Opt ins, mobile apps, rss, social proof, ewoks and more...

A summary of just some of the most interesting conversations (really, it's been a chatty month!) from the eCampaigning Forum email list, June 2011.

Growing your e-news list

Suggestions for getting subscriptions to your list, including making the most of the tools provided by most email service providers.

  • a facebook tab with your sign up form,
  • a form widget for your blog,
  • short urls for your form in tweets and paper publications
  • SMS sign up (especially at events or demos).
  • Proactively asking your subscribers to recruit their friends.

Best practice on opt ins

Discussion revealed very wide differences on what's considered good practice, from 'double opt in'  to automatically opting users in if they take an online action, but including information about  how to opt out. (See this useful MailChimp run down of the different types of opt-in/out.)

While a double opt in is apparently mandatory in some EU countries and some US states, most posters seemed to think it was unnecessary for something as simple as an email sign up. And if it's just a case of making sure your email data is clean, getting users to enter their email address twice, and check they're the same, may be just as effective.

A pre-checked tick box was seen by some as potentially 'spammy', trying to sign people up by stealth. In last year's eCampaigning Review the most common approach, used by half the actions, was to require people to actively tick a box to be added to an email list. 

Mobile apps

Some wise words of caution on throwing resources at developing mobile apps, raising some similar points from a presentation on the mobile web at March's ECF.

Facebook page: organisation vs campaign-specific

Should you promote your campaign via an organisational facebook page or a campaign-specific page. Points on both sides, but largely... it depends...

Do you have the resources to support another page?
Are you trying to reach a different audience, or your own supporters?

One page

  • Easier to administer
  • Easier to gather larger numbers.
  • No 'dead pages' and potentially lost supporters when the campaign closes down.

Separate page

  • You can track support for that specific campaign more effectively.
  • It's much easier to collaborate with other organisations or groups on that issue.
  • Focus on the specific issue.
  • Specific urls.

Another idea – create a facebook tab which can be your organisation Page's landing Tab for the duration of the campaign. (Will need developer support.)

Costs and returns on social media

General opinion on this social media ROI infographic seemed to be that the figures seemed astonishing, and it drew some fairly shaky conclusions. People who like a company on facebook may spend more on the products, but that isn't necessarily because of the facebook relationship. “Correlation does not equal causation.”

It mainly tells us that big companies are spending a LOT of money on social media promotion. “They're spending $55,110 per month on their twitter list?!  What do they do? Send gold plated tweets to each follower every day?”

Google +1 button

A useful blog post on the Google +1 button: what is it, and how will it affect your site?

Social  media policies and guidelines

More on social media strategy and social media guidelines.

Capturing data from downloaders

Should you let users download your publications freely, or get them to register with you first so you know more about them, can stay in touch, and solicit support and donations? How will this affect the reach of your information, particularly to developing countries?

Suggestions included:

  • Have a once-off registration, so users can download all material once they're in, rather than multiple forms.
  • Make sure your form explains clearly why you want the information, and how you will use it.
  • Try adding the sign up form to the thank you page, instead of making it mandatory before downloading. If they're interested, users may well want to stay in touch, and may sign up in a spirit of reciprocity.
  • Use GeoIP tools to display the form only to users in developed countries.
  • Examine your analytics data as deeply as you can to start with.
  • Use a short-term Google Website Optimiser test to test the impact on downloads of introducing such a form.

Getting access to TV footage

Lots of suggestions about how to capture some recent news coverage of a charity's work to show supporters, most crucially. 'Contact the newsdesk – they will normally provide footage for nothing if you're a charity.' And a salutory reminder that in the UK, you're not allowed to publish such material under copyright law unless it is for the purpose of commentary or criticism, and you can only post the relevant bits (I paraphrase: IANAL etc).

Basically, you're fairly unlikely to be pursued, but don't post it to a key organisational YouTube account unless you want to risk getting closed down at an inconvenient moment when someone chooses to complain about you. (See all the UK anti-cuts facebook accounts conveniently shut down for violations of terms of service just before the Royal Wedding.)

Making use of RSS feeds

What can you actually do with an RSS feed? What are they for? Most CMSs allow you to set them up so easily that there's no real overhead to doing so, even if your subscriber numbers are small. And they're just as useful to control and funnel content for your own purposes  - for example to create tailored news feeds for individual websites, or feed your content to Twitter - as they are for your external audiences. Some suggestions of useful tools for making the most of rss.

Pew Internet – the internet and social attitudes

Could LinkedIn be the next place to take your campaign? So the latest Pew Internet research from the US seems to suggest, saying that users are far more likely to take political action. Perhaps more interestingly, the research also reveals that heavy Facebook users have more, closer relationships, more social support, and are dramatically more likely to take political action, such as voting, or encouraging others to vote a particular way.

Choosing a CMS

Quick! Duck! It's the Open Source CMS bunfight! Plenty of opinions on the best CMS, and how to pick the right one for you, including a right demolition job on Joomla, and some warm defence of its strengths. See the archives for a very handy top-level explanation of WordPress v Joomla v Drupal, or read this full CMS comparison report from Idealware for a full comparison, also covering Plone.

Choosing a CRM system

More helpful suggestions (see last month's roundup) on the experience of choosing and implementing a CRM, or Customer/Constituent Relationship Management system, focusing on the importance of understanding what you need before getting excited by what individual systems can do. Most usefully, a link to these fantastic resources on Idealware.

Greenpeace – VW Darkside campaign

Well, if you haven't freed an Ewok yet, what have you been doing? Some thoughts on the strengths of this well-designed campaign from Tom Baker on his thoughtful campaigner blog and more in the archives.

Social proof

A ringing general endorsement for the idea that 'social proofs' such as petition counters, comments and panels of facebook likers can encourage more people to make the final step and sign up for your campaigns. Embedding these kinds of widgets in your site needn't be complicated, but even without them, simple updates to your copy, and the right tweets, emails and updates can help campaigners see evidence that others are taking action, and feel part of something that can have an impact.

An academic perspective here (to summarise, in a study, people were slightly more likely to sign petitions that a large number of people had already signed up to), and a cautionary note from one poster: use optimiser tests to check what works for your audience – comments, petition counter or something else?

by ECF Discussion Summaries published Jul 09, 2011,
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