Wed, 15 October 2014
Organizing 102: After Getting the Digits of Those Who Show Up, Call Everybody Back Within A Week
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“...don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others ...”
Back in August, when flash mobs and social-media driven demonstrations of young people were popping up everywhere fueled by universal outrage at the latest unpunished murders by police, I wrote a piece in Black Agenda Report called “Organizing 101: Don't Do Another March or Rally Without Getting The Digits”.
The gist of it was that radio and social media are great tools but they are owned and run by and for billionaires not for you and me. They may get you a crowd, but if you cannot recontact that crowd outside of that social media platform or radio station, if YOU can't reach them directly on the phone, by text or email, then they are not your crowd, that list doesn't belong to you it belongs to somebody else, it belongs to Twitter, or Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, none of whom provide you with this info, they have all the data they need, and if they decide to censor you or your politics tomorrow – which they can – or if your new friends are not monitoring their social media next week you will be cut off from these people.
If you want to build a movement, Organizing 101 is when people show up in person at your events, you gotta get those digits so you can contact them when YOU need to. Today we'll talk about Organizing 102, which is calling everybody back within a week. The principle is that a new friend you never call back does not remain your friend for long.
So don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others, in the week after EVERY demonstration with new faces, every meeting or action when you were smart enough to get a crowd, and get their digits, you MUST send everybody an email and a text, and make a personal phone call thanking them for coming and strike up a brief conversation about what it all means, what might happen next, and how they might be willing to participate or help out.
“It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens...”
You will find, when you make these calls that people will be grateful you stepped out of your life to call them one on one, and some will enthusiastic enough to ask what THEY can do BEFORE you can ask them. When people are especially enthusiastic about what you're doing, you want to put those individuals on a separate list, and invite them help make the next round of phone calls. These are the folks you invite to smaller meetings that plan and do the outreach for your next public meeting or action. That's how circles of people in motion get bigger, how movements begin to grow themselves.
It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens. The crowds that came out in Egypt and places like that were not brought together by Twitter and Facebook for the first time, those were existing networks built methodically by face to face interaction and personal contact. They used social media to activate those pre-existing networks.
In the wake of Ferguson, and Beaverville Ohio, and Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, the Bronx and wherever else we have to build those networks. Social media are immensely useful, but there is no app for movement building. You can't ride to freedom on Pharaoh's chariot. Organizing 101 is getting the digits of people who show up. Organizing 102 is personally calling, emailing, texting every one of them back to establish the beginning of a relationship. Organizing 103, which we'll talk about in a couple weeks will be engaging them.
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to sign up for our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.