Watching the Grass(roots) Grow

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If you've walked the streets of any major U.S. city, an eager 20-something has probably come up to you with a clipboard and asked, "Do you have a minute to help save the world?" This tried and true strategy remains a standard in any grassroots toolbox. And while this old-school method might seem out of place in our digital world, it clearly works.

What can we learn from traditional strategies? And how can we amplify them with digital tools?

Finding your people. Successful advocacy, online or in-person, relies on finding the right location. For street canvasing, look for neighborhoods with a lot of bars and restaurants during lunch and dinner time or other areas where people expect to wait outside. People rushing to work don't have time to stop but people waiting in line (say for Rose's Luxury), have time on their hands to talk.

Looking for more supporters than just the ones you rustled up on the street? The Internet makes it immensely easy. With big data, analytics, and targeting, you can reach more people than ever - and you can make sure you target likely advocates. Segmenting your outreach by age, location, or gender means you can present your issue to a relevant audience, making them the most likely to take action.

Educating your audience. Few things are more powerful than an informed advocate. Handouts are a critical tool if you're out on the street or at an event. Someone might not have time to stop and chat, but they could certainly take a leaflet.

Now, you can take your physical handouts digital. Add your infographic from that pamphlet to your website. Upload PDFs so any supporter can print them out. Gather your messaging into an engaging blog post. Advocates can revisit your website and social media long after they misplaced that pamphlet you gave them.

With digital tools, you can grow your grassroots strategy. Garner signatures on your petition with physical clipboards and a digital copy. Mobilize your supporters to take action with tweets, a call-to-action on your blog, and canvassing. Digital tactics make a grassroots campaign stronger, so utilize both and watch your grass(roots) grow!