Using NationBuilder to Organize Hybrid House Parties

Among its many cool engagement-centric features, NationBuilder allows you to easily create events and organize them across several platforms. Our VP of design, Jesse Haff, and I have been brainstorming with a client who wants to do virtual house parties as part of a nationwide social action campaign. Anyone who follows my stuff knows I am a social media junkie, and I have been experimenting personally with how to use NationBuilder's toolset to increase engagement and run exciting hybrid on- and offline events.

NationBuilder supports unlimited calendar and events pages, with the ability for anyone to set up their events on your calendar if you allow that access. Events can be linked to existing Facebook and Meetup events, or you can simply post your event to Facebook right through NationBuilder. NationBuilder then tracks RSVPs - including from Facebook and Meetup -Ā and lets you easily update your list of attendees. People can sign up online, or, for NationBuilder admin-hosted events, by texting in a keyword.

To spur house party planning around a social campaign, you could create an event-type specific calendars withĀ a campaignĀ and event-style introductionĀ and let people host their own physical and virtual events. Comments on the pages as well as tweets including its URL would become part of the discussion.

I have used NationBuilder to encourage more than 130 to people sign up to participate in an online challenge, including volunteer shifts, and also to put together a virtual pizza party using Google+ Hangout. I have found that the texting features really help, because people see an event on Twitter and just text in to attend, and you can customize the text autoresponses to collect the right level of info. For some campaigns, you might just want zip codes, or you may want full addresses. For the "Pizza Plus" event I did, I collected full addresses and used Papa John's online ordering to send pizzas to friends in several different states while we chatted live in the Google hangout, which supports up to 10 people at once (you can of course break into multiple hangouts).

For Twitter, if you had RSVPs and guidelines, you could structure a timed event where people would mention your campaign Twitter ID with their tweets and all that acitivty would be tracked by NationBuilder. You could also have a host for the event and track responses into the NB dashboard through replies from a broadcaster account, or by retweeting messages that didn't include the campaign ID to add it.

For hybrid events like this, the key isĀ putting in the resources to host and facilitate; if you do something clever, it can get a lot of traction, like when people posted pictures of their pizzas to Facebook and Twitter unasked and mentioned the event on Plus. The overall reach can be much greater than the physical attendance.

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