Mobile Fundraising, Online organizing, social media campaign, social media etiquette

How Important are Bloggers to Online Campaigns?

11 Comments 19 November 2009

Image courtesy of Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Image courtesy of Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

If you’re planning a social media campaign, how important is it to integrate bloggers before and during the campaign? I’m referring to social media campaigns launched on a platform(s) other than a blog platform.

People join causes because they know and trust either the organization itself, or someone associated with the cause. Translating this to our virtual lives, outside bloggers have the reach and trust to be that friend that recruits others to a cause or a campaign. I know this from my community organizing days: friends bring friends into a a cause or a campaign. The strongest advocates become the best recruiters.

Bloggers not only have reach within their community, but they amplify their reach through social bookmarking (Digg, StumpleUpon, etc), re-tweets, and of course leveraging their personal twitter networks. Also, bloggers tell compelling stories. From John Haydon: “Bloggers can have the biggest impact in online campaigns by telling a sincere, heartfelt story. They can also have a big impact by knowing who among their readers would also stand up and take action for particular causes.” During social media campaigns, bloggers are the grease that can push a campaign forward, help it gain momentum, and bring needed attention and value when it is faltering.

I believe that bloggers play an integral role in the success of the campaign, and I spent some time trying to find evidence of their contributions to online campaigns.

Opportunity International Australia: Micro Finance Trust Fund Camapaign

As an Australian ambassador for Opportunity International, Jasmin Tragas pledged to raise $10,000 to create a micro finance trust fund for female entrepreneurs in the Philippines. She created an online fundraising campaign, and blogger relations was integral to iy.  As part of the campaign, Jasmin created an eBook about female world shapers entitled “WorldShapers: Extraordinary Women Making a Difference.” Many of the women featured in the book wrote blog posts about the cause and championed the campaign. (Disclosure: I was one of the women featured in the eBook.) When I asked Jasmin to describe the role of bloggers in the campaign, she replied, “huge in terms of getting visibility. Not just bloggers writing about the campaign but also sharing in fun blog challenges. This raised the profile and brand. Blogging may not have helped right away but that it increased visibility over time. I was describing it to friends earlier today as a trickle effect.”

Visible Government: Beers for Canada

Beers for Canada was a social media campaign run by Visible Government to fund software to monitor government transparency. According to an interview with Alistair Croll on Beth’s Blog, the organizers pre-seeded the 3-day campaign by identifying and speaking with key bloggers and twitterers, who brought their voices to the campaign. Incredibly popular and respected bloggers (Tim O’Reily, Om Malik. Tara Hunt) also tweeted about the campaign.

Epic Change: Tweetsgiving 2008

Epic Change’s Tweetsgiving  2008 event was extremely successful in terms of the amount of tweets, publicity and funds raised to build a school in Tanzania. In Avi Kaplan’s Tweetgiving analysis, he writes that the campaign pre-seeded the event with a few bloggers, but not many. The blogger mentions began to roll in as the campaign gained momentum, resulting in over 100 press and blogger mentions. Deeper analysis revealed that 15% of the visits to the donation/Epic Change Tweetsgiving site came from blog posts and articles. Avi writes: “the press we received was so valuable to Epic Change and continues to benefit the organization, but in terms of raw traffic, it looks like word of mouth and twitter mentions were the main drivers.”

Epic Change: Tweetsgiving 2009

This year’s Tweetsgiving 2009 social media campaign (November 24 – 26) embraced and integrated bloggers. The Tweetsgiving website encourages participants to self-organize into groups; the “Blogger’s Group” is one of them. Organizers also pre-seeded the campaign by asking influencers within certain online communities to bring their own “flock of Turkeys” (my wording, not theirs) to the event, essentially turning these influencers into recruiters and campaign leaders. (Disclosure: I am a member of this group, called Wild Turkeys – their wording, not mine.) John Haydon (one of the campaign leaders) told me that “for Tweetsgiving, the main role bloggers have is encouraging their communities to participate.”

How important are bloggers to online campaigns? Very.

A trusted blogger is the Walter Cronkite of his/her community.

Walter Cronkite was “the most trusted man in America” for decades. If he would have told my parents to donate money to your cause, I’m sure they would have opened up their checkbook and written one right then. Use trusted bloggers to be your campaign’s Walter Cronkite.

