NYT: Embracing Twitter for 2012

A recent article in The New York Times by Jennifer Steinhauer brings to light the ways Republicans are embracing Twitter, with their sights on the 2012 election. “As the 2012 campaign heats up, policy fights that used to play out in old-school direct mailings and television advertisements are likely to migrate to Twitter,” she says.

It's become blatantly obvious that twitter brings a whole new way of dealing with constituent communication for both parties.  She notes, "Barely a minute goes by between the time Mr. Obama — or a high-ranking member of his administration — makes a speech, holds a news conference or says something to a talk show host, and a team of young Republican House staffers, fueled by pizza and partisanship, punches back."  The article goes on to talk about how the Republicans have mobilized on Twitter.  "House Republican members have more than twice as many followers as their Democratic counterparts — about 1.3 million versus roughly 600,000 — and are far more active on Twitter with more than 157,000 individual Twitter messages, versus roughly 62,000 for Democrats."

With both parties in the game, the article ends with the idea that social media, Twitter in particular, could change the game for 2012:

“This is the first time that both parties have people on staff who are specifically focused on social media and willing to deploy and use it.” Mr. Rasiej, of Personal Democracy Media, said. “It won’t be tanks against the cavalry this time. Both sides have tanks, both sides have fighter jets and both sides may have nuclear bombs.”

It's an interesting look into the world of twitter and using it as communications arsenal on capitol hill.  Members use it mostly to communicate with each other, but how many constituents are actually using this medium to communicate to their Member?

We want to know: How does Twitter fit into your constituent communications strategy?

The Boom: Capitol Hill's Huge Increase in Mail. Are You Prepared?

What a difference a decade makes. A recent study shows that Congressional offices are receiving between 200 to 1,000 percent more constituent communications than they were ten years ago. Because of the increase, staff report that their offices are shifting resources to manage the increased demand — and that congressional offices have seen no increases in personnel in the last three decades. “I don’t know any industry in the world that could absorb as much as a ten-fold increase in customer interest and a zero increase in labor to support it,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of CMF. “Under the circumstances, most congressional offices are doing the best job they can in just keeping up with the increasing volume,” he said.

A few other interesting findings from the report, “How Citizen Advocacy Is Changing Mail Operations on Capitol Hill,” which was released earlier this month.

  • Senate offices reported a 548 percent increase in mail volume since 2002.
  • House offices reported a 158 percent increase.
  • An increasing number of congressional offices are answering incoming email with an email response, rising from 37 percent in 2005 to 86 percent in 2010.
  • A majority of staff report they spend more time on constituent communications than two years ago (58 percent).
  • Forty-six percent report shifting resources to manage increased volume.
  • If an office has previously prepared a response to a constituent inquiry, 41 percent of staff estimates it requires more than a week to respond. If a new policy statement or text is required, 42 percent report it can take more than three weeks for the office to respond.
  • While senior managers and staff primarily responsible for answering the mail agree on the top three challenges to quickly responding to constituent communications, they do not agree on the most significant problem. Senior managers state that the mail volume is the biggest challenge (35 percent). Mail staffers report that “the review and approval process” is the biggest obstacle (41 percent).

We want to know: How are you handling the increase in mail from 2, 5 or even 10 years ago?

New and Improved: The Latest Version of the Constituent Gateway CRM Part 3

In the third and final installment, we discuss some of the new and great features of the Constituent Gateway CRM. All in all, as you can see our CRM is the best on the Hill for a reason.  It's the most cost-effective and useful product for constituent management. 

New Workflow

What it is: Workflow streamlines the process to get an authorized response approved for use. It’s easy to use: set up different workflows based on your office’s internal approval processes. These will route drafted language to the appropriate staffers for review and then back to the original staffer to send the constituent their reply.  Each time a step is approved or rejected, the appropriate staffer receives an email notification with all of the details of their responsibility in the sequence.

