Social Media & Advocacy: What Your Supporters Really Like

You’d think we’d have the hang of it by 2014, right?  But as social media continues to evolve, so do the tools we use to participate and the audiences that we try to reach.  This can be even more challenging for advocacy professionals where social media is often just one of a long list of responsibilities.

So we were thrilled to have Colin Delaney present to a packed room on how social media can help with advocacy at Advocacy Leaders Network last week.  Beginning his talk with the importance of monitoring the online conversation, Delaney went through several benefits of listening, including:

  • Identify trends and patterns
  • Get early warnings on key issue
  • Identify influencers
  • See what content and themes are motivating people

    Trending Now: Learn What Your Supporters Really ‘Like’ Online

    Trending Now: Learn What Your Supporters Really ‘Like’ Online

Of course, it’s what you do with that information that makes it valuable, so after intelligence gathering, Delaney suggests using A/B testing to see what your supporter base responds to most through organic content or social advertising. Even the best digital marketers in the world often test they hypotheses only to find out they were wrong, Delaney reminded us, noting the best performing subject line in the Obama ’12 presidential campaign was “Hey”.

Our panel of experts took the stage next, where we heard these top takeaways loud and clear:

Americans’ attention spans are at an all-time low.  Keep that in mind when crafting your messages for social.

  • Get to know your audience on each platform.  What your Twitter audience likes might be different than your Facebook or Instagram audiences.
  • Use social to connect directly with influencers, including journalists.  It’s really about relationship building.
  • Keeping a steady pace is important.  Have a strategy and don’t feel like you have to be on every channel.
  • Use 80/20 rule: 80% fun, quirky (but relevant) info, 20% serious and with an ask.  Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” explains this concept.

Join us next time when we hear experts (including past Members of Congress!) discuss Hollywood’s Washington vs. Ours: How Hollywood’s Version of DC Impacts Your Efforts in Congress!

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Digital Tactics | Events | Social Media

4 Lessons from Nonprofit 2.0

Nearly every day we see the way new technologies transform traditional models of business and advocacy. For the non-profit sector, these types of changes can be disruptive, but as I learned this past Thursday, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

At last week’s Nonprofit 2.0 Conference, non-profit employees, issue advocates, and technologists came together to explore the intersection of technology and non-profits.  The result was a robust series of conversations that laid out an important frame of mind all digital advocates can embrace.

  • Change Can Happen – Majora Carter, urban revitalization strategy consultant, kicked the conference off with an important reminder that things can change. At the onset of any project it’s important to remember that one person thinking differently can make a big difference. Indeed, Carter’s invocation for positive disruption set the tone for the rest of the conference.
  • Commitment Means More Than Passion –  In the second address of the day, Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and craigconnects, challenged the traditional notion that advocacy must be driven by passion. Instead, Newmark pointed out that commitment can have a greater impact than passion alone.  While it’s important to try and cultivate a variety of advocates, putting a special effort into supporting those who will support you can have a greater pay off in the long run.
  • Make Failure Matter – The unconference’s afternoon keynote, led by Director of the Social Innovation Fund Michael D. Smith, urged the audience to embrace a mindset of fearlessness. While every campaign should start with a goal in mind, Smith pointed out that setting the stakes for success high can help drive results.
  • Have A Why - Throughout the entire day, the best solutions brought up in the breakout sessions emphasized the notion of authenticity throughout everything.  From the adoption of new technologies to using digital storytelling tactics, make sure every decision relates back to your organization’s reason.

While the focus of the day was on non-profits, the applicability of these lessons can extend to any digital campaign, and keeping these ideas in mind as you set off on your next project could help set your efforts apart. Did you attend Nonprofit 2.0? What else stood out to you throughout the day’s conversations?

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Community Building | Events

What can #OpenData do for you?

This past weekend, I joined a diverse group of coders, policy makers, and thought leaders at the Sunlight Foundation’s 5th annual Transparency Camp. The two-day unconference focused primarily on discovering and discussing ways to leverage open data for better social, policy, and advocacy outcomes. The event highlighted a number of exciting opportunities that could have the power to improve our ability to use data for advocacy purposes.



One challenge that came up throughout the sessions was identifying ways to educate communities on the utility of open data, and finding ways to answer these questions:

  • How do we define open data?
  • Why should we care about open data?

So, what is open data? Joel Gurin, author of Open Data Now, defines it as “data with a mission.” Beyond that, open data can generally be defined as information that is publicly available for any individual or business to access. While open data can also be big data (e.g. large data sets to be reviewed for patterns and connections), its greatest quality stems from its accessibility.

Digging into why we should care about open data reveals a lot of opportunities. Reviewing, processing, and discussing open data can help do anything from demonstrating an unmet need in a community, to revealing the success of a campaign. The primary advantage of open data from an advocacy perspective is the ability to use publicly available facts to tell important stories.

