Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - By Stephanie Gerson - No comments

Words of wisdom on orchestrating a 'SeeClickFix Storm'

As part of announcing our Open Government platform, Lincoln Chafee's independent campaign for governor of Rhode Island asked supporters to take some time this past weekend and log issues on SeeClickFix, an effort we delightfully called a SeeClickFix Storm (credit to Owen Johnson). The idea was to get Rhode Island citizens using SeeClickFix en masse statewide, and more broadly, to show citizens what open government - what participating meaningfully in the work of governance - can mean. Supporters were asked to 'storm' their neighborhoods throughout the state, and invited to 'storm' Providence by bike with me on Sunday.

Over the course of the weekend, 14 issues were logged with an average of 7 per day, a major spike in RI's embarrassing daily average of 0.008196721, and daily activity looks to have picked up somewhat since, which was part of the point (profuse thanks to SCF Community Manager Kayla Vandervort for the info and this graph). That said and seen, although an SCF Storm is a fabulous idea, 14 issues doesn't quite qualify as a storm - even relative to total calmness - and only one supporter showed up to join me on Sunday (that's us in the image). Certainly, there are things I could have done to attract a bigger crew, but as they say, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. So, in that vein, allow me to impart a checklist for all you future storm orchestrators in the crowd:

1) Post the storm online - create a Facebook event, blog post, and/or other online home for the storm to live. If you're posting the storm on your website, add an SCF widget so folks can report issues on your site and see issues being reported as you storm.

2) Create a watch area - create a watch area for the area you're storming, so you can track issues logged pre-storm, during storm, and post-storm, and report your success.

3) Set a goal - if 14 issues doesn't qualify as a storm, what does? Check your watch area for previous activity, and using that along with your estimate of the number of people who will participate, set a realistic but ambitious goal. Along with better enabling you to gauge your success, it'll give participants a goal to aim for! And of course you can shower them with prizes and gifts and awards and brownie points if they succeed.

4) Promote the storm widely - SCF is of interest to a diverse contingency, including community groups, geeks, activists, and more. Don't limit yourself to your email list or Facebook group; leverage the fact that SCF has broad appeal to promote your storm to local MeetUp groups, blogs, and more!

5) Reach out to people individually - a basic tenet of Marketing (or Activism or Party Throwing or any people-convincing art) 101, beyond promoting the event through social media channels, reach out to individuals who you know will come and bring people. (Duh, I know.)

6) Brand your logged issues with your cause - change your SCF profile pic to the Trust Chafee logo, add a quick 'Vote Chafee!' at the end of each issue logged, or do something to promote your storm's cause. This is the beauty of a SCF Storm as a campaign stunt: in Ghandian terms, that voters get to see the campaign being the platform it wishes to see in the world. But in order for them to see that, you need to show 'em.

7) Brand your SCFers - wear campaign paraphernalia as you storm! See image above. And same rationale as previous.

8) Document your storm - take photos, video, otherwise document your fantabulous storm, and ask your stormers to do the same!

9) Report back - follow up with participants, post on your blog, and otherwise report back to the world on how the storm went, including photos & video, activity in the watch area, and encouragement to keep using SCF.

Feel free to respond with any additional words of wisdom. Perhaps 'SCF Storm' will someday warrant its own Facebook group or Twitter hashtag? Not to get too meta on us, but may SCF Storm, itself, become a storm.......


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