Hold an Online Advocacy Campaign: Social media campaigns can be a great way to catch legislators’ attention and garner support for a cause.
- Be Clear about your Mission: Determine what your ask is, and directly communicate this to members of your organization. Consider the interests of your members: (For example, are they more likely to advocate against annexation or child detention?) Considering your audience when determining your ask will likely increase participation and potential for success
- Educate your Members/Employees on the Issue: People are more likely to join a campaign for a cause they are familiar with. Consider holding an awareness event or distributing educational resources to members before launching your campaign.
- Give Participants a Story to Tell: Provide a specific post or tweet to share, and a specific hashtag to use. Make sure that the message includes a specific ask! This will encourage uniformity and easy participation.
- Track Your Success: Decide what metrics will be used to determine campaign success. Examples include number of participants, number of Members engaged with, or number of posts shared. Log any responses from legislators, and take note of which members respond.
- Follow-Up with Members: Reach out to any members who engaged with the campaign and request an in-person meeting on behalf of the organization. Take note of any meetings so that your organization can refer back to those in later advocacy meetings and campaigns.
- Thank Participants: Send a thank you email, letter, or gift to campaign participants to show appreciation for their support.
- Craft Messages for Legislators to Share: Two ways legislators commonly use social media platforms are to share constituent stories and to present economic impact data specific to legislation or the lawmaker’s district. You can contribute to both of these conversations by sharing success stories that your association helped to foster. Maybe you share a data point about how legislation affects a city in the lawmaker’s district, or maybe it’s a positive message from the industry you represent or a constituent partner. Rather than asking the lawmaker for something, you can be seen as contributing to the policy conversation. Consider two recent major legislative debates: tax reform in 2017 and the January 2019 government shutdown. In both cases, personal stories and economic impact data were critical for legislators who messaged a policy stance using social media. In pushing for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Republicans consistently cited examples of organizations and individuals who stood to benefit from the new tax plan and in many cases the specific dollar amount they estimated would be saved under the new law. During the shutdown, Democrats shared the experiences of federal workers in their local districts who were furloughed, as well as the financial impact on hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without paychecks. Messages on social media will never replace face-to-face interactions between legislators and constituents, but you can stay a step ahead of national conversation by monitoring and participating in substantive policy debates already happening online. Make sure your association is using social media to engage actively with your legislative champions, and craft messages that are helpful to lawmakers who can spotlight your issue or campaign.