Creating the “IT” campaign to truly engage volunteers is no easy task. Campaign leaders hope to make participation easy with social media, but there’s a lot more to engaging an audience of volunteers in a campaign than creating space for it on Facebook or Twitter. To make an online campaign engaging for volunteers, 4 key ingredients are required. It must be exciting, digestible, empowering and powerful. I’ll elaborate on these tips with examples for each ingredient.
To make online campaigns that are exciting, structure the campaign around an activity that is interesting and fun. There are many humanitarian themed games that are great examples. A menu of examples can be found on Games for Change and Take Action Games. Other e-activities that can be very exciting can include questions that require a PhotoVoice or even video response. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, and YouTube are all easy tools to use for photo and video sharing. Open your campaign space up to as many social media spaces as possible and maintain an active presence everywhere! Another example of an exciting activity can be a question posed on all of your organization’s social media channels in the form of a “scavenger hunt” calling for photo or narrative evidence shared easily by the viewer posting the URL response.
To involve volunteers in online campaigns that are digestible, try asking ONE awareness raising question to participants tied to the campaign that they can respond to in one of your organization’s social media spaces in less than ten minutes. I find that when I structure an activity, I sometimes underestimate the amount of time it will take the average audience member to complete it during the pilot run. As a rule of thumb, I set a target (i.e. 10 minutes), then structure the activity around something that I think will take about 20% of that time while crafting it. If you intentionally structure an online activity for participants that will in your mind take 2 minutes, the result will be an activity that can take up to 10 minutes for those who need the most time to complete the activity.
Finally, online campaigns are both empowering and powerful when participants have greater avenues for change making with the full audience, including and especially core stakeholders and inspirational advocates. Take the theme from this post of the awareness raising question. Create a question (or have a list of questions to choose from), that participants have to pose to a leader who would actually have a stake in the question at hand. The leader could be a colleague, a member of the organization, a famous celebrity, industry leader, or humanitarian who is accessible by social media. A list of suitable leaders that fit each of these categories could be included for participants who don’t already have a leader in mind. Those participants who are able to get a response should submit a screen cap of their dialogue with their leader, including the leader’s response . Create a space to feature images of participant interactions with their leaders. Include a contest where interactions with leaders can be judged based on the quality of the interaction and any impact it may have had as well as the suitability or clout of the leader.
For more on engaging volunteers and larger campaign audiences using social media, see the following examples from CharityVillage below.