Many successful campaigns will utilise online activities to advance their campaign goals. This article discusses those with direction on how to conduct them well.
Online activities are anything your campaign does to connect with and mobilise people online. These can include petitions, emails for targeted campaigns, using CRMs, apptivism and many of the things you would do using mobilising tools.
There are many benefits of engaging with your supporters online, and in most cases, you will start amassing your supporters using the digital sphere. For an election campaign, this could be through a sign up to volunteer page, a petition or a pledge to vote form. Online engagement also makes it easier to track people’s interests, which you can use for further actions such as asking them to donate, inviting them to support your campaign etc. Online activities also tend to be more accessible for those who may have disabilities or busy schedules.
The main benefit of using online activities rather than offline ones is the relatively low effort required. However, this should always be balanced with the fact that the best way to sway votes is through personal connections, and there is no online substitute for that. So you ideally want to have a balance of online and offline activities when developing your campaign plans.
As with any campaign activity, you will want to remain grounded in your campaign narrative and theory of change. When asking supporters to participate, always be sure to articulate why they’re doing it and what it can hope to achieve, as part of a larger vision of change.
With anybody being able to make their own digital petitions, petitions may feel like a dated tactic. We know that petitions with thousands or even millions of signatures alone don’t change the mind of decision-makers or create change.
Instead, it’s important to see petitions as a tool. When used effectively, digital petitions give you the ability to quickly grow a supporter base that can enhance the power of your campaign and pressure your target.
These two things alone make petitions a relevant and important tactic in the digital campaigning age.
Petitions are strategic in enabling you to:
Emails are a great way to mobilise Green members or supporters to take action on an issue that empowers them to become more committed members of your Green party or campaign. This action could be signing a petition, attending a meeting or an event or donating money for a campaign.
Why or when should you send an email?
The first essential step of email writing is about having a good list of supporters to send it to. Here are some important points to keep in mind:
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In the private sector, CRMs are used by businesses to keep track of each customer's information. Initially, CRMs were done manually through spreadsheets of customer data – including phone numbers, email addresses, and previous correspondence. Now CRM software exists to keep customer information and streamline the sales process.
CRMs are becoming increasingly useful for the public and non-governmental sectors. Campaigners need to track the data of potential supporters, activists and/or party members in order to maintain a support base and continue to grow.
As a result, a number of software companies have developed CRMs specifically tailored to digital campaigning and organising. Their features range from website builders, databases to track supporters or activists, communication tools like email, social media, and text messages as well as the financial tools needed to accept donations and raise funds.
The value of using CRMs is that they give you access to analytics about your supporters that allows you to make data-driven decisions based on trends in your supporter base and move these supporters towards your goals and action.
For example, a US-based CRM called Nationbuilder was used to power Donald Trump’s and Emmanuel Macron’s winning campaigns. You can read more about it here.
We spend much of our online time using messenger apps (like WhatsApp). It’s the place where we speak to our friends, family, and our colleagues. But, increasingly, businesses and political parties are using it too. Many Green parties are among them.
The aim is to use a messenger app as a way to communicate to a group of engaged Green party members such as digital volunteers. Part of the communication is to strengthen a sense of community (give campaign updates, share emotions and opinions on important moments) and the other part is to motivate your supporters to perform an action, such as sharing your message on social media. Specifically, apptivism has proven successful in increasing organic (i.e. non-paid) online traction, which is of vital importance for reaching more people and growing the following base.
As defined in the article “What is Mobilising”, mobilising is directing existing supporters towards the specific campaign tactics necessary to win your campaign or election.
These mobilising tactics can include having as many people as possible:
Mobilising tools are applications and software available to enhance your ability to mobilise people to take action.
While tools are a crucial ingredient to improve success, they are not a replacement for strategy. It is key that you have a good campaign strategy on how to mobilise people that these tools can help support. This is done by having a strong campaign with good messaging and a method to spread your messaging, see Campaign Strategy. With a clear strategy, tools can make your work easier and smarter.
Last updated: June 2022