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FOR INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE
Corey W. McKeon (cwm34) Georgetown University Department of Communication, Culture & Technology CCTP697 – Internet Politics Professor Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. Thursday, August 11, 2012
socialedculture.wordpress.com /xmckeon @xmckeon /coreymckeon coreymckeon.com
PART I – Evaluation of “Raise Your Voice” Campaign
About the Campaign The “Raise Your Voice” for International Exchange campaign is designed to support funding for international exchange programs, which are at risk for being cut by the federal budget. Being cut would mean thousands of American’s opportunity to learn abroad would be taken away. The Alliance supports many issues surrounding international exchange, this campaign specifically, is geared towards individuals who have studies abroad being provided the opportunity to share the impact it had on their professional and educational career along with person growth. Without awareness to the programs the Alliance works with, there would be fewer backlashes towards legislatures if funding were cut. As stated on the campaign’s webpage, “the Alliance is striving to increase the profile of international exchange programs—and their very tangible value in communities across the United States. At a time when pressure is mounting for reductions in federal spending, Members of Congress need to hear directly from their constituents about the local impact of exchanges in their home states and districts. They need to be aware that exchange programs benefit local communities, colleges and universities, high schools, businesses, and individual citizens.”1 Supporters of the “Raise Your Voice” campaign have very few actions they can take. With such an uplifting campaign title, one would assume they would be looking for
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viral videos to support exchange abroad. In the follow section, I will describe the organization that is running the campaign and then critique the campaign.
About the Organization The “Raise Your Voice” for International Exchange campaign is administered by the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, or The Alliance. The Alliance’s role in supporting international exchange programs, as stated on its website, “As part of its mission, the Alliance marshals grassroots constituencies to advocate for the general health and welfare of international exchange programs and for foreign affairs policies that support these programs. By developing contacts throughout the United States, we involve our community in a broad, systematic dialogue with elected representatives in order to build public and congressional support for international exchange”. Also stated on their website, “The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange is an association of 78 nongovernmental organizations comprising the international educational and cultural exchange community in the United States. Founded in 1993 after a merger of the International Exchange Association and the Liaison Group for International Educational Exchange, the Alliance serves as the only collective public policy voice of the exchange community”. The missions of the Alliance “is to formulate and promote public policies that support the growth and well being of international exchange links between the people of the United States and other nations”2. Elements of the Campaign There are several elements to the online campaign and no visible supporter outreach
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initiatives. The campaign appears to be supported by those that happen to stumble upon the campaign, there is no online advertising or public sponsorship from other organizations. The campaign does not appear to have a blog for support or engage in any measurable earned media outreach. The elements comprising the campaign are social media, a website within the Alliance’s main landing page, and email. There is also an “advocacy toolkit” that can only be found within the advocacy’s website. Both the Facebook3 page and Twitter4 page appear to support the organization and then secondly represent the campaign within their graphics and information. To first analyze and critique their Facebook presence, it does not appear that there is a distinct URL or short name with Facebook to easily access or promote the page. When searching Raise Your Voice, no attachments to the page are found. The posts on the page are not related to the campaign; however, the profile photo representing the page is of the campaign (picture at left). The posts added to the Facebook “Wall” are in support, primarily, of their Policy Monitor, which are basically press releases surrounding the international exchange political industry. Here are a few examples of recent posts: o 08/01/2011: Did you know that the new IMF Chief Christine Lagarde spent one year as a high school exchange student in Bethesda, MD? Learn more about her valuable experiences here: http://www.alliance-exchange.org/policymonitor/08/01/2011/imf-chief-lagarde-high-school-exchange-us-matteredmore-any-year-my-life
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alliance-for-International-Educational-and-CulturalExchange/384259685812 4 http://twitter.com/#!/AllianceExchnge
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o 07/21/2011: Yesterday, the House Foreign Relations committee marked up the Department of State budget for FY 2012. Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen's legislation would fund exchange programs at $600 million. http://www.alliance-exchange.org/policy-monitor/07/20/2011/house-foreignrelations-committee-marks-fy-2012-budget-600-million-exchang o 03/08/2011: The Raise Your Voice for International Exchange campaign is officially launched! Get involved and raise your own voice in support of international exchange programs: http://www.alliance-exchange.org/raiseyour-voice
