You can call with them, you can text (or as some say “instant message”), and you can send pictures and videos. And you can promote advocacy campaigns? Yep, welcome to the world of mobile phones. Using mobile phones is the last resource I would use to promote my advocacy group. When I’ve seen links on campaign websites asking you to subscribe to our SMS feed, I tell myself that doesn’t really work. However, after reading Michael Stein’s article, Using Mobile Phones in Advocacy Campaigns, I have begun to think otherwise.

Stein picked excellent case studies to support his point. I thought the Fahamu testimony was pretty incredible. They asked supporters to sign a Web-based petition for women’s rights organizations, and it turned out that it received 4,000 signatures with 500 text messages from 29 African countries. This scenario literally blew my mind.

Additionally, he offered great application material to go along with them. This article reemphasized the surround sound theory I learned in Professor Steinhorn’s class. The general idea in surround sound is that there are multiple speakers around the listener and they are used to form a sound field where the listener can heard sound coming from many directions. Hence, when developing a mobile campaign, you shouldn’t just use a text message but also speak with ringtones, fundraising option and forwarding a friend. Another option could be re-post this message on Twitter and Facebook.

However, I need remind myself that I won’t have instant response. Mobile campaigns are like all strategic campaigns. I need to set goals, develop an applicable message, and remember my audience. After, I can get involved in the “fun” applications. Speaking of applications, I wonder if an iPhone or another smart phone application would be as successful or more? Nevertheless, this idea of Mobile Advocacy is a growing field, and I am excited to see the direction it will take in the next year.

It’s been six years since I’ve last solved an analogy puzzle. Actually I think the last time I solved one was for the SATs. With that said, here is one to get the brain cells woring: Rush Limbaugh to Republican Party as Rob Stein is to _______. Before I read The Argument, I would not have been to solve this problem. But, after I read the book, the answer is clear as day. The answer is Democratic Party. The relation between the two words is “is the message machine to.”

The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics was an excellent read, and it gave me a great insight of the behind the scenes effort of the 2008 Election. The party needed to develop re-branding campaign, and this book talked about how they accomplished this great challenge. To set the stage, after the 2004 election, the Democratic Party didn’t have a direction or a leader. However, that was about to change. Rob Stein deciphered the puzzle; he came to the conclusion Democratic Party lost two elections in a row because they did not have a message. Republicans had Rush Limbaugh, but whom did Democratic party have? Little did Stein know it at the time, but it was he. It began with his “killer slideshow,” but he wasn’t working alone. It was the billionaires who funded the party and the bloggers, kept the party in the news. He was a building a community, which he had inspired to do (p. 48).

Matt Bai’s book goes through the highlights and the low points of this behind the scenes effort. There was immense support and feedback but there was also firing and arguments. But, there was a never lack of hope. Bai explained how Stein continued to find passion in the darkest times. “You’re going to love it,’ he would say, preparing to share with me some new insight. You’re…going…to…love…it” (p. 31). The lesson of having enthusiasm is crucial to any campaign’s strategy, and this book is evident of it. On one trip to Arizona, Stein shared “we have come together to help create a grand vision for America, based on the enduring values and grounded in meaningful, practical solutions for people at home and abroad and build a new generation of progressive institutions that could push back against the conservative machine.” (p. 98)  As the book progresses so does the message development for the Democratic Party. On page 112, Stein hits the Jackpot. He realized he needs to make it clear to the people that the politicians aren’t rich people, who debate, but they are to stand up and “explain why things are lacking and advance an argument about how we should adapt to the large forces the led us here.” This became the message for the Democracy Alliance. Now the group just had to find people to speak on their behalf.

Nevertheless, this passion of Stein and his colleagues spread through to the Internet, and the Internet (especially one particular website, MoveOn.org) made finding influentials and spokespeople easy (p 144). Bai’s book gave various accounts about how Democrat voters found that blogs also opened a door for people to share their common beliefs, so they don’t feel alone. In the words of Bai,

the advent of the Internet made it possible for thousands of liberals, scattered around the country, to convene without leaving their bedrooms. The second was a yearning for a connection. Americans at the end of the century had largely given up on civic and political organizations that had sustained their parents and grandparents and that isolation had left them searching for some sense of community which the Web made possible in new ways.” (p.133)

It was also bridging the generation gap! Generations of Democrats didn’t know what their Party stood for; they were just raised Democrat. The Internet and its counterparts, the Blogopshere helped them to figure out that riddle. Nevertheless, the history of American media was the story of technologies connecting people, and the Web was balancing the country’s read and blue electoral map (p. 149). The Web wasn’t simply a tool for old politics; the blog represented their own distinct political culture. Matt Bai’s book was a true story of moments that redefined the political era we live in. And to think, it all began with a killer slideshow.

