Federal by-elections were called some time ago in a few ridings, and the challenge I faced was to quickly help organize some on-the-ground activity in a city where the campaign did not have any on-the-ground presence. We are a small organization (staff of three) so I get out from behind the computer a fair amount to do this kind of traditional outreach work.Facebook is a great tool for engaging with supporters beyond sending messages and changing your profile status. It offers powerful tools for local activists to engage their friends, recruit new supporters and plan and promote events.The quick steps I followed to get this going were as follows:
- An initial email to our 1400+ supporters in the riding, inviting them to get involved in the upcoming by-election. This attests to the value of having a well-segmented email list you can send to quickly.
- Setting up a Facebook group for the local riding, explaining the campaign and the latest call to action, in this case making poverty an issue in this by-election.
- Asking people who responded to set up a meeting time and place. We had an excellent response, mainly on the strength of a few ‘Super Volunteers’. They are experienced local activists, and could pull in many supporters from the area.
- Holding the meeting and outlining how the campaign could support their activities, both online and on the ground. One local candidate showed up uninvited with the national leader of his party, fresh from the campaign launch across the street. At a later meeting, another national party leader showed up to meet and greet. While we are entirely non-partisan, it’s good to get noticed.
- Setting up local activists with the online tools they need (blogs, facebook groups, flickr accounts) to keep organizing in the riding. One key thing I learned is that when setting up groups, making someone an ‘officer’ does not give them enough privileges to really be effective – for instance they cannot message everyone in the group. You need to make supervolunteers into ‘administrators’ for them to be effective. Simple lesson learned.
I will be posting more about using facebook to campaign, as it is such a powerful tool that people happed to already be using -