As demonstrated by these three posts, the page is updated roughly once per month, there is not a clear direction of the campaign. Other than it’s launch back in March, there has been no mention of the Raise Your Voice Campaign, nor have any of the 280 people who’ve liked the campaign, made any mention of supporting it. Also, there is no use of link shorteners5 for traffic monitoring, each link is posted within the text of the post and then appears again where the link is, double posting a ridiculously long URL. The Twitter presence is not any better, updated much more frequently, typically three to four times per day, with 462 followers. The background of the page is the same as the profile photo for the Facebook. The majority of tweets are simply re-tweets from government tweets or state department tweets. A few examples of tweets are: o #edusaforum Michael McCarry @allianceexchnge presents politics and policy. Will exchanges be drawn into immigration reform debate? o @SenJohnMcCain blasts cuts to Title IV-Fulbright Hays intl. ed programs
https://bitly.com/, http://goo.gl/, or http://t.co/
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as "short-sighted": http://tinyurl.com/3b35bev o Raise Your Voice for Intl. Exchange advocacy campaign launched! Get involved & raise your own voice for exchange: http://tinyurl.com/68jozw9 The majority of posts are re-tweets and other than one post about the campaign, which is all over the background of the Twitter account, there is nothing mentioning how to take action or directing you back to the website. Klout gives the account a rating of 32 out of 100, which is average from sporadic Twitter users. The website for the Alliance-Exchange, http://www.alliance-exchange.org, is simple, concise and a bit of a “spiders web” when you try to become an active action taker. The main landing page focuses on the “Policy Monitor” which is appropriate for the overall direction of the organization. However, if they are running a campaign that was launched in March, they may want to advertise it somewhere on the page. The only way to find the Raise Your Voice campaign is to click on the fourth tab under “Explore the Alliance” which is titled “Advocacy”. The advocacy initiative is then described and you can Take Action, but still no mention of the campaign. When you Take Action, you are brought to a page allowing you to contact elected officials, congress or the senate, with pre-written letters. You may also explore legislation and issues. After searching for the campaign, it can be located at the URL: http://www.alliance-exchange.org/raise-your-voice.
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The Action Alert sign up directs you to the bottom of the page, after signing up for action alert, I’ve received four emails; three from the Assistant Director, Mark Overmann regarding news articles about study abroad in China, Sen. John Kerry indirectly supporting international exchange, and the Policy Monitor digest, which I did not sign up for. These all came from the Action Alert email dissemination. The final email was from Martina Erber, the Administrative Intern at the Alliance, who provided a list of ten Federal Register announcements issued by the U.S. Department of State, Education, and Homeland Security. All of the email signatures directed me to the Twitter and Facebook accounts, but none promoted the campaign. Nor did they tell me why I should be contacting Congress or
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the Senate, which the website directs me to do. The focus surrounding this campaign does not exist. The link to contact a member of congress takes you to the Alliance’s general contact congress page. The link to engage your social network takes you to a page where is basically describes how to write a letter to congress and tells you to tell your friends to take the same action. The page states, “Engaging your broader membership and professional/personal networks in simple ways can be an effective complement to the targeted advocacy of writing a handcrafted letter and visiting your Representative's district office. Your work on the handcrafted letters and district office visits brings the issue of international exchange front and center for your Members of Congress, and illustrates in tangible ways how these activities benefit your community. Mobilizing a broader network will not only provide solid reinforcement for your message, but also indicate to your Representative and Senators that international exchange and engagement matters to and benefits a diverse range of constituents across the district and state”6. The final piece of the campaign I shall evaluate is an element that clearly had a noticeable amount of time spent on its creation, the textual piece titled, “An advocacy toolkit for advancing international exchange programs7,” which is a toolkit under the Raise Your Voice for international exchange campaign. This is the clear linear outline of the campaign and is the most difficult to find and underemphasized piece of the campaign website. I find this incredibly detrimental to the campaigns success, it opens with a few questions and answers regarding very specific factors in the organizations campaign initiative, for example:
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Q: “What do we advocate for?” A: “Specifically, the Alliance advocates on Capitol Hill for increased federal appropriations for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs (which includes funding for such flagship exchanges as the Fulbright Programs and the International Visitor Leadership Program). More broadly, we advocate for the support of Congress to increase international exchange and engagement, including sending more Americans abroad, and bringing more foreign participants to the U.S., for educational, professional, and cultural purposes”. There are three other detailed sections within this nine page guide; writing to your member of congress, visiting the district office, and engaging your network in advocacy. There is however, no deadline for the campaign, which appears to be ongoing, or technically, not occurring, just on the page.
