Monday, August 31, 2009

What's the Point of a Facebook Fan Page?

Facebook Pages can give your advocacy effort branding, fans and an easy way to communicate with supporters.

The super easy to use interface allows you to set up a site within the Facebook universe and immediately invite all your friends to join you. By urging your friends to invite their friends, you can grow your effort exponentially overnight.

Think carefully whether you want your Facebook Page to be for your organization, company, coalition, or specific advocacy effort. You don't want to alienate customers / members with a contentious issue -- you really want to attract people who truly want your information and are motivated to act.

Tie in Facebook Advertising to drive even more traffic to your Facebook Fan Page.

Coalitions, politicians, cities, groups, etc -- everyone is getting their own personal fan base with Facebook Pages.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sec. Geithner Took the Tough Questions

As reported earlier, Digg and the Wall Street Journal held an online interview with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. They used their technology to solicit questions from the web and included them in the interview.

Results can be found here.

This is a great way to use the web in an interactive manner and get ongoing value out of the discussion by posting the results online. This is all completely on the record and can be used in the future when considering the next moves of Treasury.

Here are the top few questions from Digg:

Why has the federal reserve bank never been audited? (+1133 diggs, submitted by Borez)

Goldman Sachs is a large, profit seeking company which you were/are a part of. Isn't it a conflict of interest to funnel tax dollars into this private company using your new power as Secretary of the Treasury, keeping in mind that you and your old buddies benefit monetarily? Maybe I'm mistaken, but isn't this a textbook example of political corruption? (+729 diggs, submitted by larryjr88)

What is your position on Ron Paul's House Resolution 1207? (Which as of the writing of this question has 282 cosponsors.) (+713 diggs,
submitted by Motobike_man)

You failed to pay some of your federal taxes in 2001. And in 2002. And in 2003. And
in 2004. Please explain.
(+690 diggs, submitted by zwendkos)

How do you feel about the revolving door between high job positions in the treasury and Goldman Sachs? (+581 diggs, submitted by keythb)

Last week you requested that Congress raise the $12.1 trillion statutory debt limit,
saying that it could be breached as early as mid-October. This is in addition to the increase already approved in February this year to accommodate the added debt from the $787 Billion stimulus plan. How is this anything other than runaway government spending? What will it take for us to see US debt go the other direction?
(+520 diggs, submitted by bossm4n)

How can you use the Internet to engage members, customers and advocates?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best Practice: National Association of Manufacturers

Manufacturing seems boring but the National Association of Manufacturers has been leading the way in online advocacy and communications.

Their coordinated use of Facebook posts, Twitter, YouTube Channel and a robust website including video and podcasting continues to push the envelope in support of manufacturing in the United States.

Find them at:
NAM page on Facebook: here

In the future I'll post additional "Best Practice" websites for your review.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flip over the Flip Video Recorder

It's tough to make use of social media difficult -- The Flip makes posting video so easy anyone can do it.

Get up to 8 GB of internal memory which will provide at least 120 minutes of record time. This thing works on just two AA batteries and you can use rechargeable ones if you want.

Prices are competitive online - doing a Google search to find the best deal when you're ready to purchase. For less than $150.00 you can film and upload short videos that will help you make your advocacy message stick.

Here's some ideas for quick videos:

Quick snip of your testimony at a committee hearing on a key topic
Short interview with a lawmaker
Testimonial from a customer or member
Video talking points
Video email to a lawmaker

The sky's the limit. Go forth and record!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seriously, Facebook for Advocacy Advertising?

Advertising on Facebook can be targeted to your most likely e-advocates. They might not be members of your organization but if they are voters, politicians will listen. Motivate friends, family, members and non-members behind your topic through highly focused advertising.

Over 250 Million people now use Facebook.

You can advertise your Facebook page and build followers, or link directly to your issue website or e-advocacy portal. Pay per click or pay per impression - you choose.

