The internet offers incredible potential for spreading awareness about and gaining support for your campaign.
Setting up a webpage
It is free and easy to create a professional looking webpage that acts as an information hub for your campaign or a forum for your own online blog. Just search on the internet using a phrase such as 'set up a blog' and then choose the one you fancy. You don’t need to be an expert to set up a powerful campaign webpage; all you need to do is pick a colour scheme and provide the content.
The content is the important thing. Simplicity is key.
Set up a simple homepage that includes all the basics – such as your campaign name, logo and contact details, and information about why the campaign is needed and what the campaign goals are. Keep it concise and convincing or you will lose the reader’s attention. A single paragraph on the home page, with a link to further information for readers who are interested, will suffice. It is good practice to make sure that what you have written has been looked over by someone else for ‘typos’ and you should always use a spell checker.
Use your webpage to share campaign news, promote petitions and/or events that your group is organising and give updates on how your campaign is progressing and any mentions in the media. Allow people to subscribe to your news emails, which can also be organised through your website. Once you have social network groups (see below), you should also link to these through your website.
The second basic component of online campaigning is social networking.
Unless you are already a social networking guru, it may be best to concentrate your time and efforts on Facebook, which is by far the biggest platform. Twitter is a powerful tool for social messaging as well.
When setting up a Facebook group for your campaign, you should include the same basic ‘front page’ contact and campaign information as your website. It is important to choose the correct title for your Facebook group, as this is how people will search for you and how Facebook will link your group to other groups that it thinks are relevant. If your campaign is geographically specific, include the name of the area your campaign relates to in the title.
Tip: Try to make your title self-explanatory without being overly long. For example, the group title ‘Campaign for speed cameras on Belmarsh Road, Kenningthorp’ tells the reader what you are about and where it relates to, whereas ‘Belmarsh Road campaign group’ is meaningless unless you already know the campaign and in which area Belmarsh road is located.
To get the Facebook group up and running, post on other Facebook groups that are local to your area or are on a complementary topic, inviting people to join. Invite all your Facebook friends to join your group and ask people to post about it on their feed. Once you get a few people signing up, word will spread, and it will become easier to get more supporters. You can also post on the Brake Facebook page or other organisations' Facebook pages (such as those of cycling groups) to get your campaign noticed by other people who are concerned about road safety throughout the country.
It is important to regularly update your Facebook profile and feed, posting news and requests for action and help; if your followers receive regular messages and notifications, they are more likely to remain engaged with your campaign.
Gathering support through Facebook means that you will have a greater audience for your campaign group. It’s great to have a ready base of potential volunteers who can help with the campaign by writing to their MP or local council. Volunteers can also help to grow the campaign by distributing leaflets or attending events or protests.
Facebook followers can also be encouraged to sign a petition for the campaign that will be given to decision-makers to demonstrate that the cause has widespread support.
Twitter is a powerful social messaging tool that you can use to complement your online campaigning. It can be a very effective way to communicate important campaign messages to a lot of people. It’s very easy to set up and use a Twitter account. Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll quickly be able to build a group of interested followers and ‘tweet’ about your activity to them.