Door to door canvassing has been around since the invention of the door, and phone canvassing since the phone. Both tactics are effective, mostly due to the human element. But neither is terribly fast or efficient. Neither does a stellar job of clearly conveying campaign messages. And despite being reborn under the moniker “Neighbor to Neighbor,” neither is truly “friendly,” in the purest sense of the word. Because neither engages friends talking with friends.
Canvassing in essence, is people influencing other people to get out and vote for a certain party or a certain candidate. It‘s one human influencing another, and friends are better at this than strangers. So, you’d think, that in today’s day and age of modern communication, that a faster, clearer, and friendlier way to accomplish this would emerge.
And it has, in the form of a new application called Endorser…. on Facebook, where friends are sharing opinions with other friends on a scale never before seen.
In case you‘ve just emerged from a coma, let me bring you up to speed. Facebook is more than a place where kids play games. It’s the leading social media, with nearly 500 million users, each having their own personal network comprised of an average of 130 friends. Altogether, these 500 million users, with their average of 130 friends each, are sharing things like videos, photos, comments and articles with their Facebook friends over five billion times per week.
That’s right… five billion times per week… friend to friend. If you’re running a political campaign, that’s the kind of stream you want to tap into.
“Friend to Friend” canvassing is simply Facebook users sharing content regarding your campaign with their Facebook friends. It’s still in it’s infancy, with only a handful of early adopters like here, but the advantages are already apparent.
Just imagine for a minute that we are friends of each other on Facebook:
Advantage #1: Familiarity
When I, as one of your Facebook friends, share a video with you endorsing or pledging my vote for my favorite candidate, you’re likely to watch it, because you recognize me as a friend. And my message will have merit, because you’re more likely to trust my opinion than the opinion of a stranger.
Advantage #2: Deliverability
When I share a campaign video with you via Facebook, I know with 100% certainty that you will receive that video. By contrast, if I were knocking on your door, I’d likely only find you at home around 50% of the time.
Advantage #3: Clarity
When I share that campaign video with you, you get a crisply delivered, 100% consistent message on where the candidate that I support stands on issues. That’s something a door to door or phone canvasser simply cannot accomplish.
Advantage #4: Speed
In the time it takes a stranger to knock on a door, a friend can share a campaign video with 130 friends. And in the time it takes a stranger to make a phone call, a friend can record and share their own “video pledge to vote” with 130 friends.
Advantage #5: Fast and Easy to do
The number one excuse for not volunteering is a lack of time. So providing supporters with volunteering activities that take less than a minute, pretty much eliminates that excuse. Recording a video endorsement takes less than a minute. To click a share button takes less than a second.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Friend to Friend Canvassing
Years ago, most campaigns used the Internet like a static billboard, building a web site and letting it sit. Most have wised up, and are now posting daily on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter. Face to Face canvassing requires the same degree of continuous involvement. Sure, it’s your supporters that will be sharing all that content, but it’s you that has to continually remind them to do so. And just like door to door, or phone canvassing, don’t expect volunteers to set the pace. That job is up to you.
Setting an example is the place to start. Everyone on your campaign staff needs to record a video endorsement or a video pledge to vote, then add it to your Facebook page, and share it with their friends, encouraging them to so as well. Everyone on the staff should be sharing campaign content with their friends, and encourage their friends to do so as well.
Various forms of invitations to get involved need to be sent to Facebook supporters and your email lists every week. And whenever you have an event, always, always, always have a couple of staff members or volunteers there with video cameras. Make announcements inviting people to submit a video endorsement, or a video pledge to vote, or a video commitment to get three of their Facebook friends to do the same.
UPDATE: Best tips yet on how to get started at events can be found here.
Just keep asking your supporters to create their own videos. Just keep asking them to share their videos. Just keep asking them to share every new video you create. Keep asking them to share every news article you post. And continually remind them that doing these things is the fastest and easiest way to volunteer.