Benefits: Makes letter approval a snap. With our overhauled workflow, your letter gets to the right person with one click. In record time, it gets edited and sent back to you so you’re able to quickly send it out, making workflow around your office easier than ever. 

We want to know:What feature will help your office run more smoothly?

New and Improved: The Latest Version of the Constituent Gateway CRM Part 2

Continuing our discussion of some new and great features of the Constituent Gateway CRM, here are a few more to check out.

New Correspondence Viewer

What it is: We’ve completely revamped the look of our Correspondence Viewer, giving it a more modern, clean, look and feel.

Benefits: The new Viewer makes it easier to read, respond, and react to constituents that have written to you. 

New Scan Doc Viewer

What it is: A new Scan Document interface gives you the capacity to better review, sort, and file the letters your office receives to make them into digital, searchable, and reusable records. 

Benefits: You are now able to view scans easily and clearly right away.  No more complicated view that made it difficult to review the original scan in order to enter the constituents’ in the CRM.

New and Improved: Introducing the Latest Version of Constituent Gateway CRM – Part 1

Innovation has always been at the core our efforts. Version 8.2.6 of the Constituent Gateway CRM marks our third release of the 2011 calendar year, sticking to our promise to deliver to you continuous, improvements and innovations each quarter.

The latest CRM brings a stronger, more useful product packed with the features and innovations that benefit you the most. Read on to see the changes:

Transfer CRM Data to Constituent Gateway
What it is:You can now export a list of constituents directly from the CRM to your eNewsletter account.  By harnessing your constituent data, you can connect all your information together through seamless integration.

Benefits:  No more need to send a list to the Help Desk and wait to hear back. Now, you can send data and get immediate results. This means the easy ability for micro-targeting: for example, you can download a list of constituents who have recently written you and send them a targeted, effective mailing through the eNewsletter, where you will be able to take advantage of all the features of that system to track the effectiveness of your mailing campaigns.

You Talk, We Listen

We know that we aren’t the only ones with good ideas. Sometimes the best ideas come from you.

That’s the idea behind iSuggest, a new feature of the latest release of the Constituent Gateway eNewsletter. In version 3.6, we’ve added a new, interactive way for users to provide direct feedback about our different products. 

Here’s how it works: When using the Constituent Gateway, you can click on a box and directly submit your ideas and feedback. But your suggestions don’t just go into a virtual black hole. When you give us your ideas, you can also see what ideas are percolating in the minds of  other users. And if you think someone else has a great idea, you can vote on it. This moves the idea up the “pile” so we know that it’s something that our users — that means you — are clamoring for.

The result of all of this is a stronger, more useful product packed with the features and innovations that really matter to you.  Who knows: your brilliant ideas might just end up in the next version.

We want to know: How does iSuggest work for you?

Facebook Vs. Twitter: And the Winner Is. . .

Recently, The New York Times’s Nick Bolton relayed a story about how his sister tried to Tweet about a meal they shared. The tale describes how she couldn’t figure out how to Tweet from her phone or include her brother’s tag in the Tweet. Underlying the humorous tale is an important lesson about using Twitter — and how Facebook is much more user friendly at this stage in the technology game, according to Bolton.

Here’s the lowdown on why Bolton believes people prefer Facebook to Twitter:

  1. That confusing @ symbol.
    Even if you have a multitude of gadgets at your disposal, chances are that you aren’t immersed in technology (unless its your job.) Many “average” users find it confusing to use tags on Twitter: You need to use the @ symbol without a space, while also using the person’s Twitter user name. This is confusing to many people. On the other hand, if people want to tag a person on Facebook, they just start writing — and Facebook’s algorithm figures it out.
  2. Integration.
    Facebook is integrated with “hundreds of thousands” of Websites, making it more user-friendly.
  3. Photo Features.
    Facebook’s photo features give you lots of choices when it comes to visual communication.
  4. News Feed.
    Enough said.

We want to know:When it comes to sharing news, do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?