Online petition sites are jammed with petitions with one signer--the author. It might seem to the author that once placed on the Internet, it will be visible to the Universe. The problem is that the Internet is a universe and your petition will appear as a small speck in the Milky Way unless you give it a push.
I recently authored and promoted my own petition which garnered about 5,000 signers from all 50 states. You cannot depend upon the petition company to promote for you. I want to share what I learned to help others with their petitions.
One of your best promotion engines are emails to your signers which will inspire them to forward your email to their friends. Forget the template that the site provides and be personable instead. Update them with any news on how the petition is doing. Do give them a bolded link towards the beginning of the email and ask them to forward to friends and family.
Be brief. Don’t be a pest and limit your emails to those times when your numbers slow down or when you have news. I would put “Petition News” after my salutation so people could skip it. Always answer anyone who emails you (which will give them your email address). Quote one or two shorter great comments that signers leave which will let them know that you are reading them. Sometimes they are your best recommendation like this: “This is the best petition I have ever in my life signed”.
Facebook is a great tool for promoting your petition. Figure out who might be interested in your issue. Do a search using terms related to your issue. For instance, my petition concerned justice for banking crimes. I searched for bank, banks, banksters, etc. “Occupy”, of course, is a natural. When you find a group or page, “like” them and post your petition. Many facebook pages do not allow direct posting by those not in the group but will have a “posts by others” box. These posts will only show the first few words of your message, so make those first words count to attract attention.
Large active FB pages will move fast so repost your petition at least every day. Do not dismiss the smaller Occupy pages because your post will stay on the front page and often you can get more signers than the larger sites where the page moves fast.
In order to get signers from all fifty states, I sat down with an atlas and searched for Occupys for states, cities and towns. Again and again. Remember, Facebook is a moving target so you need to keep doing this to keep your petition out there.
Twitter bombs can give you a boost if you have connections there. You can message groups to ask for bombs if they are doing related activities. Again, be brief in your tweet. Remember that you need to leave room for others to comment and retweet. (Use “RT” in your message to ask them to retweet. )
Knock on Every Door
Write letters to the editor and ask your signers to do the same. Publish to listservs and ask your signers to do likewise. I have even asked signers who emailed me to recommend my petition to their own petition signers. All they can say is no.
Being entrusted with people’s signatures is a great responsibility. If they took the time to sign, you should take your own time to make sure that their signature counts. So, work your petition every day and don’t be discouraged.