A History of Drupal

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

Drupal is a complete and complex content management system developed in 2001 by Dutch software developer Dries Buytaert. Initially it was a way for him and his friends to stay in contact with each other during college. Over time the software itself became the target of their discussions, as they began to experiment with developing a platform that could manage and publish website content.

The Pulpit Rock
Denis Beaumont / Shutterstock.com

Drupal’s claim to fame came during the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. Candidate Howard Dean, along with a large group of supports and volunteers, enlisted the CMS package to help connect over 50 unofficial websites creating a nationwide hub of information all sharing the same backend. The project at the time was called DeanSpace and was an early example of how powerful and scalable the software could be.

Fast forward to today, and nearly 4% of the world’s top websites are using the platform. As of this month over a million websites internationally are using the CMS.

Next week, we’ll discuss 4 Reasons Why Drupal is Becoming THE CMS Choice for Congress.

Increasing Your Twitter Followers (Part of a Series)

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

This is part 4 of a series on how to increase your fans on social media. The previous post is here.

Twitter has taken off over the past few years, and in many ways it is THE place to get up-to-the-minute news on whatever it is you’re interested. For elected officials, Twitter can be a way to share information about issues important to their constituents or to keep them updated on their work. Here are some tips on increasing your followers:

1.       Create valuable content, THEN repost it a few times. Unlike the rest of us, your constituents aren’t checking their feed 24/7. That great tweet about legislation you introduced may not have been seen, so repost it a few times over the course of the day.

2.       Be active and vocal. It doesn’t stop with creating great content. Twitter, more so than other social networks, is about what’s timely and relevant. Be sure to comment on current events, respond to other users, and engage in conversation with other thought-leaders.

3.       #hastag everything. Noticing a trend here? #getwiththetimes

4.       Ask for retweets. There’s no shame in asking your followers to retweet you. Simply typing the word RETWEET will make users 12 to 23 times more likely to share your message.

5.       Stay active. This goes for all social media outlets; the more you post, the better you get at it. In addition, the more you post, the higher the chances of your content being seen and resonating with your constituents.

As always if you need any help our team is ready to consult with you on social media best practices and we can even prepare and manage advertising campaigns on your behalf.

Have any questions? Feel free to email us at info@iconstituent.com

Get More Instagram Followers (Part of a Series)

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

This is part 3 of a series on how to increase your fans on social media. The previous post is here.

The use of Instagram for elected officials is beginning to pick up as the application becomes more widespread and communications staff have a better handle on its uses and benefits. Here are some suggestions for picking up more followers:

1.       Leverage your website. More so than the other photo-sharing websites, you should upload your IG photos to your website. This can be done on the homepage rotator/slider/carousel or you can have a dedicated page where you embed notable Instagram photos. Always include your Instagram badge on your website banner or footer as a sign to visitors that you have an account and that they can use to subscribe.

2.       Be social. Mention other users, members, or businesses to take advantage of their followers. As with all social media sites, use the appropriate hashtags to help spread your messages.

3.       Try something new. Don’t limit yourself to candid photos. Post messages, memes, or even take a few selfies.

4.       The golden rule. Follow others, and they will follow you. This also works when you comment on other’s posts; you may just get a follow back as well. Remember to be a good internet citizen by following those who’ve followed you. 

As always if you need any help our team is ready to consult with you on social media best practices and we can even prepare and manage advertising campaigns on your behalf.

Have any questions? Feel free to email us at info@iconstituent.com

Growing Your YouTube Channel Subscribers (Part of a Series)

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

This is part 2 of a series on how to increase your fans on social media. The previous post is here.

Increasing your YouTube channel subscribers can be tricky and will take a lot of work. But that work pays off in the long run because video can be the most dynamic way for you to communicate with your constituents. Here are a few of my tips on increasing subscribers:

1.       Just ask them to subscribe. This is by far the best way to increase your subscriber count. Since a lot of your videos will have been created via other avenues (C-SPAN, local news), you should add a pre-recorded clip at the end of all of your uploaded videos that asks users to subscribe and shows them where the subscribe button is located.

