Today is Super Tuesday! For both organizations impacted by government and the politically-minded among us, today is the biggest indicator thus far in the 2012 election cycle for determining the future of organizations' lobbying strategies for the next several years. Association leaders across the country, from the state level to national organizations, are paying close attention to today's exit polls, candidates, and outcomes.
However, not all associations can afford to influence a candidates "Super PAC." In the age of social networking, many membership and advocacy organizations are utilizing the grassroots nature of their private social networks to consolidate ideas, focus their voice, and mobilize disparate groups.
Here are 9 ways that trade and professionals associations use online community software to positively impact their legislative agenda.
#1) Analytics. Run reports on a regular basis and sift through online community data to identify the biggest problems and legislative/regulatory concerns of your members.
#2) Surveys. Confirm that the trends and data that you are seeing are actually the hot issues for your constituencies.
#3) Prioritization. Use the advocacy tracking tools in your online community software to enable members to submit issues of interest, and then empower other members to bubble up the biggest legislative issues to the top by voting on, ranking, and commenting on them.
#4) Email. Send targeted email action alerts and newsletters from your online community system to build awareness, collect feedback, and increase engagement around specific legislative issues.
#5) File & Media Libraries. Get your members engaged with informational videos and printable (sharable) legislative summaries. In your private online community, members can also share their reaction by leaving comments.
#6) Events. Use the event management software built into your online community to host live and online events to educate and mobilize your members on the issues and how they can get involved. Then, use your community's social networking tools to keep the momentum going after the event is over.
#7) Blog. Create a legislative action blog that keep members informed about issues, legislative progress, and actions they can take on a national level and in their communities.
#8) Content Alerts. Set up content alerts in your online community to automatically notify members when advocacy information or legislative news is added to the community.
#9) Communities. Create a "˜one-stop-shop' advocacy community that members can join to bring all of the events, files, videos, news posts, curated content, and discussion forums together in one place inside your larger private online member community.
As you see above, the possibilities to build communities to influence legislation and regulations are endless. How has your association, company, or nonprofit engaged your member community to impact your legislative or regulatory agendas? Add your thoughts and experience in the comments below.