The Advocacy 2.0 day of Digital Capital Week started with a fascinating panel on how technology is impacting grassroots communications. The conversation centered around the use of social media and internet technology for political campaigns and non-profit organizations.

Mediator Brandon Macsata started the discussion with a key issue, stating "One of the biggest mistakes non-profits make with social media is that they don’t know how to prioritize."  He stressed the importance of using social media for advertising versus using social media for marketing. "With advertising, you give up credibility" he noted. "Marketing, you don’t control the message but you do get credibility with press." This control of the message was a main focus of the panel.  Clyde Ensslin from Marketing Through New Media remarked that "tone and feel are important to social media, and not just follower or friend count." He instead advised the retention of a focused narrative in your content-"You have to tell a story, and you have to connect to people" he said.

The other main discussion of the panel focused around the topic of the day, the changing nature of political advocacy. Rikki Amos , the Associate Director of Political Involvement for the Public Affairs Council added a voice directly involved with advocacy. She remarked that "social media is as much a mind set as it is a skill set", and that non-profits need to make sure their content producers (their members) are in the mindset.  Her advice to organizations-"identify key influentials, find out where they are, and promote their content".  Through this cycle, the organization’s content gets shared by influentials that receive distribution themselves from the organization.

Finally, Debra Ruh of TecAccess provided a key voice to the panel: a director of a non-profit, who is trying to tailor advocacy for her interests. "Rather than going after conversation leaders", she advised, "become a leader yourself. Create the conversation." When the conversation turned to whether or not to hire professional help, she was strongly in support of getting outside assistance. "This is the time" she noted.