Gateway's Social Module: Social Dashboard

Monitoring your social media can seem like a full-time job. Because you already have a job, we’ve created a module in the Gateway that allows you to easily track your Social Media presence. Using visuals, you’ll have instant access to the analytics you need — all in one place. The Social Module appears on your navigation, and gives you two drop-down options: Social Dashboard and the Facebook Advertising Dashboard (Of course, if you don’t have a Facebook Advertising campaign with us, it won’t show up). We’ll cover the Facebook ad component in the next blog. So let’s start with the features of the Social Dashboard:

  1. Current Audience.
    How many people can you currently reach? If your website is hosted by iConstituent, you can find out. A pie chart illustrates the estimated number of potential constituents, based on an analysis of Gateway statistics. Armed with this information, you can then do the appropriate outreach.
  2. Engagement Trends.
    What are the trends among your eNewsletter subscribers and Facebook likes? How many people are returning to your website? A bar graph shows the answers. Knowing how many constituents are engaged — and where they are engaging — allows you to determine if your current strategy is working.
  3. Total Views.
    How many people are reading your homepage, eNewsletters, and Facebook posts over the past 90 days? It’s simple to find out. When you understand if your readership is increasing or decreasing, you can then make adjustments to your content and images.
  4. Top Cities Reached.
    Where is your message being heard? Discover your top 10 cities reached, based on data from Facebook, your homepage and eNewsletter. Then take action where you need to.

Coming Up: Learn about our Facebook Advertising Dashboard. 

5 Useful Tips on Building Your Email Lists

Stay on Top: Five Ways To Build Your List and Grow Your Newsletter

  1. Deliver Value.
    Content isn’t after after-thought: it’s everything. Deliver what people want to read, share, and comment on. Find useful information that people can’t find elsewhere, and continue to surprise and delight your readers. This is assurance that your subscribers will stick with you over time — and tell others.
  2. Be personable, be helpful.
    Another way to keep your list growing? Pay attention to the voice of your emails: don’t be stiff and formal. Be personable and real. And make sure your newsletter comes from a real person instead of a generic one. Instead of just advancing your agenda, find ways that your newsletters can be practical and useful. This means that people will forward it and pass it along, building your list through its value.
    Spread the word.
    Promote your email newsletter on printed materials like letters back to constituents — you might be surprised at the response.
  3. Stay Social.
    Remember that you can use social media to build your email list: periodically remind your Facebook followers to join your email list. And vice versa – ask new e-mail subscribers to sign up on your Facebook page so they can keep updated.
  4. Make Your Subscription Link Prominent.
    It’s always a good idea to periodically revisit your sign-up link and re-evaluate. We give you the option of splash pages on your website, mobile friendly signup pages, and Facebook custom landing pages. It sounds obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.

We want to know: How do you build and sustain your email list? 

4 Ideas to Boost Your Outreach Today

You want to reach the most number of people as possible. Making it easy to stay in touch creates engagement and community for your consitituents. And the more people you reach, the more likely it is that they will take action.

It’s always a good idea to step back and evaluate your outreach.  And don't forget to use the iConstiutent social dashboard to know if what you're doing is working.  On top of that, here’s a reminder of a few key strategies:

Make it easy.  The sign-up box on your iConstituent or GovTrends website should be prominent on your homepage and other key pages.  Don’t let this key outreach tool get lost in a fancy design or in a lot of text. Keep your eye on the goal: to get as many email addresses as you can, for instance. And with us, your email signup goes directly into your Gateway list management feature.  Keep it simple, and they will come.

Use Your Analytics. Let your integrated Google analytics guide you. Study your most popular pages, and use this as a tool to create more of the same kind of content, eliminate content no one is reading, and increase your chances of capturing contact info by making sure that your sign-up box resides on a popular page.  For example, how long are people spending on key pages?  What are the top referring sites?  Ask your customer support consultant today to show and help you navigate your Google analytics. 

Look Beyond Digital. It’s easy to lose sight of face-to-face outreach. But it’s key:  Develop a system to capture contact information during high-traffic office hours and public events to maximize your outreach efforts exponentially.  Do you bring an iPad with a signup form to all events?

Outbound Communications Count. When you send out emails from your office,  mailings, catalogs, or any other outbound communications, be sure to include a sign-up link for updates.

We want to know: What is your most effective outreach tool?

Are you Pinterested?

If you are a social media trendwatcher, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Pinterest, an online bulletin board where you can organize and share the things you love.  In this visual social discovery network, you can create online “pinboards” for categories of your choice, where you can virtually pin photos or videos.