Be consise - you can use only 135 words to communicate your message in a Facebook ad.

Use a photo, avatar or logo in your ad - but keep it relevant and obvious.

Target Your Audience By:

Relationship Status
Relationship Interests

You decide how much you want to spend per day on the ad. With a minimum of $1 per day, this strategy can be tested by anyone!

It's so cheap and easy, why not give it a try?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get Business in the E-Advocacy Game

The Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) is a Washington, D.C. based organization whose stated mission is:

"The nation’s premier source of business political strategy since 1963, BIPAC provides the political strategy, and tools, to help our members reach their election and public policy goals."

BIPAC created a program known as the Prosperity Project to help businesses engage with public officials across the U.S.

"The Prosperity Project® is your organization’s grassroots toolkit. Your employees and shareholders will use your Prosperity Project® Web site to educate themselves about candidates, workplace issues and elections; register to vote; find their polling place; and communicate with their elected officials about issues that matter to them, and your industry. Your employees will thank you. "

Basically, you work with BIPAC and they help you set up a grassroots e-advocacy website so your employees or members will have easy acess to online tools for issue engagement. The BIPAC system is in use in 30 states across the U.S. currently.

Check out a few of their partners:

The State Chamber of Oklahoma

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

The Pennsylvania Prosperity Project

If you're leading a pro-business policy effort, BIPAC is worth a look.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Best Practice: Social Media can get you to Hawaii

So, this isn't exactly connected to lobbying and the use of social media, but it's a great example of a creative use of Twitter and Facebook that might inspire your use for lobbying.

By giving away something very desirable (a free trip to Hawaii), Marriott is cleverly driving traffic to their website and highlighting their Twitter and Facebook presence.

Hey, I signed up! You can too and try out this fun approach to social media.

Friday, August 21, 2009

International Political Advocacy Made Easy

The U.S. isn't the only place citizens are using social media to move public opinion.

United Kingdom based Advocacy Online provides multiple e-advocacy functions including direct email contact with policy makers in 14 countries around the world.

From their site:

Advocacy Online is a leading provider of Internet software that enables organisations to run effective e-campaigns, raise funds, and grow online communities. In any language. In any country.

e-activist 3.0 - industry leading e-campaigning technology

netdonor - online donation processing

jamii - content management and social networking applications

political exchange - communities for one-to-one dialogue with political decision-makers

All of these products include our integrated email client and access to our data API for simple database integration.

With offices in London, Washington, and Toronto, it's worth considering this vendor if you're needs go beyond U. S. boundaries.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Using Keywords for Your Advocacy Effort

Pump up the traffic around your blog post and advocacy effort by trolling for hot keywords and working them in somehow to your messaging.

This can be a naked attempt to get publicity, or more subtle to really make your message relate to the latest headlines. Talk about what everyone else is talking about and bring attention to your effort at the same time.

So, let's take a look at some keywords now. One obvious spot? Google Trends.

Google keeps track of the top search terms and posts them for your information. Google makes money off of the trending keywords by selling them to you as part of their AdSense service. You can use this information for free by working a top trend into your story.

As I'm writing this, "Cash for Clunkers" is a trending topic. Everyone wants to check and see if their old rust bucket qualifies as a Clunker and nets them $4500 toward a new ride.

Since this program is a product of Congress and political in nature, I figured out a way to work it into this blog and would connect it to an active online advocacy effort if possible.

How can you creatively work keywords into your next effort?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Facebook Status = Media Coverage: Real Life Example

I have many Facebook friends and Twitter followers that represent media outlets. Occasionally, my status updates end up as leads for stories in their publications. Below is a real-life example from just last week.

