Stevon Cook for San Francisco Board of Education
ABOUT: Thirty-one year old San Francisco native Stevon Cook had a powerful personal story. When he approached me for help, he was eager to broadcast his narrative on social media to increase supporter engagement. He was also looking for an experienced organizer to manage volunteers. What resulted was a digital campaign that was raw, personal and inclusive, as well as a back-to-basics community-centered Get Out the Vote (GOTV) organizing effort. We developed Facebook & Twitter posts, Facebook ads, and emails that tripled our active volunteer base and mobilized more than 100,000 San Francisco residents to vote for Stevon. He is now Board of Education commissioner.
PROJECT TYPE: Digital Campaign | Email Campaign | Grassroots Organizing
ROLES: Digital Director | Volunteer Coordinator
Research: Understanding the Landscape
As soon as I began working with Stevon, I made it a point to ask him about his childhood in San Francisco and his reasons for running. In those early conversations, I began to understand his vision to fight inequality through education, as well as his ideas for incentivizing teachers to work at schools in underserved areas of the city – like Bayview, the neighborhood he grew up in. We scheduled weekly planning meetings to discuss field strategy. In those meetings we identified key voting precincts based on demographics, size and past voting records. I also began identifying his biggest supporters and political allies in the city that would be essential to helping us extend our voter outreach and hit our fundraising goals.
Build Momentum: Creating Sharable Content
While I was recruiting volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls for Stevon, I was also developing a digital campaign. Since Stevon grew up in San Francisco, he had a lot of strong supporters, including friends, family and teachers, that were eager to see him succeed. I called on them first to build momentum around Stevon's campaign by sharing content on social media. I made specific asks to either host a neighborhood gathering or volunteer with us. I also developed the tag line "Join Our Fight for Every Kid" and pulled quotes from Stevon's speeches to create fresh content that would serve as continued motivation for why people should vote and support Stevon.
Share Stevon’s Narrative: Illustrate Core Values
Stevon was a strong storyteller. At house parties and events, Stevon used the stage to tell his story as a young student living with his grandmother in Bayview. It was these events where we got a significant percentage of our donations and really seemed to energize supporters. Since we didn't have the bandwidth to do events every day, I recorded Stevon's speeches and posted them live on Facebook. In addition, I rewatched those videos and extracted quotes to develop a series of visuals for social media that spoke to his most powerful promises & campaign issues.
Target Key Voters: Testing Facebook Ads
We used Facebook ads to target key precincts and voters. I created six different ad designs to test click rates among target populations and track the number of Facebook likes generated on Stevon's campaign page.
Organizing Events: Maximizing Our Reach
During the campaign, we forged strong partnerships with other progressive candidates, including Jane Kim, who was running for state senate. By joining efforts and cross pollinating volunteers, we were able to maximize our reach in key precincts. I made the most of this momentum by organizing events for Stevon and inviting progressive volunteers from Jane Kim's team and across other allied campaigns.
Fundraising: Develop Emails With Clear Calls to Action
As an Organizing for Action (OFA) Digital Fellow, I learned that between 80 - 90 percent of digital fundraising come through email. On Stevon's campaign, we used Nationbuilder to create emails that allowed us to reach a larger audience than social media and also do direct fundraising. My email checklist included the following: 1. Why us? 2. Why now? 3. Make an ask (high & low bar). Each email was a cohesive part of the digital strategy, echoing sentiments included in social media posts put out that week.
Let the Voters Speak: 100,000+ Votes for Stevon!
We were out holding yard signs and driving people to the polls until the very last minutes of the election. Our back-to-basics field organizing combined with a personal storytelling digital campaign payed off. More than 100,000 city residents voted to secure Stevon a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education.