Principles of Effective Online Communication in Web 2.0

During STT 2008, Jon Warnow presented on the key factors every campaigner needs to consider in developing effective online communications. Here are the highlights from his presentation.

Jon Warnow: Principles of Effective Online Communication in Web 2.0

In the last few years, new technological paradigms have flipped the script on traditional principles for communication and organizing. Jon Warnow, creator of, one of 2007’s most successful climate change movements, explored some of the emergent best practices he has seen.

  • Giving up brand control: Branding and other “framing” engages your supporters, gives others input into what the problem is and what the solution can and will be
  • Crowdsourcing: don’t leave supporters involvement at donating or signing a petition. Delegate real work to them where appropriate.
  • Data visualization: Instead of having supporters trust you that the issue is important, let them see for themselves.
  • Transparency of metrics: moving from “were doing just fine” to “here’s exactly how we’re doing.” This makes organizations more personable and human.
  • Collaborative framing and campaign planning: getting feedback from your audience, (e.g. a forum on whether it is more effective to call carbon dioxide CO2.
  • Constituent visualization: profile your supporters and encourage creative, tangible ways to support your cause. (e.g. photo petitions)
  • Ad-hoc group formation: at, for example, users can spontaneously organize into volunteer groups that undertake a project.
  • Distributed events: for example, a network of bake sales organized by local volunteers to support Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign.