There is a lot of energy in the Rio Grande Valley to mobilize large numbers of people to create social and political change. With social media being the prime source of how people are consuming news and getting information, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are typically the first places someone uses to begin their campaign and share their ideas.

But social media platforms have their limits on how much they can inspire and mobilize to an action. We are always competing against other content, breaking news, and trying to be ahead of the short attention span of the typical user.

To break this mold, people organizing a campaign have to expand their digital outreach beyond social media and use other tools to engage and communicate with their audience. Here are a few recommendations that are commonly used by nonprofits and organizations for audiences in the Rio Grande Valley that can help you increase the impact of your campaign.

  1. WordPress.com – Build a website

WordPress.com allows you to set up and design a website without any coding. It has themes (templates) that you can choose from to design the look of your website and a dashboard that allows you to add and edit content easily.

You can use WordPress.com for free and choose from the free templates. The only small investment you will have to make is if you want a unique domain name and not something like www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com.

2. MailChimp or MailerLite – Mass email

Email is a vital part to maintain constant communication with your online supporters and members. Sending an email blast weekly, monthly, or every time something major happens will help your supporters follow your vision and stay updated on your achievements.

Email is also one of the most effective ways to get people to take an action online. An action can be to donate, sign a petition, share a link, RSVP, etc.

Two email marketing platforms you can use for free are MailChimp and Mailerlite. Both have premium plans for extra features, but also their free options are powerful to start off.

You can embed signup forms from MailChimp and Mailerlite on your WordPress website so people can signup to your email list.

3. Google Drive – Petitions, sign in sheets, etc.

Google Drive offers easy-to-use solutions to share forms and documents online. With Google Forms (you can create these under Google Drive), you can create forms and petitions for people to sign onto. Google Forms will then create a Google Sheet (Excel) where you can track who has signed

You can add a field on your form to get people’s email addresses. Then, you can import those email addresses to MailChimp or Mailerlite to email blast those individuals to keep them updated on your campaign.

4. Generosity – Fundraising

Generosity.com is a platform that you can use to fundraise online. It works almost identically to GoFundMe. The big difference is that GoFundMe is infamous for taking down fundraisers to help families and individuals in need of an abortion or reproductive care. Even though GoFundMe is arguably the most popular personal fundraising site, it’s gonna be a hard pass from me, friends. Keep your values in line and go with Generosity.com.

Set up your fundraiser, then link it in noticeable and easy-to-find places on your website, like the main menu and home page. Also, make sure you include it in your email blasts and make direct asks to people to click the link to donate. Blast that shit everywhere.

5. Tweetdeck – Maximize Twitter

Tweetdeck is a… Actually, Twitter has the best explanation of what Tweetdeck is, so I’ll let them do the job.

TweetDeck gives the Twitter experience more flexibility by letting you view multiple timelines in one easy interface. It includes a host of features to help advanced users get the most of Twitter: manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule Tweets for posting in the future, build Tweet collections, and more. Simply sign in with your personal Twitter account at tweetdeck.twitter.com to get started.” – The people at Twitter

6. Canva – Design like a pro

You don’t need professional graphics to get your message out. In fact, in my experience in organizing in the Rio Grande Valley, simple, easy-to-read flyers done on Word are oftentimes equally or more effective than super colorful busy flyers with intense editing.

Canva is a graphic design software that makes it easy for anyone to create good looking graphics. They have pre-designed templates, shapes, and more to help you. It’s also online based, so you can easily collaborate with others in your time or access your work anywhere.

So don’t spend precious hours designing a flyer. Spend that time planning or executing your campaign. Remember, your goal should be to have a successful campaign, not win an award for graphic design.

7. Big Cartel – Sell things

If your campaign has T-Shirts or art you want to sell, you can use Big Cartel to create an online store. Big Cartel allows you to sell up to five products for free. It also has templates to help you design your online store easily.

You can link your online store to your website, like in the main menu or home page. You should use your email marketing platform to blast it to your supporters (maybe even throw in a special coupon for them!).

8. Bit.ly

Finally, I recommend using Bit.ly to shorten links and also track which links are the most popular. Bit.ly allows you to easily copy and paste long links and then they give you a short link that looks something like bit.ly/wxyz.

Once you create the short link, you can use the Bit.ly interface to track how many times it has been clicked.

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