Monday, January 29, 2007

Six Tools for Advocate Engagement (Part 1)

In the last blog I outlined three key "myths and realities" of engagism and how it relates to citizen advocacy. I mentioned some tools for implementing engagist ideas in the advocacy arena and, true to my word, today I’m offering three of those tools, with the remaining coming in the next blog entry.

And the winners are...

Tool #1: Market Segmentation: In order to gain access to the powerful 1%, you really have to hit them where they live. And that means tailoring your communications to unique subsections of your advocacy group. So, for example, if your advocacy organization is involved in animal welfare issues, you need to have an understanding of which advocates really love dogs versus which prefer cats (or rabbits or ferrets or whatever). That way, you can target your messages to inspire those that will be most likely to take action on a particular issue based on the aspect of the issue that appeals most to them. The dog people might not be inspired by a "save the bunnies" message -- but the bunny people sure will. This is a variation of the approach / phenomenon that Chris Anderson describes in the "The Long Tail," and it is TREMENDOUSLY applicable to advocacy efforts.

Tool #2: Vary Your Outreach: The average American household now has over 25 electronic devices, most of which can be used to either send or receive messages. In short, people receive information in any one of a dozen different forms – email, phone calls – even the old-fashioned letter! And, perhaps most important, different people pay attention to different sources of input. For example younger people tend to focus on texting and IM. In many cases, sending them an e-mail is like sending a carrier pigeon. Effective advocacy efforts will identify the various ways in which their audience communicates and then utilize all those means to get the message out.

Tool #3: Multi-Way Communications: Just as advocacy leaders need to vary how they reach out to advocates, they also need to consider what tools they have in place to allow advocate to advocate and advocate to leadership communication. Using simple techniques such as online advocacy surveys (see a sample here), wikis and chat rooms, advocate leaders can encourage feedback from their leading edge. And remember, any feedback, even the negative stuff, is useful.

Check back from three more tools (including many great Web 2.0 ideas) in the next blog entry!

No comments: