At Veracity Media, we’re just shy of quitting our day jobs and becoming cartographers.
That’s an exaggeration, but we do love maps. On your advocacy website, maps have the potential to connect your online supporters to your offline movement in a whole host of different ways. Maps can fit into your overall digital strategy by showing supporters where events are happening (and letting them host their own), showing the growth of your online support, or highlighting very specific programmatic objectives unique to your organization.
First off, it’s now become essential to map all of your on-the-ground events online. For organizations and campaigns hosting lots of events such as house parties, canvasses, neighborhood clean-ups or any other scalable volunteer activity associated with your movement, mapping is critical. The idea of mapping hundreds of volunteer events online and letting supporters choose the ones closest to them was pioneered during the Obama campaign in 2008, and has been successfully replicated by dozens of campaigns and organizations since. Fortunately, online organizing tools such as NationBuilder now make it really easy to launch events on your website and map them. Giving supporters the ability to RSVP for events happening near them or host and publicize their own events, takes a tremendous amount of work off your organizer’s plate and frees up their time to find more, new supporters.
Recently, we’ve been piloting different uses for maps in online organizing. In 2014, while working with Greg Orman’s Senate campaign in Kansas, Veracity launched an interactive map charting the candidate’s bus tour route in real-time. By connecting the campaign’s Twitter account to NationBuilder, the map was able to update the location of the bus using the geo-tagging of the tweets from the campaign trail. When the candidate tweeted, the location was updated instantaneously, giving supporters (and reporters) a chance to literally follow the campaign.
Giving organizations and campaigns easier and easier ways to “map their movements” has been a priority for us. Another Veracity Media client, The Campaign For Free College Tuition (CFCT), features a map of free college tuition “Promise Programs” on its homepage. Tracking the growth of these programs nationwide is critical to CFCT’s mission, and keeping the map easy to update was key. This map (pictured above) is dynamically linked to a Google Docs spreadsheet that allows staff to easily update various elements of the program listings in real-time.
A similar dynamically generated map by Veracity Media is helping the Responsible Endowments Coalition track divestment campaigns around the country. This map even includes social media and contact links for each campaign.
Finally, maps give your supporters the ability to stand up and be counted in a very meaningful way. We’ve been developing a custom endorsement map that allows anyone online to endorse a particular initiative and show where they hail from on a map, directly on the page or elsewhere on the website. Taking this concept a step further, Veracity Media’s Ryan Morgan, during the recent #IronNB competition in D.C., unveiled an endorsement map that displays supporters who signed a petition or endorsed via text message. This map, is featured below as seen on the mock Frank Underwood for President site developed for the purposes of the competition.
Today, advocacy movements are competing more and more online for the attention of weary supporters who are being bombarded by asks from every direction. It’s important your campaign maintain an edge and show real life growth, to prove to potential supporters that their, clicks, dollars and volunteer hours will be worth it and are contributing to a movement that’s going to make a real difference. If you think that edge can be our custom mapping tools, get in touch, we’d love to develop a unique and highly functional map for your organization.