A website can serve as a very effective clearinghouse of all the information about your fight for the public and the media, and can be used to keep your members updated. You will want to drive public traffic to your site to capture their contact information and mobilize them to take action by contacting their elected officials. You can keep it clean and simple—simple does not mean unsophisticated. Remember that all your online materials must have a consistent message. See section on “Working with the Media” on page 24 for more information on messaging.
You do not need to set up your website or other social media accounts you choose to utilize before you launch your group (see below). If time is of the essence, your website should be a secondary priority, and you should skip ahead in this guide to “Launch Your New Group” on page 22. But, if possible, having a basic website created will allow you to capitalize on the coverage the launch of your group receives and drive more traffic to your site.
On the website, you will want to include all of the research and educational information that we discuss later in this guide. Feature pictures and stories of entrepreneurs. It’s important to share the “human face” of your fight and the real-world consequences of the policy.
Include a PDF copy of a flyer that you make about your situation so website visitors can download it for printing and distribution.
Your website’s homepage should have a simple explanation of what is going on and a call to action. You can get into the details on another page. You want people to understand your mission within the first 10 seconds they’re on the website, or else you may lose their interest. Also, provide a few simple action items visitors can take immediately, including a link to a page where they can contact their elected officials with sample talking points. Include a prominent sign-up form.
Some basic pages you may want on your website include:
Your homepage. As mentioned above, this will include a very brief explanation of your situation, what you hope to achieve, an immediate call to action and a place to sign up for updates.
About us. This is where you can personalize, humanize and dramatize your situation. Feature stories of the entrepreneurs in your group. Include pictures wherever possible.
Act now. On this page, include an easy way for website visitors to contact their elected officials, via e-mail and phone. Include talking points.
Media. Keep this updated with news coverage about the fight and contact information for your lead spokesperson.
Contact us. Have a simple web form that allows people to sign up for updates, or include your e-mail address so people can directly e-mail you.
It is essential that you put your website address on all of your materials. And since you’ll be driving media, legislative and public traffic to your site, it’s critical to keep the website up-to-date, even if it’s a simple update on where things stand.
There are also “social media” tools that allow you to easily and quickly communicate with your supporters or “followers,” keep them up-to-date on the latest news and mobilize them to take action at key times. One goal of these online posts is to go “viral,” which means your message becomes extremely popular in a very short amount of time as people share it with their own social media networks and exponentially more people hear your message. So it’s important to keep your posts and calls-to-action interesting, fun if possible and alarming if necessary.
Make sure that all of your social media accounts have the same name, and list links to your accounts on your website and literature (e.g., “Follow us @KYhairbraiders and on Facebook: facebook.com/KYhairbraiders”). Use your organization’s name as your username in your social media accounts. Link your accounts to one another—for example, tell your Facebook fans about your Twitter account, and vice versa.
Facebook is the most popular online social networking service, which allows you to create a personal profile for yourself and a page for your group. You can link up with other people you know and share status updates, pictures and other information.
Twitter is a social networking service that lets users send and read messages of up to 140 characters that are called “tweets.”
See the online compendiumfor instructions on how to set up a website and use these and other social media tools.
Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law, along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.