Examples highlighted at Transparency Camp varied from the development of a clearer picture of the world, to finding ways we can use the immensely detailed global development data sets from the World Bank.  Using, and offering, open data can have a transformative effect on a campaign, but as Ellen Miller, Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation, noted in her keynote address, the change we can see from opening data and doing this work will require a cultural shift.

While there is still a lot of discussion to be had on the topic, thinking about what open data can do for you is a worthwhile endeavor. As we see more and more organizations and governmental entities move towards opening up their data, we should all work together to find new and creative ways to incorporate and leverage these data sets to improve our advocacy efforts.

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More Mobile for Your Mondays (and Other Days)

Beekeeper Group dcMOMO_logois excited to host the DC chapter of Mobile Monday, better known as DCMoMo, next week.  Not only will our own Account Manager Tatenda Musapitake be on the panel, but our Senior Digital Products Manager Justin Kutner is now on the Board of Directors.  Here are the details:

The Future of Wearable Technology
From the Fit Bit, to Google Glass and Galaxy Gear, the wearable technology market is growing fast. But, where is it GOING? Come learn from our panel of four wearable technology experts as they discuss what the future holds for this exciting category of products.


Monday, May 12, 2014
Beekeeper Group

1331 G St NW, First Floor Conference Room
Washington, DC 20005

Full list of speakers and registration here.


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Events | Mobile

Announcing the 2014 Advocacy Leaders Network Schedule

We are pleased to announce another exciting year of our Advocacy Leaders Network (ALN) workshop series, tailored to senior advocacy, government affairs, and public relations professionals. The goal of this advanced advocacy training is to enhance relationships, communications, and understanding between citizens and Congress. This is achieved through professional development and networking opportunities for the public affairs community.

Below is the schedule and topics for the 2014 workshop series:

The Advocacy Leaders Network is hosted by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) and produced by Beekeeper Group. Each event is a collaborative discussion between the expert presenters and practitioners in the audience, so we hope you join us for these engaging and helpful events.



Event Series Admission REGISTER HERE


Single Event Admission (March 28, 2014) REGISTER HERE

Single Event Admission (June 13, 2014) REGISTER HERE

Single Event Admission (September 5, 2014) REGISTER HERE

Single Event Admission (December 5, 2014) REGISTER HERE

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New Strategies for Twitter Advocacy at #TwitterDC

Earlier this week, several of us from Beekeeper Group had the opportunity to attend the first #TwitterDC of 2014. These events are always a great opportunity to hear the latest data on Twitter usage and to learn about emerging best practices for political and advocacy campaigns.

For me, it was most interesting to see what new strategies are being used by advocacy groups to take their Twitter presence to the next level. Some of these strategies included:

  • Creating dedicated multimedia specifically for Twitter to better engage audiences Continue reading

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Best Practices in Mobile Advocacy

From the Advocacy Leaders Network blog:

The final event in our 2013 Advocacy Leaders Network event series took a deep dive into the latest and greatest uses of mobile technology for advocacy, including apps, shortcodes, and responsive design. The event was complete with informative presentations, lively conversations, and many takeaways. Of course, we also took this opportunity to launch an Advocacy Leaders Network mobile app, and Beekeeper Group’s new Advobot, a mobile virtual presence controlled via mobile app, even made a brief appearance.



Gabriela Schneider, Communications Director of the Sunlight Foundation, gave the keynote address. Sunlight Foundation is nonpartisan nonprofit that leverages data and technology for more effective democratic participation. They frequently release mobile apps and API’s that empower organizations and citizens, several of which Gabriela explained in her presentation, inspiring many in the room to consider how they might also leverage Sunlight’s data in addition to their own.


A panel of experts from different organizations and providers then took the stage to share successful strategies for implementing mobile technology. Beekeeper Group’s Shana Glickfield led this panel of experts through a spirited talk where representatives from prominent organizations shared their experiences with getting buy-in, launching, and getting members to adopt their mobile technology. Here are just a few of the important points they shared:

• If your member base is not often sitting in front of a desk during the day, you are a prime candidate for mobile communications.
• You can get a sense of the mobile technology your members use from seeing which devices people are accessing your website. Demonstrate demand for mobile technology using both the latest in mobile usage data and direct feedback from organization members.
• Mobile applications are extremely useful for conferences and Hill Fly-ins so that you don’t need to overwhelm participants with paper and can update users in real-time.
• Promotion of the app to your audience is key to adoption and demonstrating success. Provide incentives like prizes and exclusive information to inspire users to opt-in.
• Apps don’t have to be expensive and can even be used as a fundraising tool. Examples include selling sponsorships of the app or having PAC donations functionality.


