Common Ground Initiative

Focus on More Engagement Before More Fans

January 14, 2011

Interaction Quality Over Quantity

What’s the most important metric to measure the success of your Facebook page? Total Fans? Wrong, although having thousands or millions of users as fans or “likes” on your page represents vast potential (just ask President Obama), it doesn’t automatically spell success. Bottom line: Your fans are only as valuable as how engaged they are. Don’t get too caught up in the raw numbers of total fans, if your fans are not being activated to become involved with the content of your organization or campaign, then they’re simply just a number, not yet a valuable asset.

Create an Environment for Noisy Fans!

Sports fans know that the loudest football stadiums are not always the biggest. I can personally attest this. I’ve been to football games at both small and large stadiums such as the Rose Bowl where 100,000 fans are in attendance and our very own, Autzen Stadium, where the capacity is about 58,000.

Which is louder? It’s not even close, Autzen is way louder! Despite only having a capacity of 58,000, substantially less than most BCS college football stadiums, Autzen is continually ranked among the loudest stadiums in the nation because the fans are extremely engaged in the game and their beloved Ducks. Facebook pages are not unlike Football stadiums, where it’s not all about the number of total fans, but rather how noisy and engaged they are.

Measuring Engagement

Before you move forward with trying to get more users to like your page, think about how you improve the overall engagement of your existing fans. The is place to start for this is Facebook Insights, the free analytical software that comes with your Facebook page. Insights enable you to continually measure the interaction levels and success of your engagement strategies by month, week and even down to an individual post. The ultimate goal is to get as many of your lifetime Likes or fans to convert to active users in any given month.

Insights Overview

In the Insights example below, 1,279 out of 2,153 (60%) total fans are listed as “Active” because they’ve either made a comment, “liked” a post or viewed a post in the last month, in other words they’re actively interacting with the content. The green arrow under ‘Monthly Active Users’ with the 4.9% represents the increase in Monthly active fans from the previous month. If this number is going down, then you’ll want to see why and evaluate your page content. You can also drill down into interaction levels for individuals post when go into ‘details’ section within Insights.

For a comprehensive guide to using Facebook Insights, check out this Mashable blog post.

Testing Engagement

To achieve better user engagement with your posts try testing various strategies to what works best. Based the results of the performance metrics from Insights, you can then quantify and continually refine what works better through A/B testing of your strategies. Here are some messaging strategies and tactics that you can test to increase overall engagement:

  • Pose a Question and Encourage Discussion: Based on the content of your post, ask users what they think. For example; if you’re posting a news article, insert a question about it and ask for feedback from your fans.
  • Create Two Way Dialogue: Respond and thank fans who interact with posts and provide feedback. This will send a message to other page members that interaction is valued and encouraged.
  • Ask For Tips and Advice: Ask your fans for advice and tips on a current issue, policy position or problem your campaign or organization may be experiencing. Facebook users like to help and offer insight when they’re asked, plus it makes them feel valued.
  • Be a Resource: When you come across helpful or insightful content related your campaign or industry, go ahead and post it to your Facebook page because it’s likely your fans would also find it interesting. Don’t assume everybody already saw the content or article, pass it along.
  • Timing: Play around with what time of day you post and test what results in better interaction. Is it best to post during the day? Early morning? Late night? Depends on the demographics of your audience; teenagers will be up late on Facebook, while older adults may be on at 5:00am.
  • Let the Audience Choose: After you post a photo album, ask fans which is their favorite photo or post an opened question, like what’s the best part about being a Republican…
  • Mix It Up: Don’t be afraid to post content that’s not related to your industry or message. Remember, not everyone wants all politics all the time, use relevant current events to put a human face on your Facebook page. If the Civil War game is this weekend, ask your fans who going to win the game.

What did I miss? What are some strategies that you found that work for your organization? Please share and ask.

What’s the Future of Politics & Social Media?

January 4, 2011

4 Predictions for the Future of Politics & Social Media via Mashable

Mashable, one of my favorite blogs to keep tabs on social media trends has recently published a post about 4 key predictions of the future social media and politics. This is a very interesting take on how social media will become an ever-important piece of the campaign puzzle. This post is a must read for any campaign and political guru and operative looking to gain insights into what’s next on the social media horizon for political organizations and campaigns.

The following post is written by Matt Silverman, a social media expert and Mashable contributor.

Show me a modern political candidate who doesn’t understand television, and I’ll show you a loser.
When TV became the dominant medium for Americans to consume news and entertainment, political candidates could no longer be successful without looking polished in televised debates, appearing on talk shows and spending big on commercials.

Like the television boom of the 1960s, we are standing on the precipice of a big shift in how public figures are perceived and how campaigns are conducted. Our frontier is social media, and its impact on mainstream political culture is coming on fast.