This week I did not have to search hard for a campaign; the NOH8 campaign Facebook invite was sent to me by one of my close friends. NOH8 campaign is in response to the passing of Proposition 8 in California on November 4, 2008. This proposition amended the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The defeat provoked a groundswell of initiative within the GLBT community at a grassroots level, with many new political and protest organizations being formed in response.

The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8.

Nearly one year since its inception, the NOH8 Campaign has grown to over 2,000 faces and continues to grow at an exponential rate. The campaign began with portraits of everyday Californians from all walks of life and soon rose to include politicians, military personnel, newlyweds, law enforcement, artists, celebrities, and many more. 
Additionally, with 129,132 fans, and weekly new wall posts (and fast response rate), I thought it would it would be interesting to look at why this campaign is successful.

Their website was designed very similar to myBarackObama.com; therefore, it was a very successful. The Webmaster created a very balanced look with both photos and text. Their website was very easy to navigate. Their involvement in MySpace, Twitter and Facebook were not hidden; I was able to jump right to their site and get involved myself. Additionally, under each article there was an option to share via Facebook and Twitter. Besides getting involved on the social network sites, I could get involved by donating, signing up for a newsletter, purchase items, and more.

Their social networks worked hand in hand with the website. The Facebook page gave opportunities to interact with people of all ages and race. It utilized everything Facebook had to offer. They included photos, shared links and pages, videos, and most importantly the organization was up to date on their wall posts. Their recent video included a promotion by Daniel Radcliffe, which created immediate comments.

The NOH8 knew one of the hardest audiences will be the millennial generation, and they provided many ways to capture their attention and give the opportunity to have a voice. I initially felt that the Facebook page was too busy (from a design standpoint), but when I asked my friend what she thought of it, she replied with excitement it is like a interactive website. Therefore, NOH8 connected with their audience. Additionally, their audience was not millennial but (by the Facebook pictures) people of all ages and gender, all Americans. I also like how the Facebook page linked to the Twitter page as it showed people how to get a “twibbon” next to their name to support NOH8. Twibbon allows other people as supporters by putting a ribbon on one’s profile picture. This is an excellent application. Their Twitter page has 72,583 and is updated almost daily and utilized Twitter’s important features such as retweeting, hashtags, sharing links, and promoting events.

However with every campaign, there is always room for improvement. NOH8 had a YouTube channel, but it was not promoted anywhere on their sites. I also think their Twitter page could have been more interactive by asking questions to its audience. For example, “what are you doing to support equality?” I felt the Twitter page was stiff.  I felt it was more directed to the California press than the California people. Also, their MySpace page needs to be updated more frequently. It looked like an incomplete version of their website.

Nevertheless, the campaign did an excellent job including 1D (informational), 2D (action) and 3D (community) strategy. It had a clear goal in mind and met it through the various tactics. Many campaigns should follow its lead.

I’ve read that book 3 times already; do we really have to read it again? I found myself typing those exact words when I read the email containing the title that my reading club had chosen for the summer. (The Count of Monte Cristo) But, I found myself thinking the same thing when I saw that I have to read about an introduction to Twitter and Facebook. I already know about the basics of these two forms of social networking. I have been a Facebook user since 2005 and a Twitterer since 2008. I just want to dive in and read how I can be influential without reading this text.

Ironically, tactics and strategy for USENET by Milton Kleim Jr. and the introduction to Twitter and Facebook were not common knowledge, and I learned a lot I didn’t know beforehand. USENET can be loosely applied to the likes of Facebook Groups. When I’ve created Facebook groups, I tell myself the more members, the more powerful and influential the group becomes. But, Kleim reminded me it is the interaction that makes the group powerful and influential. When there is a newbie, give a warm welcome; make the person proud to be part of the group. I also like how Kleim called groups a “weapon.” This imagery made the article more interesting to read. But, the more I thought about it, it is more than an interesting way to make the text interesting; it is the truth.

Creating Facebook groups is a strategy that cannot be taken lightly. Likewise, Dan Shultz and Andreas Jungherr illustrate, Facebook and Twitter can be used to summon an “army.” But, it takes the right person to lead this army. As I mentioned in my last reading blog, you can’t just jump on the bandwagon, you need to take charge and know your goals. I often forget my goal two months after I launch a Facebook group or write a Twitter feed. I need remember why am I doing this. These articles reminded me how important it is to keep your goal as the focal point. It drives you to success. Additionally, I learned that Twitter is more than meets the eye. There a lot of applications like EventBox, Twitterific, and Thwhirl that I can install to become more in tune with my audience. Additionally, I didn’t know that private messaging can be symbolized by “d” or “h/t.” When I searched for these symbols on Twitter, people who used them were “retweeted” more often.

