Digital Persuasion in Action Rule 4: Never stop exploring. Use creative tactics to engage new audiences

Digital Persuasion in Action Rule 4: Never stop exploring. Use creative tactics to engage new audiences

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Consider yourself a digital persuader or interested in how you or your organization can become one? Download a copy of the Digital Persuasion study, a comprehensive report on the social media habits of online cause supporters by Waggener Edstrom Communications and Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact CommunicationJoin the conversation – use #DigitalPersuasion.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 2:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Report: Digital Persuasion


There is a lot of digital noise in the world today, and organizations of all sizes find it increasingly difficult to garner attention from the right people – particularly nonprofits that operate on a small budgets with limited staff. So how can they generate awareness? Digital Persuasion.

Patrick Dowd, Founder & CEO of The Millennial Trains Project – a unique nonprofit that leads crowd-funded transcontinental train journeys that empower Millennials – spoke with Waggener Edstrom about how his organization utilizes creative tactics online in order to engage new audiences, attract more supporters and ultimately create impact.

One thing The Millennial Trains Project has found is that Millennials gravitate toward social media, such as Twitter and Tumblr – especially when it comes to engagement with causes they believe in or their interests – so it behooves them to leverage those channels to engage.

For Patrick and his team, engaging new audiences starts at the beginning of the communications process. He and his staff determine what they are trying to accomplish and what they are inviting people to become a part of – a major part of The Millennial Trains Project philosophy, which is inviting people to take action.

To capture this, The Millennial Trains Project asks all of their program participants to describe how they are going to use their project experience to create something of value that can be shared with others. “We are inviting people to do that in whatever medium and distribution channels [that] make the most sense to them,” Patrick explains. In this way, The Millennial Trains Project isn’t limiting the ways it interacts with supporters – on the contrary – they are harnessing the creativity of each individual to reach a variety of potential new supporters in a way that fits them.

Creativity is the crux of The Millennial Trains Project’s strategy, and empowering supporters to become a part of the cause and share their mission evokes action. Patrick says that “people share their stories in their own ways,” and in doing so “that is going to be the most genuine way that their voice can be expressed.”

What does never stop exploring mean to The Millennial Trains Project?

  • It’s about not only staying aware of new forms of communication, but being open to actually using them.
  • Organizations have to be willing to try new things and go with the flow of the ever-changing digital landscape if they want to remain relevant and connect with people.
  • Reaching one person could wind up making a huge impact, “and you really don’t know who that person is going to be” if you’re not open to new ways of engagement, Patrick explains.

Overall, Patrick says that digital persuasion isn’t about just throwing stuff up on various channels such as Twitter, but a strategic effort that is genuine, unique and worth sharing. It’s not about just posting so people can see your logo, but seeing the real you – the ethos of your organization. That’s what drives engagement and that’s how cause-based organizations can harness digital channels to effect action.

And if your social efforts happen to involve a cool train journey across the United States…all the better.

Download a copy of the Digital Persuasion study