Companies like West Elm, the Gap, and Etsy have already joined the Pinterest bandwagon. While Pinterest is great for design, food, places, and fashion, why not use it as another way to get to know your constituents?

With a reported over 3.3 million people using the site, think of it as a huge visual focus group — and yet another way for elected officials to gather information about their followers.

After you sign up, Pinterest gives you the chance to look at the “pinners” who follow you. Then you can see what these people are pinning, who else they are following, and learn about their passions and dislikes from a slightly different perspective than Facebook or Twitter. Ultimately, this information helps you gain valuable insights into your constituents. And this is a good thing.

We want to know:Have you used Pinterest? U.S. Congress Members Get Improved Facebook Analytics

The vendor iConstituent is rolling out a new tool that could help members of Congress enhance their Facebook presence and interactions with the people they represent.

The services, the Constituent Gateway social dashboard and the constituent gateway ads dashboard includes reach measurements, not just impressions, as well as unique visitors and audience growth figures, which could help an office expand its outreach on Facebook and other platforms.

Stuart Shapiro, iConstituent’s president, told us:

The technology will help office’s understand who are sharing on Facebook or participating in social media and build a profile of constituents. This is very useful data because statistics can be extremely helpful in making decisions that will revolutionize the interactions between elected officials and the public.

Facebook is still relatively new to Congress. The U.S. Senate only approved Facebook about a year and a half ago and has yet to approve Twitter.

The U.S. House of Representatives made the social network an official technology shortly before the Senate.

The vendor introduced House members to Facebook ads more than a year ago, which iConstituent says has increased politicians’ Facebook likes dramatically.

The company has a unique view of Capitol Hill’s social media use. They work with more than 400 congressional offices on some aspect of electronic communications between elected officials and their constituents.

Organizing telephone town halls, designing web sites, managing Facebook pages, delivering sentiment analysis or unifying a member’s social media presence are some of the company’s offerings.

And iConstituent participated in the recent Hackathon sponsored by Facebook and congressional leadership.

“We create more fruitful relationships with each individual constituent that’s augmented or magnified through Facebook. And that results in a better democracy,” added Shapiro.

That may sound like a tall order, but Shapiro believes it’s possible because technologies, like Facebook, give voice to individuals.

New Year, New Data Standards for the House

Is it a new day for transparency in government? It seems we are at least one step closer. Starting in the New Year, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution that requires the House to publish documents in an online central location.

Called "Standards for the Electronic Posting of House and Committee Documents & Data," these standards do what has not been done before: provide a central website for the public to access all House bills, amendments, and resolutions for floor consideration in XML.

Committees are also required to post other documents such as votes, hearing notices, the bills and resolutions they're considering, all using open formats at permanent and predictable URLs. They are “highly encouraged” to use XML whenever possible, with PFD as a backup.

Why is this important? Daniel Schuman from Sunlight Labs reports:

This is hugely valuable information that, to date, has been extremely difficult to discover in a reliable way. To get House legislation, one either needs to scrape, or to rely on the good work of people who've already done it. Committee information is terribly fragmented, and in some cases there is often no way to get it at all (such as committee votes and amendments), short of hiring people to go sit in committee rooms and record what goes on (a practice that forms the basis for a number of business models here in DC). This is the beginning of bringing much needed order to chaos, and sunlight to the legislative process.

Is it a new era for the exchange of information? Will the Senate be next? We’ll soon find out.

We want to know: Will this centralized website affect your day-to-day work life?

iConstituent Named in Article on Political Trends to Watch in 2012

The New Year not only brings new resolutions, but also presidential, congressional, state and local elections.

This means that candidates will look for new ways to get ahead. And with Social Networking growing by leaps and bounds, it makes sense that people will turn to Facebook in new and innovative ways this year.

So exactly how will people be using Facebook for political gain in 2012? In many interesting ways, according to All Facebook. As the year ramps up, the social networking giant listed the seven top political trends using Facebook features.

One of the big trends that will only get bigger is Congressional ads. That’s why All Facebook gives mention to our study showing that once the House approved the use of Facebook ads by its members, interaction between lawmakers and constituents has grown by more than 300 percent.

Good to know that this trend of Congressional offices using Facebook ads to grow their fan base and spur constituents to action will only get bigger.  

Interested in the other trends for 2012? Here’s the complete list:

  1. Congress on Facebook
  2. Congressional Ads
  3. Sponsored Stories
  4. Tabs and Tools
  5. Streaming Video
  6. Timeline
  7. Applications

We want to know: Which of these trends do you already utilize? Which ones will you start using in 2012?