While my colleagues have been making their predictions about what’s on the tech and social media horizon in 2011, there will be no major U.S. elections next year. Here, we’ll be postulating about social media’s impact on the more long-term future of American civics.

1. There Will Be a Tipping Point

While campaigning and marketing share many similarities, the differences mean everything when you’re talking about democracy’s big picture. Brands can sell by hitting a tech savvy demographic of influencers. Elections involve everyone, whether they’re online or not.

If a large bloc of your constituency is made up of 65+ year-old retirees, chances are a Facebook strategy won’t be time well spent. Despite the enthusiasm of the tech crowd and blogosphere, Twitter is exceedingly far from the mainstream, with only 6% of Americans using the service. And while the world consumes YouTube videos at a mind-bending rate, viral success is still transient and elusive.

While these tools have certainly proven to be effective in rallying support and contributions, we don’t yet live in a world where social media can make or break a political candidate by itself.

That will change, perhaps even by the next major election cycle.

The future of the social media politician is not about wild speculation and technological uncertainties. It has everything to do with when and how deeply social media can be absorbed into mainstream culture. We are on track for a tipping point — a JFK/Nixon TV debate moment — when everyone on the political scene will acknowledge that we can never go back to campaigns without social.

2. New Media Strategists Will Just Be Strategists

I’ve had the opportunity to talk with the new media strategists for a number of senators, congresspeople and political causes. Despite their differences, they all agree that their own jobs will soon be folded into the larger campaign strategy. As many have already foreseen, social media will not require experts for much longer. As we head toward true mainstream adoption, social will be a default and well-understood tool in the belt of any public-facing professional.

We’ve already seen this happening in the private sector with marketing and PR professionals. As many corporate entities lumber to catch up with those on the cutting edge, so too will government officials and the campaigners who seek their offices.

3. We’ll See the Devaluation of Old Media in Politics

Print and radio ads are not as valuable as TV. TV will no longer be as valuable as interactive media. For politics, this is especially so, as the arena (at its best, anyway) warrants engagement and discussion.

As media appetites shift, this is an inevitability. In the U.S., we’re already seeing web use catch up with television in terms of weekly hours spent. Political money will simply go where the eyeballs are, and we’re likely to see a big payoff on social creativity when it comes to future campaigns.

4. Whistle Blowing Gets More Efficient, But That’s It

The WikiLeaks saga has ignited plenty of discussion about journalism and whistle blowing in the Internet age. But at the end of the day, the mechanics of an information leak are about the same as they’ve always been: Someone from within an organization leaks damaging information, and the media (in whatever form) disseminates it to the public. Generally speaking, WikiLeaks has only acted as a “middle man” for raw information. It’s journalists who are making sense of it and transmitting it to the public with context.

The web only speeds up this process through digitization and universal access. Governments and politicians will feel the impact of leaks sooner, but it’s unlikely the methods of protecting sensitive information will be much changed.

5 Reasons To Use Twitter For Your Campaign

November 24, 2010

How Can Twitter Help Our Organization or Campaign?

For many campaigns, Facebook is seen as the most important weapon in your social media arsenal. While I agree with that most of the time, I don’t believe that Facebook is the end all to a social media strategy. Twitter is usually in mix of social media for campaigns out of popularity, but not typically out of necessity.

I am realizing more and more that many campaigns don’t really understand the potential and true value of Twitter. Many campaign operatives, especially those who don’t use Twitter personally, feel they should embrace it, because of all the buzz surrounding it. They’ve read glamorous articles about how President Obama used Twitter to win votes or how Senator Scott Brown’s campaign had 4 times the followers as his opponent, but fail to see the tangible ways Twitter can help you get ahead of competition and ultimately become a valuable tool for your campaign. Below, I have boiled down 5 essential ways Twitter can help your campaign.

5 Ways Twitter Can Benefit Your Campaign

  1. Increase Awareness: Communicate directly with activists, volunteers, bloggers, and the media without forcing information on them. The incessant non invasive updates (tweets) will increase presence and add relevance to your campaign’s efforts.
  2. Target Your Audience: Regardless of size and scope of your campaign, there are Twitter users who care about your campaign in your state or specific geographic location. If you talk to a press member, key supporter or blogger, ask if they are on Twitter and follow them. Ask most reporters you know today, and I bet you they’re using Twitter to follow their beats.
  3. Listen To Your Community: Twitter can put voters and constituents at the heart of the campaign. Ask questions, whether they be about policy ideas or feedback on a recent television ad or speech. Letting your followers know you’re interested in what they think will send an valuable message.
  4. Engage Your Followers: Provide information about events, rallies and fundraisers and encourage volunteerism while reminding people that even small contributions go along way. Don’t be afraid to Tweet something outside of politics, because remember Twitter is for real people.
  5. Track Your Adversaries: Do a weekly or even daily search on Twitter to see if your opponent(s) or even their campaign staffs are up to on Twitter. Track what they’re tweeting about and watch for missteps that can be sent to relevant bloggers and the press corps.