Final Assessment My final assessment of the campaign is that it lacks clear focus; the success of the campaign does not appear to have any measurement implementation. My main indicator of this is that there is no use of tracking the click through rate of links shared through social media, or on the buttons within the website. Traffic may come and go, but there is no measurement of where people are going or how often. My recommendation is to create a new campaign, focused more directly on one issue within international exchange and promote that issue across the organizations already existing social media presence, and redesigning a course of action for outreach, driving people to the webpage, which has a member login community.
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PART II – Moving Forward; the Campaign Plan
Overview of the Campaign Plan With the new campaign I will design for the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange a focus on a single issue and have a consistent message across all elements of the campaign. The campaign will remain “Raise Your Voice” as they are clearly looking for people to speak up regarding their experiences through exchange programs. With social media, the campaign will go into three main platforms, with evidence cohesion: Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo. Vimeo will be the driving force for the social media presence. Supporters are going to be encouraged to post videos of themselves speaking to congress about what they learned and how they were affected by their exchange experience. On Facebook, the Alliance will immerse their presence into Raise Your Voice, spotlighting supporter photos abroad. Twitter will act as the main soundboard for issues facing Raise Your Voice and international exchange, but also promote the campaign with re-tweets and photos from Facebook along with videos from Vimeo of supporters. There is one specific message that the Alliance allows users to send directly to Senators and members of the House of Representatives and I believe it should be the single issue raised through the Raise Your Voice campaign, it has the largest impact on international exchange programs and should be the focus of the campaign. The message is:
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As your constituent, I'm writing to voice my support for Department of State international exchange programs, smart and cost-effective investments in American economic competitiveness and national security. I hope you will actively support the President's FY 2012 request for exchanges of $637.1 million or the highest funding level possible for exchanges. State Department educational and cultural exchanges (funded by the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee) are funded at $598.8 million in the final FY 2011 continuing resolution - 5.7 per cent below the FY 2010 level. Yet the economic and national security benefits exchange programs return to the United States far outweigh this relatively modest expenditure. The State Department budget supports the two-way exchange of more than one million students and scholars each year, and the economic benefits the U.S. receives from such exchanges- both direct and indirect- are staggering. Over 400 EducationUSA advising centers around the world support a flow of 690,923 foreign students to study in the U.S. These advising centers received an appropriation of $12.9 million last year, while foreign students studying in the U.S. spent nearly $20 billion in our country before returning home (according to the Institute of International Education's 2010 Open Doors report and NAFSA: Association of International Educators). The State Department exchanges budget not only helps talented students from all over the world receive an American education and experience the real America, but also directly provides significant economic benefits to communities all over our country.8
By focusing on this single message support will be drawn to a focused driving force of the Alliance, without funding the exchanges cannot take place. Recent events show that some funding has been cut to particular international programs9, we cannot see this begin to be a pattern within international exchange.
Goals The goal of this new campaign is raise awareness of international exchange program budget cut effects, and urge senators and representatives to support and increase international exchange funding for future fiscal years. The main goal is to raise allocation of the fiscal budget towards international exchange program funding by 5% each year until that has been a sustainable amount of growth to support all current and emerging programs.
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The end result will be to raise awareness on this specific issue of funding cuts and potentially raise money through congressional support by allocating more funds to international exchange programs.
Target Audience The target audience for the campaign will be junior and senior level high school students as well as multi year college students. These 18-25 year olds will have a strong interest in international exchange programs or have already studied/traveled abroad. They must be moderate media users. This target audience will be creating videos on to publish on Vimeo and be shared with others. They will be speaking directly to congressional representatives that have the power to support issues and demand funding allocation to these international exchange programs.
