10 tips for better digital campaigning content

Getting more people to care about your campaign can be hard. No doubt. But thankfully, people love stories, they love to be entertained, and they are spending record amounts of time online. Making sure your campaign’s content hits the mark is your best bet for growing your supporter-base. This listicle gives 10 tips that you can use as a bit of checklist when creating advocacy content.

1. Person-led

Meaning the campaign focusses on an individual, from the community, who has a lived experience of the issue and a powerful story. Make their story the face of the campaign — people care about other relatable people, not policy, organisations or big problems. If possible, write in their voice.

Example: Change.org cancer patient, Medicinal Cannabis petition

2. Story-based

Tell the story of the issue and the need for change using the stories of people who have lived experience of the issue. Use emotive, passionate, funny personal storytelling rather than facts and figures. One thing that makes this much easier is to record an interview your case-studies, write out the transcript, and use direct quotes wherever possible.

Examples: everything ever created by Humans of New York

3. Low-barrier

For acquisition and growth focused content, your ask should be essentially a 1- click action, with minimal data capture fields, that have smart email capture tactics as a first priority (escalation tactics come later!) They should be quick, easy and definitely not intimidating.

Example: Bernie Sanders’ landing page sign-up action, “I Agree”

4. Action-oriented

Digital campaigning is at its heart about creating a role for the broader public in your campaign, 95% of the time your content and communications should have a call to action, backed up by a member-focused theory of change.

Example: most content by Campact, 38 Degrees, Avaaz, SumOfUs and so many more…

5. Member-focused theory of change

All content should clearly articulate how the action you are asking an individual will take will create the impact you seek. A RFToC focuses on the individual supporter’s role in the campaign, making the actions of just one person critical to the campaign’s success. We suggest creating a member-focused brand voice guide to help with this.

Example: GetUp Australia fundraiser video for coal blockade

6. Cut your ask

Match your target and ask to your online tactics. It is hard to create a believable theory of change that signing an online petition to the US President, or sharing a video will end global warming, it is a weak proposition. Making sure you cut your issues into smaller bit sized bits, and sometimes focussing on secondary targets for your digital campaigns will make them stronger steps on the way to achieving larger change.

Example: Animals Australia — get Woolworths to dump cage eggs (cut down a nation-wide shift away from cage eggs to single company)

7. Multi-channel

Once you have decided on your campaigns key stories, think about how you will tell it differently across different channels. I often find it helpful to start with a long written piece. Like a research report, a blog, an interview transcript, or sometimes even a press release, and use that as the basis for emails, social stories and video scripts. Thinking about this early will help you to get the most out of all your channels throughout your campaign.

Example: NowThis – optimised news content in video form, across most major social networks

8. Shareable

Hands up who has ever been asked by their boss to make a “viral video” for a campaign and cringed? Virality is one of the hardest qualities to pin down and is usually more of a result of getting a lot of the things in this list right. Designing content that mobilises your existing audience to advertise your campaign to potential new supporters through social sharing is the bread and butter of organic growth for most advocacy campaigns. Being timely, optimising, avoiding overly niche issues, keeping your message clear and simple, avoiding jargon, not assuming knowledge are all good practice. You should look at your most shared pieces of content over time and analyse what things they have in common. Also experiment with building a member focused theory of change about why sharing is powerful.

Example: 350.org post-Paris climate negotiations video with share ask

9. Well-optimised

Your content should always take into account the small-but-important details specific to each platform that make content perform better. For example: 1-click actions, share images that are the right size / dimensions, email subject lines that have been A/B tested, videos uploaded to Facebook rather than YouTube links. Creating an optimisation checklist can be really helpful to make sure you remember some of these nitty gritty details in the heat of a campaign.

Example: AJ+ news videos – using subtitles to counter the fact Facebook autoplays videos on mute

10. Timely or Reactive.

Reacting to the news of the day, or emerging issues and being first, will always get you the most growth. I recently saw two clients of mine with similar sized Facebook audiences and engagement levels post the same video of Leonardo DiCaprio’s oscar speech on climate change about 5 hours apart. The organisation who posted the video first got 6 million views on the video and grew their audience by about 10K likes of the back of that one piece of content. The organisation who posted it 5 hours later got just over 20,000 views and negligible growth in likes. Even in planned campaigns, tying your publishing schedule to relevant dates and events where possible will answer the important question for your busy supporters of “why should I care about this right now?”

Example: Climate Council crowdfunding $1 million in the week after being abolished by government.

What have I missed in this list? What are some of your favourite pieces of advocacy content (or the biggest flops you’ve seen)?