As we enter a new year and a new decade, I’m feeling fired up to do the work of organizing—bringing people together and inspiring the action that will enable us to take back our country and change the world. Here are my digital organizing and communications resolutions for 2020.
1. I resolve to speak to real people using real language.
One of the biggest mistakes we make as progressive organizers is using jargon and organization-centered language to speak with the people we’re trying to organize. It’s especially damaging and alienating when we speak this way to communities of color and others who are shut out of political participation. We need to make sure we are speaking with our audiences in the same way they speak with one another. That leads us to resolution #2…
2. I resolve to spend as much time listening as I do posting and texting.
As communicators and digital organizers we are so focused on getting our message out there that we forget that listening is key to truly understanding what motivates our audiences. We need to devote plenty of time to social listening—engaging with already existing communities on social media and learning how people talk to each other in digital spaces. The more closely we are able to align our messages with already existing conversations, the more effective our campaigns will be.
3. I resolve to pay attention to the right metrics.
Communications with a laser focus on metrics is key to winning campaigns. But the metrics must be tied to real goals. Social metrics like click-throughs and open rates only matter in the end if they lead to actions with real-world importance, like completing a union authorization card or voter turnout.
4. I resolve to integrate communications with campaign organizing strategy.
Communications can only be effective when it is an integral part of the overall campaign organizing strategy. Outside of that, communications is simply noise. That’s why it’s important for communicators and digital organizers to collaborate closely with the field team and seize opportunities to use their tools and expertise to advance the work.
5. I resolve to analyze what the opposition is doing—and use what I learn to make my strategy better.
We can’t ignore the opposition. In fact we have an obligation to research and analyze successful strategies from the other side and integrate what we learn into our work. For example, I once used an anti-union Facebook page as a model for designing a pro-union Facebook page that served as innoculation against toxic messages. We shouldn’t be afraid to see what’s working for the other side—and use it to drive our own victories.