It’s time that the Green Party looked at things from an outsider’s perspective. What does someone considering changing their affiliation look for when they click over to your site?
It is my opinion that the current sites were created by Greens, for Greens, with little thought to concentrating on taking in new people (who are NOT Greens) and getting them the information that they would want.
Further, marketing the alternative party message across the web has not been in evidence. Where are the videos, the songs, the comic strips and the entertaining content that links back to a Green recruiting web page? How are artists working to get new people to join up? Where is the culture of creating new things for people to contribute and share and recommend and pass around the internet?
A new thinking is in order. Perhaps a new culture, a paradigm shift. A new way to invite the public to participate is needed.
When more individuals communicate about the Green Party to their own circles, the more viral messaging will happen and spread out to new populations who had never before considered this option. This needs to be made acceptable, fun, exciting, legitimate, etc.
Once the message is under consideration, they need somewhere to go, somewhere specific.
Many will find their way to greens.org. That’s where I repeatedly ended up. Without a complete makeover (who controls this site?) this route is not going to inspire web-savvy people to join a party they know next to nothing about. It will likely scare them away.
Californians may find their way here: http://www.cagreens.org/
This site is interesting, but it is not designed expressly for new recruits. It is not simple, but cluttered. It hits up visitors for donations at least twice right at the top. After that they’ll probably run into something like this: “Last updated: 12/27/2006 (BH)” Hey, what year is it again?
Some of the ideas found on that homepage are good, but they could be much improved upon.
For starters, there is usually a long-windedness and excess number of words before the point is made. The recruiting site needs short easily digested sound bites AND IMAGES AND VIDEOS that lead to more information. It needs intelligent design that caters to new people who can’t be assumed to know anything, but who may know quite a lot. It can’t bore the intelligent, nor confuse the not so much. Mostly it needs to get to the important questions they will have on their minds…
1. Is there a local chapter??? If so, how many members and how can I see what they do there?
2. Are there Green representatives near me?
3. How many Greens have won elections, and how did they win?
4. How can I sign up to help?
5. How can I talk to someone about the things I’m interested in doing?
6. Are they going to bug me for money?
7. Are Green Party members discriminated against? Is it dangerous?
8. What’s a good web page to send all my friends to, so they’ll get involved?
9. Who are celebrities that joined the Green Party?
10. Is there a forum to talk about what’s going on, and news feeds?
11. Are there videos to teach about this stuff?
12. What do Greens stand for?
13. What’s the platform?
14. Do they all have the same platform?
15. What if I wanted to run for office, what do I do?
The idea isn’t to set up a laundry list like the above, but to keep the mindset of the new arrivals in mind when designing the messages.
In my Proposal for a new web outreach initiative (below) I talk about some of the most important things that can be done to give the party a new image, a makeover, a re-launch out there into the public. It is crucial that this happen, because it gives people something to talk about. It gives writers something to write about. It gives reporters a story. And it gives the disgusted some hint at hope for a real alternative. It shakes up the political environment and gets people asking if the new thing – whatever it is – will actually work.
You’ll notice that #1, unequivocally, is a new LANDING PAGE, a new place that answers the question “where” above. This new page/site needs a catchy name that is short and to the point (“go-green.net” for example). A specific landing page designed for new people is very important.
It can appear on tons of literature. It is a stable, clear, reliable place to send people to learn more and get involved. That is its only purpose. And it should lead, with links, to the people who are involved. It should lead to forums, media libraries, videos, music, local chapters, art, politics, the entire Green community. It should be a portal expressly designed to get people to:
1. sign up Green
2. get in contact with local people and groups of interest to them
3. create new content that helps spread the word
4. learn how others have been successful
These four areas should be covered, at a minimum.
Sign up (1) is obvious, but then the data needs to be kept, tracked and options made available for periodical contact with the new members.
Getting involved (2) is for people to directly participate. When they decide to act it is time to give them everything they need to act. Have them signed up for the forum. Let them join the “go-green.net” team with an email address @go-green.net, etc. if that’s how they want to help. Let them jump over to the forums and ask what is going on in the places they live. And let them re-post a music video on Facebook or a blog, and that video would link to the go-green.net website at the end. Let them publish articles to the forum, letters to the editor, etc. Let them network with like-minded people. Better to do it on a Green server than something completely unrelated.
And give them incentives, things to work toward, contests, recognition, accolades. Real interaction and community.
This is about building infrastructure, giving the community tools to leverage their efforts and make some noise. By doing more, they create more interest that fans out into other areas of the web.
Content creation (3) is one of the best ways to get people working toward bringing in new members. Every time a new video, song, graphic, t-shirt, poster, or whatever is designed then more people will come across it. Creative Commons provides the framework for people to allow Greens to use their original works in order to build something bigger out of them. Remixing content allows new creative efforts to make new from old and add value.
Success stories (4) are crucial in order to instill credibility. The general public does NOT consider the Greens a credible alternative. It is an uphill battle from the start. The more we can show success and competence, the better chance we have of convincing regular people that their vote for a third party candidacy has the potential to change the status quo.
All of these elements are needed. Together, they constitute a new strategy for interacting with the public, and with the current Green membership. This is a comprehensive initiative that needs leadership to get on board and wake up and smell the possibilities.
What I’ve outlined isn’t the end game, but the initial push needed to shift the needle from declining numbers over to increasing numbers. The call should go out to the people with technical expertise and talent. It should also invite video producers to interview successful Greens, nationwide.
Is Green Radio in the cards?
The Misruler Report?
I don’t know. What I do know is that there are a world of kids shooting video, remixing music, blogging and creating little fiefdoms on their social networks. Unless they get interested in these larger issues of who is running the ship and for whose benefit, we are all in dire straits.
Is there a communications director for the Greens?
Who actually makes these kinds of decisions?
Who can make something important – like avoiding an iceberg and sinking – actually happen?
And if no one cares, then I’ll just shut up.
Joe Giambrone, Edited 1/19/2011