Author Topic: How Political Activists Are Making The Most Of Social Media  (Read 1061 times)

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Offline AbaraXas

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How Political Activists Are Making The Most Of Social Media
« on: September 06, 2012, 01:32:51 PM »

Lesson 1: Integration is key. Ninety-one percent of these political advocacy groups understand the power of having a coordinated front in the social media space. They don't pursue a disparate set of uncoordinated tactics but rather use all three of the major platforms in an integrated way to engage social media users where they already spend their time, online. Consider that the average Facebook user spends 55 minutes on the site each day; 50 million Tweets are sent every 24 hours; 2 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day. Haphazard outreach to just one of these platforms misses the mark widely, sacrificing a significant return on investment.

Lesson 2: Listen before engaging. Then engage in a sustained value-driven dialogue. The study's findings show a deepening understanding that social media are not about advertising or push messaging. They're about connecting with people and building sustained credibility. The average political advocacy Twitter account, for example, follows more than 2,000 people. Right-of-center Twitter accounts follow twice as many people as do left-of-center ones. These groups are encouraging interaction with their stakeholders by highlighting their viewpoints, as 76% of all advocacy groups retweet content from other sources.

Most of the organizations studied have kept their Facebook pages open to community comments, a bold move embracing a vibrant give and take with community members. Liberal groups are significantly more open than conservative ones to this form of community discourse.

Lesson 3: Turn online interaction into offline action. Political groups are keenly aware of the current limitations of online interaction. Facebook followers and YouTube videos cannot by themselves drive legislative or regulatory change in Washington. For the social space to have real relevance in the political arena, it must have a concrete offline effect. Sixty-one percent of the advocacy groups on Twitter and 56% of those on Facebook aggressively use their platforms and communities to drive followers to contact elected leaders, write letters and lobby for change. Conservative groups, which are actively engaged in efforts to hold back the Obama administration's legislative agenda, have been three times more active in discussing legislation and regulation on Twitter than have liberal groups.

The study's findings reconfirm the fact that in today's social media age, any issue advocacy or public affairs campaign that relies solely on traditional media and paid advertising will simply not succeed. Washington's political advocacy groups have embraced the paradigm shift and are no longer sitting on the sidelines of social media. Business leaders and industry advocates likewise must embrace platforms like Twitter and Facebook if they want to connect with, educate and mobilize stakeholders and, ultimately, focus the lens through which legislators, policy makers and regulators view their key issues.

Never delude yourself into thinking you're "influencing" or making a difference on the internet. It is an ephemeral pleasure.

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