The president’s 100th day in office is fast approaching.
Aside from executive orders, bills passed, and nominations confirmed, the president has stimulated a massive increase in grassroots advocacy since his election.
Large crowds visited D.C. on the weekend of the inauguration, both to support and oppose the president. Town halls have been flooded with constituents nationwide. Last week, we saw large demonstrations on Tax Day and Earth Day.
With all of these stories showing how people on both sides are taking action, we have to ask: Are these just anecdotes, or are they indicative of a larger statistical trend?
Phone2Action recently conducted a study using exclusive first-party data to answer that question. We found that, in every area we measured, more people are engaging in advocacy efforts in 2017 than 2016.
How we conducted the study
Our team examined a cohort of 75 Phone2Action clients who began using our grassroots advocacy software prior to 2016. Clients in our cohort touch all ends of the political spectrum, and they include nonprofits, businesses, and agencies.
To avoid skewing the data, we excluded one high-performing client. We also excluded any test or demonstration campaigns conducted by these clients.
The specific actions we tracked were actions that were part of advocacy campaigns—emails and calls to legislators—and social shares—sharing an advocacy campaign via Twitter or Facebook. To be included in the legislative connections analysis, each connection “type” (Facebook, calling, etc.) had to be considered “Successful” or “Delivered” per our internal criteria.
We examined actions that took place in Q1 2016 and compared them to those that took place in Q1 2017.
After examining this data, we found significant increases in 2017 engagement:
- 907% increase in phone calls made to legislators
- 636% increase in the number of advocates who made phone calls
- 117% increase in the number of advocates who shared campaigns on Facebook
- 84% increase in the number of advocates who shared campaigns on Twitter
- 31% increase in emails sent to legislators
Additionally, there was a 40% increase in the number of campaigns created in 2017.
Looking at the specific campaign issue types, dramatic growth took place in Environmental Protection and Health categories (135% and 106% increases, respectively), while Transportation and Commerce campaigns were down about 17%.
Here are additional trends we noticed in this data.
Donald Trump + social = more advocacy
A major political event happened between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017—Donald Trump was elected president. No recent political event has drawn on so many emotions, both positive and negative—and all of these emotions were magnified by social media.
Social media empowers advocates in ways we’ve never seen before. According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, 79% of social users say that social media helps them engage with issues that are important to them, and 74% believe that social media brings new voices into the political discussion.
We’ve noticed this trend in our internal data when we measured social shares. A “social share” occurs when an advocate shares an update, saying that they just took action on a campaign, on their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
There are 117% more advocates who share actions on Facebook and 84% more advocates who share actions on Twitter in 2017.
Social media provides people with staggering amounts of virtual real estate, giving advocates infinite potential to engage their elected officials and other like-minded people through advocacy efforts.
In short, there has never been a better time than now to be a grassroots advocate.
Phone2Action has seen how social media powers movements, so it’s not surprising that a highly charged political event, combined with the power of social media, created a massive increase in digital grassroots advocacy.
More phone calls, more action
It’s well-documented that one of the most effective ways to engage an elected official is by placing a phone call. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that, among all the data we collected, the most striking is the increase in phone calls and phone callers in 2017.
According to our data, 2017 has seen a 907% increase in the number of phone calls made to elected officials, and 636% increase in the number of individual advocates who made phone calls.
Because the increase in phone calls outpaces the increase in the number of callers by nearly 300%, we know that these new advocates aren’t just taking one-time actions—they’re taking multiple actions, demonstrating a commitment to advocacy as a habit.
The big news for advocates
The first 100 days are almost over, but the regular cycle of policymaking will continue, from the highest levels of government to your local school board. Only this time, advances in civic tech are driving the public conversation and empowering more advocates to speak up than before.
“Our daily news cycle and national news agenda are increasingly driven by Tweets from the president and other newsmakers, and from the journalists who use the platform to report on them in real time” said Adam Sharp, former head of news and politics at Twitter. “What Phone2Action’s research effectively captures is a critical insight into the resulting public dynamic in response. Americans are more empowered than ever to connect with their leaders and fellow community members, and Phone2Action’s data demonstrates how these users are flocking to action.”
As we move forward, let’s remember that 2017 is shaping up to be the year for grassroots advocacy—across the political spectrum—and that people engaging their elected officials in powerful, effective, and long-lasting ways is exactly what makes our democracy work.