Today, most people get their news from social media, their email, and Google searches. This also includes information about charities and advocacy campaigns they might be interested in supporting. Due to how today’s supporters gather information, attracting attention online has become an essential part of modern advocacy campaigns’ outreach strategy.
Of course, launching a comprehensive digital advocacy campaign involves far more than just creating a website and occasionally sending supporters an email. After all, there are many advocacy campaigns vying for attention online, and standing out requires a deeper understanding of why supporters are attracted to specific campaigns and what digital strategies you can use to gain their attention.
To help your advocacy campaign start planning your next digital advocacy outreach campaign, this article will explore five tips for gathering support online:
- Create a compelling message.
- Use eye-catching visuals.
- Learn each platform’s rules for success.
- Make the next steps easy.
- Encourage sharing.
These tips focus on a combination of using the right communication strategies and effectively leveraging your technology to facilitate those strategies. As you begin building your online outreach strategy, consider how your software will support your efforts and if you will need to invest in any additional tools to launch your campaign.
1. Create a compelling message.
Supporters join advocacy campaigns for a variety of reasons, and many of them are moved to volunteer, donate, or contact their representative due to a compelling message. Compelling messages are also more likely to be shared online, helping spread the word about your advocacy campaign even further.
While the exact details of your advocacy campaign’s messages will vary based on your campaign, there are a few common storytelling and communication strategies your campaign can use to gain attention. For example, when drafting a message, consider how you can:
- Evoke emotion. Many people are motivated to join causes based on their emotions. When sharing stories and information about your campaign, consider how you’ll evoke emotion and which emotions you’ll target. Keep in mind that some emotions will be more likely to lead to support than others. For example, a sense of injustice or frustration might result in immediate action while sadness or despair may make potential supporters feel too hopeless to act.
- Share relevant facts and statistics. After becoming invested in a campaign due to an initial emotional response, many supporters will attempt to research further to find facts and statistics to back up their support. Be sure to create a mix of emotion-based and statistics-based messages to ensure supporters can easily find the information they’re looking for.
- Create a sense of urgency. When explaining your campaign, make an effort to emphasize why supporters need to act now. For example, you might discuss the potential impacts of what will happen if the issue your campaign centers around goes unaddressed. Be careful to not make the situation seem too dire or you risk supporters feeling like their actions won’t make a difference. Instead, focus on how urgent action can have tangible, worthwhile results.
When crafting your messages, be sure to also consider who your primary audience is and what actions you want them to take. After all, if your goal is to spread awareness among young people, your messages will likely look very different than a campaign focused on earning donations from older working professionals.
2. Use eye-catching visuals.
When scrolling through social media or checking out a new website, most people will make a decision about whether or not to engage with something in a matter of seconds. This means a compelling message that only consists of plain text might have a harder time standing out when it’s placed next to other posts with brightly colored visuals, moving GIFs, and other eye-catching images.
The answer to this problem is to create your own eye-catching visuals for your content. Consider the visuals you use on your website, social media posts, and emails. Take a moment to determine if they accurately represent both your campaign and the specific content they’re attached to, as well as if someone is likely to stop scrolling if they were to see it.
When designing visuals, take into account a few basic graphic design principles such as:
- Color coordination
- Use of white space
- Text line length and spacing
- Use of multimedia
- Image quality
Also, consider the size of your images and media files. Visuals that take too long to load or slow down your website can do more harm than good when it comes to attracting attention, even if they are high quality.
3. Learn each platform’s rules for success.
Creating content for social media can be time-consuming, and it’s tempting to just post the same article, video, image, or other content on each of your social media profiles without editing it. However, this approach will likely result in limited engagement as each platform has its own audience, preferred format, and strategies for grabbing attention.
Part of launching a social media advocacy campaign is analyzing various social media platforms and figuring out how to adjust your content to give it its best chance for success on that platform. Here are a few of the most popular platforms you might consider and some factors to take into account when using each:
- Twitter. Twitter is designed for short-form content that encourages engagement. When posting on Twitter, consider how you can encourage replies and conversations in the comment section to gain traction.
- Instagram. If your advocacy campaign has several photos, infographics, or other eye-catching visuals, you can consider posting them on Instagram. This platform can be especially helpful for advocacy campaigns with topics that lend themselves more easily to photos. For example, an animal shelter advocating for animal protections might post photographs of their dogs and cats.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is primarily for professionals seeking career and networking opportunities. If your organization is a nonprofit or association, you may find some success making posts on your main account page promoting your campaign, rather than creating a new account as individuals using the platform are likely primarily interested in your organization.
- Facebook. Your long-form content will likely find its greatest success on Facebook. Additionally, if you’re a nonprofit launching an advocacy campaign, your supporters can run Facebook fundraisers to help raise money for your cause.
- TikTok. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past few years among young people. TikTok is designed for short-form, attention-grabbing videos, and while having a professional look can help your advocacy campaign seem more sophisticated, it isn’t necessary for finding success on TikTok where most users post quick videos taken on their phones.
When choosing which social media platforms to use, remember that quality trumps quantity. If you only have the resources to regularly post on one or two platforms, choose the ones you are seeing the most engagement on and make routine posting schedules for those, rather than creating five or six inactive profiles across platforms.
4. Make the next steps easy.
Supporters are most likely to act immediately after reading one of your messages. Help them channel this urge to take action by making their next steps as easy as possible. These actions can include messaging their representatives, sharing your posts, donating to your campaign, or just learning more about your cause.
No matter what action you want supporters to take, consider implementing these strategies to help them take action fast:
- End with a call to action. The end of each message should give your supporters direction. Be sure to choose just one call to action for each message as asking supporters to take multiple steps at once might be overwhelming and can easily lead to your messages getting muddled.
- Link to your action center. Action centers give your supporters all the tools they need to reach out to their representatives, and linking to it at the end of posts can encourage supporters to write to their representatives immediately. To help your supporters figure out what to write, consider creating customizable message templates they can use as a base or tool to help organize their thoughts.
- Provide detailed directions. Many of your supporters will want to help, but might not be quite sure how to, especially if this is their first advocacy campaign. Provide step-by-step instructions for how they can get involved, especially for more complicated processes. For example, nonprofit advocacy campaigns can reach out to their volunteers to encourage them to apply for volunteer grants, helping the campaign earn a little extra revenue. However, many volunteers likely aren’t familiar with volunteer grants and can benefit from detailed directions about what they are and how to apply for one.
While your messages should provide all the information your supporters need, ensure they also have the option to reach out to someone at your organization if they need additional help. If you receive the same questions over and over again, consider adding an FAQ to your website as a reference for future supporters.
5. Encourage sharing.
Digital advocacy is powerful because of its ability to spread your messages far and wide. Of course, to reach a nationwide audience, you’ll need to encourage your supporters to spread your message across the nation.
You can make sharing easy by adding social media share buttons to your content and creating engaging material that encourages supporters to comment and interact with it. As mentioned, you should be sure to research effective sharing strategies on each platform to give your posts their best chance at being spread by users on that platform.
Additionally, ensure each of your posts is branded to your organization, so supporters across platforms can easily identify your messages. A consistent branding strategy across several channels can build up brand recognition, which helps to establish multiple touch points with prospective supporters. After all, if someone sees several of your posts all branded to the same organization, they will be more likely to look into your campaign and potentially become a new supporter.
Getting attention online requires understanding why supporters believe in your campaign and how messages spread online. Before launching your next digital advocacy campaign, take the time to research different potential platforms for your campaign and consider what types of messages are likely to resonate with that platform’s users.