The Tectonica Formula - the ABCs to digital organising success
October 30, 2019
There’s no better teacher than experience, and the work we’ve done on over 300 projects in over 30 countries has given us special insight into what the best approach is to crafting an effective and successful digital organising strategy. Too many great campaigns fail not because they don’t have great ideas, but because they didn’t take a moment to step back, look at the big picture, and engage a comprehensive digital strategy. Don’t let that happen to you! We believe that any digital campaign that seeks to organise supporters to grow a solid grassroots movement requires a holistic approach that consists of three essential and interrelated service areas, or what we call the “ABC’s”, that we’ll discuss below.
1: Assessment, Strategy & Digital Plan
Key to any successful digital campaign is a comprehensive assessment of your organisation and the electoral and contextual specifics of its campaign. That includes assessing resources, deficits, and understanding and prioritising your campaign’s needs. A digital audit in the form of reviewing your digital status quo is a crucial component of this. By interviewing key staff, compiling current digital metrics, and evaluating whether what you’re doing is within or outside of best practices, a digital audit can unveil where potential opportunities for innovation exist.
Hand in hand with the contextual and digital audit comes an evaluation of what’s realistic for your campaign given resource limitations. Some organisations have access to huge amounts of data, money, and resources - some don’t. A realistic projection of what a scalable digital strategy can look like, tailored to your specific situation is important to informing the path forward.
Of course, any comprehensive assessment can’t only look inward. It’s also important to understand how your organisation is perceived, not just by your audiences, but also with staff and volunteers who may be working with you. Encompassing the brand and image complexity of your movement and being able to extract from that patterns which go on to form your digital strategy has been a great eye-opener for many of our clients and one which Tectonica considers to be one of the core supporting structures of any workable digital organising plan.
So where does the strategy and planning go from here, once you’ve completed your assessment?
The answer is much like anything in life - getting your priorities sorted. Based on what the digital audit has revealed, you can now prioritise campaign needs. Do you need to ramp up email? Consolidate social media? Build grassroots support? With the help of understanding the demographics and behavioural patterns of your key audiences, you can begin crafting a solid, workable plan.
The execution of the plan itself is anchored in concrete recommendations around which digital tools to use at what points in your campaign, as well as identifying the key approaches which will be most effective given the outcomes of the reconnaissance of your organisation.
2: Build, Integrate & Customise Digital Tools
Now that you have the plan, the strategy, and hopefully some new introspections about your organisation, it’s time to think about how to best reach the folks who will join your movement.
Website design is an essential first step. Your website is the public face and entryway for your supporters to engage with your campaign, party, and/or organisation. We see website creation as an iterative process, where you take everything you’ve learned in the strategic assessment and apply that knowledge to build out your website. At Tectonica, we use a streamlined website build using code integration. It’s not enough to just have a beautiful website (although we would never downplay the importance of one), of equal importance is that it is built to serve the strategic objectives of the campaign. The work we did on Emmanuel Macron’s network of national websites or Sadiq Khan’s award-winning Mayor of London website combines beautiful design with an interactive interface that facilitates building movements from the ground up and making them into winning forces, against the odds.
Additionally, having a website that has a user-friendly replicable theme allows you to roll out a coherent, cost-effective, and consistent theme across your entire network, which is critical if you want to create pages tailored to local chapters or affiliated organisations that will further drive engagement and streamline your digital organising efforts. We recommend using an integrated platform, like NationBuilder, which means that the CRM (or database component of your software) is integrated directly with your website, all your communications tools (email, social media), fundraising, and tracks how supporters interact with your website. An integrated system ensures that you have a strong foundation on one digital platform, making your efforts streamlined and infinitely more effective.
3: Consulting, Campaigning & Support
You’ve gone through a thorough assessment of your organisation and built an engaging and beautiful website - what’s next? Tectonica’s experience with diverse projects around the world has taught us that continued support is invaluable to making sure your digital strategy adapts to the growing needs of your organisation. Having a continued relationship with digital strategy experts who will support, guide, and advise you through new campaigns, perform technical work for updates, provide ongoing support for your digital arsenal, tweak technical parameters as your campaigns evolve, and be available for continued digital organising strategy consultation will allow for the sustainable and steady growth of your organisation. There’s no point in building something complex only to have it fall apart after launch - looking after your campaign and maintaining it will be what helps you be successful in the long haul, transforming your movement into a true force for change.
You're ready to grow your movement!
Digital organising in the 21st century is a complex beast of email strategy, grassroots mobilisations, intelligent messaging, understanding your people, understanding your own organisation, and leveraging deep relationships into meaningful engagement. At Tectonica, we believe that applying the “ABC’s” in your digital strategy is crucial to mobilising supporters and ensuring the growth of your movement. To learn more about Tectonica’s services, get in touch here.
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