Managing Online Communications through Workflow Analysis

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Facilitated by David Taylor, Rainforest Action Network

Session Description

David is the Online Director at RAN, and has used a number of web-based tools such as Wufoo to automate and streamline the process of managing and publishing online content to RAN's array of online channels. From assembling assets for an email blast to aggregating tweet requests to codifying processes for event announcements and web content updates, David has streamlined the RAN online communications workflows with minimal cost and maximal results. In this session, he'll demonstrate his processes and talk about the philosophy behind them.

Session Notes

Presenter: David Taylor, RAN (background in advocacy tool development, got to RAN and realized the tools weren’t the main issue, it was the processes) Participants would like: what devs should know about comms and online; good templates to share; better ways to track changes in google docs; best practices for orgs new to online comms.

David intro’d a mindmap/braindump of all the ways he thought online advocates would communicate. It includes message creation, segmentation, proofing, content publishing locations, audiences, types of messages etc. Action types, Segments and Message Types, OO Segments (Donors, Actions..),

Online Dept staff don’t write all the content, they move the content from campaign staff through a process of refinement and distribution.

RAN has 5 major campaigns, each has 2-5 people, there’s also a development dept (which is basically a 6th campaign).

Tip: 1 person should shepherd content from the beginning (scheduling to execution)  public blog/resource for RAN campaigners w/ helpful tips and processes, videos etc. e.g. “how to schedule and publish your emails.” Also best practices and “online blogger bootcamp.”

RAN uses for online form creation. Like google forms but MORE AWESOME! Setting limits in your forms can help enforce good email creation standards (e.g. limits on subject line lengths, asks, tell a friend text, etc). David has created different forms for different email templates and types of content. Some extremely trusted content creators (e.g. the ED, the online dir) skip the forms and jump straight into the work queue – expedited processes are set up. Wufoo can provide examples text for form fields (like a sample email intro).

No one gets more than 2 emails a day, try to keep segments so that no one gets more than 2 emails a week. Pushing more than 6 emails (total) a week maxes out the production capacity.

RAN uses hootsuite to manage facebook and twitter. It can pre-load messages, handle multiple users for a single account.

Try not to have more than 4 people test messages (i.e. read/review them) e .g. Campaign Director, content writer, comms staffer and online staffer. Checks and balances (having different people write and edit and factcheck) reduces the risk that mistakes are made.

A/B testing isn’t used that much because of the list size and statistical significance. RAN has about 100k. Uses Salsa for outbound emails and either drupal or wordpress for landing pages.

RAN uses a google doc to track deadlines and staff responsibilities – aka tool for who to harass, or determine who is getting overloaded. After they’ve built something 2-3 times they try to back up and build templates for future activities.

Build space into your workflow for rapid response.

RAN prints out data on response rates and reviews them each week. They also look back at campaign results and longer time periods. They’re stored in a binder. Isolating specific reasons for open/click/etc . rates is difficult. In this case Production Process drives Schedule. Campaigners are also given access to Salsa so they can directly contact smaller groups of supporters outside of the Online Comms scheduling process.

All lists are not created equal. People are on the lists and they have dif loyalties to dif groups.

5-12 tweets/day, up to 3 fb posts, blogs etc

The Aspiration Publishing matrix is helpful to figure out decision pts for publishing and id channels, but it gets unwieldy as content speeds up and channels increase.

Weekly editorial meeting w/comms dept decides on the core messages for the week.

RAN has a standard weekly email list and then each campaign has campaign specific lists. People get the option to sign up for both. Then they go to a secondary sign up page w/ a thank you and email list options. There’s one cross list email each week (on average) on a general topic (forests vs pulp production practices).

Idea: “timeline” campaigns e.g. pregnancy, dif emails based on time of sign up and delivery date.