Some tips about how to create an effective mobile campaign
This is part two of a two-part series on how organizations can use mobile tech for social good. See part one: A beginner’s guide to mobile fundraising.
With the explosion of mobile giving in the wake of this year’s humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti and the Gulf Coast, nonprofits and social change organizations are now taking a new look at what mobile might be able to do for their own causes.
Nicola Wells, regional field director for the Center for Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement, offers nonprofits a half dozen tips about how to get started with mobile and create an effective mobile campaign, whether for fundraising, recruiting or other goals. The 11-minute interview was conducted just after we presented the Mobilize Your Cause bootcamp at City University of New York as part of Personal Democracy Forum.
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of immigrants rights groups whose work in social media has three goals: to build a list of individuals who can be called upon when needed to press for immigration reform legislation; to communicate important news and information to those individuals as the campaign evolves, and to engage those supporters and build a relationship with them.
Mobile was a key component of the strategy. Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo
Nicola noted that immigrants and people of color tend to use mobile more than the general population, and a lot of FIRM’s supporters did not have computers and did not belong to Web-based communities like Care2 or Change.org. Thus, mobile was the perfect tool for keeping in touch with them.
Wading into the mobile space should not be done lightly, however. “It really takes a lot of staff time just to set up the mobile piece: to create the messaging, do the copy editing and to deal with the day-to-day functioning of the list,” she says.
When the mobile initiative got underway, the executive team had to make sure they had staffing in place and in alignment, including having a key manager of the social media team involved in the mobile campaign. Next, they dedicated to the team a tech expert who was familiar with mobile campaigns and brought in Mobile Commons — a text messaging platform for mobile marketing — to handle the back end.
They talked with partners before they began building the list so they could figure out the right positioning and managed to negotiate relationships to get their long-term buy-in, Nicola said. Finally, they began thinking deeply about the user experience, particularly:
- calls to action, including urging them to attend rallies on behalf of the cause
- alerts, so that when specific high-tension information came out, people would be in the loop
- a feedback loop that gave members a sense of having access to the campaign
Key lessons learned along the way
Some key lessons they learned, Nicola said, were these:
- You really have to put your short code and mobile information everywhere you put your url.
- Person to person is the best way to sign people up, not through email.
- Have people at your events walking through the crowd to recruit people for the mobile list. “Computers are not the best way to sign people up.”
- Once you have a short code, try not to change it, because you’re building a brand around your code and number. For example, FIRM uses the short code JUSTICE (Justicia in Spanish) texted to 69866.
- You really have to learn the art of communicating complex ideas in 160 characters. “Allow one or two people on your team to take ownership of that,” Nicola says. “I like to call them the gatekeepers.”
Integrate mobile into your social media strategy
I also chatted after our workshop with Rachel LaBruyere, deputy online director for the Reform Immigration For America campaign. She manages the RI4A cell phone action network, a text message network harnessing mobile technology to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Rachel runs the Center for Community Change’s 150,000-strong mobile list, one of the largest lists for advocacy in the United States.
She used “crowd-building” techniques for last spring’s March on Washington for immigration reform, using mobile to help people find rides. For those unable to attend, she had them call into the White House and text messages of support that flashed on a big JumboTron during the march.
Her big tip: “You need to think of mobile not as a stand-alone tool but as a tool that integrates into what you’re already doing. You need to think of mobile as social media — it’s a two-way communication tool, not a one-way broadcasting mechanism.”
As for crafting a message, she said, “There are a lot of messages that are right for your email list that won’t be right for your mobile list.” With practice, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t.
• Resources for mobile action (Socialbrite)
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