As we all know, Barack Obama yesterday won a second term as President of the United States of America. His “Four more years” tweet shortly before his victory speech is already the most retweeted tweet ever, with over 600,000 retweets and counting. He appeared on Reddit shortly before polls closing, urging the American people to get out and vote. His 2008 campaign was the most digitally savvy in history, and his campaign manager vowed that his 2012 campaign would make the efforts of four years ago look prehistoric.
So how did he do it? He did it by empowering his supporters to use social media to get the vote out.
Obama’s campaign team are brilliant – and trust their hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Their unending commitment to getting Obama re-elected is unquestionable. Given the right tools, the campaign team knew their efforts could be the difference between a Governor Romney and a President Romney.
Charities must learn the lessons of the Obama campaign, and thrust tools into the hands of their most committed supporters to achieve their goals.
I recently worked with the Daycare Trust, the national childcare charity, to empower their volunteer Parent Champions to use social media in their role as advocates and peer advisers to other parents in their community. I spent time understanding their role, what it aims to achieve and who they are targeting.
I then wrote a comprehensive guide for their training package on how they could harness Twitter and Facebook to reach their audience, to build positive relationships that will lead to more families accessing affordable childcare. They will take this knowledge and spread it through social networks all over the country.
Once they have been empowered with the right information and trained to use the right channels to disseminate it, the potential here is enormous. The cascade of knowledge from charity to volunteers to service users will grow and grow, thanks to the initiative and commitment of the volunteers, and often without the direct intervention of the Daycare Trust. As the cascade gathers pace, they move closer and closer to achieving their goal.
Every charity has a social goal, a way in which they want to make the world a better place. They will only achieve it by passing power to their supporters.
So ask yourself:
- What information do our most committed supporters need to change the world?
- What is the most shareable format for them to receive it?
- What social media channels are most appropriate for them to disseminate this information?
- How can we inspire, train and support them to use those channels?
- How can we quantify success, on a small, medium or large scale?
Display enough commitment to the cause, and one day you too might receive 230,000 retweets for a tweet like this:
Matt Collins is a freelance digital marketer and communicator, helping charities change the world and deliver their organisational objectives via social media (from first steps to extensive supporter and partner outreach) and online technologies.
He has over 10 years experience in the voluntary sector as a project co-ordinator, volunteer recruiter and trainer, online communications manager, and digital marketer.
Matt has worked on digital and social media campaigns at BeatBullying and Chance UK, where he launched the charity’s digital and social media presence, communications strategy and intern programme. He has also worked at national charities like St John Ambulance, CSV and ChildLine, at the heart of community fundraising, community project management and corporate social responsibility programmes. He is also the trustee of a community arts charity in Brixton, and is passionate about how online and mobile technologies can change the lives of vulnerable people.
Follow Matt on Twitter at @charitychap