Both Shultz and Jungherr used examples of how these Social Networking sites have made a difference in society, which I found very beneficial. I often think I do not have a voice. The phrase has become cliche, but in reality I do. We live in an age, where everybody has a voice if they know how to strategically project it.

Consequently, these readings served as a good, constant reminder of how to be engaging in the social networking realm. In Count of Monte Cristo, the Abbe Faria tells the naïve Edmond Dantes while in the prison at Chateau D’If: “Haste is a poor counselor” when Dantes thinks his goal is revenge.

At the beginning of this assignment, I was in haste, but once I slowed down and studied the readings, they became beneficial. Likewise, by the end of the novel when Dantes realized the real goal was to find salvation, he states:

All human wisdom is contained in these two words: wait and hope.”

These words are true and can be applied to social networking 164 years later (when Count of Monte Cristo was first published).

Imagine if you left your $300 phone in a taxi in New York, what is the chance that you will get it back? In this day and age, there is a good chance. Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, recounts this story in chapter one on how finding the “stolen” phone took a mass group of people, but it was nothing the Web couldn’t accomplish. The phone led to an arrest of the sixteen year old girl (and phone kidnapper), Sasha. Actually, it wasn’t the phone that caused the arrest; it was the people at the other end of the phone. People who came together who viewed the lost cell phone’s MySpace page, which led to the image of the culprit and pressured the police to press charges. This is one of the many anecdotes Shirky tells to describe the changing world we live in.

Shirky goes through different social networking outlets and details their history, which was very beneficial. This history reminded me it is OK to be in the minority when developing an idea. Many successful corporations began small, but now are large. People often didn’t want to help, but now people are going through intense interviews to work at the same companies.

Additionally, he did an excellent job recounting stories of these groups and individuals; they had a personal perspective and touch to them. According to Shirky, these companies have taken off because of their desire to create an organization, where small groups work together form within the framework of a bigger and better idea (p. 278-279). They created new outlets for large groups of people (p. 220). I liked the quote he used by Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.” Nobody likes being in a large, crowded group; rather, they like to feel that they belong to a small, close-knit group and are experiencing and learning something new. And this is what social networks are accomplishing for the society we live in.

Are we on the verge of a new generation called Alpha Generation? I don’t think so. The idea of social networks is not a new idea, but I feel it is more than ever sealing the generation gap. From class lessons and Shirky’s lessons, I have come to the realization we have longed to be in groups. “Society is not just the product of its individual members; it is also the product of its constituent groups…we have always relied on group effort for survival” (p.16). No generation has gone about their life wishing they were alone in the universe. It is natural for us humans to want to be social and interact. In the words of Shirky, Michaenglo couldn’t have painted the Sistine Chapel alone or could have Edison invented his inventions without having a couple of lab assistants (p. 16). In the words of Robert Putnam, a 20th century political scientist and professor at Harvard, “Success of the United States as a nation has had to do with its ability to generate social capital, that mysterious but critical set of characteristics of functioning communities.”

The web is creating a new eco-system (p. 60). Therefore, this technology is forming ways for us to better connect with those like-minded, related individuals and making two-way communication easy (p.87). This communication is desire of every generation. Additionally, it allows us to work together, a specific desire of the Baby Boomers. Therefore, “now that group-forming has gone from hard to ridiculously easy, we are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups” (p.54) and are (and I think Shirky would agree with me) sealing the generation gap for mankind.

This week I decided to follow and interact with the campaign, “Save the Tigers”. With a vibrant website, I was immediately drawn in. The site used warm colors, great images and had a very inviting look. Having a website design background, I also thought the website was very clean. The pictures and text were very balanced.

The “learn” section of the website was very informational; it sold me the idea that the tiger species are being threatened. I wanted to learn more. The website had a superb one dimension to it. Yet, as I moved forward through the site, my smile of satisfaction began turning into a frown of disbelief. The campaign strategists did not choose the right tools; the campaign lacked concrete content. I was unable to find a clear message.

When I clicked on links to find out ways I can help the tiger species, I was greeted with short blurbs of outdated text. Last time there was a relevant news article was March 5th. Additionally, the site began getting text heavy. I was beginning to lose interest. As a campaign strategists and developer, you cannot afford for this to happen. Additionally, there were not any ways to get involved and take action. I could not find a place where I can sign up to receive updates.

