think! Minor thing, right?

Yeah, but this is where it gets interesting. Did you know that some of the major email providers recycle old dead email addresses as spam traps? So emailing to the ghosts is not so harmless after all. It can get you flagged as a spammer and hurt deliverability to the real live bodies on your list. Plus more and more the big ISPs use engagement levels (how many people open, click, mark your emails as not spam etc.) to determine whether you get shunted off to the spam folder or not. If you’re sending to ghosts, there won’t be any engagement… and this will hurt your deliverability to the live ones. We’ve seen this with one client and Gmail.

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1 comment January 5th, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

On the Eve of Iowa, Social Media Numbers for the Republican Candidates

Courtesy of our friend Steven Kleine, Principal at Ensomo (a social media monitoring and analysis firm), see below for a graph of the online mentions of the various Republican presidential candidates in the week ending Friday, December 30th. (If you want the actual hard numbers, charts are here.)

Click for larger version

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4 comments January 2nd, 2012 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

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