From the Facebook Status Feed of Sarah Hubbard, August 13, 2009 – initially posted at 10:00 a.m. (my friends names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

Sarah Hubbard is wondering if there will be an angry mob at MIS this weekend over the ticket tax?
6 hours ago · Comment

Debbie M. : ticket tax?
6 hours ago · Delete

Sarah Hubbard : Word on the street here in Lansing is that Gov is proposing adding sales tax to entertainment related tickets to raise revenue to help balance the budget.
5 hours ago · Delete

Kurt B. : if not, there should be.
5 hours ago · Delete

Jim M. : just stay away from the phones
5 hours
ago · Delete

Rebecca S. : If she really wanted to raise some funds, she's put a tax on the port-o-johns at MIS.
3 hours ago
One of my Facebook friends is a reporter for a Detroit business publication and was intrigued by my status update about the proposed tax on tickets and used Facebook to send me an instant message and asked if I'd like to discuss the topic in more detail for a story later that day. Of course I obliged and the result is below:

1:19 pm, August 13, 2009

Ticket tax, phase-out of MBT surcharge to be proposed by governor, report says
By Bill Shea, Crain's Detroit Business

The infamous “ticket tax” that Detroit's four professional sports teams jointly and successfully lobbied against in 2007, could rise from the dead.

A report today from Lansing-based Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., a subscription service that provides news on state government, said that Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to offer up a list of budget-balancing proposals that includes extending Michigan's six-percent sales tax to entertainment tickets.

For full story, go here.

My quotes:

Sarah Hubbard, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, saw the MIRS report this morning: “This is all just sort of rumor and innuendo right now. I'm not surprised they would try to bring that (ticket tax) back. They see it as taxing people that can afford entertainment. We see it as increasing the price of entertainment.

If we're going to go down the road of service taxes, they need to be broad-based and not pick and choose companies. It takes us where we were in 2007.”

She also predicted interesting conversation in the business community on the fate of the film incentives, which some say are unfair and others credit for turning Michigan into the nation's hotspot for new movies.

“There's been lots of mixed reaction about the film credit,” she said. “The people taking advantage of it want to keep it and believe its building an industry here. Others don't think it's fair. I think you'll see a mixed debate on the future of that tax credit.”

So, if you're wondering what the ROI is for social media, just put a value on the traditional media exposure and add it up!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Treasury Sec. Geithner Will Take Questions via Web

The Wall Street Journal and Digg are working together to bring U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to the people via online interactive technology.

Read the WSJ story here.

If you use Digg, you can submit a question for the Secretary here before Thursday, August 20, 2009 at Noon Pacific Time.

From Digg:

Digg has partnered with The Wall Street Journal for an exclusive interview with U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner. Alan Murray, Deputy Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal, will be asking him the most popular questions as submitted and voted upon by you.

From now until Thursday, August 20th at 12 Noon PT, you can submit and Digg up questions to decide which will be asked.

How can you interview key public officials using online technology for your purposes?

International Social Media Advocacy - Do You Speak the Language?

The U.S. isn't the only place citizens are using social media to move public opinion.

United Kingdom based Advocacy Online provides multiple e-advocacy functions including direct email contact with policy makers in 14 countries around the world.

From their site:

Advocacy Online is a leading provider of Internet software that enables organisations to run effective e-campaigns, raise funds, and grow online communities. In any language. In any country.

e-activist 3.0 - industry leading e-campaigning technology

netdonor - online donation processing

jamii - content management and social networking applications

political exchange - communities for one-to-one dialogue with political decision-makers

All of these products include our integrated email client and access to our data API for simple database integration.

With offices in London, Washington, and Toronto, it's worth considering this vendor if you're needs go beyond U. S. boundaries.

Do I Need a Social Media HR Policy?

Most who get involved in public policy advocacy end up saying things that are provocative, combative, or just different than the person they are attempting to influence. When that person is a politician, the odds of saying something volatile increase exponentially.

So, you may be able to control yourself, but how do you control others in your organization without being heavy handed? The beauty of social media is the free-wheeling organic culture that allows nearly barrier-free communications. You need a policy that nurtures engagement while keeping message-makers and status-updaters from getting you in trouble in the media or with the boss.

