The recent legislative battle over the SOPA bill between the Motion Picture Association of America and the technology industry highlighted the evolution of tactics in advocating for or against legislation and policies. The Motion Picture Association of America pursued traditional lobbying tactics, while the technology industry mobilized their grassroots supporters via social media and the internet to support the cause of internet freedom. The technology industry’s victory over the Motion Picture Association of America last year showed the effectiveness of grassroots organizations united behind a cause and its anniversary was marked this year as Internet Freedom Day.
Grassroots organizations with their organic nature and individual member support for specific causes stand to grow in influence and benefit from the advent of social media as an advocacy tool. Social media as a platform is most conducive to the passionate and intense nature of grassroots organizations and the causes that they support.
Arc 3 looks at the top ten most social media savvy grassroots organizations. The list was compiled analyzing the Klout Scores and number of Twitter and Facebook followers for the largest and most powerful grassroots organizations in the country.
1. National Rifle Association (Klout Score 89) – Few groups match the grassroots-powered influence of the NRA, which faces an intense fight with the Obama administration over its push for stronger gun control laws in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The NRA has a strong social media network to mobilize and inform its members with over 131K followers on Twitter and 105K likes on Facebook.
2. Sierra Club (Klout Score 88) – The Sierra Club has spearheaded strong opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline with a solid team that includes Dave Hamilton, leader of the group’s “Beyond Coal” campaign, and Melinda Pierce, a veteran of the fights over Arctic drilling. The Sierra Club is one of most savvy social media grassroots groups with 183K likes on Facebook and over 58K followers on Twitter.
3. FreedomWorks (Klout Score 86) – Despite the recent departure of its former Chairman Dick Armey and the turmoil that ensued, FreedomWorks continues to exert considerable influence as a grassroots organization advocating for economic freedom. With over 98K followers on Twitter and 4.2 million likes on Facebook, FreedomWorks is a force to be reckoned with in the social media space.
4. Natural Resources Defense Council (Klout Score 86) – With over 1.3 million members and online activists, the NRDC is a strong force in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. David Hawkins of their group is considered one of the top experts on global warming. With over 81K followers on Twitter and 195K Likes on Facebook, the NRDC is a social media powerhouse.
5. The Wilderness Society (Klout Score 84) – With legislative efforts led by David Moulton, a former top adviser to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the organization is a strong advocate on climate change policy as well as conservation. The Wilderness Society has a solid social media presence with over 21K Followers on Twitter and 34K likes on Facebook.
6. Public Citizen (Klout Score 83) – Co-founded over 40 years ago by Ralph Nader, the group has focused heavily on campaign finance reform and the passage of ethics reforms in Congress in recent years. With over 14K Twitter followers and 23K likes on Facebook, Public Citizen has an agressive approach to social media in the tradition of its founder.
7. Human Rights First (Klout Score 83) – Led by Elisa Massimino, the organization is focused on keeping individual liberties front and center as the United States grapples with the changes that are sweeping the Middle East. Human Rights First has over 23K followers on Twitter and 33K likes on Facebook and a social media presence that helps the organization to highlight its many human rights concerns around the world.
8. Americans for Tax Reform (Klout Score 82) – Led by Grover Norquist, the father of the anti-tax pledge signed by most congressional Republicans, the group has been tested by members of Congress who are looking at tax increases and elimination of deductions as a way to shore up budget deficits. Americans for Tax Reform has over 14K followers on Twitter and 39K likes on Facebook and a social media network that could create a firestorm for any member of Congress who abandons their anti-tax pledge.
9. National Wildlife Federation (Klout Score 80) – Jeremy Symons, who previously handled climate issues for the EPA and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) serves as top political strategist for the influential conservationist lobby. Recognized as one of ” Top 5 Enterprises Using Social Media” by Mashable in 2010, the National Wildlife Federation has shown a commitment to social media to help raise awareness and build community. It currently has 125k Twitter followers and 118k likes on Facebook.
10. American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (Klout 80) – President Obama will visit Israel in March for the first time as President. However, the relationship between the Obama administration and Israel has been rocky. Former diplomat, Bradley Gordon and current top lobbyist for AIPAC, will have to use all of his negotiating skills to get the administration more in sync with Israel. With over 17K followers on Twitter and 36K likes on Facebook, AIPAC has a social media prowess that can exert pressure on members of Congress and the Obama administration at key moments in time.
At the early part of 2013, these are the top ten most social media savvy grassroots organizations. In the upcoming months, innovation in social media by grassroots groups will drive up their membership and result in legislative and policy victories. A grassroots organization’s effectiveness will depend on their creative use of social media to mobilize and educate their members and the media.