As a grassroots organizer, there are many opportunities we can take advantage of in the digital world but sometimes it’s easy to get confused, lost or irritated. As someone who has navigated aspects of this world, I’ve found a few strategies for using media as a tool for community organizing. Here are my top 6 suggestions for cultivating awareness and engagement in the digital sphere.
- Always have a purpose and a target audience. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or any other site that you might use, it’s important to know who you’re trying to reach. Even if you want to spread your message to everyone, think about how you can separate “everyone” into digestible segments the best way you can.
- Look for websites that cater to your cause. The major social media sites can be great, but you will have more success getting your message to the right people if the right people are looking for it. For example, Idealist might seem like a website used mainly for nonprofit job seekers, but organizations can create public profiles, making it easier for people working for your cause to find you.
- If you can’t get a website up and running right now, that’s OK! Blogging and microblogging sites like WordPress and Tumblr are great platforms for you to create your own content and get the word out. Sure, these sites are web blog services, but there are a number of themes you can choose from to personalize the page and give it a website-like appearance. Also, you can purchase a domain name—which usually lasts for a year—so when you transition to your own website you can repurchase it through a hosting service (we recommend grassroots.org or gkg.net).
- Remember to keep up with all your digital assets! Write and post pictures, videos and electronic documents to your social media sites. If you keep them organized and give them names that are searchable and easy to remember, you’ll be able to find everything if you need to look them up again. Trust me, your future web developer will thank you!
- Be the first to show up on Google. It may seem like an uphill battle, but it can be done, especially using “search engine optimizers.” These allow you to purchase keywords so you are the first to get noticed. Of course, these do come with a price, but the price all depends on what words you choose to purchase. Think: the word shoe will be much more expensive than the term paper towels, because more people buy shoes online than they do paper towels. Also, in addition to purchasing a domain name, think about buying your organization’s name. Check out Google Adwords, which is one of the biggest online marketing tools these days.
- Use print media to link people directly to your website, blog or social media site. Ever notice those little squares that look like barcodes everywhere? These are called Quick Response (QR) codes, and people use their Smartphones to scan them, bringing them directly to your website. We like the website http://qucode.kaywa.com/ for QR code generations. When you put the codes on posters, be sure to leave room for a clean scan!
by Alexis Hancock