The rise of online advocacy can be attributed to the digital age in which we live. While our focus at Muster is in the development of advocacy software, grassroots tools are one piece of the puzzle required to build a campaign that spreads awareness. The key to effective digital advocacy revolves around integrating your grassroots advocacy software into a broader online advocacy strategy. Depending on the focus of the advocacy initiative, microsites can be a key component to expanding influence and inspiring civic engagement.
What is a Microsite?
In a nutshell, a microsite is typically a web page (or two to five) that shares information about a single subject or issue. As Melissa Lafsky explains, a microsite can also be colloquially considered as a “branded blog” or “independent campaign” (source).
When placed in a political advocacy context, a web page that concentrates on one advocacy issue can be considered a microsite. We like to think about an advocacy microsite for any grassroots campaign as the cornerstone for all digital activity. A microsite educates and engages the public and houses all social media and content. For a great example of an effective microsite, take a look this webpage that one of customers (Independence At Home) built. The microsite has a cohesive color scheme, clear instructions on how to take action, is intuitive for users of all technology backgrounds, and provides a clear policy overview.
In this blog post, we will be exploring three tips to building an advocacy microsite to support an advocacy campaign. The three ideas we will be discussing below are as follows:
Develop Branded Content
Ensure a Clear Call-to-Action
Transparency is Key
Of course, these tips are simply a few items to keep in mind as an organization develops and implements a microsite. If you'd be interested in a comprehensive guide to building a microsite, let us know and we'd be happy to develop a content guide for you.
1. Develop Branded Content
A visitor should be able to understand the goal or topic of the microsite within seconds upon landing on the page. Every piece of content on the microsite should have a clear connection to the theme and support the goal of the site. Here are a few tips to ensuring your microsite has a consistent and clear branding vision:
Buy a Domain. Purchase a domain that makes it very clear what the aim of the microsite is. For example, if the microsite deals with an advocacy campaign about a specific tax for farmers in a certain state, search for available domains that explicitly relate to your goal. Some of our favorite platforms for easily developing beautiful microsites are Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress. You can usually buy a domain directly from one of these platforms or directly through a third-party domain vendor.
Create a memorable tagline. When you are developing a microsite supporting a single advocacy issue, it’s helpful to think about the issue as the “product”. After all, marketing an advocacy issue is essentially marketing a product to a target audience of consumers. All copy and branding content on the microsite should describe the issue and answer questions before they arise.
2. Ensure a Clear Call-to-Action
The goal of the microsite should be easily ascertainable. Is the purpose of the microsite to motivate visitors to call their senators? Send an email to their state representative? Or is to provide educational materials to an affected group of citizens? Whatever the objective of the microsite is, the web page should clearly guide visitors to take the intended action. The call-to-action on the microsite should be easily accessible. For example, if there is an advocacy widget for users to engage with, ensure that the widget is intuitive and obvious. In a nutshell, limit roadblocks to taking action by not hiding the call-to-action at the bottom of the web page or cluttering the button with extraneous language.
3. Transparency is Key
Like any online advocacy activity, the promoters and funders of the microsite should be clear. Now more than ever, it is imperative that organizations explicitly present themselves as the sponsors of the microsite. We all understand how “fake news” has been used to manipulate citizens and influence public perception, so grassroots practitioners need to go above and beyond to ensure that they don’t engage in deceitful online tactics by concealing their identities. In relation to a microsite, we recommend that the logo of the primary sponsors be featured in the footer of each web page, and a separate About Us page or paragraph somewhere on the site exists. Take another look at the microsite we mentioned earlier...notice how they have an entire banner dedicated to their sponsors? This coalition uses their microsite as an opportunity to be up front about which groups support the campaign.
We hope you find these tips helpful if you're in the process of creating a microsite. Do you have insight that we didn't cover that would be useful to the grassroots community? Let us know in the comments below!