Can Supporters Effectively Fight Poverty Through Social Media?
Co-founded by Bono, ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. They primarily work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases; increase investments in agriculture and nutrition; and demand greater transparency so that governments are accountable to their citizens.
They are a unique organization in that they do not raise money for their organization, but work through advocacy and campaigning to ensure that government funds continue to flow to programs that make a difference in people’s lives.
Their name was inspired by the belief that one voice, coming together with many others—the political left and right, business leaders, activists, faith leaders and students—can change the world for the better.
Recently, we had the pleasure to talk with Garth Moore, the U.S. Digital Director at ONE. We got the chance to ask him about the work of the ONE Campaign, how he uses Facebook to support his goals, and giving his supporters a voice.
Here’s what he had to say.
ActionSprout (AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with the ONE Campaign?
Garth Moore (GM): ONE is a really unique organization in that we don’t fundraise, we don’t have a direct mail list, or any of the other trappings of a lot of nonprofits. We’re a bit more nimble and can turn our attention as needed when events occur that fall within our mission to end extreme poverty. Plus, ONE is a fun brand that’s very pliable and can mean a lot of different things to different people, which opens up the way we communicate, especially on social.
(AS): It’s been said that the current generation may be one of the most passionate about change we’ve seen in a while. Does your experience support this?
(GM): Yes, we have a Campus program in the States and a Youth Ambassador program in Europe. We’ve also worked with youth in Africa. All of them are highly energetic and engaged. They’ll be the generation that will be crucial if we want to beat extreme poverty in the next 15 years.
(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your nonprofit?
(GM): ONE is more than one person or a group of celebrities. ONE is made up of more than 6 million people globally who receive our alerts and support our mission. These supporters are who we call “members”. We’ll never ask members for money; we just ask them to use their voices, e.g. signing a petition, writing a letter, or making a call when we need to push governments and world leaders to fund programs that help end poverty.
(AS): What do you think will change about the ONE Campaign over the next five years?
(GM): We are growing with African membership and starting to attract younger demographics in North America and Europe. We hope that with this fabric of membership to have these voices talk with each other and create a network of activists that stretch across the globe.
(AS): How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?
(GM): It’s constantly evolving as Facebook changes their algorithms. Originally, Facebook felt more like a broadcast medium. But, as our base has grown on it, so has our strategy. Facebook leads people to ONE with our great content; engages members with local event postings and comments; and gets people to take action on our issues (primarily signing petitions, but also doing other things).
(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the cause you support?
(GM): The economic collapse of 2008 made it tougher for governments to support poverty-fighting programs. But these programs across the world make up less than 1% of most governments’ total budgets. And most of the world’s poorest countries are still in Africa. So our challenge is trying to convince potential members that governments spend very little on programs that save lives and that with the right kind of pressure, these governments can do more to help end poverty.
(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)
(GM): ONE has several Facebook channels and we post to our main channel probably 4–7 times a day. Our audience is pretty responsive and we encourage them to comment, ask questions, and even push back on our content or actions. We don’t shy away from engaging directly with our members—we love it!
Like most organizations, our fans love listicles and photo albums! We also try to make sure to share news items with them and keep them informed on when our issues make the news. And our fans love content on girls and women programs, which is a big focus in our work this year.
(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?
(GM): We put items like petitions on both our site and in ActionSprout, then do a few promoted posts to see which ones do better.
(AS): Tell us about a successful action. Can you tell us what went into creating the Action?
(GM): Our best action, so far, has been our Poverty is Sexist petition. There will be new development goals for the world decided on this year, and we think the key to success in beating poverty starts with supporting girls and women. Our petition tells world leaders to put their issues on the forefront of the new global goals to end poverty.
We had thousands of petition signers within a day or two. Then, when we reposted the action a month later, we got even more signers. It’s our flagship petition for the year leading up to the United Nations Week in September, so we’ll run it a few more times and expect great results.
(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? Is there anything you do differently now?
(GM): Our actions with the broadest appeal do better. Now we want to test language and images to see what works and what will inspire people to add their name to an action that already has almost 1 million names on it.
(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?
(GM): We learned that a few of them take more than one action. We love these members! So, we want to get every action that will be on the site into ActionSprout and then really target our Facebook Page likers to take these actions in Facebook.
(AS): How did you measure the success of this action? What metrics did you focus on?
(GM): We focus on the number of actions and some ROI with ads/click-through. Because we use ActionSprout mainly for our petitions, we want big numbers to help us make our case with leaders.
(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?
(GM): Test! Test! Test! Test petition or event headlines and language. Test the same action with 3–4 images and see which one does the best. Test 2–3 promoted posts against each other to see which ones drive the most actions. You could do a test a week and in one month, have a highly optimized action and way to promote it. It’s worth carving 3–4 hours max each week to do it.
- Broadcasting channel to community outlet. Over time, Facebook Pages have shifted from broadcast channels to places of community engagement. Fans today come to Pages with the expectation of community involvement and participation. They expect an answer to their comments and questions, and desire a connection with Page managers. It’s important to keep this frame of mind when running your Page. The more you can create and encourage this atmosphere, the more successful your Page will be.
- Repost actions for even greater engagement. Garth states that reposting one of his most successful actions led to even more success. This is an important example that illustrates the significance of reposting: even successful actions can benefit from being reposted. We recommend reposting each action 3–4 times for maximum results. Many organizations have even enjoyed success reposting actions hundreds of times.
- Test everything. As Garth states, one of the most powerful things you can do is test and experiment. You’ll never truly know what will lead the most people to take action for your cause unless you experiment with different angles, asks and formats. You have little to lose and much to gain in the game of testing
- Post multiple times a day on Facebook. This gives your supporters lots of opportunities to engage with your content and mission. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to complete your actions.