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8 Must-Haves for Effective Online Petitions

Online petitions have long been a great way to grow your list and quickly show support for your cause or message. 

While the world of petitions continues to grow with no end in sight, there are a few common standards that have evolved that can ultimately make or break your advocacy strategy. As your fans get savvier and become more particular about where they show their support, optimizing your petitions to spark as much interest as possible is critical.

Here are eight elements that will improve your online petitions:

1. Titles Love Strong Verbs. “Free”, “Stop”, “Demand”, “Unite”. Whatever your call-to-action is, make sure you’re using a powerful verb to communicate your ask in a clear and compelling way. The more visual your language, the more likely you are to capture the interest and spirit of your supporters. 

2. Power-packed Pictures. Images work. Did you know visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text? It’s true. And more and more social networks are moving to prioritize visual content over text. Your petitions should do the same. Add one strong picture that pulls supporters in (and makes it difficult for them to leave).

3. What is This Petition About? Visuals pull people in, but if you don’t have a strong theory of change conveyed in your description, then you can kiss those potential supporters goodbye. Supporters want to know “why is this petition important?” and “why is this worth my time?” You’ve got about one to two paragraphs to make your best argument. 

4. Action-packed Buttons. Don’t just ask supporters to “submit” their form (boring!). Urge them to “Make the Pledge”, “Take Action”, “Join the Movement” or something that conveys energy and momentum. Testing something as simple as your petition button text, color, shape or size can deliver major results. 

5. Are We There Yet? Petition thermometers are a clear way to show progress toward your goal. More and more supporters are not just curious, but demand to know the impact of their activity. Put a thermometer on the petition page so there’s no question about whether their action is making a difference. 

6. Help Them Tell Their Friends. If one person is excited about your action, then their friends will likely be excited about it, too. Help them spread the word by adding social share buttons to your online petition and they in turn, can help you get the word out about your action. 

7. Make it real. Take three minutes and watch this TED Talk video from Derek Sivers about “How to Start a Movement,” a funny reminder of how hard it is to build momentum for any cause. Bottom line - no one wants to be first… or second. So when it comes to your petitions, display the names of your signers. This transparency helps create that feeling of community that is often lost online. Just make sure you’re asking your hard-core supporters to sign first before opening it up to your broader community. 

8. Moderation is Key. Moderate your comments section. Let supporters BRIEFLY explain why they lent their support to your petition. It’s okay (actually it’s a good thing) if your commenters feel comfortable enough to share their dissenting and passionate opinions about the topic at hand. This dialogue helps build community. But draw a hard line when it comes to hateful or inflammatory remarks. Create and link to a set of community guidelines to help enforce these standards. 

Remember and share these 8 tips for improving your online petitions:

Online Petition

Topics: Advocacy