My rule of thumb? I don't post anything online that I wouldn't want to see as a headline in the newspaper (or an online news source). Remember, this stuff is permanent and that means forever.

The best corporate policy I've seen to date that helps employees understand how their role as an individual online meshes with the needs of their employer was developed by IBM and can be found here. They ask employees to avoid politics -- which of course doesn't make sense if politics is the point of your social media experience! But there are many other approaches that really help communicate your responsibility as a public figure online and how that might affect your employer.

Here's the IBM Social Computing Guidelines: Executive Summary

Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.

IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on
blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.

Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at IBM—when you discuss IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.

If you publish content to any website outside of IBM and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions."

Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

Don't provide IBM's or another's confidential or other proprietary information. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to IBM.

Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, where possible link back to the source.

Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM's workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.

Find out who else is blogging or publishing on the topic, and cite them.

Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.

Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM's brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM's brand.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Can Social Media Reach Your Audience?

If you're still wondering if this social media stuff is just a fad, or if it really makes a difference, just take a look at today's post from Mashable. They link to a video that highlights some impressive statistics about the use and reach of social media. If you, a stakeholder, or maybe your boss are still waiting to see if Facebook and Twitter really catch on, you will be convinced they are here to stay (or some version of them) after watching.

In fact, I recommend putting on your regular blog reading list since it keeps up on the latest trends in social media and is famous for its "top 10"-type lists for practically everything online.

Facebook, FriendFeed, Who Cares?

Mashable provides a great explanation of some unique features on FriendFeed that could be helpful to your lobbying campaign.

In particular, the ability to search for keywords (think: your issue, your Congressman, your targeted population) will make this a much more target rich environment for your effort and provide better intelligence regarding the pulse of the people.

If you're already on Facebook, link up to FriendFeed and double your reach into the social media sphere.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

General Motors Volt Blunder?

Uh oh, hope this doesn't become General Motors PR disaster: RT @FOX2News GM's 230 MPG Claim for Volt Challenged:

Turns out the 230 Miles Per Gallon claim for the Volt is based on the EPA standard for calculating that number. The EPA uses a weird, convoluted formula based on a 51 mile test track -- and the Volt can go 40 miles on no gas at all.... So, that means the other 11 miles use just a tiny smidgen of gas and GM has extrapolated that to gallons.

This is all true and does make complete sense once you understand the math. But, does it pass the American smell test?

Be sure to link your public affairs and public policy statements - it's crucial that GM win over the hearts and minds of the American consumer and voter right now as they sit in a precarious, government owned position. Congress and the President can give them the smack down practically overnight -- just ask former CEO Rick Wagoner. - Type Once, Update Many.

I've started using to manage status updates for my various social media outlets.

HelloTxt allows me to link up to nearly 60 different social media websites of varying use, reputation and maturity. The usuals are there, like Facebook, Twitter, and, but also some more obscure sites like Plurk and Utterli are featured too.

So, what's the point? Why sign up for all those sites anyway? I think this kind of interface will allow advocates to drive their message to much greater audiences with just one status update linked back to your key messages or action alert.

Type once, update many.

A caution however, is to know your audience. HelloTxt will also connect to Blogger and Wordpress, but do you really want to update those audiences with the same messaging as Twitter and Facebook? I don't -- think carefully where you direct the power of this new type of online tool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where Does Insider Political Information Come From?

Veteran politicians, staff and lobbyists in Washington D.C. get their daily insider information from a number of key sources. If you're looking for some quick information about Congress, consider the following outlets:

Limited information is available online in all cases, but to get the really good stuff expect to pay for a subscription. Nothing is truly free in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Talk to Your Legislator - Do's and Don'ts

The most effective advocacy is the personal visit to a lawmaker by a registered voter from the district from which the lawmaker hails. Social media is great, but never forget the impact person-to-person communication can make.