Finally, participants and speakers broke into small groups to discuss their specific challenges, approaches, and experiences with mobile. People left with valuable information and well aware of the steps to get from idea to success. How do we know? Via their feedback forms on the ALN mobile app!

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Does Your Key Contact Program Need a Boost?

Your government affairs team might have some good relationships on the Hill, but what about your members, activists, and grassroots voices?  It’s your buzzing bees that can have the most significant impact on policymakers thanks to in-district relationships, authentic stories, and a natural passion for the issues impacting them most.

Photo via Congressional Management Foundation Twitter Feed

Photo via Congressional Management Foundation Twitter Feed

Our most recent Advocacy Leaders Network program addressed how your nonprofit, trade association, or corporation, can utilize a key contact program to maintain an active stream of influential communications with policymakers.   Here are the three keys to success:

1.  Inspire Your Key Contacts
•    Show them their potential and their impact.  Local key contacts are often big fish in a small pond, unlike in Washington.
•    Make becoming a lead advocate for your organization an esteemed position held by only those selected through a competitive application process.
•    Give them a wide range of options for advocacy tactics, so that they can choose which activities they’re most comfortable with.

2.  Embrace Depth Metrics
•    Utilize surveys or RAP Index to better understand who in your base has good relationships and interest in engaging more with policymakers.
•    Define what your high-value activities are and then encourage those most.
•    Assign number levels to different actions to identify highest performing key contacts.

3.  Coach and Mentor
•    Equip them with the information that they need, including talking points, training, and mock Congressional meetings.
•    Have peers demonstrate and share success stories to inspire others to get more involved.  Videos are great for this.
•    Form legislative action committees in states (and give them sufficient support to take actions).

Was this information valuable to you?  If so, join us at our next Advocacy Leaders Network program in December, where we’ll be discussing Mobile Advocacy.

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Community Building | Events

Best Practices for Fly-In’s From Advocacy Leaders Network

photo (10)

The most recent Advocacy Leaders Network event, Come Fly-In with Me: Best Practices for Capitol Hill Lobby Days was a great success! Advocacy professionals gathered at the Beekeeper Group offices to hear advice from our presenters with the aim of learning the tips and tricks for planning and implementing a stress-free organizational Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.

The event began with a keynote address by Congressional Management Foundation President, Bradford Fitch. Brad unveiled findings of a recent Congressional Management Foundation survey that polled Chiefs of Staff from House offices, including the fact that “64% of offices prefer to hear from a constituent rather than a DC representative when scheduling a meeting.”

He also added that, according to House schedulers, “Afternoons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to request constituent meetings with Congress.”

Brad’s presentation was followed by a panel of speakers from prominent corporations and associations who also imparted their seasoned wisdom to the audience.  Here are some of the top takeaways:

  • Be strategic about what time of year you do your Lobby Day.  Pick the best time of year for YOUR issue so that Members are more likely to focus on it.
  • Help staff prepare (and get the Member prepared) by sending your leave-behinds a few days ahead of time.
  • Segment your participants by sending people from different sectors of your industry to talk about different issues.
  • Bring your facts to life by telling stories, along with sharing data.
  • Using technology is great way to liven up your Lobby Day – from apps, to videos, to even a basic Twitter feed.
  • Post-meeting follow ups are a critical part of the Lobby Day process. Something as small as sending short thank you notes impart a great impact on a Member and their staff. (Expert hint: Send the thank-you over the weekend, when they get less email and are less busy, so they’re more likely to notice and enjoy it!)

Join us in September for the third event in the 2013 ALN series, Boosting Key Contact Programs: Turing Players into Coaches. Information about the event is available here.


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Come ‘Fly-in’ With Us on May 17th

We are excited to announce the full list of speakers for the May 17th Advocacy Leaders Network event, Come Fly-In with Me: Best Practices for Capitol Hill Lobby Days:


Come Fly-in With Me -HL edited

From the Advocacy Leaders Network blog:

Tony Kudner- Program Manager, Grassroots Advocacy, National Hospice and Palliative Care Association

Sarah Nordstrom- Manager, Government Affairs, Novo Nordisk

Meredith Nethercutt - Director, Public Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy, National Association of Manufacturers

Amelia Wang- Chief of Staff, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27)

Bradford Fitch- President and CEO, Congressional Management Foundation

Mike Panetta- Partner, Beekeeper Group

Brad Fitch will deliver the keynote presentation at the “Come-Fly In with Me” event. His presentation will cover CMF’s latest survey research on how to most effectively schedule advocacy fly-in meetings.  His keynote will be followed by a panel of the advocacy experts featured above, who will provide insights from their experiences managing highly effective lobby days.

It’s not too late to purchase tickets for this event! You can register for the event here or purchase a series ticket to attend all of the events remaining in the 2013 series. We look forward to seeing you May 17th.

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