Advocacy = Time…and more time…and more…
The word “advocacy” may seem intimidating to some, signifying a deep commitment and hours upon hours of effort to generate long-term influence. Yes, in many cases this is true; however, the social Web has opened up a world of options that enables each and every one of us to serve as advocates around issues that we’re passionate about – without having to devote an unrealistic amount of time.
Bogus, you say? Read on.
The reality is that I completed this entire project in 2.5 hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon (sidenote: rainy weather may be nice insight into why Seattle is so chalk full of advocates). In this particular case, I had the advantage of having personally created much of the content I utilized for posts. Regardless, the curation approach was key.
I thought it would be helpful to quickly break down a few tips from my project as an example of a simple framework for online advocacy. I’d encourage you to think about how you can apply a similar approach for your own online issue advocacy or general marketing efforts.
1. Keep Your Publishing Platform Simple
I decided to use Posterous to create my 30 Reasons to Register blog but a template off WordPress.com would suffice just as well and may perform a bit better on the SEO front. Posterous affords the opportunity for people to mail in draft posts directly via email which can be part of your content plan. The big point is to not get hung up on thinking you need a self-hosted platform. Keep it simple and template away.
2. Keep Your Content Creative and Your Headlines Consistent
30 posts in a row is a lot of content. You’ve got to keep your readers engaged from the start. As with any good online content, keep it short and sweet, shareable and highly visual.
Furthermore, I would recommend creating consistency in your post headlines. This becomes particularly important when you schedule posts and set them to autopost across various social channels. Readers will grow accustomed to seeing recognizable keywords and thus be more likely to click on your link. In addition, if you’re autoposting to Twitter, try incorporating a hashtag to filter into conversation streams (example post title). Title consistency will of course also help on the SEO front as you begin to develop more buzz, making it easy for users to dig up posts in keyword searches.
3. Schedule Posts
Living on the west coast isn’t the most conducive for tapping into primetime online blog reading for the majority of the country. Luckily, scheduled posts help resolve this issue. Approximately 95% of my posts were already scheduled before April 1 ever rolled around. Scheduling is also important to creating consistency so that readers begin to anticipate when new content will appear.
4. Activate Your Social Circles
I admittedly did next to nill to pre-promote my blog but would advise a reverse strategy of building some buzz prior to launch day. There are simply too many blogs out there for you to gain readers by just publishing good posts. You need to go the extra mile and engage your online community and social networks to help spread the word. Target your Facebook status updates with mentions or invest the extra effort to actually build out an advocacy page. Target your tweets to influencers and relevant organizations while also including hashtags. Furthermore, maximize your use of good ole email to make it as easy as possible for friends, family and others to share links to your posts.
5. Measure, Measure, Measure
Particularly if you have a long-range effort in place, measure from the start. Posterous allows users to synch up Google Analytics (recognize the difference between Posterous’ stats and Google Analytics) while WordPress has a great internal stats tool. Benchmarked stats will help you test various content as well as publishing times to maximize your ongoing content planning efforts.
Feel free to drop your own suggestions below or keep me posted on your own similar online advocacy efforts!
I recently (yes, behind the curve on these) stumbled across some utterly amazing animated videos. I’ll let the videos do the talking but I haven’t had a good laugh like this in a long time. Yes, I’m admitting my digital nerdiness but these are great.
ITC vs. HTC Evo
The list identifies the following fallacies:
1. Social media is inexpensive
2. Social media is fast
3. Social media is “viral marketing”
4. Social media results can’t be measured
5. Social media is optional
6. Social media is hard
I really, really like that Jason addressed number five. As we continue to see online communication trends advance, social media really won’t be an option for anyone that wants to be successful in the public relations or marketing field. If not already, my prediction is that PR and marketing folks are soon going to find themselves in one of two positions:
A) Grateful that they’re engaging online and taking the time to learn about social media.
B) Way, way behind others in the field and playing a lot of catch up.
This is why number six on Jason’s list is also very important. Social media is not hard. It is complicated.
It does take time and effort to figure out how all these tools and technologies can be applied in a successful manner with the right strategy in place. But, from the onset, it’s not intuitively hard as many people make it out to be. There are slews of web programmers and digital gurus out there constantly creating new sites as well as improving tools, applications and user interfaces so that the rest of us can focus on developing creative ways to put these tools to use in building online communities.
That being said, don’t sit back and become a B. Dive in, get your hands dirty and stay engaged.