Action & Channels Through this campaign, we want people to make videos, share content through social media and send messages to congress. The sharing of these videos will direct users to the campaign website for viewing with a clear action to send a message to a local and federal representatives. The sharing of photos and experiences through Facebook will create a brand for the international exchange experience and create content for the Alliance to demonstrate to supporters of all ages. The channels will be through social media, the website, email and light advertising. The advertisements will likely be linking the social media pages together and directing users back the main website.
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“RAISE YOUR VOICE” – The Message The message of the campaign is mobilizing, with a subheading describing what the mobilization supports. “RAISE YOUR VOICE” being the main message of the campaign, with a sub-heading of “for International Exchange,” telling the audience what they are raising their voice for. The message will be consistent to all audiences as it is particularly universal. It drives people to want to raise their voice and share their experiences through international exchange. They will want others to have similar experiences and share how much theirs has impacted their outlook.
The Creative Image Find on the following pages an image of the creative element of the campaign followed by a description of its impact and presence within the campaign. I. Website II. Social Media (Facebook/Twitter/Vimeo) III. Email IV. Advertisement
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Website – http://www.raise-your-voice.org
The website has its own URL, separate from the main Alliance website. There will be advertisements (to follow) that will appear on the Alliance website. The URL for this site will be: http://www.raise-your-voice.org. Keeping the message of mobilization and younger target audience, the site has bright colors and lots of action words. Explore directs you to the Alliance-exchange.org website explaining to viewers the mission of the campaign and organization along with a concise explanation of the funding issue and what
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happens to others like them if funding is cut form these programs and what they can do to increase the budget for international programs. Inspire directs users to the Vimeo page along with the other Vimeo media buttons, there will be a constant stream of Vimeo videos beings shared on the page targeted through Inspire. Connect brings users to the Allianceexchange.org website telling them how to contact their congress representative regarding the finance issue.
Social Media - Facebook
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The Facebook page is a space where the supporters generating videos can share their experiences and photos along with other content related to international exchange programs. There is a Twitter feed page on the left column navigation with real-time updates. An intern, or communications representative from the organization will monitor posts and shared content via Hootsuite.com (later explained in metric tools). The number of likes it has and the frequency of engaged users and shard content, along with discussion, will measure this page. Updates will be made daily, at least one time per day, always including a link to the main website or an article the campaign website. Throughout the week links will be shared from videos received through Twitter, any exceptionally appealing videos can be posted directly on the wall. Once per month, the manager will thank you a handful of users for their videos, only the really good quality videos, tagging the creators in the thank you and encouraging users to reach out to Congress. Examples of posts: o Great video Mark, we appreciate the time you took to create this, I’m sure others will enjoy it as well (link to video, with instant play below post). Don’t forget to reach out to Congress and tell them how you feel, http://goo.gl/connect o Congress votes in one month impacting funding for int’l exchange programs, contact your rep now: http://goo.gl/connect! YOU make the difference! o Want to study abroad next semester? Make sure others can too, http://raiseyour-voice.org.
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Social Media – Twitter
The Twitter page displays links to the other social media sites. The main action will be re-tweeting videos that users send to you through @mention or Direct Messaging. Other tweets will alert users of new breakthroughs in international exchange or updates about progress to secure and increase funding. Direct posting will be minimal and can be done ahead of time through Hootsuite.com, along with tracking and re-tweeting videos. There will also be a publicized hashtag #RaiseYourVoice for others to join in support. Example re-tweets: o Great Video @travel3vrywr! RT check out my work abroad support video, http://t.co/rome4ayr #Rome #RaiseYourVoice @RaiseYourVoice o Don’t forget to visit our website, http://t.co/ryv to learn how you can support int’l xchnge #RaiseYourVoice “Raise Your Voice” Campaign | 18
Social Media - Vimeo
Videos shared from Vimeo will be linked to the Raise Your Voice channel on Vimeo.com. A series of all the videos will slide along the bottom and users can view other stories of supporter’s experiences through international exchange. At the very bottom of the page and in the description of Raise Your Voice’s Vimeo account are links to the other social media channels and the main website, along with the description of the campaign that appears on the front of the campaign website. The communications person for the campaign will be able to go directly from a video link in Twitter to the video and hit the ‘+’ button on the video to add it to the channel. Their discretion can be used as to the quality of the videos added to the channel as it is embedded in the campaign website.