Get the do's and don'ts here, courtesy of the Detroit Regional Chamber's advocacy website.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Obama on Internet Offense for Health Care

President Obama launched a new website today to refute attacks on his health reform proposal.

"Health Insurance Reform Reality Check" is the latest volley in the online health care wars.

Recent organized protests by citizens opposed to the Obama proposal have set back the timing for passage and set the Whitehouse scrambling to respond.

Old-fashioned in-person protests still work even in the midst of the current love affair of social media.

Obama is using the ever popular "share" button to allow immediate post of comments and the url of the new site on Facebook and Twitter, send an email or play a short video for supporters.

Keep an eye on this one as it morphs with the latest in online technology.

Petition the Government?

The oldie-but-goodie of advocates since the beginning of time is the citizen petition. The U.S. Constitution gives you the right to petition the government and now the world wide web has made it easier than ever.

A few sites to consider:

Fill out a virtual petition and deliver online or in person for maximum effect.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Health Reform Pushes Social Media Envelope

Dozens of groups have taken to the web to communicate their position on the topic of federal health care insurance reform. Whether you're for it or against it, or totally confused like most Americans, this debate will speed innovation online.

Today, I'll highlight the President's government effort. You can find it at:

In that now recognizable Obama style, the President's team has created a slick, easy to use interface where the American public can get information, read speeches and provide feedback to the big guy in charge.

Under "state your support for health reform this year" the Pres is collecting contact info for his army of supporters. I'm sure we'll see that delivered to Congress soon.

Notification of events, information on blogs, and highly produced videos are all part of the Obama arsenal around this topic. Even an interactive state-by-state map of the status of health care around the U.S. is featured.

The unlimited resources of the U.S. government allow the President to deliver propaganda via social media in new and fresh formats daily.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Grassroots e-Advocacy Systems

CapWiz vs. VoterVoice

According to the CapWiz website, 85 percent of Members of Congress and a growing portion of state legislators use Web forms instead of e-mail to receive constituent communications.

That means mass emails with only a link to the website of your Member of Congress are unlikely to be successful since targeted respondents won't want to deal with the hassle and won't always know what to say - therefore likely not to complete the messaging.

Both CapWiz and VoterVoice are designed to work seamlessly with Congressional offices to make sure your message gets to the intended recipient. If you're considering an e-advocacy system, make sure you check out both of them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

To Embargo or Not to Embargo?

From the blog Marketing Pilgrim, Jordan McCollum describes the situation with the quickly eroding, quaint notion of "embargo" as it applies to media events and press releases.

To embargo a release means to delay its publication until a specified date. For example many groups that release lengthy, technical reports to the public often embargo them for several days to give reporters time to read, digest and ask questions. Then, on the appointed day all news outlets are free to discuss the report publicly. However with the onset of social media many blogs no longer honor the tradition of the embargo and scoop the traditional media by discussing the topic at hand before the others go to print.

More on the topic of the Wall Street Journal embargo situation here. Specifically, the WSJ will hold a story if it's an exclusive, or if it's so big that they would lose a trusted source if they ignored the embargo. Otherwise, they might just do research on their own to get the story without the use of the PR agent that approached them.

Do you embargo?

What to do when Twitter fails?

Today's massive outage of Twitter is prompting friends in the advocacy world to be creative with their time.

Norma Johnson, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the Lubbock (TX) Chamber of Commerce developed this post today:

Twitter & Facebook Outage: Top Things for Chamber Gov Affairs Tweeps to Do (via the ACCE Policy Clearinghouse blog).

Get updates on the status of Twitter here.

Are you ready with an alternative online advocacy strategy if you're preferred outlet experiences a long-term outage? Social media communication is not just about one or two websites - it's a strategy that employs new types of communication to new stakeholders in meaningful ways.

