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

Facebook Click Bait Changes and How They Affect Your Advocacy Content

What Is Click bait?

You’ll never believe what Facebook announced today! Read on to find out about the jaw-dropping news that was shared exclusively with us.

Have your attention, do we? Teaser headlines have the tendency to draw people in, goading them to read on or click through. Instinctively, communicators do not want to oversell the content they are producing. They have been forced to evolve with this landscape in order to alleviate the risk that their message gets lost in the fold. Grabby headlines have become common practice, with sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed latching on to the vague dishonesty they hold.

The response from Facebook on this particular subject has some organizations anxious to find out how they will face this challenge as they continue to use the social media platform for advocacy.

Facebook Click Bait

Facebook’s New Algorithm

With this shift, Facebook has become worried that these click bait articles are drowning out other content that users may have more genuine interest in. In order to enhance the user experience, Facebook has decided to crack down on click bait by once again editing their algorithm – but how do they determine what posts are click bait?

1) Facebook will monitor users’ behavior after they click on the link. If users go back to Facebook right away after visiting the article it may suggest that they did not find it to be useful content.

2) Facebook will look at the ratio of people clicking on content as compared to the comments and shares on that content. If users are not liking or commenting on something once they return to their timeline, it may show that the content was not what they expected.

What Does This Mean for Communicators?

As communicators, we are used to Facebook changing their algorithm. But what does this particular change mean for the way we share our content with our followers? At the very least, it means we have to once again learn how to be agile.

Given the nature of Facebook’s new algorithm, it is possible that short content that does not take a user long to digest could be misconstrued as content that did not interest the user. If we want to convince people on how to vote or what policies to support, we need to be thoughtful in how and what we communicate to them – and now, how long we can keep them on any given website.

Recommendations for Your Organization

1) Maintain a toolbox of new strategies to employ on social networks. Stop and think about your digital strategy and creation pipeline. Focus on identifying what is relevant and interesting to your target audiences. You have to create things that people will not only want to read, but will want to be seen reading. Maintain a list of back pocket ideas to implement if you notice your content is receiving little engagement.

2) Create content that is provocative. Since part of Facebook’s algorithm is measuring the ratio of clicks to the level of engagement on posts, it is important to increase the amount of likes, comments and shares your content receives by creating something for your followers that they would be proud publicly proclaiming to be interested in. It’s OK to encourage discussion about your posts’ content, but you should avoid asking for clicks. Develop crisp, clear, attention-getting advocacy messages that your audience will relate to and share with others.

3) Make sure any links you have include a thumbnail image that alludes to the content of the article. A big part of the communicator’s job with the new algorithm is going to be managing expectations of the user. An accurate depiction of the content you are linking to is now paramount.

4) Pay attention to third-party shares – make sure you are only sharing content that coincides with your new standards of messaging. Consistency is key in regards to the type of content you are positing, whether it is yours or that of another organization. Now that you have a new strategy that will prove to maintain your posts’ visibility amongst your followers, ensure that same strategy can be identified in the content that you share.

To learn more about how to engage your communities and key influencers via social media, check out the next Advocacy Leaders Network event Trending Now: Learn What Your Supporters Really ‘Like’ Online this Friday, September 5th from 9:00 am to noon at the Beekeeper Group offices.

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Four Reasons Behind the Success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Try going 24 hours without getting a Facebook notification that someone you know has participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This fundraising phenomenon has clogged Facebook pages, infiltrated Twitter feeds and taken over YouTube channels, proving (as we always suspected) that a link and a hashtag do not a digital advocacy campaign make.

Anything that goes viral this fast is sure to garner its share of controversy. The challenge has been praised as a brilliant way to raise awareness but it has also met some criticism for its messaging; some say that the videos of people, particularly of celebrities, pouring water on themselves overshadow the purpose of the cause. That said, having raised nearly $80 million dollars in donations, it’s impossible to deny that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media game-changer.  But WHY did it work?

Ice Bucket Challenge GIF

Here are four key ingredients for a successful digital campaign based on the challenge:

1)      Call on others

One could argue that the true brilliance of the Ice Bucket Challenge lies in the final step in the process. It’s not enough to demonstrate your support for a cause— you have to demand that others do the same. What better way to carry the message forward than to call on others publicly to take the challenge?