Not to mention I got lost on their webpage. I found the section where they mentioned their Facebook and Twitter, but I moved on to look at other pages before I dissect their Social Networking promo page. Now, two days later I cannot find that Social Networking promo page. I had to google “Save the Tiger Fund Social Media” to locate it. This campaign lacks 3 important elements. These are interactivity, relevancy and being navigable.

OK, let’s go back to their social media page, now that I have bookmarked it.  On this page, there was one hyperlink and that was to their Facebook Causes page. The page had 19,828 members, which is impressive number especially since the Causes fad on Facebook is becoming unpopular. But, nothing is going on this page. People are frequently complaining on how tigers need our help, but they aren’t doing anything. Therefore,I posed the question, “How can I help the tigers?” on the wall Tuesday morning. On Thursday afternoon, the only response I received was via private message:

Me along with a few like-minded people are planning to start working for the betterment of tigers, for which we need more people to help us. Due to the lack of resources and man power right now, we plan on working in the Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh in India.

Can I say “huh?!” I was looking for a way to donate money or help locally not travel to India.

A fan-created “Save the Tiger Fund” facebook group page was more popular. I posted on its wall Tuesday evening, and the page was so busy I had to get to page 3 before I saw my comment. This page had videos and photos; it was nicely done. Save the Tiger fund can take some tips from this page.

Their Twitter followed the same path as their site. Instead of joining forces with their website, the account seemed separate. It was a jumble of text, which had no consistent date. One day (January 14th) they tweeted seven times, which is only 1/3rd of the all the tweets.

They also had a video and photo gallery, but I couldn’t find out where they were located. They were not on YouTube or Flickr.

Overall, the Save the Tiger fund campaign needs work. It clear that their goal is create awareness of the tiger species is being threatened. Their intention is good. But, the execution and their upkeep are hurting their image.

It is clear they do not have an audience in mind. It also appears they just joined the social networking sites because it was the thing to do. The web is not a tool you should neglect. Being part of the millennial generation, I wanted to see interaction and why it matters to me. My parents and grandparents (baby boomers and matures) would want to see up to date articles and ways they can donate.

I rest my case. Jumping on the social media bandwagon doesn’t cut it. A site needs to be engaging and up to date.

As I read the series, The Dimensions of Digitally Networked Campaign by Alan Rosenblatt, I couldn’t help but to think this is what every campaign strategist needs to read. When campaign strategists launch a strategy, they only use one of the three dimensions. They just build a website (1D), send an email proposing action (2D) or just utilize one of the many social networking websites (3D). But, the truth of the matter is your audience is going to spend most of their time on one of the sites. However, you can never determine, which one that is, or who the audience member it is.

Additionally, Online Politics 101 was a great introduction and guide to building a website and utilizing the Web to its max. The article not only serves as a guide or checklist but also as a critique.

I have done my fair share of website designing, so I have become a natural critic. But, a website’s design and appearance are not everything. Delany nails it when he talks that you must choose the right tools to incorporate in your site.

A website is more than a booklet of knowledge. It is a way to communicate with the people across the states and the globe. These articles remind myself and campaign strategist that you must have social networks like Twitter or Facebook to go along with it to be complete.

You must think about ends before you think about the means, brilliance almost always takes second place to persistence, content is key, and you need a sell an idea.

However, it offers the ability for voters to take campaigns into their own hands and is the big game changer for advocacy and politics. The Internet is a wildly evolving and not for the faint of heart.

However, Rosenblatt can’t say it better, when he mentioned it is a new playing field.

“To thrive in this new playing field, advocacy and political campaigns must excel in all three campaign dimensions. And while campaigns must still focus on message and organization, broad access to digital networking tools make for much more competition for the campaigns coming from a multitude of sources. Today, it is all about managing chaos.”

The Internet is not a tame beast, but it can be weaned to reach different generations.

The Matures and Baby Boomers see the Internet as an online magazine and source of information. They are also a thrifty generation. So, when they hear the Internet is free and has information, they are thrilled. Generation Xers see the Internet as a source of an action. They grew up during the Nixon Era and saw if they had a speculation, they can speak out and take action to do something. Taking action is as simple as a click away? They are in heaven. And millenials (my generation) see it as a way to connect and find other people like them. We are the first generation to engage in Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). MMORPG is a genre of computer role-playing games in which players interact with one another within a virtual world. There are over a hundred MMORPG and social sites that offer this opportunity.

Every generation is different, and the Internet is a jack-of-all-trades. Campaign strategists need to utilize all three to seal the generation gap. You never know who is reading your material.