The following information was provided by RALLY.
The following initial list outlines advocacy tactics that leverage digital tools to engage and mobilize supporters online. These digital efforts are essential to outreach in an increasingly online world, and all the more important as COVID-19 limits in-person outreach. We’ve also included tips for organizations that may be engaging in digital for the first time.
This challenge is an equalizer
People are experiencing a similar sense of uncertainty and constraints. They’re finding community and solidarity online—it’s essential we engage them there.
We’re connecting digitally now more than ever
Without being able to connect in person, we’re reaching out to connect online. People are more open to communicating via videochat, phone, webinar, or even watching movies together. It’s a great opportunity for us to leverage our existing digital strategies and tactics, but also take them further to open the door to a greater level of engagement.
Switching up our audience
People in our target audiences may currently be dealing with pressing challenges in light of COVID-19 and citywide shutdowns, like losing work or housing, or finding themselves in an unsafe living environment. We should be extra sensitive to these audiences and what we’re asking of them. Digital tactics and strategies we’ve been using for years can help us target these audiences with relevant messages, meeting them where they’re at.
DIGITAL MOBILIZATION TACTICS
Use video to close social interaction gaps
Virtual teams have long relied on video conferencing to increase engagement and close the social gap that comes with working remotely. This week could be the largest amount of people ever working remotely, and there will be a felt decline in face-to-face interaction. In both internal and external communications use face-to-camera videos to fill the gap.
Instead of canceling an event outright, consider whether presentations or sessions could be effectively transformed for a live stream or webinar. Facebook Live and Instagram Live provides easy sharing options to notify your audience about your event.
Consider assigning a cohost or moderator to break-up the presentation and make it more interactive despite the lack of an in-person audience.
Have an online chat
Host a Twitter chat, with a designated time, topic, and purpose. Encourage folks to attend beforehand through social media and email, and share some of the questions you’ll be discussing during the chat. When the chat is “live,” be sure to engage with those who answer your questions, and use this as a launching pad for conversation, rather than broadcasting one-sided messages.
Join the right active conversations
Conversations are moving quicker than ever as people turn to Twitter for news and updates. Twitter’s Explore Page identifies trending conversations nation-wide and within your own circle, while advanced tools like RivalIQ can provide more in-depth engagement metric around more niche conversations. Selecting the right hashtags allows your organization to join active conversations that lead to discoverability and relevancy.
As teams and individuals are scattered there is a natural opportunity for more grassroots- style conversations. Sharing out a prompt asking your partners, employees, or supporters to share their own experiences. Consider asking for video responses for more engaging content. Responses can be fielded in social media comments, a collective hashtag, appeals over email, or through special tools like Instagram Story Q&As or Twitter Conversation Cards.
Appeal to leadership online
City, State, and Federal leadership is under growing pressure to produce comprehensive responses to COVID-19. With much of their public communication happening on social platforms, there’s an increased opportunity to demand action. Make sure your ask is relevant to the moment. Coordinate asks with partners and supporters to increase the volume and visibility of messages. You can use advanced tools like Phone2Action or simple pre-fabricated social post creators like Share Link Generator.
Create community with groups
Facebook Groups are a relatively easy way to foster an online community, where people can discuss ideas or actions, find out about events, watch live streamed videos and read important updates. Privacy settings can vary from invite-only, to publicly available, and posts from group members can be limited or screened. The Facebook newsfeed also prioritizes content from groups, so you’re more likely to get more cut through than you would with a page.
DIGITAL MOBILIZATION TIPS
Make online communications accessible
While more of our work and communications go online, it’s important we consider that people experience online communications in different ways and make our communications as inclusive as possible. Add subtitles to any videos you share. Refrain from squeezing paragraphs of text into a small Instagram post. Here are some helpful accessibility tips.
Use your expertise and following to share the facts
There’s a surge of misinformation and uncertainty being shared online. Consider how you can use your organization’s credibility (particularly if you operate in the health space) and online following to spread accurate and helpful information.
Couple timeliness with authenticity
Scrolling through any social media feed right now can feel consumed by the topic of COVID-19. It’s helpful to share thoughtful insights and resources about how COVID-19 affects your specific issue space. But with such an overwhelming barrage of virus coverage, continuing to advocate for the issues your organization cares about gives your audience insights into how they can think about the virus in more nuanced ways.
DIGITAL EVENT TACTICS
Use physical to add spice to digital
Don’t cancel your gala – reschedule it as a digital party. Use the funds you’d spend on food and drinks at the venue to send guests a package of wine, popcorn, and chocolate. Encourage attendees to dress up and attend the gala video chat.
Set up opportunities for connection between guests
Set up virtual “break out rooms” for happy hour discussion topics, so guests can chat with each other before the event begins.
Simulwatch videos to view content together
Send a digital kit with an invitation to join, video file, chat link, and instructions to each participant. Viewers will start the video at the designated time, and use the link to the provided chat to discuss the video with other participants. (i.e. “Netflix party” or “https://twoseven.xyz/”)
Utilize event software to execute large virtual gatherings
Use event software like Pathable and Planning Pod to help organize logistics for a large virtual event.
Making Noise: It’s extra difficult at the moment to make noise on subjects that don’t intersect with COVID-19, or are helping those who are impacted. Think about intersections between your work and COVID-19, and how your content can offer either physical, mental, or monetary support.
Being Sensitive: People are experiencing extreme mental and physical stress, and the news is overwhelmed by the current health pandemic. Before you pitch your story or send your tweet, ask yourself: what is it offering? Is it adding something of value to your audience? Is this the right time?
What does “advocacy” in a post-COVID age look like? This is exacerbating existing lines of inequity. That said, if you’ve been doing advocacy right this whole time (centering community advocate leaders, networked organizing, pushing on those who have power), it shouldn’t look very different. Look at what health and mobility rights folks have been doing for years. Look at what advocates in India – where space restrictions and curfews are common – and advocates have been fiercely connected. N.B. Most folks aren’t doing it right, haven’t been acknowledging intersectionality, and have been not shifting power or challenging existing systems of racism and classism. Could be a time for Rally to get “back to basics” about organizing and how to create an intersectional movement for change in the digital world.