Conservatives Learn to Advertise and Build Online Communities via ‘Tweets’, ‘Likes’ & the Blogosphere
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube; blogs and email lists; online advertising and fundraising are just a few topics that were covered earlier this week at the Leadership Institute’s Comprehensive Online Activist School (COAS).

On Monday and Tuesday legislative aides, interns, and Tea Party activists gathered at LI’s F.M. Kirby National Training Center to learn how target large audiences through online marketing and social media.

Gabriel “Scooter” Schaefer, marketing communications coordinator for Media Research Center (MRC), taught attendees how to set up a Facebook fan page and strategically increase membership.

Scooter was a graduate of LI’s Comprehensive Online Activist School in 2010, where he was armed with practical tools to increase an organization’s social media presence. 

"When I took the COAS, I heard about and it was absolutely awesome and useful to me and what I’m doing now,” Scooter said. “Now, I will share the knowledge I’ve acquired with you so you can strengthen the movement.”

LI’s Director of Digital Communications Abigail Alger kicked off the training Monday with a complete introduction to online activism.

“In blogging, it’s not about getting noticed,” Abigail said. “It’s about adding value. What topics can you uniquely cover?”

For Bruce Majors, a realtor for Chatel Real Estate in Washington, D.C., the Blogging 101 lecture was particularly helpful. Bruce runs a political blog called, Tea Party – One Lump or Two?  He plans to use the training to better market his blog and explore the possibility of working in new media.

“This is current, cutting-edge information for targeting the groups you need to target,” said Julie Malone Garofalo, who also plans to use the training to start a blog and search for a position in communications.

Other lectures covered how to create effective online videos and disseminate them over the Internet via YouTube as well as social media activism through the popular networking sites, Twitter and Facebook.

Gail Peirson, a retired pediatric nurse practitioner who is part of the Tea Party movement in New Jersey, was initially resistant to social media.  After the training, she now sees it as a necessary tool for mass outreach.

“Being able to hear ‘the case’ for different types of online marketing and getting my ideas confirmed was specifically beneficial,” Gail said.

Tuesday lectures focused primarily on online fundraising and advertising. Attendees learned how to find vendors and integrate traditional and online fundraising plans, promote a campaign or organization through online marketing, build and manage email lists, use data visualization tools and location technology, and finally, how to use Google Analytics to gather crucial information about visitors to a website.

Freddie Klein, a legislative aide for Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, found the lectures on Twitter and Google Analytics particularly helpful. He now knows how to analyze website traffic and use that data to effectively target ads.

“The training here was worthwhile and I plan to use it to teach my employer too,” he said.

“The variety of information – specifically learning how to target people using social media and track analytics – was particularly beneficial,” agreed Ryan McNulty, strategic communications intern at The Heritage Foundation. “The training was extremely informative and beneficial – a must-attend for somebody serious about politics.”

If you would like to learn more about LI’s Comprehensive Online Activist School or other online activism and strategy training programs, click here.