Over the last few months of pandemic there has been a sudden boom in organizations investing in digital organizing and non organizations or more broadly defined “movements’ using digital spaces to educate, build, share information, share resources.
I usually see digital organizing tactics described as: posting on social media, sending emails blasts, making video, websites, or other media meant to be distributed online that depicts the campaign goals and talking points.
In my opinion, the best definitions disavow digital organizing entirely — one, from a former 350.org campaigner characterizes “digital organizing” as a broad set of tactics all organizers should be comfortable using to achieve their goals.
Digital Organizing For Organizations:
Organizations often approach these tactics by hiring someone who has the specific role of digital organizer, digital communications, digital organizing director, or something like that. But by siloing these tactics as specialized, or as the responsibility of a particular person with a set role, there are two immediate major problems.
This often means that you end up with an unrelational and inefficient, membership pipeline. One person is tracking the digital, without the information about the campaign goals, and the other person is trying to build their base, without any of the relevant information about how a particular digital tactic could reach their base.
Even with the best communication, strategy, and planning between the two of you in the world, if you are not consistently using a tactic yourself, you’re never going to get a good sense of if a particular digital tactic is doing what you want it do. This creates a struggle to bridge the information gap that is ubiquitous to complicated organizations — i.e. the stopgap in sharing the subtle details that inform your campaign or organizational strategy.
Digital Organizing Beyond Organizations
The people who are best at digital organizing are campaign organizers with who have been trained on digital tools. They incorporate digital tactics into their overall campaign strategy and goals, using Twitter, Facebook, emails, texting, whatever to further those goals.
I think the best example of this is everything happening right now.
We are increasingly moving away from organization based organizing.
As the prison abolition movement reaches more people than ever before and starts winning critical victories, it’s clear that information sharing, relationships, and trust + personal investment are key to building movements.
The thing is, the way those key tenets happen might look really different in practice in the future, as more groups, projects and plans happen online than ever before.
At any rate, the phrase “digital organizing” invites messy questions about strategy, tactics, ownership of different projects, and training.
The good news is that most organizations — and movements, to some extent — are asking these questions anyway.
Emails, open rate metrics, doing Twitter Townhalls, all of that is extraneous to finding new inventive ways to achieve your goals.
We can all use this moment of reconfiguration as a path to broader conversations about workflow, decision making, strategy, and values.
Pics are from #8ToAbolition, drawing on decades of abolitionist work, presents realistic and effective reforms that move us toward a world without police, where no one is held in a cage, and all people thrive and be well.