We talk a lot about full-spectrum engagement, but what do we actually mean? In terms of the big picture, we're talking about building meaningful relationships with your supporters and with the targeted decision-makers that matter to your campaign. But the step-by-step labor of creating an active community needs a more specific strategy...
This is where using a variety of engagement tools comes into play. We sometimes call our digital platform a toolkit or toolbox because, like a carpenter's set of hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and, umm, watchamacallits, it includes a suite of different options for community building. And as any campaigner knows, we might not be building houses, but we are definitely constructing complex infrastructures of people-powered change over here!
The Word of the Day is Accessibility
Our experience shows us that deciding which campaign tools to use, and which to use in combination, depends on connecting with different levels of supporter engagement and ability.
Some of our tools are relatively low effort, like the One-Click Email Tool. Others ask for deeper engagement, like the Letters To Editors Tool. You can also customize the level of engagement within a single tool. A Fax Tool might include a form letter that supporters just need to click to send. On the other hand, if you’re appealing to a committed support base, you can ask them to write their own messages.
Consider the below Pyramid of Engagement as you think about connecting with current and potential supporters. The principle is to begin with low-barrier-to-entry asks and then work your supporters up to higher-investment (and higher influence!) calls to action, be it contributing a significant amount of their time, or making a donation:
Depending on your strategic needs and goals, some tool combinations to consider include:
Tweet + Email
Starting with a low-barrier ask widens your support net and allows individuals to become invested in your campaign at a relatively low “cost.” A campaign working to build its support base and activate existing supporters might launch a Tweet Tool filled in with a pre-written message as well as an Email Tool with a message that is pre-written but editable.
Email + Call
A campaign trying to attract new supporters as well as engage the existing capital of their support base might launch both a pre-written but editable Email Tool with a Call Tool. This allows supporters who are just getting their sea legs (or who are low on time!) to send a quick message, while supporters craving a deeper level of tangible action can call their reps.
Tweet + LTE
This is a great combination for hitting multiple demographics with different degrees of digital literacy. It gives supporters who do most of their communication via social media the chance to Tweet their networks, and also gathers in supporters who might have less familiarity with social media, but who do have something to say.
Fax + Call
This can be a powerful long-term/short-term combination. The idea here is to have committed supporters placing calls throughout the course of a campaign. Meanwhile, supporters can also be clicking to send a pre-written fax that can be sent once a critical mass of submissions has been reached. Critical hit! as the ancient philosophers say...
Email + Call + LTE
We call this combination The Storyteller. It starts with the Email Tool, which can in the case of this combo include a pre-written, uneditable message—something super low-ask for anyone drawn into your campaign from the fringes of interested bystanders. Next, the Call Tool can be configured to both offer supporters talking points and encourage them to tell their reps why they as individuals support your campaign. Finally, the LTE Tool can ask supporters to share their own stories on a public stage. The idea here is to flood your targets with personal, individualized points of contact from a spectrum of digital platforms.
Now that’s what we call full-spectrum engagement!