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Action Alert! Emails These emails will be sent out bi-weekly to all email subscribers of the campaign website and main Alliance-Exchange.org website, with the existing member directory.. The following is an example of an email:
RAISE YOUR VOICE!
Dear [first name],
FOR INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE
We hope you’re enjoying the videos from supporters of Raise Your Voice as much as we are! Raise Your Voice is our campaign to spread the word and increase awareness for budget cuts that affect international exchange programs. Did you know last year funding decreased by 5.7%?! We must turn this around and allow students and professionals alike to experience international educational and cultural exchange. We thank you for all of your support and encourage you to become active within our social media presence. Facebook.com/RaiseYourVoice Twitter.com/RaiseYourVoice Vimeo.com/RaiseYourVoice If you have time and would like to share your experience abroad, we urge you to make a video through Vimeo.com that we can share on our channel. Just tweet us the video when it’s ready @RaiseYourVoice! Sincerely, Mark Overmann Assistant Director & Senior Policy Specialist Alliance for International Educational & Cultural Exchange 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 1150 Washington, DC 20036 http://raise-your-voice.org
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Advertisement When the campaign launches, the following advertisement will be displayed on the main Alliance-exchange.org website:
The ad will only appear on sites that will allow the campaign to run the ad for free. A small amount of outreach will be made prior to the launch of the campaign, clicking on the ad will drive viewers to the campaign website.
Social Media Metric Tools Facebook and Twitter will be monitored through Hootsuite.com. They will be able to capture analytics of how many users are active, schedule posts for publishing in the future. They will also be able to organize who they re-tweet and respond to users with an @mention if they have a question, always adding the hashtag #Raise Your Voice. This hashtag can also be followed in Hootsuite.com as well as defined in TagDef.com. A description of the campaign will appear on TagDef.com with links to the social media portfolio and campaign website.
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Metrics of Success Based on the timeline below, by June of 2012, we will want to have at least the following metrics met: Facebook: 1000+ likes, at least 2,000 views of the page, 25 likes per video posted Twitter: 100 re-tweets, 2,000 followers Vimeo: 100+ videos on channel, 300 subscribers Campaign Website: Ongoing traffic, 200 viewers per day outgoing to social media
Timeline This campaign will begin on April 15, 2012, directly after people have finished up their taxes and while students are returning from their study abroad trips. The campaign will run until June 30, 2012 prior to the determination of the fiscal budget for the coming year. The following is a chart detailing when activity will occur.
March 1, 2012 - Pre-Campaign set up: Make sure all links are working properly for Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and campaign website. Have text ready for alert emails. Entire Month of March – Send Advertisement with short personal message regarding campaign to international exchange supports in current database asking for free advertisement on their site, keep list of those reached out to for follow thank you email April 15, 2012 – Send out action alert email to all registered members of AllianceExchange.org. o Social media sites go live o Website goes live o Begin monitoring and measuring social media through HootSuite.org account o At the end of the first week generate report through Hootsuite analyze function o Track number of likes, re-tweets, videos and other metrics to adapt to any unexpected changes April 15th – Jun 30th –Communications Manager will: o Monitor all social media activity o Generate content for social media and follow up e-mails o Send Facebook messages with short thank you and promote raise-your-voice.org, content should be at manager’s discretion pulling in information picked up from “Raise Your Voice” Campaign | 22
social media engagement o Making sure content is written correctly, deleting any abuser comments o Follow users who follow campaign on Twitter o Re-tweet videos, add videos to channel July 1st – Disable Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Website from viewing o Generate final analyzer report in Hootsuite for superiors o Create report with links to videos and quotes from Twitter & Facebook o Add other relevant information for report to provide to Congressional Members to demonstrate user feedback since they’ll probably already have heard of the campaign. Budget The following budget will be allocated for campaign running form April 15, 2012 – June 30, 2012. Unexpected expenses will come from reserve account. Reserve Social Media Personnel (5 hours per day or free intern) Advertisement Web Design Social Media Set-Up Hootsuite Pro Supplies Total $1,000 $2,000 (76 hrs at$20 per hours) $100 $1,000 $1,000 $300 (6 months) $100 $5,500
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