2.       Use annotations. Though these colorful sticky notes are often overused in videos, a few strategically place annotations can make a big difference. The best way to do this is with a bubble that shows up just beneath the subscribe button.

3.       Add a widget to your website. Either in the banner or on the sidebar of your videos page, add a subscribe widget that can get users to follow you without having to go to YouTube.

4.       Make friends. Partner up with other like-minded members or content creators. Have them add your channel as one of their featured channels to help promote your own. In addition to this, be sure to remain active in the comments section of your videos.

As always if you need any help our team is ready to consult with you on social media best practices and we can even prepare and manage advertising campaigns on your behalf.

Have any questions? Feel free to email us at info@iconstituent.com

Organically Increasing Facebook Fans (Part of a Series)

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

This is part 1 of a series on how to increase your fans on social media.

After executing Facebook advertising campaigns for over 100 members of Congress and managing the iConstituent Facebook page, I’ve picked up some tips that I believe are essential if you’re looking to beef up your number of fans:

1.       The newsfeed is media driven. Include some sort of media with your posts. Posts with photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click throughs. Even better – include video. The more your current fans engage with your content, the higher the likelihood of their friends seeing this content and following your page as well.

2.       Keep posts short. Yeah, we know this isn’t Twitter, but posts with 80 characters or less get 66% more engagement. If you have more to say, then post that on your website, and link to it from Facebook – with the added benefit of driving traffic your site.

3.       Ask some questions. Carry on a dialogue with the folks who answer. Posts in the form of questions get 100% more comments. Replying to comments will engage users and their friends.

4.       Check the analytics. Facebook has done a great job of providing tools for you to help hone your posting skills. Check to see the best days/times to post, the best post types, and look at your most successful posts so you can repeat success.

As always if you need any help our team is ready to consult with you on social media best practices and we can even prepare and manage advertising campaigns on your behalf.

Have any questions? Feel free to email us at info@iconstituent.com

10 New Things You Can Do with Organizations in Signal

Posted by Becky Baylor, Software Training Specialist

1. Assign Personal Codes to Organization records:
Personal codes allow you to create office-wide labels for individuals or organizations that can be used for easy searching, downloading lists, creating activities, and a variety of other tasks. You could create personal codes for federal agencies, small business, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, health care providers, religious organizations, press, law offices, etc.

2. Search for organizations by any keyword in the title or description field:
Instead of having to type out “Department of Housing and Urban Development,” you can simply search for “Housing.”

3. Export lists of organizations:
After pulling a list of organizations, you can either export selected organizations or export all into a spreadsheet. You can also choose which fields you’d like to export.

4. Create correspondence activities for organizations:
You can create correspondence activities for individual organizations or for a group of selected organizations at one time.

5. Add an organization to a case without having a contact at the organization:
In the past, you were required to link an individual to an organization before you could add it to an ongoing case. Now you can add an organization to a case without having a contact. If you need to write a letter to the organization, you can leave the salutation a generic “To Whom It May Concern,” or you can edit the salutation to whatever you’d like.

6. Combine duplicate organization records:
If you run into duplicate organization records, you can select them and combine them under one record.
 

7. Create casework for organizations:
If you need to create a new case for a local business, you are able to create a case for the organization record. The local business will be the primary contact rather than an individual constituent.

8. Send lists of organizations to the Constituent Gateway eNewsletter:
If iConstituent is your e-newsletter provider, you can export a list of organizations directly to the Constituent Gateway eNewsletter and either create a new contact list or add it to an existing contact list.

9. Create a Mass Mailer for a list of organizations:
Mass mailing was previously limited to individual contacts. You are now able to send mass mailings to organizations following the exact same process, only your saved search will be for organization records.

10. Create new organizations in Mail, Services, or Contacts:
You have the flexibility to create new organization records wherever you happen to be working. If you are working in Services, for instance, and see that you need a new organization added to the database, you do not have to leave your work. You can simply click the New button on the top left, and select New Organization.

Pizza Town Hall (a Haiku)

Posted by Christopher Brooks; Manager, Web Production & Marketing

This month we're running a fan favorite promotion. To kick this off, we wrote you a Haiku. Sign up for your next TTH today.

Pizza and phone calls
Tummies smile, answered questions
-iConstituent