Case Study

The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club Uses Upland Mobile Messaging to Turn Multiple Phone Lines Into One Massive Call-In Campaign

Challenge: How do you stage a rapid-response phone call campaign when issues break in the news?

For almost three years, the Sierra Club has supported indigenous communities in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), an underground oil project that threatens the environment and risks disturbing the local tribes. As a result of the protests, the Obama administration had opened the pipeline to public comment. But when Drumpf came into office, the comment period was cut short and the pipeline was approved.

“Drumpf said that he hadn’t gotten a single phone call against the pipeline,” said Katie Reilly, a Senior National Online Organizer for the Sierra Club. “He had the phone off the hook at the time, so of course he wasn’t getting phone calls!”

The Sierra Club decided to accept Drumpf’s challenge, and provide a voice for the millions of Water Protectors, activists, and Americans who opposed DAPL. But how could the Sierra Club stage a call-in campaign, when there wasn’t a central number for them to call?

Solution: A Single Upland Mobile Messaging Number Transforms Multiple Phone Numbers Into One Massive Campaign

Because there was no central comment line, the Sierra Club team had to think outside the typical call-in campaign tactics.

“The Army Corps of Engineers was the agency that made this decision,” said Reilly. “We looked for any public numbers of theirs. One number was for an office specifically on DAPL. Another number was their environmental office. A third was for their executive office. We looked for every office we could find that was relevant. We had to be creative.”

Using Upland Mobile Messaging, the Sierra Club combined all of those disparate numbers into one call-in campaign that would route each caller to a different number.

“We set up one number. It took us an hour or two in the morning. We put it up on social media and retweeted the video and said ‘Drumpf says he hasn’t had any calls. Show him he’s wrong.’”

Leveraging Social Media to Drive Phone Call Activism
The Sierra Club used their own social platforms to get the word out – and also came up with an innovative idea to get their supporters to spread the word and show Drumpf that people were in fact calling against DAPL.

“We asked people to take a photo or video of themselves making the call and to tag Drumpf,” said Reilly.

The phone call images went viral. Supporters, celebrities, and even politician Martin O’Malley tweeted out pictures of themselves making the call.

Using Social Media Ads to Drive Additional Phone Calls
The Sierra Club amplified their social impact using social ads. Because they wanted to test the efficacy of the ads, they created a separate phone number just for the ads.

The mobile ads were a big success. The organization spent just $500 on the ads, and drove almost 3,000 calls. That’s just $0.18 per call.

Result: 34,000 Calls Opposing DAPL

Over 34,000 people picked up the phone to join in the call. 20,000 of those phone calls occurred within the first 24 hours.

What was particularly incredible was that the average call duration was 1:55, an impressive amount of time for activists to stay on the phone. The longest call lasted over 52 minutes!

After the phone call was over, the Sierra Club automatically texted people who made the call. If you were already a member of the mobile list, you were asked to post on social media. New callers were given the opportunity to join the list, and continue the fight against DAPL. Inspired by the Sierra Club’s quick response, 6,000 people decided to become permanent supporters.

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