Before we talk about smart digital strategy, let’s get clear on what we mean by “digital strategy.”
“Let’s put our press release on the website.” Not digital strategy. “Can we link to that new factsheet on our Facebook page?” Not digital strategy. “Let’s create a video that will go viral.” Not digital strategy. “Did you see NRDC has a Google+ plus page? We need one.” Not digital strategy.
Yes, these actions all have a digital component – but none of them are strategic. Gone are the days when we can toss up a static website, create a broadcast Facebook page, or blindly chase the latest craze for “online advocacy.”
So what is digital strategy?
My favorite place for definitions is Wikipedia (crowdsourcing = smart digital strategy!). I was going to write this post last week but with the blackout protest of S.O.P.A. (coordinated lobbying/online actions = smart digital strategy!) it had to wait for post-blackout days.
Wikipedia says: “digital strategy is the process of specifying an organization’s vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives in order to maximize the business benefits digital investments and efforts provide to the organization.”
I like it. If we swap out “business” with “advocacy” we have a good working definition of digital strategy in the non-profit and issue advocacy world. And if we plug in “campaign” and “candidate” it works for the political campaign world.
My favorite part of the definition is the “maximize the benefits” concept.
Smart digital strategy seeks to coordinate, amplify and extend the impact of the organizational or campaign goals. It is clearly not smart digital strategy to build a digital presence as part of a checklist of to-do’s. Nor is it smart digital strategy to build and manage a digital presence with goals that are in anyway separate from the overarching “vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives” of the organization or campaign as a whole.
Smart digital strategy happens when your online program meets your offline program and they become best friends or partners. In a smart and productive online/offline partnership each partner wants the best for each other, each wants to thrive in their own right and they move toward overarching goals together as a team. Partnership driven, strategic action, and results oriented – all key concepts in smart digital strategy.
In 2012 the American public’s online time is seamlessly integrated into the time they spend out in the non-digital world. As issue advocacy organizations and campaigns we need to continually develop integrated digital and traditional advocacy strategies that reflect this.
I love that we have “Winning the Internet” to share examples of smart digital strategy and tactics that create real change in our non-digital world.
Here are links to a few examples of effective online and offline partnership organizing:
Do you know a campaign that is rocking it out digitally and with in person grassroots? Share the story in the comments.