Social Media for Public Policy Advocacy - Case Study

I spoke to the annual conference of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives about my experience with social media and advocacy. Get a copy of my case study free.

The paper outlines strategies and tactics employed by the Detroit Regional Chamber as it lobbied behind funding for the ailing Detroit automotive industry. As a result of the Chamber's efforts, over 25,000 emails from all over the U.S. were sent to Washington D.C. to amplify the message.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Be Lazy But Look Busy

Tools like TweetLater allow Twitter users to schedule tweets into the future and make them recur with a ever-changing array of subject lines.

Public policy advocates can use this tool to keep their call to action or message in front of followers at regular intervals and make sure they're being heard. It's important to vary the message so followers do not quickly tire of identical comments.

Be lazy but look busy! Automate your tweets.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bypass the Mainstream Media

Good advocacy depends on quality earned media - free coverage by news outlets - that gives your message credibility.

What if they don't want to cover your message or you can't get it to them? Post your press release on your blog or website and link back from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other online medium you can dream up. Reporters often carouse these outlets for sources of news overlooked by news editors.

Additionally, social media sites allow you to beat the traditional media at their own game. Publish after they write their story but before the printed edition hits the street and get a jump on the news.

Websites continue to pop up that offer distribution services. Remember, you get what you pay for, but if you have nothing to pay they're probably worth a shot. Here's one that says "PRLog is a free online press release service. You can submit your press releases at no charge. All of our services are free."

Monday, August 3, 2009

When Will My Congressman Be Home?

Find the schedule of the U.S. House of Representatives here.

Congress begins its summer break today and the American people are letting them know how they feel about health care reform.

Advocates across the U.S. are ramping up coalitions and district-oriented print and electronic media campaigns to make sure constituents keep the pressure on.

How do you feel about health insurance reform?

U.S. Congress on Twitter

Is your Member of Congress on Twitter? This is a great new way to access and influence policy makers.

Many sites are beginning to catalogue lawmakers online... Here's a great one for Congress:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My 7 Habits of Highly Effective Social Media

Here's my list of 7 habits that make social media effective for advocacy:

1. Post often - The more you say, the more followers and friends you will gain. One caveat: Your comments must be related to your key topic and not constant trival stuff no-one cares about.

2. Short statements - If you can't say it in 140 characters or less, social media tools aren't right for you.

3. Have an opinion - Be interesting, be provocative and say something that matters. Statements of fact are a good start, but facts coupled with opinion move people to act.

4. Keep it clean - Shouldn't have to mention this, but refrain from swearing, drinking and general debauchery online if you want to be taken seriously.

5. Create a personality - If you don't already have a great personality that can shine through online, create one! Be interesting. Be consistent.

6. Link often - Followers want to trust your judgement and instinct to narrow the whole world of information to what is most important. Link to other credible opinion leaders to amplify your message.

7. Have fun -- Social media can be fun. Activate the masses with interesting fun approaches and techniques. Injection of humor always makes public policy and politics easier to relate to.

Social Media and the Health Care Debate

Hundreds of advocacy efforts related to the on-going Congressional debate over national health care have emerged recently.

One of the best can be found at:

Groups on Facebook around this topic are being created daily and Twitter lights up with chatter every time Speaker Nancy Pelosi comments on the latest negotiation dance.

Social media IS making a difference in this debate.

Social Media and Chambers of Commerce

I just returned from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) annual summer convention in Raleigh, North Carolina. While there, I spoke to hundreds of chamber of commerce executives from across the country about the use of social media for advocacy.

My basic message: Don't Over-think It!

Chamber's should jump in there and give it a try to better understand the technology. Of course a strategy is needed, but the strategy can't truly be formulated until you understant the technology.

In 2007, our high water mark for e-mails sent to public officials around a single issue was about 3,000. With the addition of social media tools, that number sky-rocketed last fall to 26,000.

This stuff works and can help you effectively communicate your message to public policy officials.