What ways do you use Twitter to boost your campaign message and/or voter engagement?

Is LinkedIn Right for You?

November 18, 2010

If social media sites were in high school, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would be the cool kids that everybody inspires to be. LinkedIn would likely be the kid who is almost in the cool “click,” trying to work their way in the group. Currently, Facebook has over 500 million users, Twitter 175 million and counting, and YouTube is now the second largest search engine only to Google. Logically, most organizations start with a combination or all of these sites when they dive into social media outreach and marketing. Usually adding LinkedIn to their strategy is an after thought or secondary priority, but could it be right for your team?

What is LinkedIn?

If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn check out the video below to learn what it’s all about:

A New User Every Second…

LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner just announced that the professional social networking site is now adding a new member every second! It’s total membership is now up to 85 million users. Here in Oregon, there are approximately 375,000 registered users. Just because Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are getting all the attention, don’t assume LinkedIn should be ignored in your social media plan.

6 Reasons To Consider LinkedIn

  1. Reach older demographics: The average age of a LinkedIn user is 45 years old, 10 years older than an average Facebook user and 13 years older than Twitter user. Also, more business executives use LinkedIn than other social networks, providing a great medium to reach industry leaders.
  2. Connect to Like Minded Causes, Businesses and Groups: If you are a non profit or trade group, LinkedIn is great to get engaged in existing communities that you may represent or desire to be part of. Leverage these groups to grow your influence with key audiences.
  3. Faciliate and Encourage Valuable Discussions: Once you have created a group, LinkedIn offers options to host online discussions with your members. Stimulating conversations with your industry can prove to a valuable tool to gather insider insights that you would not otherwise be able to get.
  4. Send Weekly Updates to Your Group: This is perhaps the most beneficial feature within LinkedIn groups.  Take, Robert Flemming, who runs the eMarketing Association group on LinkedIn.  His group has almost 200,000 members.  Instead of having to spend thousands of dollars each year on email marketing you could simply create a group, and send them a weekly message for free.
  5. Intergration with Twitter, Facebook and Blogs: LinkedIn can easily integrate with other social media channels, including most blogs for effortless cross posting of updates. This helps with message consistency, management efficiency and keeping your page fresh with content and driving people to your other social media channels.
  6. Easily Add Your Contacts to LinkedIn: You can upload your address book to your LinkedIn account and it will automatically find who on your list of contacts has a LinkedIn account. With this feature, you are assured to quickly find and connect to your key contacts who are already using the LinkedIn.

What did we miss? What have you found especially helpful or useful with your LinkedIn account? Please share!

Are you sold? Click here to create a new account. Happy LinkedIn’ing!

Building Online Communities Through Offline Efforts

November 16, 2010

When organizations are trying to boost their social media audiences they often forget about using offline approaches to reinforce their online tactics and strategies. Putting Facebook, YouTube and Twitter icons with URL addresses on direct mail, campaign fliers and business cards may be seem like a small thing, but can have a significant impact on the exposure and engagement of your social media platforms.  Representative Kevin Cameron wore his Facebook page in his sleeve (literally), making his Facebook the focus of his campaign t-shirts.

Small Steps to Promoting Your Social Media Offline

Here are some more steps your organization can take to promote participation in your social media channels:

  • During speeches or media interviews, plug your social media channels. Throwing in, “Find us on Facebook,” or “Follow us on Twitter” doesn’t take much effort and provides your audience an avenue to connect to your organization.
  • Where you would typically put your organization’s contact information like email, phone and address, also put your social media information. Look at social media as another avenue for voters and supporters to reach your campaign or organization.
  • Running a newspaper or radio ad? Promote your social media in the ad with a charge of engagement. Tell the readers or listeners to tell you what they think about the ad’s message.
  • When talking to a supporter or voter with a smart phone (iPhone, Blackberry) about your organization or campaign. Be proactive and tell them to join your Facebook page or Twitter profile on their mobile device while you talk to them.

Learn More…

Mashable, one of our favorite social media blogs recently posted an article about using offline opportunities to enhance your social media efforts. The article highlights 5 ways to approach this topic, and although it’s catered more towards business and retail, political groups and non-profits can certainly learn some valuable lessons from the post.  Click here to read the full article from our friends at Mashable.

What steps or tactics have you applied or seen used to promote social media offline?