Turning Supporters into Advocates
Do you want to create a group of advocates for your cause?
Creating a group of engaged, dedicated advocates can help amplify your message, build a broader base of supporters, and get more people to take action when you need them to the most. This article covers the five most important steps that you can take to grow your number of advocates.
1. Make a Clear Plan
The first step in creating a plan is understanding your audience. Ask yourself the following:
- Who supports your cause now? Why do they support it?
- Who could support your cause in the future? What would make them show their support?
It could be that you want to pass legislation to enhance STEM education, and your supporters are parents with young children. But you could also get support from people with an interest in STEM, whether they’re parents or not. If you want to increase support for your cause, adapt your message for different audiences.
2. Choose Your Channels
Once you know your audience, make sure you’re using the right digital channels to reach those people. Understand how the right channel can help create advocates for you.
For example, if your audience is older, you may want to use Facebook. People can easily share your social posts, so make sure the content you post is designed to be shared. If your audience is on Twitter, make the content a conversation and designed to be retweeted. If you need people to contact their representatives, get them to sign up to receive “legislative alerts” so they know when to take action.
When you ask people to help you with your cause, give them a clear idea of what you want them to do and why they should do it. It may seem obvious, but direct calls to action are much more likely to convert people to advocates than vague messaging.
3. Set Measurable Goals
Now that you know your audience and have selected your channels, make sure you have specific, realistic, achievable goals. If you have a very small number of advocates now, do you want a hundred people who take action? A thousand? If you know a legislator isn’t likely to notice eight or nine emails from constituents, then how many people would they notice? Make sure you’re setting reasonable expectations; not all your supporters will take the next step to advocacy, and you should plan for that. A small group of dedicated advocates is more impactful than a large group of half-engaged supporters.
Set your goals and work toward them.
4. Create Content that Engages
Now you have a clear plan to measure the success of your campaign, make sure that your content is as engaging as possible with each audience.
For example, say your cause is increasing investment in technology, and your audience cares about job creation for rural communities. Ads, emails, and social posts that talk about futuristic technology won’t get much engagement. Instead, frame your message around your audience’s interests. In this instance, you could write about how new technologies keep jobs local and grow the local economy.
It’s also important to ensure that the action you want people to take makes sense for the message you’re using. If you want to raise awareness about your organization, make your actions about your advocates, not yourself. For example, “We are an organization that helps create local jobs” isn’t shareable content, but “Share this post if you support creating local jobs” is. If you need people to take action and contact their representatives, the message should feel urgent and relevant to people’s lives. “Contact your senator to support local jobs” is less engaging than “Local jobs are at risk! Tell your senator to protect our community.” The most important rule is to write copy that your audience will find genuinely interesting and engaging.
5. Reward Your Advocates
Creating advocates should not be a one-way conversation. Communication has to be a two-way street if you want to maintain people’s interests. If people take action on your campaigns, make sure they’re rewarded. For example, if they comment on your tweet, make sure you like it. If they contact their representative, make sure they know what impact they had on the legislation. It’s your mutual victory (or well-fought defeat), not just your organization’s.
Also, make sure that your advocates feel like insiders and understand that you value the work they do for you. This could be getting early access to information or special mentions in social posts for particularly dedicated advocates.
You now have the basics for creating digital advocates. But don’t forget: building a truly engaged audience doesn’t happen overnight and won’t maintain itself over time. Be patient and make sure you’re always creating relevant content for your advocates to engage with, even when there isn’t much you need them to do. If you don’t, people will lose interest, and you’ll have to start your audience building all over again.
Advocacy at JVA Campaigns
We’ve developed and executed legislative advocacy plans, conducted organization‐to‐member outreach and public‐pressure campaigns, and communicated “small scale” directly with key stakeholders. With our extensive background in communications and media relations, we guide organizations on developing and delivering strategic messaging at the right time and to the right audience. Here’s how we can help.