Blue State Digital knows how to turns relationships into action. They call it the ‘ladder of engagement’: from observing, following, supporting, contributing, and advocating to finally evangelizing. ScienceGuide spoke with Yanni Konstantopoulos of Blue State Digital (BSD) and got inside knowledge about online fundraising, advocacy, branding and social networking.
Move up the ladder
“You want people to move up your engagement ladder. To have people on your email list is ok, but it’s better if these people would be a donor, better if they were actively campaigning. How do you reward people to do the lesser action and how do you motivate people to move up this engagement ladder.”
So what are innovative ways to lure people up the ladder? According to Blue State Digital, the breakthrough is to show people where they are now. Do you want to phone someone? Then you might rise on the ladder, do you want to call another? You rise even more. It is game theory: people will always want to be the best. Clever campaigners appeal to the competitive nature in people.
Dinner with Obama
One of the big successes Blue State Digital this election was the 5-dollar dinner with Obama. When people donate, even if they donate a small sum, they have a chance of being invited to dine with Obama. And the people that didn’t go get send a 2minute video on what they missed. ‘Do you want to go next time? Keep donating!’
“The most important aspect of online campaigning is the feedback loop”, Konstantopoulos says. “The campaign was effective not through the dinner, but through the video that was distributed to all the people. You show how things are behind the scenes. That way people get emotionally attached.”
Know your analytics
Another thing BSD underlines is that organizations should understand and know their (Google-)analytics: where do online visitors come from, what do they visit, where do they enter, where do they bounce.
Next phase is to find out names, email addresses and Zip codes, so you can send detailed information about what is happening in someone’s neighborhood.
Invest in a good ‘unsubscribe-page’. Make a landing page for unsubscribing that explains why you shouldn’t unsubscribe; this really helps to keep the unsubscribing rate low, Konstantopoulos knows.
The smell of fake emails
Emails are never from an organization but from a people, we do this because of transparency issues. So you will be emailed by an Obama supporter, or field organizer that would suit your specific profile. If you’ll send an email in the name of Barack Obama, people would smell it is a fake and would unsubscribe.
What should be done to create a successful online campaign? User generated mechanisms are the most important aspect of online campaigning; people use twitter, instagram and facebook. Through email you can activate people to use this variety of media.
A week is the perfect time frame
Konstantopoulos: “A strategic plan should be based on immersion, discovery, and ideation. But don’t plan ahead to much, you have to be nimble to change you’re course fast. A video could go viral within 15 hours. So it is of no use to plan your campaign 12 months ahead, a week is a better-suited timeframe.”
Websites should be streamlines and content rich. Konstantopoulos: “With user generated content otherwise your website will wear off after 4 days. Take for example, Barns for Obama, a kind of viral hit that would get their own spin-off site. Printable logo’s of Obama’s campaign would be put online on the website so that people could join this hype.”