The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project recently released a report on Civic Engagement in the Digital Age. The survey revealed some interesting data on how American advocates utilize the internet to get informed on the issues and engage in political advocacy. In this blog article we will go through some of the more interesting findings and offer some advice on how you can utilize this data to better engage your advocates.
Inform Your Audience
In the survey, Pew Research Center asked respondents what impact online issue discussion had on their political behavior. 43% of social media users indicated that they learned more about an issue after first discovering it online and 18% of respondents took real world action on a political or social issue after reading about it online. Offering information about your issues in an online environment and positioning your website as a go-to place for the latest information about your issues can not only keep your audience informed, it can actually drive engagement in your advocacy efforts. Consider publishing a weekly legislative update or creating a News Feed and send out informative emails to your audience to keep them informed and ultimately encourage them to take that real world action on behalf of your issues.
Utilize Your Advocacy Mix
The Pew Research Study also shared some interesting information comparing engagement between real world advocacy and online advocacy efforts. The survey found that while 39% of adults recently contacted a government official or spoke out in a public forum via offline methods, 34% of adults did those things via online methods. Additionally, 22% of American adults have recently signed a paper petition while 17% have signed a petition online, 21% of American adults have recently contacted a government official about an issue that is important to them in person, by phone, or by letter while 18% have done so online, by email, or by text message. The take away here is that both real world and online advocacy efforts have similar turnout amongst politically minded individuals. In actuality, the two audiences may be completely different, so to get the most out of your audience it is in your best interest to engage them in BOTH real world and online advocacy. A grassroots advocacy system that enables you to collect signatures on an online petition or create emails to send to your audience’s legislators can help you better engage your advocates to capture that online portion of your advocacy mix.
Online Engagement Is More Important Than Ever
According to the survey between the years 2008 and 2012 there has been major growth in political activity online and in social networks. 39% of adults “took part in some sort of political activity” online during the 2012 elections, up from 26% in 2008. People are turning to the internet more than ever to not only research politics, but to engage in discussion and voice their opinions on the issues. When it comes to social media, the number of users on social networking sites has doubled, from 33% of the online population in 2008 to 69% of the online population in 2012. Additionally, there has been a major increase in the proportion of social network users that post political news, friend or follow candidates, and joined a social network group organized around political or social issues. Notable shares of social network users say their activity on the sites has prompted them to learn more about social or political issues and to take action around those issues. This is a space that you can utilize to get your message across because it is a space that people are more actively engaging in political issues.
Be sure to read the full report by going to: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Civic-Engagement/Summary-of-Findings.aspx
To learn more about how you can better engage your audience by utilizing online advocacy tools, be sure to download our eBook Online Advocacy From Start to Finish