how to:How To Build Awareness and Get More Supporters
To reach broader audiences you have to communicate your vision clearly and concisely in a way that makes them want to take action for your cause. By the end of this guide you will have figured out WHO you want to engage with, WHERE they are, HOW to attract their attention. Later we will hone in on how to keep those supporters organized once you’ve got ‘em (just as important!).
Here are some steps for telling an action-provoking story.
To move others in your direction you have to understand them, work within their behavior instead of trying to change it, and adapt your tactics and messages to them. Figure out the types of people that will be most receptive to your campaign and get to know them. Then approach them where they are already getting and sharing information. (Chances are high that this is happening on Facebook).
When Esra’a al Shafei was recruiting new activists to campaign on behalf of then-imprisoned Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, she wrote personal messages to friends and friends of friends on Facebook, identifying people close to her and Kareem’s age, who would be more likely to identify with her and his story and then more likely to take action. If you’re a student, start by talking to other students.
Choose your medium. Find your potential participants where they already are! Here are some examples of mediums they may be using:
Facebook: There are four main ways to reach people on Facebook. For more, see our guides here.
- Fan pages
- Reach your friends, their friends and their friends’ friends with messages
Twitter: Here are a few ways to find people on Twitter. For more, see our guide here.
- Twitter lists allow you to find groups of people by interest
- Hashtags allow you to zero in on conversations relevant to your cause
- Identify specific online influencers and to get them interested in what you’re doing
Other social networks (what’s most popular in your country?)
Photo sharing services
Classrooms, parties, public discussions, film screenings
Do combine your online efforts with analog steps like flyering town squares and posting on bulletin boards!
At schools, universities and colleges try to work with existing clubs, and promote your events and activities widely through the available bulletin boards, student publications and community radio station.
The key to getting into the classroom is finding supportive teachers. They will get you in the door!
What is your story, anyways? Have at-hand a story about yourself and your campaign that is:
Structured according to a challenge, a choice and an outcome
Authentic enough to elicit emotion (hint: what kind of emotions trigger action? Try and communicate a sense of urgency, even anger, but not so much that people feel disheartened instead of hopeful and optimistic that they can make a difference.
When telling your story, start narrow and get large:
I became involved when/because…
Our movement began when/.because…
We (the world, the country) have an opportunity to act now because…and if we do this is what the future will look like…
Never, ever, ever forget to tailor your story depending on who you’re talking to! Shape it so that they start to think of them selves as already a member of your team by highlighting a set of challenges or values that you and your campaign have in common with the audience you’re addressing.
You can post different messages on Facebook for different audiences!
Slogans and symbols, powerful motivating factors for people, must be easily understood and quickly conveyed for maximum effectiveness. Choose your slogans carefully to encapsulate your strategies clearly. Think “No nukes,” or “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” Find great artists to work with, who will turn your 1000 words into that one powerful image!
Return again and again in your message to your slogans. Include your logo in every visual communication. Also include information for how people can contact you!
When you have asked others to join you and they’ve said yes, remember that your new relationship with them is an exchange – they might bring new resources to your campaign, but you’re giving them a leadership role and ownership of the campaign within the parameters that you’ve laid out.
There is no stronger ally than the converted. Nurture your newest supporters not just by offering leadership roles but also by greeting one commitment (yes I’ll “like” your Facebook page!) with another commitment (ok ill tell 5 friends about the page!).
Don’t gain new supporters without documenting it! Who are they? How’d they find out about you? Use tools like Facebook insights and Google analytics to track as much information as you can.
As much as is possible, follow up with new supporters. If they committed to taking an action, confirm that they’re still planning on it, then confirm that they did it- and express your gratitude!.
Using Facebook “as your page” (click the option at the top right when you are viewing the page as an admin) allows you to see new “likes” as if they were friend requests. If you’re growing at a small rate then it’s still possible to follow up with all your page’s new likes!
Look beyond citizens to other groups that you can work with. For example, other activist groups, non-profits and even political parties. And don’t just work with one political party, work with them all and make them compete for you.