I come from a political background. Other than working at some comic and game shops and a short stint with Games Workshop, I have known only politics as a career in my adult life. Over those dozen years of constant work in elected offices, campaigns, with issues, and for non-profits, I’ve watched the industry evolve with technology. I purposely used that word industry, because politics, like the game and comic industries is a business. We sell a candidate or an idea to audiences. Instead of spending money on them (which they sort of do with donations, our crowdfunding before crowdfunding was cool), they use votes to choose which product they want to buy.
Like all successful businesses, we’ve evolved in how we do that. Data, which was tracked on index cards when I started, is now done with massive databases with billions of points of data. Instead of just knocking on doors, handing out fliers and making phones calls, we’ve added complex email chains and social media to our tools as well. But much of what we do in politics is what successful businesses do today. And that leads us to this new column here on ICv2.
Over on the site I run, Graphic Policy, I post weekly statistical breakdowns of the comic book and game industries using Facebook data. I’ve also written various articles about how we can talk some of the tested techniques in political organizing and use them in the game and comic industries. ICv2 has graciously given me a new forum to continue and expand upon that. Here I plan on lifting the veil a bit and spilling those secrets and how we can apply it to grow these industries further.
So, let’s start with the basics. The two things I’ll be covering a lot are data and tools and how we use both towards success, because you need both. One feeds right into the other and creates a nice infinite loop. When I talk data, I mean a lot of things. An email address, the open rate for an email, your sell-through rate, traffic patterns, the number of likes or followers you have and more. It’s what you analyze to measure success and find out the “who” and “why.” When it comes to data, a brilliant man told me, “What gets measured, gets done.” I live by that motto. Tools cover databases, email systems, social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, flyers and more. These are the items you do your outreach with and get more data.
There’s a catch 22 to start all of this though. To use those tools effectively, you need data, and to get good data, you need to use those tools effectively. In the next column, I start with the big picture of how all of this ties together and what you need to start organizing for success.