2)      Make it short, make it clickable

Here’s the thing about all those videos populating the social networks—they’re actually pretty hard not to watch.  You want to see the challengee’s reaction to the cascading icy water. Plus, most of the videos are less than a minute long, playing to the public’s ever-dwindling attention spans.

3)      Simplify

One of the reasons why The Ice Bucket Challenge was able to drive such results lies in its simplicity. Almost anyone, from Steven Spielberg to our SVP Tom Donnelly’s four year old son, has the ability and the ingredients to participate. People like to ‘do good’ and the Ice Bucket Challenge makes it easy to get behind a cause.

4)      Film it

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth at least a million. And a video which lets viewers watch people they recognize do something silly for a good cause is, apparently, worth even more.

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Digital Tactics | Social Media

New LinkedIn Feature Creates a Professional Popularity Contest

LinkedIn, the professional networking site home to over 300 million users, is traditionally thought of as being most beneficial to individuals looking for employment but its benefit to companies in the public affairs and trade association industries shouldn’t be overlooked. Companies looking to hire top-tier professionals commonly use the site to find high-quality applicants by looking at those working for industry peers and by searching relevant trade and skill-based networking groups.

The newest feature on the site encourages a new form of social media competition by evaluating your profile’s popularity compared to others in your network. Launched last week, the “How You Rank” feature is found under the Profile > Who’s Viewed Your Profile tab:


In conjunction with your ranking is a short list of those in your company or network that are ahead of and behind you – in case you want to do some quick profile comparisons. Similar to SAT rankings, the site also provides you with a percentage point for your standing in the network.

Included in the right panel of this feature is a list of suggestions from LinkedIn to help you improve your ranking within your network. Some of mine were as simple as “Join This Group” or “Add This Skill” but others are more in-depth, “Provide an Example of Your Work”.

However you decide to use this new tool, the feature will certainly garner a new wave of page views as users work to better position their profiles. LinkedIn explains the logic behind this new feature in a blog announcement made early yesterday:

We know that no two professionals are alike and by seeing how you rank relative to your professional peers, we believe you’ll have the added information and incentive to help you put your best foot forward on LinkedIn.


Beyond LinkedIn’s basic suggestions, here are a few tips to make sure that you’re set for success with your professional profile:

1. Make sure your profile is 100% complete! This should be a no-brainer but make sure your profile has content populating each section. An incomplete profile doesn’t impress anyone. You can tell where your profile stands with this graph in the right-hand column of your personal profile page:



2. Create or share content that’s relevant to your industry or career goals, and be sure that you’re publishing it across all of your social channels. When you’re sharing from the home page, you can opt to share your update with the public, only your connections, or with public and Twitter:



3. Edit your public profile URL to something simple and easy to find. This shows your attention to detail and makes your profile easier to find again later. You can customize your public profile URL under Privacy and Settings > Edit Your Public Profile:



Happy connecting! 

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Community Building | Digital Tactics | Social Media

How to Create a Custom Short URL with Bitly

If you’re like me, you get a little twinge of social media envy each time you see someone using a custom short URL.  Not only do they help track and shorten links, but short URLS also highlight your brand and—let’s face it—they just look cool.



Recently, we had the opportunity to help a client set up their own branded short domain. During the process, we found many outdated articles on the topic, but few that reflected some updated policies at Bitly. With that, here were the steps we followed to set up a custom short link:

1.  Set up a Bitly account

If you do not already have a free Bitly account, set it up by clicking here. Otherwise, you can use an existing account from the start.

2. Purchase your short URL

Though your short URL can use common domain extension such as .com or .org, you can also use country-specific extensions to create something more unique. For example, the New York Times example above uses .ms, from the British territory of Montserrat. You can find the full listing of possible domain extensions here.

Once you have selected your desired short domain, check to ensure it is available and purchase through your preferred vendor. Note that the short domain name needs to be 15 characters or less (including the dot).

3. Upgrade your Bitly account by purchasing Bitly Brand Tools

In the past, you could have a custom URL on a free account, but that is no longer the case.  Instead, you must upgrade the account with Bitly Brand Tools, which include custom short URLs as a main feature.

From our experience, this process is much easier if you alert a Bitly representative to your interest in upgrading the account. Though you can start this process through the back end of your Bitly settings or by submitting a help ticket (see below), we found that emailing and gave us the quickest response.



4. If you’re a non-profit, enjoy a discount on Brand Tools!

Though the regular cost of a Brand Tools account is $995 per month, not-for-profit groups and “.org’s” get a discounted rate of $500 per month. Your account representative will likely ask you about this in the set-up process.

5. Choose which URL(s) you would like to brand with the custom short link

Once the upgrade is complete, Bitly will add your (already-purchased) custom short URL into the account. Then, you can submit the domain(s) you wish to be automatically branded with the short link. If your organization has secondary web assets, such as program-specific sites or partner campaigns, you may wish to include those in addition to your primary website.

6. Verify the short domain and point it towards Bitly’s IP address

This step is largely done on the back end of your Bitly account, which is further reason to be in touch with an account representative throughout the set-up process. Specific instructions for completing this step can be found here:

7. Create your first short link and start sharing your new custom URL!

After you have connected your short link and Bitly account, you’re all set to start using your branded short domain! This entire process took us about a week once we initiated our client’s upgrade to Brand Tools, though it can be expedited if your client is in the midst of a fast-paced campaign.



If you have any questions about creating a custom short URL in Bitly, or if you have done so through another process, tell us about it in the comments below!

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CUNA Wins Grassroots Innovation Award

CUNA-BeekeeperCaseStudy.pdf (page 2 of 4)-1We’re proud to announce that our work with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has been awarded the “Social Media Innovation Award” at the Public Affairs Council’s 2014 National Grassroots Conference. Beekeeper Group worked with CUNA on their “Don’t Tax Tuesday” campaign to generate constituency-matched social media messages as a means to get credit union advocates to engage directly with their members of Congress on Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign focused on two specific Tuesdays, one in July and one in September, both of which were coordinated with the Congressional tax reform calendar for maximum effectiveness. Beekeeper Group created the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” website as well as the tool used to generate district-targeted social media messages- complete with specific Representative and Senator’s Twitter names and the campaign hashtags of #DontTaxMyCU and #DontTaxTuesday. Several Members of Congress even replied to tweets, affirming their support for keeping credit unions tax-exempt.

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The “Dominant Social Media Platform” Turns Double Digits

The importance of demographic-based social media metrics is a trend that we predict will continue to grow well into 2014. Twitter’s hiring of Nuria Santamaria to the position of Multicultural Strategist, a position which will focus advertising dollars towards minority demographics, is a strong indicator of this trend. Facebook recently turned double digits and with its new age, a new demographic trend is has appeared among its users. The latest Pew Research Center survey shows that the social media goliath is becoming increasingly popular among adult users:

Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010.

In addition, adult users are not simply creating profiles and abandoning them as you might think. The report goes on to explain that more than half of adult users have quite robust profiles, with at least 200 friends in their network.

How are you using Facebook and have you adapted your outreach strategy to fit these new demographics? As we noted in our “20 Social Media Stats to Help You Plan for 2014” piece, more than 52% of marketers have found customers on Facebook.

Here are 4 tips to make sure your Facebook feed stays fresh:

  • Publish content on topics that are relevant to your audience, perspective cliental or stakeholders.
  • Publish content closely aligned with your brand and mission statement.
  • Share industry-related content to help grow your presence as a voice of authority.
  • Share images and videos in equal parts with more text-heavy articles.

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Social Media

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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20 Social Media Stats to Help You Plan for 2014

I’m a sucker for three things: end of year compilations, infographics and anything related to Abraham Lincoln. So when I saw this infographic pop-up in my Ragan’s PR Daily Email I was thrilled to see two out of three of my favorite things (sorry Abe, not this time!) in the 20 Captivating Marketing Statistics that will Drive 2014 story.

Although the infographic is geared towards marketing folks, it still has a lot of great insights for us digital advocacy people too. I particularly loved these two stats which got me thinking about how we can recruit activists via social media in the future:

Internet advertising is on the rise – By 2015, 25% of the whole ad market will be digital!
Put your videos front and center – Having a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 86%

While your advocacy campaign shouldn’t necessarily treat your audiences like customers, we should always look for whatever lessons we can get from marketers and other social media practitioners.

Take a look at the full infographic below, and let us know in the comments what other advocacy tidbits you can glean from this!


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Digital Tactics | Social Media