Have any of you been involved in campaigns that use bloggers? How was the blogger element integral to the campaign’s success? Did you learn any great lessons or best practices you’d like to share here? I hope that this is the beginning of a list of campaigns that have used bloggers, and anecdotes about the effect of blogging on the outcomes. I’ll keep the list as a reference guide for others planning their next social media campaigns.  Look forward to the hearing about the campaigns!

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  • Debra:

    Nice post on the importance of including bloggers in campaigns.

    I also really like your quote, “A trusted blogger is the Walter cronkite of his/her community.”

    I’ve used blogging to create excitement and buzz around a conference or event. Blog posts were written by speakers and entertainers from the event. We added blogtalkradio interviews of the speakers and people from the local city for more buzz. Those were recorded and people could attend live, download a MP3 or view the podcats online. Have the speakers or conference attendees do a couple Webinars before the event and you’ve got an integrated, extended community experience. The bloggers helps tie it all together in a nice pacakge.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jeff- thanks for the additions to this post! Love the idea of blogtalkradio interviews and extending blogger influence with webinars before the event. Great ideas!

    [Reply]

  • Debra:

    Nice post on the importance of including bloggers in campaigns.

    I also really like your quote, “A trusted blogger is the Walter cronkite of his/her community.”

    I’ve used blogging to create excitement and buzz around a conference or event. Blog posts were written by speakers and entertainers from the event. We added blogtalkradio interviews of the speakers and people from the local city for more buzz. Those were recorded and people could attend live, download a MP3 or view the podcats online. Have the speakers or conference attendees do a couple Webinars before the event and you’ve got an integrated, extended community experience. The bloggers helps tie it all together in a nice pacakge.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jeff- thanks for the additions to this post! Love the idea of blogtalkradio interviews and extending blogger influence with webinars before the event. Great ideas!

    [Reply]

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  • Excellent, Debra, and great examples. I think that many nonprofits are still in the early stages of really having a good grasp of the key bloggers in their field/sector, which makes figuring out how to integrate them into their campaigns difficult (especially b/c their first approach shouldn’t be a big ‘ask’). Strategies for nonprofits (especially human services) to identify bloggers relevant to their work and how to build relationships with them?

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Melinda – I agree that asking bloggers to jump on board is a deep first step! However, identifying influential bloggers should be a first step in any online campaign. This is very similar to identifying the “influencers” of an offline campaign target – who can influence whom to move in the direction of our campaign? I’d start by researching blogs using keywords – Technorati is great for that – and look at the Technorati ranking/influence of the blogs. Also look at Twitter – which bloggers are constantly being referred to in the field? Try Alltop.com for a list of blogs in that field, also – these are usually very influential people. Then, go out and talk to them about their work, not just their blog. I found connecting on Twitter first to be a real help, but also start commenting on their blogs and creating that comment/blog relationship. Beth Kanter has a great post on blogger outreach here: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/blogger_outreach/.

    [Reply]

  • Excellent, Debra, and great examples. I think that many nonprofits are still in the early stages of really having a good grasp of the key bloggers in their field/sector, which makes figuring out how to integrate them into their campaigns difficult (especially b/c their first approach shouldn’t be a big ‘ask’). Strategies for nonprofits (especially human services) to identify bloggers relevant to their work and how to build relationships with them?

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Melinda – I agree that asking bloggers to jump on board is a deep first step! However, identifying influential bloggers should be a first step in any online campaign. This is very similar to identifying the “influencers” of an offline campaign target – who can influence whom to move in the direction of our campaign? I’d start by researching blogs using keywords – Technorati is great for that – and look at the Technorati ranking/influence of the blogs. Also look at Twitter – which bloggers are constantly being referred to in the field? Try Alltop.com for a list of blogs in that field, also – these are usually very influential people. Then, go out and talk to them about their work, not just their blog. I found connecting on Twitter first to be a real help, but also start commenting on their blogs and creating that comment/blog relationship. Beth Kanter has a great post on blogger outreach here: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/blogger_outreach/.

    [Reply]

  • Debra, this is very helpful. Thank you for the follow up. I especially like how you make the link to what community organizers already know how to do–power analyses and identification of key players. It’s just a different community ‘field’ or venue, I guess, but the same kinds of skills. And I’ll check out Beth’s post on this, too. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  • Debra, this is very helpful. Thank you for the follow up. I especially like how you make the link to what community organizers already know how to do–power analyses and identification of key players. It’s just a different community ‘field’ or venue, I guess, but the same kinds of skills. And I’ll check out Beth’s post on this, too. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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